The word Islam is derived from the Arabic root ‘salama’ which means, among other things, peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense the word Islam means submission to the Will of Allah and obedience to His Law. The connection between the original and the religious meanings of the word is strong and obvious. Only through submission to the Will of Allah and by obedience to His Law can one achieve true peace and enjoy lasting purity.
Those who follow Islamic teachings are Muslims. Contrary to popular misconceptions, Islam or submission to the Will of Allah, together with obedience to His Law, does not mean in any way loss of individual freedom or surrender to fatalism. Anyone who thinks or believes so has certainly failed to understand the true meaning of Islam and the concept of Allah in Islam. The concept of Allah in Islam describes Him as the Most Merciful and Gracious, and the Most Loving and most concerned with the well-being of man, and as Full of Wisdom and care for His Creatures. His Will, accordingly, is a Will of Benevolence and Goodness, and whatever Law He prescribes must be in the best interest of mankind.
Submission to the good Will of Allah, therefore, does not take away or curtail individual freedom. On the contrary, it gives freedom of a high degree in abundant measures. It frees the mind from superstitions and fills it with truth. It frees the soul from sin and wrong and quickens it with goodness and purity. It frees the self from vanity and greed, from envy and tension, from fear and insecurity. It frees man from subjugation to false deities and low desires, and unfolds before him the beautiful horizons of goodness and excellence.
Submission to the good Will of Allah, together with obedience to His beneficial Law, is the best safeguard of peace and harmony. It enables man to make peace between himself and his fellow men on the one hand, and between the human community and Allah on the other. It creates harmony among the elements of Nature. Man is singled out as being endowed with intelligence and the power of making choices. When he chooses the course of submission to the Law of Allah, he will be making harmony between himself and all the other elements of Nature, which are by necessity obedient to Allah. He will be consistent with the truth and in harmony with all the other elements of the universe. But if he chooses disobedience he will deviate from the Right Path and will be inconsistent. Besides, he will incur the displeasure and punishment of the Law-Giver.