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- Deen and Islam -

Allah (swt) says:

(The “deen” (religion) before Allah (accepted by Allah) is Islam.) [Qur’an 3:19]

The word “deen” and the word Islam were mentioned many times in the Qur’an, they are considered the most important words in the life of all Muslims.

The guidance, success in this life and in the Hereafter depends on two things: Understanding the meaning of these two words (deen and Islam), and applying their meanings in our life.

Allah (swt) says;

(Today, I have completed your “deen”, and have completed my bliss upon you and accepted for you Islam as a “deen”.) [Qur’an 5:3]

And He (swt) also says:

Whosoever seeks, other than Islam, a deen, it will not be accepted from him and he, in the Hereafter, is among the losers.) [Qur’an 3:85]

Muslims must understand these two words; they should not repeat them with their tongues without apprehending their real meanings or implications.

It is worth mentioning that these two words acquired specific meanings after the introduction of the message which was conveyed by Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

The real meanings

When the Qur’an was revealed, there were no problems in understanding the meaning of “deen” and “Islam” by the Arabs. The generation, which lived with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) completely understood the meanings of these words and they translated them into action in their individual and collective lives.

This full apprehension of Islam and its meaning, led them to the guidance of Islam, this change was one of the greatest changes in the long history of mankind.

The concept of “deen”

The word “deen” is used in the Arabic language to give different meanings, most importantly are:

1-Subjugation, authority, and ruling

a. Allah (swt) subjugated people to obey him. Subjugated here is a literal translation of the word “deen”.

b. Allah (swt) has authority over people. “Authority” here is another literal translation of the word “deen.”

The saying (hadith) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) asserts this meaning;

“The intelligent person is the one who has authority over himself and works for the Hereafter"

This means that the intelligent believer is the one who has subjugated himself and made himself obedient to Allah. In this context, also, the past participle would be subjugated, ruled and submitted.

Allah (swt) says;

(If you are not subjugated, then return it if you are truthful.) [Qur’an 56:87]

This means, if you are not forced by the will of Allah in the issues of death and life, then try to return your soul to your body- after it has left it- if you can.

2-Obedience and submission due to subjugation. 3-The method and the habit.

4-Punishment, reward and judgment.

These four linguistic meanings constitute the concept of the word “deen” in the Qur’an. Therefore, “deen” implies a comprehensive system of life that is composed of four parts:

1-The ruler ship and the authority belong to Allah (swt) only.

2-The obedience and submission are to Allah (swt).

3-The comprehensive system (intellectual and practical) is established by this authority (Allah).

4-The reward given by this authority (Allah) to those who followed the system and submitted to him and the punishment inflicted upon those who rebel against it and disobey it.

Based on this definition of “deen”, we can conclude that it is a submission, and worship by man for the creator, the ruler, the subjugator in a comprehensive system of life with all its belief, intellectual, moral and practical aspects.

After understanding this definition of the Arabic word “deen”, we realize that it is not correct to translate it into English using the word “religion".

Muslims must do their best to clarify to others the reality of the word “deen” in the Islamic perspective; also they should implant this reality in their youth’s minds so that they will not confuse the concept of “deen” with all other erroneous and distorting definitions.

The concept of Islam

Islam in the Arabic language and in the Holy Qur’an means total submission and obedience.

However, the original meaning of "Islam" in the Arabic language is the acceptance of a view or a condition which was not previously accepted.

In the language of the Holy Qur'an, Islam means the readiness of a person to take orders from God and to follow them. "Muslim" is a word taken from the word Islam. It applies to the person who is ready to take orders from God and follow him.

Allah (swt) says;

(Abraham was not a Jew nor a Christian, but he was an upright (man), a Muslim; and he was not one of the Polytheists.) [Qur’an 3:67]

The message which was revealed to Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is called Islam, and to profess the belief in his message is also Islam. Muslim, also, has come to mean the person who follows the message of Mohammad (pbuh) and believes in its truthfulness.

Allah (swt) says;

(Do they seek a deen other than the deen of Allah and to him all what is in the skies and in the earth have submitted willingly or forcefully and to Him they shall return.) [Qur’an 3:83]

The word “Islam” was used in the Qur’an as a symbol for the word “deen” that was revealed by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated that his teachings contain the teachings of all the previous prophets and all the Divine commandments. When a person professes the belief in the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad and pledges to follow his message, he, in fact, will be stating his readiness to obey the orders of God unconditionally.

“Deen al Tawheed” (The belief in the Oneness of God)

Islam, sometimes, is called the “deen al tawheed”: religion of One God, because its main theme is the unity of God. The doctrine of One God is the most emphasized and repeated principle in the Holy Qur'an.

“Deen al Fitrah” (The religion of the nature)

Also, Islam could be called “deen al fitrah" which means the religion of the nature or the religion which is in accordance with human nature, because its teachings are acceptable to the human mind when it is freed from illogical thinking and superstition.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

“Every human being is born in a state of pure nature; but through the influence of his parents, he may become non-Muslim"


Islam is a divine system, with it Allah (swt) sealed all other “deens” and religions, and he made it a comprehensive system that deals with all aspects of human life (Belief, intellectual, moral and practical).

This system is based on total submission to Allah (swt) alone, purifying worship to him only, and following the traditions (sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

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