The word ‘Islam’ in the Arabic dictionary has two meanings: one of them denotes peace and security, and
the other refers to submission and surrendering to the will of Allah, the Almighty. Whoever apprehends the will of Allah (Glory be to Him), submits his will to the will of Allah and surrenders himself totally to the orders of Allah Almighty is called ‘Muslim’, regardless of his place of birth and racial affiliation and ethnic association. Whoever does not observe what pleases Allah, the Almighty, does not recognize what leads to His pleasure or does not submit his desire to the will of Almighty, such person could not be a true Muslim, even if he is born in a Muslim family. It is not necessary that whoever is born in a Muslim family would be a Muslim.1
We would like to make it clear that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared his prophethood before about 1434 years, but he was neither the founder of a new doctrine, nor an initiator of a new faith. Rather, he was the final Prophet who reestablished the true Abrahamic religion that was distorted by priests.If Islam was a new religion, then what about the fate of those people who preceded Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and could not follow his religion? In fact, religion existed in the time when human-beings were brought down to this earth. That religion was Islam.2
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last Messenger of Allah, the Almighty, and the Glorious Qur’an is the last book of Allah. Islam is more deserving of the name of Sanatan Dhrma. Its core message remained same in every nation and period, though there were many scriptures that preceded the Glorious Qur’an.
It is noteworthy that every religion of the world has been named either after the name of its founder or after the community and nation in which that religion emerged. For instance, Christianity takes its title from the name of its prophet Jesus Christ; and Buddhism from its initiator Buddha, and Jainism from its originator Jain, Zoroastrians from its founder Zoroaster; and Judaism, the religion of the Jews, from the name of the tribe Judah. Similar is the case with other religions, but not so with Islam. This religion enjoys the unique distinction of having no such association with any particular person, people or place. The word ‘Islam’ does not have any such relationship; for it does not belong to any particular person, people, or country. It is neither the product of human mind nor is it confined to any particular community. It is a universal religion and its objective is to instill the quality of submission and surrendering to the will of Allah Almighty. The word ‘Islam’ is an attributive title. Whosoever possesses this characteristic, regardless of his race, community, country, or clan, is a Muslim.3
According to the Glorious Qur’an, among every people and in all ages there have been good and righteous people who submitted their will to the will of Allah and surrendered to the commandments of Allah, such people were and are Muslims. Even the religion of Prophet Adam (Peace be upon him), the first man and the first prophet of Allah for mankind, was Islam and his followers were Muslims. The religion of Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) also was Islam and his followers were Muslims. The religion of the Prophet Abraham and Jacob (peace be upon them) was Islam and their followers were Muslims. The religion of every prophet before the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was Islam and their followers were Muslims. Allah Almighty says about Prophet Sulayman (Solomon, peace be upon him):
O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me, Muslims (submissive to Allah)? (An-Naml 27:38)
Moreover, Allah Almighty says about both; the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son, the Prophet Isma’`il (Ishmael, peace be upon them):
Our Lord! And make us (Muslims) submissive unto You and of our offspring a nation (Muslims) submissive unto You. (Al-Baqrah2:128).
Furthermore, Allah (Glory be to Him) says about the Prophet Y`aqub (Jacob, peace be upon him):
And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was enjoined by Ibrahim (Abraham) upon his sons and by Ya`qub (Jacob) (saying), “O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except in the Faith of Islam (as Muslims – Islamic Monotheism). (Al-Baqrah2:132).
There are some blessed verses in the Glorious Qur’an that generally indicate that the Indian sub-continent also was honored with some prophets. Allah (Glory be to Him) says in this context:
And there never was a nation but a warner had passed among them.(Fatir35: 24).
In another verse, Allah Almighty says:
And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the message) clear for them. (Ibrahim14:4)
Islam has been the religion of humanity since the beginning of the human history and will be the religion of entire humanity until the Day of Resurrection. Also, it is a religion for all people. Every person on this globe has the right to follow this religion and embrace it. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says: “Every child is born upon the Fitrah (nature of Islam), it is only his parents who turn him into a Jew, a Christian or a Zoroastrian.” [Reported by Muslim]
As every one of us searches for his livelihood and tries to get it, so everyone of us must look for his religion, even the religion is more deserving of such efforts and endeavors. This is because if an individual misses his livelihood, his physical existence only would be harmed, but if a person fails to recognize the religion which has been chosen for him by Allah, then his spiritual and eternal existence would be lost forever.
If we suppose that India also has been honored with some Prophets and Apostles without specifying their names and dates, then it is natural that their religion also would have been Islam, which is the religion of all prophets and messengers since the earth has been populated by human-being. Yet, their followers have deviated from the true religion of Islam and divine message as happened with many nations across the human history. Therefore, Hindus are ordered by Allah Almighty to return to the original divine message, the message of Islam, the religion of Monotheism, which was revealed by our Lord to the final Messenger of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).4
It was elucidated in a Hadith Qudsi (or Divine Hadith), (Allah, the Almighty says: “I created My servants ‘Hunafa’ (monotheists), but the devils turned them away from their religion.” (Reported by Muslim)
 Prof. `Abdus-Sabur Marzuq, Definition of Islam, Encyclopedia of Islamic Concepts, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Arab Republic of Egypt,2009.
 Debate of `Abullah Tariq, February 8, 2008, Bulandshahar, U.P. India.
 Syed Abul A`la Al-Maududi, Towards Understanding Islam. (U.K.I.M. Dawah Centre, Alum Rock Road, Birmingham) p. 5.
 Sa`eed Hawa, Al–Islam, 4th ed. Cairo: Dar Assalam,200, pp. 7-9.