means submission. derived from the root S.L.M. Muslims believe that it is the first religion, from Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc. See also SURRENDER.
Some have also said that Islam means peace, but there is no evidence of such a usage of the word, and Muslims have not substantiated this. Muhammad used to send letters to various rulers of the surrounding countries and tribes, inviting them to surrender to God, and to believe in him as a messenger of God. He always ended his letters with "Aslem, Taslam!", which means "surrender and you will be safe".
It is not to be confused with Nation of Islam.
"Islam did not arise in a backwater from some obscure Judaic-Christian sect, but arose in the full stream of religious life in Asia." (R. Bell, Origins of Islam in Christian Environment, Macmillan, 1926, p. 9)
"Professor Tore Andre, of the University of Upsala, has shown in his recent study of Christian origins of Islam... that the opinion hitherto current, of sundry heretical sects to which Muhammad was indebted for his Christian ideas, is a mistaken one. He directs attention to the great church of Asia, the Nestorian Church, as the prime source of Christian though and life in pre-Islamic Arabia. There are many points of similarity between Muslim teachings and Nestorian christianity, but the circle of ideas most prominent and characteristic, according to Tore Andre, is eschatology with its extraordinary stress on the Day of Judgement." (Samuel Zwemer: Foreword to "Nestorian Missionary Enterprise" by J. Stewart, T&T Clark, 1928, p. 8)
Arabia came into contact with all three major sections of Christianity: Byzantine, Nestorian and Jacobite-Monophysite churches. (Islam and Christian Theology, Lutterworth Press, 1945, Vol I p. 2)
"Prior to A.D. 547 when the great Jacobite revival began, the only form of Christian faith known in the whole independent Arabia and Hirtha was that held by the ``Church of the East,'' the so-called Nestorians, and it is practically certain that every presbyter and bishop in the whole of that area recognized and acknowledged allegiance to the patriarch of Seleucia. When there, mention is found of Christians in Mecca and Medina and even in the tribe of Koreish, one is warranted in assuming that all such, prior to at least, the middle of the sixth century, were in communion with the same patriarchate. When the sudden rise of Islam took place, it was the Nestorians who suffered the most from the impart." (J. Steward, Nestorian Missionary Enterprise, pp. 71,72)
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