Religion of Ibrahim
Undoubtedly there are many religions in the world existing today and also a growing number of people not following any religion. What does the Book say about following a religion and which one? We will see shortly in the light of ayahs/signs of the Book.
The word for religion in Arabic is ملت/‘Millat’. There is another word which is commonly understood to mean religion i.e دين/‘Din’. However, the context in which ‘Din’ is used in the Book is ‘judgment’ and not religion.
God instructs every one to follow the religion of Ibrahim (a.s) in ayat 95 of Sura 3 Ale-Imran.
3:95: قُلْ صَدَقَ اللّهُ فَاتَّبِعُواْ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Say, Allah speaks the truth, so you all, follow the religion of Ibrahim, the true in faith; he was not of the polytheists.”
Then God inspired the messenger to follow the religion of Ibrahim (a.s) in Ayat 123 of Sura 16:
16:123 ثُمَّ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ أَنِ اتَّبِعْ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Then We inspired thee (Mohammad), Follow the religion of Ibrahim, the true in faith, and he was not from the polytheists.”
The messenger confirms that God has guided him to the straight path of the religion of Ibrahim in Ayat 161 of Sura 6 Al-Inam.
6:161 قُلْ إِنَّنِي هَدَانِي رَبِّي إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ دِينًا قِيَمًا مِّلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Say : Surely my Lord has guided me to a straight path; a judgment established; the millat (religion) of true Ibrahim and he was not from the polytheists.”
Was this inspiration to follow the the religion of Ibrahim, a new instruction for messenger and people? or the same religion and practice was asked to be followed which was the religion and practice of all previous messengers? The following three ayahs will shed light on this question:
41:43 مَا يُقَالُ لَكَ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ قِيلَ لِلرُّسُلِ مِن قَبْلِكَ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَذُو مَغْفِرَةٍ وَذُو عِقَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
“Nothing is said to You (Mohammad) that was not said to the messengers before you: verily your Lord has at His command (all) forgiveness as well as the most grievous vengeance.”
46:9 قُلْ مَا كُنتُ بِدْعًا مِّنْ الرُّسُلِ وَمَا أَدْرِي مَا يُفْعَلُ بِي وَلَا بِكُمْ إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَى إِلَيَّ وَمَا أَنَا إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ
“Say (O’ Mohammad) “I am no bringer of new doctrine among the messengers, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I follow but that which is revealed to me by inspiration; I am but a warner open and clear.”
42:13 شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَى وَعِيسَى أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ كَبُرَ عَلَى الْمُشْرِكِينَ مَا تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَيْهِ اللَّهُ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يَشَاء وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يُنِيبُ
“The same shariat/way has He established for you all which He enjoined on Nooh ( Noah) – that We have sent by inspiration to you (Mohammad) – and that which We enjoined on Ibrahim, Moosa, and Essa: that you should remain steadfast in Din/Judgement, and make no differentiations therein: to those who join others with Allah, hard is the (way) to which you call them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).”
After you have made it your judgement to adopt the religion of Ibrahim, God names you ‘Muslim’ as stated Aya 78 of Sura Haj
22:78 وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَى وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ
“And you strive in Allah as is the right of striving in Him. He has chosen you and He has made no difficulty over you in the din/judgment ; The religion of your father Ibraheem. And He has named you ‘muslim’ from before and in this, so the messenger (rasool) be a witness over you and you be a witness over mankind. Then establish salat/prayer and give justification (zakah) and hold fast with Allah. He is your protector (maula) so He is the blessed protector and the blessed helper”
Other related Ayas to this topic are: 60:4, 2:128, 4:26, 2:130, 4:125, 3:67, 2:135, 12:38