Muslims believe that God (Arabic: الله Allāh) is eternal, transcendent and absolutely one (monotheism). They hold that God is incomparable, self-sustaining and neither begets nor was begotten. They also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that has been revealed before through many prophets including Abraham, Moses, Ishmael and Jesus. Muslims also believe that these previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time and that the Qur'an is the final unaltered revelation from God (The Final Testament).
Most Muslims accept as a Muslim anyone who has publicly pronounced the Shahadah (declaration of faith) which states:
The ordinary word in English is "Muslim". It is sometimes transliterated as "Moslem", which is an older spelling. The word Mosalman (Persian: مسلمان, alternatively Mussalman) is a common equivalent for Muslim used in Central Asia.
Until at least the mid-1960s, many English-language writers used the term Mohammedans or Mahometans. Although such terms were not necessarily intended to be pejorative, Muslims argue that the terms are offensive because they allegedly imply that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God.
In defining Muslim, the Sufi spiritual leader Ibn Arabi said:
A Muslim is a person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God...Islam means making one's religion and faith God's alone.
Used to describe earlier prophets in the Qur'an
The Qur'an describes many prophets and messengers as well as their respective followers as Muslim: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Jesus and his apostles are all considered to be Muslims in the Qur'an. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values, which included praying, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Thus, in Surah 3:52 of the Qur'an, Jesus’ disciples tell Jesus, "We believe in God; and you be our witness that we are Muslims (wa-shahad be anna muslimūn)." In Muslim belief, before the Qur'an, God had given the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David and the Gospel to Jesus, who are all considered important Muslim prophets.
^Gibb, Sir Hamilton (1969). Mohammedanism: an historical survey. Oxford University Press. p. 1. "Modern Muslims dislike the terms Mohammedan and Mohammedanism, which seem to them to carry the implication of worship of Mohammed, as Christian and Christianity imply the worship of Christ."
^Commentary on the Qur'an, Razi, I, p. 432, Cairo, 1318/1900
^Esposito, John L. (2002-10-15). What everyone needs to know about Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN978-0-19-515713-0. and Esposito, John (2005). Islam : the straight path (Rev. 3rd ed., updated with new epilogue. ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 2, 43. ISBN978-0-19-518266-8.
"Islam Today". Islam: Empire of Faith (2000). PBS. Retrieved 2010-08-25. "Islam, followed by more than a billion people today, is the world's fastest growing religion and will soon be the world's largest..."
"No God But God". Thomas W. Lippman. U.S. News & World Report. April 7, 2008. Retrieved 2010-08-25. "Islam is the youngest, the fastest growing, and in many ways the least complicated of the world's great monotheistic faiths. It is a unique religion based on its own holy book, but it is also a direct descendant of Judaism and Christianity, incorporating some of the teachings of those religions—modifying some and rejecting others."