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Masters in Education from Nottingham University, qualified teacher in the UK. Has studied Masters in Islamic Studies also Islamic Banking and Finance. Interests in Politics/History/Philosophy.
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In a Nutshell:
Islam has been termed a deen by Allah - it translates approximately to a way of life or lifeway, a discursive tradition where Muslims are expected to socially and territorially embody Islam geographically in dar al-Islam - acknowledging, submitting and serving Allah. An institutional environment where every individual chooses their way of life and freely live by it. The first manifestation of Islam was the Prophet's Medinah.
Introduction

Relying upon Enlightenment assumptions, Islam has unfortunately become not only misunderstood by non-Muslims, but by Muslims too. Worse, this misunderstanding is one that has been significantly shaped by and propagated by the collision of the Muslim world with colonialism, resulting in the destruction of Muslim civilisations (the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals) and the understanding of Islam reduced to a personal faith and religion. Professor Ayesha Jalal and Brian Penington amongst others detail the processes that sought to manufacture the personal religions of Islam and Hinduism under colonial rule.

The Islamic sources are then presented to us through a secular lens, Islam reduced to little more than personal dogma and rituals.

In studying contemporary Islamic movements, Western scholarship has also been seeking how to conceptualize or define Islam in order to understand how to identify those who speak on Islam with authenticity, continuity and legitimacy. Some have struggled with the project claiming there is no "Islam", but only "local Islams". Others have focused on sociological or political-economic approaches excluding "scriptural" dimensions of Islam from their analysis. Terms like ideology, way of life or lifeway are argued as doing this.

There is then once again there is a need to rearticulate what Islam is so it once again makes sense, can be clearly understood and discussed.

Misconceptions

The Prophet's (saw) response when questioned by Jibreel (as) when asked to tell him about Islam is one of the most common answers to this question.

قَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ أَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ الإِسْلاَمِ قَالَ: ‏"أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَتُقِيمَ الصَّلاَةَ وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ وَتَصُومَ رَمَضَانَ وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلاً"‏.‏ قَالَ صَدَقْتَ... – مسلم 47/6

He (Jibreel) said: "O Muhammad, tell me about Islam." He said: "It is to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish the Salah, to give Zakah, to fast Ramadan, and to perform Hajj to the House if you are able to bear the journey." He said: "You have spoken the truth." (Muslim 47:6)
The famous hadith of "Islam is built on 5 pillars" reiterates the same five points, cast as pillars of Islam.

These are used by some scholars to define Islam - Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, while commenting on this hadith, stated:

فأما الإسلام ، فقد فسره النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم بأعمال الجوارح الظاهرة من القول والعمل ، وأول ذلك شهادة: أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله ، وهو عمل اللسان، ثم إقام الصلاة، وإيتاء الزكاة، وصوم رمضان، وحج البيت لمن استطاع إليه سبيلا.

As regards to Islam, it is identified by the Prophet (saw) as referring to the external acts of the body, in words and deeds. The first one is the testimony: that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. This represents the work of the tongue. Then comes the performance of prayer, paying zakat, fasting Ramadan and making pilgrimage to the House if one is able to do so. (Ibn Rajab, Jami al-Ulum wa al-Hikam, p. 98)
As definitions go, this is an extensional definition, one that lists examples contained in a term, helps us understand Islam through citing prominent embodied Islamic practices that are collective and institutional.

However such a definition leaves us without an understanding of the common thread running through these examples. That's where an "intensional" definition helps -  this answer seeks to put forward such a meaningful definition.


Evidences

Quran

1.    أَفَغَيْرَ دِينِ اللَّهِ يَبْغُونَ وَلَهُ أَسْلَمَ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ طَوْعًا وَكَرْهًا وَإِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُونَ - آل عمران 3/83

So is it other than the religion of Allah they desire, while to Him have submitted [all] those within the heavens and earth, willingly or by compulsion, and to Him they will be returned? (Qur'an 3:83)
2.    بَلَىٰ مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَلَهُ أَجْرُهُ عِندَ رَبِّهِ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ – البقرة 2/112

Yes [on the contrary], whoever submits his face in Islam to Allah while being a doer of good will have his reward with his Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve. (Qur'an 2:112)
3.    إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللَّهِ الْإِسْلَامُ ۗ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۗ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ – آل عمران 3/19

So if they argue with you, say, "I have submitted myself to Allah [in Islam], and [so have] those who follow me." And say to those who were given the Scripture and [to] the unlearned, "Have you submitted yourselves?" And if they submit [in Islam], they are rightly guided; but if they turn away - then upon you is only the [duty of] notification. And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants. (Qur'an 3:19)
4.    فَإِنْ حَاجُّوكَ فَقُلْ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّهِ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِ ۗ وَقُل لِّلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَالْأُمِّيِّينَ أَأَسْلَمْتُمْ ۚ فَإِنْ أَسْلَمُوا فَقَدِ اهْتَدَوا ۖ وَّإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّمَا عَلَيْكَ الْبَلَاغُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ – آل عمران 3/20

So if they argue with you, say, "I have submitted myself to Allah [in Islam], and [so have] those who follow me." And say to those who were given the Scripture and [to] the unlearned, "Have you submitted yourselves?" And if they submit [in Islam], they are rightly guided; but if they turn away - then upon you is only the [duty of] notification. And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants. (Qur'an 3:20)
5.    وَمَن يَرْغَبُ عَن مِّلَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِلَّا مَن سَفِهَ نَفْسَهُ ۚ وَلَقَدِ اصْطَفَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَإِنَّهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ لَمِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ -  إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ أَسْلِمْ ۖ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ - وَوَصَّىٰ بِهَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بَنِيهِ وَيَعْقُوبُ يَا بَنِيَّ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَىٰ لَكُمُ الدِّينَ فَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ – البقرة 2/130-132

And who would be averse to the religion of Abraham except one who makes a fool of himself. And We had chosen him in this world, and indeed he, in the Hereafter, will be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, "Submit", he said "I have submitted [in Islam] to the Lord of the worlds. And Abraham instructed his sons [to do the same] and [so did] Jacob, [saying], "O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims." (Qur'an 2:130-132)
6.    فَلَمَّا أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُ لِلْجَبِينِ - وَنَادَيْنَاهُ أَن يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ  قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَا ۚ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ – الصافات 37/104-105

And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, "O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision." Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. (Qur'an 37 :104-105)
7.    فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا – النساء 4/65

But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission. (Qur'an 4:65)
8.    لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ – الأنعام 6/163

No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims."  (Qur'an 6:163)
9.    وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ – آل عمران 3/85

And whoever desires other than Islam as religion - never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers. (Qur'an 3:85)
10.           ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا رَّجُلًا فِيهِ شُرَكَاءُ مُتَشَاكِسُونَ وَرَجُلًا سَلَمًا لِّرَجُلٍ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا ۚ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ – الزمر 29/39

Allah presents an example: a slave owned by quarreling partners and another belonging exclusively to one man - are they equal in comparison? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know. (Qur'an 29:39)

Sunnah

1.    قَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ أَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ الإِسْلاَمِ قَالَ: ‏"أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَتُقِيمَ الصَّلاَةَ وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ وَتَصُومَ رَمَضَانَ وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلاً"‏.‏ قَالَ صَدَقْتَ... – مسلم 47/6

He (Jibreel) said: "O Muhammad, tell me about Islam." He said: "It is to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish the Salah, to give Zakah, to fast Ramadan, and to perform Hajj to the House if you are able to bear the journey." He said: "You have spoken the truth." (Muslim 47:6)
2. عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ: سَمِعْت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم يَقُولُ: " بُنِيَ الْإِسْلَامُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ: شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لَا إلَهَ إلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ، وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ، وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ، وَحَجِّ الْبَيْتِ، وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ". رَوَاهُ الْبُخَارِيُّ وَ مُسْلِمٌ

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (ra), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, "Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the salah (prayer), paying the zakat (obligatory charity), making the hajj (pilgrimage) to the House, and fasting in Ramadhan." (Bukhari and Muslim)

Juristic Definitions

The term Islam can be defined
linguistically or technically (shara').

Linguistically the term "Islam" refers to submission or surrender (inqiyad). This is seen in scholarly works like that of the sixth-century exegete Baghawi who defined Islam as: 

والإسلام هو الدخول في السِّلم ، وهو الانقياد والطاعة.
Islam means surrender and submission.  (Baghawi, Ma'alim al-Tanzil, Vol. 3, p. 18)
The shara' or technical definition however extends this by specifying a specific type of submission or surrender (inqiyad). Classical Islamic scholarship
advocate the meaning as "Servitude of God and his rules with utmost sincerity" albeit in varying wording.

According to Abu Hanifah, Islam is defined as:

الْإِسْلامُ هُوَ: التَّسْلِيمُ وَالْاِنْقِيادُ لِأوامِرِ اللهِ تَعَالَى فَمِنْ طَرِيقِ اللُّغَةِ فَرْقٌ بَيْنَ الْإِسْلامِ وَالْإيمَان وَلَكِنْ لَا يَكُونُ إيمَانُ بِلَا اسلامٍ وَلَا يُوجِدُ إِسْلامٌ بِلَا إيمَانٍ وَهُمَا كَالْظُّهْرِ مَعَ الْبَطْنِ وَالدِّينَ اِسْمُ وَاقِعٌ عَلَى الْإيمَانِ وَالْإِسْلامِ وَالشَّرَائِعِ كُلِهَا – أبو حنيفة في الفقه الأكبر 57
Islam is to surrender and to submit to the commands of Allah Most High. Hence, there is a linguistic difference between Iman and Islam. However, Iman (faith) does not exist without Islam nor Islam without Iman: they are as the back with the stomach. Deen is a noun that encompasses Iman, Islam, and all sacred laws. (Abu Hanifah, Al-Fiqh al-Akbar, p. 57)
The eighth-century Hanafi jurist and theologian Taftazani defined Islam as:

الإسلام هو الخضوع والانقياد بمعنى قبول الأحكام والإذعان – التفتازاني في شرح العقائد النسفية 450
Islam means submission and surrender. In other words, it means accepting the rulings and showing obedience (Taftazani, Sharh al-Aqa'id al-Nasafiyyah, p. 450)
And the ninth-century Shafi'i scholar, Sharif Jurjani, defined Islam in his book al-Ta'rifat as:

الإسلام هو الخضوع والانقياد لما أخبر به الرسول (صلى الله عليه وسلم)، وما وطأ في القلب واللسان فهو إيمان: أقول هذا مذهب الشافعي، وأما مذهب أبي حنيفة فلا فرق بينهما – الجرجاني في التعريفات 20

Islam means submission and surrender to what has been conveyed by the Messenger (saw). With regards to what lies at the heart and tongue, that is Imaan. This is the view of the Shafi'i madhab, whilst Abu Hanifah's madhab did not differentiate between them. (Jurjani, Al-Ta'rifat, p.20)
And according to fourteenth century Hanbali Ibn Taymiyyah:

هُوَ الْاِسْتِسْلاَمُ لله لَا لِغَيْرِهِ، بِأَنْ تَكَوُّنَ الْعِبَادَةُ وَالطَّاعَةٌ لَهُ وَالذُّلٌ، وَهُوَ حَقِيقَةُ لَا إلَهٌ إلّا اللهَ – ابن تيمية في مجموع الفتاوى 5/ 239
It is the surrender to Allah alone by dedicating servitude, obedience and submission for His Sake. This the true meaning of "la ilaha ila Allah". (Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu al-Fatawa, Vol. 5, p. 239)

Analysis

A review of the uses of the term Islam in the sources suggests a multifaceted word that includes a wide range of meanings and senses as it may represent the purpose of our existence and Allah's eternal message to mankind to worship Him alone or it may specifically refer to the deen sent by Allah to Muhammad (saw).

It also addresses our worldly matters and life after death as it affects our past, present and future.

It also may refer to both a religious faith and a body politic and it is also, in some contexts, represent a mark of personal and group identity because individuals and communities are also included in this comprehensive term.

The definitions introduced by the classical scholarship, however, do not provide us with a comprehensive view of the term as most of these definitions revolve around the linguistic definition of the term as it means the absolute surrender and submission to Allah alone and the complete obedience to all His precepts and ordinances, while not associating anything in worship with Him.

The core meaning and use of the term seems to revolve around it being a deen, as mentioned in one of the final verses to be revealed, that states Allah has completed the deen and chosen Islam as the deen most pleasing to him.

The contemporary view that religious belief as a state of mind and not activity in the world is seen as a modern Christian privatised one - not found in the Islamic tradition or even the medieval Christian one either.

In this sense the anthropologist Talal Asad provides a valuable contribution in defining Islam. He rejects the labelling of Islam or even pre-modern Christianity as a "religion" - a neatly separable aspect of social life being a modern Western construct, that distorts more than it informs. Instead, he puts forward a definition of Islam as a "discursive tradition" which  emphasises not just religious dogma and worship but the social, historical, political and economic institutions in which the believer lives out his belief:

"...a historically evolving set of discourses, embodied in the practices and institutions of Islamic societies and hence deeply imbricated in the material life of those inhabiting them."
This articulation suggests we can see Islam for the first time in Medina at the time of the Prophet (saw), and then during the era of the Khulafah Rashida, the Umayyads, Abbasids and finally Ottomans. A collective way of life lived by a community in submission to Allah.

Conclusion

Islam linguistically refers to submission to Allah's will. As a deen, it refers to the collective instantiation or implementation of revelation by a community thereby submitting to the will of Allah.

​​​​​​References

Abu Hanifah, Al-Fiqh al-Akbar  
Abdul Hamid el-Zein, "Beyond Ideology and Theology: The Search for the Anthropology of Islam"
Baghawi, Ma'lim al-Tanzil  
Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-Arab
Ibn Rajab, Jami al-Ulum wa al-Hikam
Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu al-Fatawa
Jurjani, Al-Ta'rifat
Taftazani, Sharh al-Aqa'id al-Nasafiyyah 

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