Islam is not a religion

Deen is derived from the root 'dain' meaning to take a loan. Literally, it means recompense. The Quran uses the term 'deen' as a metaphor: Deen applies to a system that is based on the principle of accountability - - a system in which the basic belief is that the righteous people will be rewarded and evil-doers will be held accountable. In this sense, God is regarded as the Master of the Day of recompense (Quran 1:3). In the Quran the word 'deen' is also used to mean law (Quran 12:76).

'Deen' is loosely translated into English as religion, is a weak translation. Islam is not a religion in the ordinary sense of the word. The comprehensive system which deals with all the aspects of social life according to the teachings of the Quran is called 'deen.'

This system or ‘deen’ revealed by God in the purest form is often corrupted by people with ulterior motives. It was also corrupted due to ignorance about which the Quran Says: “Leave alone those who take their deen for a play and sport and whom the life of this world has deceived." (Quran 6:70)

If in a system where the center of fidelity and obedience is God then this 'deen' will be considered as the straight way. If on the contrary, the center is other than God, then the 'deen' will be considered corrupted.

All the Prophets who brought the message of God from the beginning of time propagated Islam, a way of life through which people can attain peace. This common teaching of all the Prophets is 'deen'. According to the Quran, the deen in the sight of God is Islam (Quran 3:19).

At best the different schools of 'shariah' can be termed as religion. Shariah is the system that is employed to interpret the injections of Deen in individual and social life. Different interpretations and explanations are offered by different shariah scholars. A Muslim can have his own preferences in matters of varying interpretations. He is allowed to do so, but the deen will be one. A Muslim is prohibited from dividing or splitting the deen.

"(Be not) of those who have created rifts in their deen and are divided into sects". (Quran 30:32)

Adapted from the book "A New Approach to the Study of the Quran" by Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed.

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