Applying this principle to human beings, some choose to submit their will to God and some choose not to. Hence, some are Muslims and some are not. But understand that one does not have to practice the "religion" Islam to be considered a Muslim. Remember, "Muslim" can be a general term that refers to anyone or anything that submits its will to God. Therefore, an isolated tribal civilization not having any exposure to "mainstream" religion, though submitting themselves to God in the best way they know how, may be Muslims if they are worshipping God in a way that pleases Him. Such a people may refer to God as "the Great Spirit" or "the Supreme Being" and live a righteous life in service and submission to Him. Frederick Mathewson Denny wrote in his book entitled An Introduction to Islam, "All true religion is 'surrender' to God and, thus, Islam in the generic sense.'" Additionally, every newborn baby is a Muslim (see the definition above) because of an unwilling submission to God. The baby is completely humble and innocent since it is a natural creation of God in its purest state - the state of peace (or Islam).
Islam - The Religion of Responsibility
As a baby grows older it develops an intellectual awareness and free will, both of which are gifts of God that are unique to the human being. But along with these gifts comes responsibility due to the fact that we are now aware of right and wrong and are no longer forced to submit to God. The choice is now completely ours and we will be held accountable for all the choices we make. Some are influenced by their environment, family, and/or own desires and are subsequently led off the natural path of Islam (peace through submission) to indulge in unnatural things. These things may include crime, drug use, racism, false worship, and/or the complete denial of the existence of God.
Islam - The Religion of Purpose
The purpose of Islam the "religion" and "way of life" is to bring the human being back to the natural state that it was originally created in: that of humility, piety, peace, and submission. The difference in submission now is that the human will is consciously choosing to be a Muslim, and the human intellect realizes the whole purpose of creation - to worship and please God in every activity and aspect of life. Consequently, a Muslim is always engaged in good thoughts, words, and actions in an attempt to please his or her Creator and live a peaceful life here on Earth and ultimately in the Hereafter. Islam gives purpose and meaning to life. It gives the Muslim an identity and an awareness of his or her position in this vast universe. To know that everything you think, do, and say is serving a purpose, fulfilling an obligation, and pleasing your Creator and Sustainer is greatest feeling that one can have in this life!
Islam - The Religion of Balance
This being the case, one may think that Islam is a religion of extremism or asceticism - that Muslims isolate themselves in mosques to pray all day and meditate on religious issues. However this is not the teaching of Islam. Muslims do integrate themselves into society and seek the bounties of God through worldly careers and recreational activities as long as they are within the bounds of the Islamic law.
God says in The Holy Qur'an:
Islam - The Religion of Discipline
In order to keep the remembrance of God amidst all the distractions of daily life the human being needs a reminder. And this reminder comes in the form of prayer, fasting, charity, and the like. Five prayers a day at certain times keep the Muslims aware of who they are and keeps them "in check" while living in a predominantly secular society. Fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan brings a sense of gratitude for the nourishment that is usually taken for granted. The constant hunger also helps the person practice self-restraint against carnal desires. Charity ushers in a balanced society economically and paves the way for brotherly love and unity in the cause of pleasing God. Charity may also manifest itself in the giving of oneself to good deeds in helping others. Prophet Muhammad once said, "When you smile in your brother's face it counts to you as a charity" (Tirmizi).
Once a person makes the declaration of faith (shahadah) and becomes a Muslim, he or she takes on these and other responsibilities in an effort to remain on the straight path of righteousness and success. Islam is a disciplined religion because it teaches personal responsibility and complete submission to God. A Muslim must work for the pleasure of his or her Creator and hope for His mercy and acceptance. It may be a struggle at times but the wise person only welcomes struggle because it is a means by which the human will can be purified and by which the human spirit can move closer to its Creator. Besides, hard work results in a stronger, more dignified individual who is grateful and deserving, not lazy and complacent. The struggle (jihad) that Muslims may endure in trying to submit themselves is also a test of their true faith. It's not a test for God to know because He knows all; it's a test for the individual to know whether he or she is a true servant of God. Islam is a disciplined way of life that inspires people to be productive citizens working in the higher cause of their Creator.
Islam - The Religion of Simplicity
Islam is a religion that does not complicate the human being's relationship with God. There is no priesthood in Islam and no need for intermediaries to reach God. The concept of God is clear, logical, and simple. There is One unseen god whose name is Allah. He is Eternal, Merciful, Just, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, and the Creator of all that exists. He has no sons, daughters, or partners in His lordship. Our praise and worship are devoted solely to Him and Him alone. The Holy Qur'an, which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad over 1300 years ago, is the preserved word of God. It is the instruction book for all humans to know how to worship God and live life in the most excellent way. It contains the originally revealed Arabic scripture which has never been tampered with or changed by humans. As a result, its teachings are clear and simple and can even be understood by a child!
Formal acts of worship in Islam are both practical and simple. In the daily prayers, the Muslim brings the highest part of the body (the head) to the lowest point (the ground) as a symbol of complete humility and submission (the Biblical prophets prayed the same way - see Joshua 5:14 and I Kings 18:42). Through fasting the Muslim denies the body of the physical needs in order to concentrate on the spiritual needs. In the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Muslim dawns a simple dress and embarks on a struggling journey that is meant to purify the soul and bring one as close to God as possible in this life, spiritually speaking. Each practice appropriately conforms to the innate human desire to submit to the Supreme Creator in simplicity and ease of understanding.
Islam - The Religion of God
Muslims believe in all the revealed books of God: the Torah (Moses), the Psalms (David), the Gospels (Jesus), and the Qur'an (Muhammad). The message in all of them is the same: submission to the One God in peace, unity, and righteousness. The Holy Qur'an is simply a summation and correction of all the scriptures that came before it since they were tampered with and changed by humans over time. What Muslims reject are the altered versions that exist today because they contain only a fragment of the original message. Human perversion of these original scriptures made it necessary for the Qur'an to come.
And it has remained in its original form to this very day:
"We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)" (The Holy Qur'an 15:9)
"This is a Glorious Qur'an, inscribed in a Tablet Preserved!" (The Holy Qur'an 85:21-22)
Now, since Islam is the religion of nature, it has existed ever since the beginning of creation. And if we believe in the One God and in one human race, then we have to believe that there is one way of worship that is acceptable to Him. It is the Muslim position that God sent all the prophets to teach the same religion: submission to God (Islam). However, the Holy Qur'an is the only revealed scripture that has remained free from human tampering.
The Muslims invite everyone to read the actual words of God and realize His will and the light of universal truth through Islam. A light which by the hand of man has been all but snuffed out in the scriptures revealed to the prophets before Muhammad.