Islam is the last of the great religions and contains in itself the essential principles of all earlier religions. Islam is a strongly monotheistic religion with the worship of One God as its central theme. Islam was founded by the Prophet Muhammad some 1400 years ago, and establishes the continuity of God's revelation which had descended upon earlier prophets such as Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. Islam, in fact, requires its followers to believe in all earlier prophets and Scriptures. According to Islam all the great religions that preceded it were revealed by God to His chosen messengers.
A Jew today believes only in the prophets of Israel; a Christian believes in Jesus Christ and, to a lesser degree, in the prophets of Israel; a Buddhist believes only in Buddha and a Zoroastrian in Zoroaster; a Hindu in the sages who appeared in India and a Confucian in Confucius. But a Muslim believes in all these prophets and also in the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
The word Islam in the Arabic language is derived from the root SLM and means "peace" and "obedience". The religion is called Islam because it offers peace and requires complete submission to the will of God. According to the Quran, there is only one religion acceptable to God and that is complete submission to His Will. In the broader sense of the word Islam was also the religion of the earlier prophets like Abraham, Moses and Jesus, because they also submitted themselves to the will and obedience of God. This element of universality is unique to Islam and goes beyond the traditional barriers set up between religions. Islam not only endorses the bonafide status of all earlier prophets and revealed books, but also of any future prophets that may come. Thus Islam is not a religion of an ethnic group or a nation, but the religion of mankind.
Islam is not a new religion in the sense that most of its teachings are those that were also given to earlier peoples like the Jews and the