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Divine religion is one, which in essence is self-surrender to Allah. In Arabic, self- surrender means islam. Allah says: "The only true faith acceptable to Allah is [man’s] self-surrender to Him".

(3: 19)

Self-surrender is the religion Allah revealed for both old and later nations. Allah says: "Indeed, it is We who revealed the Torah, containing guidance and light. By it did the prophets, who had surrendered themselves to Allah, judge among the Jews ..."

(5: 44)

This is islam in its general meaning: total self-sur- render to Allah, which means believing in His oneness, submission to Him by doing His bidding and dissociating oneself from any aspect of attributing partners to Him. In its restricted meaning, Islam refers to the message Allah gave to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), setting forth Allah's guidance and the true faith. It comprises the right beliefs, fair laws, good action and proper morality.

Allah has willed Islam to abrogate all past religions. As such, He accepts none other than Islam. He says: "He who seeks a religion other than self-surrender to Allah, it will not be accepted from him and in the life to come he will be among the lost".

(3: 85)

The Prophet says: "By Him who holds Muhammad’s soul in His hand, anyone of this community, a Jew or a Christian, who comes to know of me and dies without believing in what I have been sent with shall be among the dwellers of hell".

(Related by Muslim)

2 Related by Muslim, 8.

Allah calls His servants who were good believers in past communities as Muslims. He says: [Allah] has laid no hardship on you in [anything that pertains to] religion; the creed of your forefather Abraham. It is He who has named you Muslims

(22: 78)

However, it is part of the laws that Allah has set in operation that people shall differ and go their separate ways. The Prophet says: Those communities before you who were given revelations divided into seventy-two creeds. This commu- nity will divide into seventy-three: seventy-two of them will be in hell and one in Paradise. This is the community

(Related by Ahmad)

"This community is referred to in Arabic as Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jama[ah, which literally means ‘the people united in following the Sunnah".

(The word Sunnah means ‘method’)

They are the ones who hold on to the Qur’an and follow the Prophet’smethod, which is free of alien practices, inventions or deviation. This is the one group that will always prevail, as the Prophet says: "There shall be in my commu- nity a group that will stand firm in implementing Allah's commandment. They shall not be perturbed by whoever lets them down or disagrees with them, until Allah's will shall come to pass while they prevail over other people".

(Related by al-Bukhari)
2 Related by Muslim, 8.

They stand in the middle between two opposites, upright in between two crooked paths and follow right guidance in between two errant ways:

a. In the area of Allah’s attributes, they are between those who give them form and those who negate them.

b. In the area of Allah’s action, they are between al-Jabriyyah and al-Qadariyyah.

c. In the area of Allah’s warnings and the names of faith and religion, they are be- tween al-Murji’ah and al-Wa[idiyyah’

d. In respect of the Prophet’s companions: they are between al-Khawarij and the Shia.

70 Related by Muslim, 1851.

They are far removed from all errant creeds and deviant beliefs. They are happy with Allah’s favour as He has caused faith to be dear to them, given it beauty in their hearts and made unbelief, wrongdoing and disobedience of Allah hateful to them: [All this is indeed part of] Allah’s bounty and favour. Allah is all-knowing, wise

(49: 8)

May Allah bestow peace and blessings upon Muhammad, His servant and Prophet, and on all members of his household and companions.