With the call to Islam, or “submission to God,” the Muslim (“submitting”) community began to form. Before this community could form, however, there needed to be a desire for this community from the people. The prerequisites for this community to form and the foundation that it was formed on are what Fazlur Rahman discusses in this chapter. He focuses particularly on: the Arab search for God, the concept of One Community, and the emphasis on “true” monotheism.
The Arab Search
“And they swore with all their strength that if a warner should come to them, they would be better guided than any other community.” (35:42)
Long before Muhammad began experiencing the revelations of the Quran, the Arabs were longing for God to speak to them. They were already feeling that their polytheistic faith was empty. A few looked towards Judaism and Christianity, but the majority did not find what they needed in those religions. They continued their search. This was a time of struggle for the Arab people, but it was necessary. Only by wholeheartedly searching for God will anyone eventually be able to find Him.
“Say: I believe in any and every Book that God has revealed.” (42:15)
When Muhammad began receiving revelation, he realized that he was in contact with the same Force that inspired Judaism, Christianity, and the earlier religions. Because of this, one of the Quran’s greatest calls was for the creation of one community. If God is one, and the message He sent to all His prophets is one, then all of humanity should be one.
This new One Community would include everyone that believed in God – regardless of gender, ethnicity and religion. Religion was something the Quran was particularly progressive about. Politics aside, all faiths are in the end islam, merely the Arabic word for submission to God. Once people realize that, they can begin to create the One Submitting (Muslim) Community. That is the Quranic ideal that Muslims, along with people of other faiths, struggle with until today.
The Straight Religion
“So set your face to the religion as a true monotheist; this is the primordial religion on which God has originated mankind … This is the straight religion.” (30:30-31)
The One Community that Muhammad worked to establish was based on what the Quran calls “the straight religion.” What that describes is the “true monotheism” of Abraham, who worshipped only God and nothing else. This is the original faith that all religions are based on, but the Quran’s claim is that other faiths deviated from this original call. What the One Community would try to do is go back to this original, primordial faith. By submitting ourselves to God and no one or nothing else, we become liberated from the problems and politics of this world, and are able to walk a path that leads us to our utmost potential.