Knowing themselves as the true Muslims and real Arabs, ISIS wanted to establish an Islamic State in which Islam rules. They attacked thousands of places several times, held many as slaves, mostly women and children, and murdered thousands, whether army forces or ordinary people. Although the focus of their activities was in Iraq and Syria, surely you remember what they committed in France and other countries far from Iraq and Syria. On their opposite side were Iraqi and Syrian forces who were also Muslim and Arab and finally overcame ISIS.
Two groups of Muslims are in war. Which side was true? We shed light on some terms to clarify the issue.
The last prophet (PBUH&HP) was an Arab and began his mission in an Arab country. The language of the Quran and Islamic rituals is Arabic, too. This has led to the fusion of terms such as Islam, Muslims, and Arabs. But there are about 1.8 billion Muslims and about 400 million Arabs in the world. So, not all Muslims are Arab. Like anyone else in the world, Arabs can choose their religion. There are Arabs with religions other than Islam or even ethnic Arabs. So not all Arabs, but many of them, are Muslim.
Anyone who believes that: 1. there is no true god but Allah, 2. Allah has sent prophets to guide humankind, and 3. the day of judgment is true and will come, and pronounces the testimonies of faith (Shahaadatain) is a Muslim [i].
These are the gates to the world of rationality and peace. The world designed for a perfect version of life; in which no room has been arranged for violence. But ISIS forces, who claimed to be Muslim, oppressed many countries and two of them in particular and killed many innocent people. They had not tasted faith; they only used Islamic coverage to reach their goals.
You can find some pictures of ISIS dead forces with a spoon in their pocket. They believed that after their death, they will meet Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and will eat with him in heaven. Poor fools! I think if they did not die on time, they would not catch that meal and they had to wash the dishes.
Therefore, we should differentiate between a Muslim and a Muslim believer.
“The Bedouins say: We have faith. Say: You do not have faith yet; rather say: We have embraced Islam; for faith has not yet entered into your hearts.” (49:14)
Any believer is a Muslim, but not all Muslims are believers.
Saying some words turns you into a Muslim and the rules of Islam runs for you. But the faith is saying what you believe by heart and showing this in your deeds. So, having faith is a higher stage after accepting Islam. A Muslim believer tries to be fully acquainted with Islam and the logic behind its rules and adapt every aspect of life with Islamic teachings.
The nature of all divine religions has been the same, i.e., surrendering to God and obeying Him in all aspects. There have only been little differences in some formalities. Like other religions, although Islam emerged in a particular locality, it was not restricted to that.
Verily, this Qur'an is a reminder for humankind throughout the world. (81:27)
The religions and instructions brought by prophets to people were in accordance with the capacity and level of understanding of different eras. But Islam is the last religion and was brought by the last prophet (PBUH&HP)[ii]. There will be no other religion after that. So, Islam must be an all-inclusive religion, containing all the necessities of human beings until the end. Islam is the continuation of the previous religions and completes them.
It has been traditional for God to appoint a religious leader for people at all times to guide them and clarify the Devine instructions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has marked the correct path of Islam forever in one of the most famous and important Islamic narrations (thaqalain): “Verily, I am leaving behind two precious things among you: The Book of God and my kindred, my household. As far as you take hold of these two, you will never go astray. For indeed, the two will never separate until they come to me by the Pond (of al-Kawthar on the Judgement's Day).”  Prophet Muhammad and the twelve Imams (AS) after Him are leaders of Islam. But now that the twelfth Imam is absent, how should we determine the correct path?
Three sources to the pure Islam;
Islam 1: Quran and authentic narrations from Imams.
Islam 2: Interpretations of Islamic jurisprudents of Islam 1.
Islam 3: The manner of Muslim public.
If we base our opinion towards Islam on Islam 3, it will result in a many-colored or contradictory type of Islam; because we observe different beliefs and customs in Muslim nations.
The best way is following the Islamic jurisprudent who are best familiar with Islam and can take us as near as possible to the truth of Islam.
Anything belonging or referring to Islam which agrees to its basis can be called Islamic. It can be an Islamic government, an Islamic rule, Islamic food, etc.
The actions of nations, groups, and important figures claiming to be Muslim should not form our opinion about Islam. We should be fully familiar with Islam and based on this recognition, decide if something is Islamic or not.
Imam Ali (AS) says: “Truth is not recognized by figures; Know the truth, you will recognize its followers.” 
[i]. See “The Islamic axioms”
[ii]. See “Is Muhammad (PBUH&HP) the Last Prophet?”
- Wassail Al-Shi’a, v.27, p.34; Bihar Al-Anvar, v.2, p.100
- Bihar Al-Anvar, v.40, p.126
The Holy Quran is a record of the exact words of the last revelations from Allah Almighty to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). Since he was uninstructed (29:48), he recited the words to his companions, who either memorized them or wrote them down. Here are some facts about this divine Book.
The Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) through the archangel Gabriel (Jibrail) in two forms : all at once and gradually. The Holy Quran was once revealed on the night of Qadr (Laylat al Qadr): “The month of Ramaḍan is one in which the Quran was sent down” (2:185). Also, it was sent incrementally over 23 years until he passed away, which caused the faithless to object: “Why has not the Quran been sent down to him all at once?” (25:32)
During the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), the Quran was written on the skin of animals, palm’s wood, and tissue. After Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) demise, there was a need to unify the written texts of the Quran into one specific Arabic dialect and to clarify the reading of the Quran. This happened in the time of the third Caliph, who ordered to collect a unique version of the diacritic the Quran, and other versions were eliminated such that he united the Muslims on one authoritative recension . It should be noted that the actual version of the Quran is the one which was originally collected during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and under his supervision. That is to say, the content of this holy book has remained undistorted since it was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and only its form and diacritic was unified at the time of the third Caliph. Therefore, the longer surahs are found at the beginning of the Quran and the shorter ones towards the end.
The Quran has some other names the most important of which are :
• Al-Kitab, meaning the Book: “This is the Book. There is no doubt about it.” (2:1-2);
• Al-Furqan, meaning the criterion for the right and wrong since it gives Muslims some tools to differentiate between the truth and false, the lawful and unlawful: “Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion (the Furqan) to His servant that he may be a warner to all the nations.” (25:1);
• Al-Dhikr, meaning a reminder because the Quran reminds us of Allah Almighty: “Indeed We have sent down the Reminder, and indeed We will preserve it.” (15:9).
The Quran is composed of 114 chapters, called "Surahs", and 6236 verses, called "Ayats". It is divided into 30 sections called “Joz’” and 60 sub-sections called “Hizb.” The longest surah is Baqarah and the shortest Kawthar.
The surahs of the Holy Quran are divided into two groups: those revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) when he lived in Mecca, called Makki, and those from after his migration to Medina, called Madani. Generally, the ayats about the Islamic axioms, such as monotheism, prophethood, and afterlife, were revealed in Mecca since the new Muslims required to get fully acquainted with these principles. The ayats about governing the Islamic society, practical principals, and details were revealed in Medina.
Every surat of the Quran has a specific title. These titles were known from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and he was the one who introduced these titles initially. The titles were determined to represent the concept and topics discussed in that surat or a priority considered in the Quran about that surat .
It is essential to treat the Quran respectfully since it is a divine revelation in every aspect. In this regard, the paper upon which the Quran is written and the Arabic words on its pages should not be touched without having performed ablutions (Wudhu). Moreover, when one is reading the Quran out loud, it is better if the listener keeps silent, listens (7:204), and thinks about the meaning of words.
- M. H. Ma’rifat, “Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'an,” p. 64, 2000, Tamhid Qom cultural institute, Qom, Iran.
- M. H. Ma’rifat, “Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'an,” p. 133-136, 2000, Tamhid Qom cultural institute, Qom, Iran.
Having accepted monotheism as the first and most fundamental Islamic axiom, here we are to investigate prophethood or prophecy as the second most important one which is based on a monotheistic worldview. This axiom illustrates God’s mercy by sending prophets to humankind as mediators in order to convey His message and guide people towards what is good.
Prophets are chosen messengers of God for humans to guide them through a virtuous life in order to reach eternal bliss. According to this principle, human’s life would be disrupted, and he would not know the purpose of his existence unless he received clear and practical instructions and directions for his life either in this world or hereafter. So the need for prophets is that of guidance which leads human beings through their path to perfection.
The necessity of prophethood becomes evident by accepting the existence of God, His Oneness, and the fact that He has not abandoned us to find our way by ourselves. In other words, prophethood is undeniable if one finds the need for prophets and the possibility of being guided by them on the one hand, and believes in the flawlessness of God and His Perfection on the other; in fact, God has provided every creature with all the blessing and mercy based on their capabilities.
As it was mentioned before, the belief in prophethood roots in human’s monotheistic worldview; that is God as the necessary being is gracious and guides every creature to perfection. This guidance, which is received through the revelation of God, includes all the beings from the tiniest particles to the biggest stars and the most excellent creatures that are human beings.
As a matter of fact, it is God’s status as the Lord of the universe that requires him to send revelation to everything in the world according to their capacity. Now one might wonder what the nature of God’s revelation is and how this communication with God takes place.
Revelation is the natural ability to navigate, which exists within every creature and is like a spiritual light that helps them find their way. The grades and degrees of this ability differ in accordance with each being’s capacity and their level of awareness; that is the revelation sent to humankind is not like the one sent to plants or animals.
In other words, what animals and plants are capable of, is totally different from that of humankind, and so is the one between ordinary people and prophets who receive God’s most supreme revelation. Thus, the revelation received by prophets is the same as normal inspirations by nature; however, its degree is determined based on the creatures’ position in the universe.
Furthermore, revelation is nothing like the other perceptions of human beings; we notice the things around us with our senses, solve mathematical problems with the help of wisdom and understand other matters using our conscience or nature, but the revelation is a divine reception from God to guide humankind.
The first question that arises about the characteristics of prophets is if they are ordinary people like others or not. In fact, they are ordinary in the human being nature of needs (from food, sleeping, having children, dying ...etc.) but extraordinary in receiving revelation and telling us the message from God, being accompanied with miracles, infallibility from committing sins or making the slightest mistakes and fighting against idolatry, superstitions, injustice, and cruelty.
The most prominent characteristic of prophets that distinguishes them from the other people, either ordinary ones or geniuses, is the supreme revelation and guidance prophets can get from God through the unseen world. However, this kind of revelation does not exclude them from the rest of human beings; it just makes them perfect role models to teach and guide us further to the straight path.
One of the other most important attributes of prophets is their innocence (Ismah) and infallibility which is defined as the fact that they never, at any point of their lives, committed sins, nor did they approach any kind of disobedience, mistakes, or forbidden things.
They maintained their innocence throughout their everyday lives among people; therefore they proved their infallibility and eligibility necessary for prophethood. This innocence also made prophets infallible either in receiving the revelations from God or conveying the orders and messages that were revealed to them to their nations exactly, without missing or adding anything that would mislead them.
God supported His Prophets with miracles, which were supernatural events that took place based on the power of Allah - and not prophets- to prove their truthfulness and neutralize the objections and the obstinacy of the deniers.
The other proof that distinguishes prophets from people who are endowed with brilliant minds that have developed advanced philosophies is the miracles they brought forth, which is far from magic and the concept known to popular culture. A Miracle is actually something beyond the reach of people, natural causes, and the physical laws we are all familiar with. Although beyond human’s capacity, miracles are possible and not against humans’ reason.
When the miracle becomes clear, there can be no doubt either in the message or the one who brought it forth.
After accepting the necessity and importance of prophethood through rational thinking, we need to testify to the existence and truth of certain prophets to whom God granted miracles and whose advent the previous prophets prophesied.
All prophets brought and taught people the same message and doctrines. These doctrines were gradually sent to humankind based on their capacity and talent, until the chain of prophethood came to an end by the coming of the last prophet, Muhammad (PBUH&HP). He is our final prophet, and no prophet will be born after him. The religion of Islam, as well as all other religious doctrines, was completed and sent to people through his miracle, Quran, so there is no need for another messenger from God.
God sent His message, the same message, to humankind through different prophets. But what are the reasons for this renewal:
One reason for God to repeat his message by sending new prophets is the distortion of His teachings by the people of earlier ages. The generations before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) were not mature and wise enough to record and preserve their holy book and religious lessons.
So the message would normally be changed, distorted or destroyed by them. Accordingly, the message had to be renewed.
The second one is the incapability of the people to receive the whole completed message sent by God due to their lack of maturity and intellectuality; therefore they had to be guided through the right path, little by little and step by step.
The third and the last reason is the need of humankind for people to preach and interpret God’s message. The people before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had not reached the appropriate level of wisdom, awareness, and civilization to be capable of proselytizing, teaching, preaching, and sometimes changing their religious lessons according to their needs and situations.
However, by the development and growth of science and people’s awareness and maturity, this could be possible for them. As a result, one of the necessities of finality is the human’s social maturity to the extent that he is able to protect and preserve his religious and scientific legacies and to preach and teach them himself.
In conclusion, Abrahamic religions have always been the same, from the beginning till the end of the time and all the prophets have tried to encourage people to accept the same doctrine and religion. Their main roles and responsibilities were to receive God’s revelations and teach and interpret them for humankind.
The need for these roles, however, was finalized by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) by whom the whole religion and doctrine were sent since people had the talent, capability, and maturity necessary for the acceptance and preserving God’s message. What’s more, people had become sensible and mature enough to interpret the prophet’s teachings by themselves.