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Islam, one of the great monotheistic religions, was first propagated by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Mecca around 610 AD and became the dominant religion in vast areas of Asia and Africa within the span of a few decades. The followers of this religion are called Muslims or Musalmans. Islam is an Arabic term meaning submission to a decree. In its religious connotation it implies submission to the will of God.
In the Quran, the most authentic source for the understanding of Islam, no distinction is made between divine prophets (Baqarah 2: 136). According to the Quran, all prophets are the propagators of a single religion expressed in a variety of outward forms. This underlying religion is Islam, with the common massage of submission to the command of a single God. Based on this idea, at times, in the Quran, Islam is referred to as the common monotheistic religion or the “religion of Allah”, which is the religion propagated by all prophets and the only religion acceptable to God (Al-i `Imran 3: 19, 83, 85; Ma’idah 5: 44).
The highest manifestation of this religion is one that brought to completion the religions of previous divine prophets and to whose propagation Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) devoted 23 years of his divine mission. In the Quran, man’s relationship to the divine religion has been depicted in a variety of ways.
However, one such interpretation (Hujurat 14: 49) implies that belief in Islam is the first step in the acceptance of the divine religion and that it is not necessarily attended by a firm belief in one’s heart. This has prompted some to consider faith (iman) as being superior to Islam and has given rise to similar discussions among Muslim theologians. In the present book, Islam and its various cultural and civil aspects will be discussed from a variety of perspectives.
 source: "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia, 1989-, V.8 ,pp.395 - 396.
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