In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
When Bilqees arrived, Sulayman said to those who were with him:
[ نَكِّرُواْ لَهَا عَرۡشَہَا نَنظُرۡ أَتَہۡتَدِىٓ أَمۡ تَكُونُ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَہۡتَدُونَ – Disguise her throne for her that we may see whether she will be guided (to recognise her throne), or she will be one of those not guided]- Meaning, alter her throne by adding something to it and removing something from it, in order to test her intelligence- to see whether she will be guided to what is correct, so that it is established that she possesses intelligence and discernment that makes her worthy of being a queen; [أَمۡ تَكُونُ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَہۡتَدُونَ – or she will be one of those not guided].
[فَلَمَّا جَآءَتۡ قِيلَ أَهَـٰكَذَا عَرۡشُكِۖ قَالَتۡ كَأَنَّهُ ۥ هُوَۚ وَأُوتِينَا ٱلۡعِلۡمَ مِن قَبۡلِهَا وَكُنَّا مُسۡلِمِينَ – So when she came, it was said (to her): “Is your throne like this?” She said: “(It is) as though it were the very same.” And [Sulaiman (Solomon) said]: “Knowledge was bestowed on us before her, and we were submitted to Allah (as Muslims)]- Meaning, when she came, Sulayman showed her the throne and the last time she saw it was in her country; so it was said to her: [أَهَـٰكَذَا عَرۡشُكِۖ – she was asked: Is your throne like this?)? Meaning, it is established with us that you have a great throne, so it similar to this throne we have presented to you? She said, replied, [كَأَنَّهُ ۥ هُوَۚ – “(It is) as though it were the very same]. This shows her intelligence and discernment, for she did not say, “It is”, due to the presence of changes and disguises to it, nor did she reject that it was hers, because she was acquainted with it. Therefore, she made statements that could apply and be in agreement with what is true in both cases. Sulayman manifested his admiration regarding how she was guided to what is correct and her intelligence, and he thanked Allaah for granting him that which is greater than this. He said: [وَأُوتِينَا ٱلۡعِلۡمَ مِن قَبۡلِهَا – Knowledge was bestowed on us before her]- Meaning, guidance, intelligence and determination before this; [وَكُنَّا مُسۡلِمِينَ -and we were submitted to Allah (as Muslims)]. [See Footnote a]
Allaah [The Exalted] said: [وَصَدَّهَا مَا كَانَت تَّعۡبُدُ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِۖ إِنَّہَا كَانَتۡ مِن قَوۡمٍ۬ كَـٰفِرِينَ – And that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented her (from Islam), for she was of a disbelieving people]- Meaning, prevented from Islaam, even though she had the intelligence and discernment by way of which she can distinguish truth from falsehood; however, false creeds takes away the clear-sightedness of the hearts; [إِنَّہَا كَانَتۡ مِن قَوۡمٍ۬ كَـٰفِرِينَ – for she was of a disbelieving people]- Meaning, she remained on their religion due to the fact that in order for an individual to disassociate from the people of a (false) religion (i.e. a religion other than Islam), it occurs when he is able to notice their misguidance and error, and this is very rare. This is why it is not strange that she did carried on in a state of Kufr (disbelief). [Ref 1]
Footnote a: All the Prophets and their true were Muslims:
Allaah [The Exalted] stated about Ibraaheem:
وَمَن يَرۡغَبُ عَن مِّلَّةِ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمَ إِلَّا مَن سَفِهَ نَفۡسَهُ ۥۚ وَلَقَدِ ٱصۡطَفَيۡنَـٰهُ فِى ٱلدُّنۡيَاۖ وَإِنَّهُ ۥ فِى ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ لَمِنَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ
إِذۡ قَالَ لَهُ ۥ رَبُّهُ ۥۤ أَسۡلِمۡۖ قَالَ أَسۡلَمۡتُ لِرَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ
وَوَصَّىٰ بِہَآ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمُ بَنِيهِ وَيَعۡقُوبُ يَـٰبَنِىَّ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱصۡطَفَىٰ لَكُمُ ٱلدِّينَ فَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسۡلِمُونَ
And who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) except him who befools himself? Truly, We chose him in this world and verily, in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, “Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!” He said, “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was enjoined by Ibrahim (Abraham) upon his sons and by Ya’qub (Jacob), (saying), “O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except in the Faith of Islam as Muslims – Islamic Monotheism.” [Surah Al-Baqarah. Aayaat 120-132]
And Allaah [The Exalted] stated that Yusuf [peace be upon him] said:
رَبِّ قَدۡ ءَاتَيۡتَنِى مِنَ ٱلۡمُلۡكِ وَعَلَّمۡتَنِى مِن تَأۡوِيلِ ٱلۡأَحَادِيثِۚ فَاطِرَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ أَنتَ وَلِىِّۦ فِى ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَٱلۡأَخِرَةِۖ تَوَفَّنِى مُسۡلِمً۬ا وَأَلۡحِقۡنِى بِٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ
My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me of the sovereignty, and taught me the interpretation of dreams; The (only) Creator of the heavens and the earth! You are my Wali (Protector, Helper, Supporter, Guardian, etc.) in this world and in the Hereafter, cause me to die as a Muslim (the one submitting to Your Will and worshipping You alone), and join me with the righteous.” [Surah Yusuf. Aayah 101]
Allaah [The Exalted] stated that Moosaa [peace be upon him] said to his people:
يَـٰقَوۡمِ إِن كُنتُمۡ ءَامَنتُم بِٱللَّهِ فَعَلَيۡهِ تَوَكَّلُوٓاْ إِن كُنتُم مُّسۡلِمِينَ
O my people! If you have believed in Allah, then put your trust in Him if you are Muslims (those who submit to Allah’s Will and worship Him alone). [Surah Yunus. Aayah 84]
Allaah [The Exalted] related that the magicians said to Fir’awn [i.e. after they believed in Moosaa]:
وَمَا تَنقِمُ مِنَّآ إِلَّآ أَنۡ ءَامَنَّا بِـَٔايَـٰتِ رَبِّنَا لَمَّا جَآءَتۡنَاۚ رَبَّنَآ أَفۡرِغۡ عَلَيۡنَا صَبۡرً۬ا وَتَوَفَّنَا مُسۡلِمِينَ
And you take vengeance on us only because we believed in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.) of our Lord when they reached us! Our Lord! pour out on us patience, and cause us to die as Muslims.” [Surah Al-A’raaf. Aayah 126]
Allaah [The Exalted] stated that Bilqees -the Queen of Yemen- said:
رَبِّ إِنِّى ظَلَمۡتُ نَفۡسِى وَأَسۡلَمۡتُ مَعَ سُلَيۡمَـٰنَ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ
My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, and I submit (in Islam, together with Sulaiman (Solomon), to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). [Surah An-Naml. Aayah 44]
Allaah [The Exalted] stated regarding Prophets of Banee Israa’eel [alayhimus salaam]:
إِنَّآ أَنزَلۡنَا ٱلتَّوۡرَٮٰةَ فِيہَا هُدً۬ى وَنُورٌ۬ۚ يَحۡكُمُ بِہَا ٱلنَّبِيُّونَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَسۡلَمُواْ لِلَّذِينَ هَادُواْ
Verily, We did send down the Taurat (Torah) [to Musa (Moses)], therein was guidance and light, by which the Prophets, who submitted themselves to Allah’s Will, judged the Jews. [Surah Al-Maa’idah. Aayah 44]
Allaah [The Exalted] stated about the Messiah:
فَلَمَّآ أَحَسَّ عِيسَىٰ مِنۡہُمُ ٱلۡكُفۡرَ قَالَ مَنۡ أَنصَارِىٓ إِلَى ٱللَّهِۖ قَالَ ٱلۡحَوَارِيُّونَ نَحۡنُ أَنصَارُ ٱللَّهِ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَٱشۡهَدۡ بِأَنَّا مُسۡلِمُونَ
رَبَّنَآ ءَامَنَّا بِمَآ أَنزَلۡتَ وَٱتَّبَعۡنَا ٱلرَّسُولَ فَٱڪۡتُبۡنَا مَعَ ٱلشَّـٰهِدِينَ
Then when ‘Iesa (Jesus) came to know of their disbelief, he said: “Who will be my helpers in Allah’s Cause?” Al-Hawariun (the disciples) said: “We are the helpers of Allah; we believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e. we submit to Allah).” Our Lord! We believe in what You have sent down, and we follow the Messenger [‘Iesa (Jesus)]; so write us down among those who bear witness (to the truth i.e. La ilaha ill-Allah – none has the right to be worshipped but Allah). [Surah Aal Imran. 52-53]
And Allaah [The Exlated] said:
وَإِذۡ أَوۡحَيۡتُ إِلَى ٱلۡحَوَارِيِّـۧنَ أَنۡ ءَامِنُواْ بِى وَبِرَسُولِى قَالُوٓاْ ءَامَنَّا وَٱشۡہَدۡ بِأَنَّنَا مُسۡلِمُونَ
And when I (Allah) put in the hearts of Al-Hawarieen (the disciples) [of ‘Iesa (Jesus)] to believe in Me and My Messenger, they said: “We believe. And bear witness that we are Muslims.” [Surah Al-Maa’idah. Aayah 111]
Therefore, this religion of the early and latter generations – the Prophet and their followers – is the religion of Islaam, and it is to single out Allaah in worship and not associate a partner to Him in worship, and worshiping Him alone in every era and place through obedience to His Messengers [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon them]. One cannot be a worshipper of Allaah based on that which is in opposition to what His Messengers brought, such as those about whom Allaah stated: [أَمۡ لَهُمۡ شُرَڪَـٰٓؤُاْ شَرَعُواْ لَهُم مِّنَ ٱلدِّينِ مَا لَمۡ يَأۡذَنۢ بِهِ ٱللَّهُ – Or have they partners with Allah (false gods), who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not allowed. [Surah Ash-Shooraa. Aayah 21]
One cannot be a believer in Allaah, except by worshipping Him alone through obedience to His Messengers; and one cannot be a worshipper of Allaah, except the one who believes in all His Messengers and follows the Messenger who was sent in his era; so every Messenger was to be followed in his era until another Messenger comes after him and is followed. And whoever obeys the Messenger, then he has obeyed Allaah. Allaah [The Exalted] said: [وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا لِيُطَاعَ بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِ – We sent no Messenger, but to be obeyed by Allah’s Leave]. [Surah An-Nisaa. Aayah 64]
Whoever seeks to make a differentiation between the Messengers by believing in some and disbelieving in others, then he is an unbeliever, just as Allaah [The Exalted] said:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَكۡفُرُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يُفَرِّقُواْ بَيۡنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ وَيَقُولُونَ نُؤۡمِنُ بِبَعۡضٍ۬ وَنَڪۡفُرُ بِبَعۡضٍ۬ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَّخِذُواْ بَيۡنَ ذَٲلِكَ سَبِيلاً
أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرُونَ حَقًّ۬اۚ وَأَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ عَذَابً۬ا مُّهِينً۬ا
وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ وَلَمۡ يُفَرِّقُواْ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّنۡہُمۡ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ سَوۡفَ يُؤۡتِيهِمۡ أُجُورَهُمۡۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا
Verily, those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers and wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers (by believing in Allah and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, “We believe in some but reject others,” and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating torment. And those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and make no distinction between any of them (Messengers), We shall give them their rewards, and Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Surah An-Nisaa. Aayaat 150-152]
And when it is the fact that Muhammad [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] is the seal of the Prophets and there will be neither be a Messenger after him nor is there anyone to bring something new from Allaah, then Allaah [Glorified and Exalted be He] has not ceased to revive the religion through the means that will necessitate its superiority, just as Allaah has promised in the Qur’aan. So Allaah manifests the excellence of Eemaan and its praiseworthy characteristics through which the disadvantages of disbelief and its corruption is known.
And one of the greatest means by way of which Eemaan and the religion are manifested, and the clarification of the true reality of that which the Messengers brought, is the appearance of opponents of the Messengers – the people who blatantly utter slander, just as Allaah [The Exalted] said:
وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَا لِكُلِّ نَبِىٍّ عَدُوًّ۬ا شَيَـٰطِينَ ٱلۡإِنسِ وَٱلۡجِنِّ يُوحِى بَعۡضُهُمۡ إِلَىٰ بَعۡضٍ۬ زُخۡرُفَ ٱلۡقَوۡلِ غُرُورً۬اۚ وَلَوۡ شَآءَ رَبُّكَ مَا فَعَلُوهُۖ فَذَرۡهُمۡ وَمَا يَفۡتَرُونَ
وَلِتَصۡغَىٰٓ إِلَيۡهِ أَفۡـِٔدَةُ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱلۡأَخِرَةِ وَلِيَرۡضَوۡهُ وَلِيَقۡتَرِفُواْ مَا هُم مُّقۡتَرِفُونَ
أَفَغَيۡرَ ٱللَّهِ أَبۡتَغِى حَكَمً۬ا وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنزَلَ إِلَيۡڪُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ مُفَصَّلاً۬ۚ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَاتَيۡنَـٰهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ يَعۡلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ۥ مُنَزَّلٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّكَ بِٱلۡحَقِّۖ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلۡمُمۡتَرِينَ
وَتَمَّتۡ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدۡقً۬ا وَعَدۡلاً۬ۚ لَّا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَـٰتِهِۦۚ وَهُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ
And so We have appointed for every Prophet enemies – Shayatin (devils) among mankind and jinns, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion (or by way of deception). If your Lord had so willed, they would not have done it, so leave them alone with their fabrications. (And this is in order) that the hearts of those who disbelieve in the Hereafter may incline to such (deceit), and that they may remain pleased with it, and that they may commit what they are committing (all kinds of sins and evil deeds, etc.). [Say (O Muhammad)] “Shall I seek a judge other than Allah while it is He Who has sent down unto you the Book (The Qur’an), explained in detail.” Those unto whom We gave the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] know that it is revealed from your Lord in truth. So be not you of those who doubt. And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His Words. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. [Surah Al-An’aam. 112-115]
And Allaah [The Exalted] said:
وَيَوۡمَ يَعَضُّ ٱلظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيۡهِ يَقُولُ يَـٰلَيۡتَنِى ٱتَّخَذۡتُ مَعَ ٱلرَّسُولِ سَبِيلاً۬
يَـٰوَيۡلَتَىٰ لَيۡتَنِى لَمۡ أَتَّخِذۡ فُلَانًا خَلِيلاً۬
لَّقَدۡ أَضَلَّنِى عَنِ ٱلذِّڪۡرِ بَعۡدَ إِذۡ جَآءَنِىۗ وَڪَانَ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ لِلۡإِنسَـٰنِ خَذُولاً۬
وَقَالَ ٱلرَّسُولُ يَـٰرَبِّ إِنَّ قَوۡمِى ٱتَّخَذُواْ هَـٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ مَهۡجُورً۬ا
وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَا لِكُلِّ نَبِىٍّ عَدُوًّ۬ا مِّنَ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمِينَۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِرَبِّكَ هَادِيً۬ا وَنَصِيرً۬ا
And (remember) the Day when the Zalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger ( Muhammad). “Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! “He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Shaitan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” And the Messenger (Muhammad) will say: “O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Qur’an (neither listened to it, nor acted on its laws and orders). Thus have We made for every Prophet an enemy among the Mujrimun (disbelievers, polytheists, criminals, etc.). But Sufficient is your Lord as a Guide and Helper. [Surah Al-Furqaan. Aayah 27-31]
This is because when the truth is willfully rejected and confronted by those [beliefs, ideas, views, methodologies, principles, slogans etc] that are made to resemble truth but are falsehood in reality, then Allaah establishes clear signs and evidences for real truth through which it is made triumphant and falsehood is nullified. Allaah shows the clear proofs and evidences that establish the truth and the corruption of the eradicated false proofs that are in opposition to it. [An Excerpt from Al-Jawaabus Saheeh Lima Baddala Deenul Maseeh by Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) Vol 1. Pages 18-20]
The Religion of all the Prophets and Messengers [i.e. Tawheed] is One
Allaah [The Most High] said:
شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ
He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion (Islam) which He ordained for Nuh (Noah), and that which We have inspired in you (O Muhammad)’’ [42:13]
Allaah mentions the first Messenger who was sent after Aadam, that is Nooh (alayhis-salaam), and the last of them is Muhammad (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam). Then He mentions those who came in between them who were the Messengers of strong will, namely Ibraaheem, Musa and Isa Bin Maryam [وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ ۖ أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ ۚ كَبُرَ عَلَى الْمُشْرِكِينَ مَا تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَيْهِ [and that which We ordained for Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and ‘Iesa (Jesus) saying you should establish religion (i.e. to do what it orders you to do practically), and make no divisions in it (religion) (i.e. various sects in religion). Intolerable for the Mushrikun , is that to which you (O Muhammad) call them].
This above Ayah mentions all five (Prophets and Messengers), just as they are also mentioned in the Ayah in Surah Al-Ahzaab, where Allaah says: [وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِنَ النَّبِيِّينَ مِيثَاقَهُمْ وَمِنكَ وَمِن نُّوحٍ وَإِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ – And (remember) when We took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you (O Muhammad), and from Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), and ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)].
The Message which all the Messengers brought was to worship Allaah Alone, with no partner or associate, as Allaah says: [وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ – And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We inspired him (saying): La ilaha illa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah)], so worship Me (Alone and none else)].
And according to a Hadeeth [the Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) said]: ‘’We Prophets are brothers and our religion is one’’. [Fat’hul Baari 6:550] In other words, the common bond between them is that Allaah Alone is to be worshipped, with no partner or associate, even though their laws may differ, as Allaah said:
لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا – ‘’To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way.’’ [5:48] Tafseer Ibn Katheer
Muhammad Is The Final Messenger and The Qur’aan Abrogates all Others Previous Laws
Allaah (The Most High) said: [مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا – Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything].
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) stated in Sharh Mumti that [the Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam)] being the seal of the Prophets necessitates that he is the seal of the Messengers and that is due to the fact that ‘Every Messenger is a Prophet whereas not every Prophet is a Messenger’. [For further details see Sharh Mumti 1/250]
The Messenger (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) also said: “By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, there is not one of this nation, Jew or Christian, who hears about me and dies without believing in what I have been sent, except that he will be one of the dwellers of Hell fire.” [Reported by Muslim’ Number 153]
The Qur’aan Abrogates All Other Previous Laws
Allaah (The Most High) said:
وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ ۖ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ ۖ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ عَمَّا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ ۚ لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَٰكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ ۖ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ
And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) the Book (this Qur’an) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and Mohayminan (trustworthy in highness and a witness) over it (old Scriptures). So judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you. To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If Allah willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to Allah; then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ. [Surah Al-Maa’idah Ayah 48]
Some Reminder By Imaam As-Sadi regarding the above Ayah: The Qur’aan gathers all the (good, excellence) in the previous books (i.e. before they were distorted). The Qur’aan contain an increase in all that will lead to the pleasure of Allaah in this life and the next, and the (most beloved and honourable) manners. The Qur’aan gathers every truth found in the other books, and it commands and urges mankind towards it. The Qur’aan is a book that gives news about the earlier and later generations. It contains (perfect) judgements and (perfect) wisdom. Whatever the Qur’aan declares to be truth in the previous Books is to be accepted, and whatever it rejects has to be rejected because it would be something that has been distorted and substituted by those who received it etc. [Excerpt from Tafseer As-Sadi]
Ascription In The Ummah of Muhammad
Ascribing oneself to the Muslim Ummah is a fundamental principle established in the Islamic legislation. The Muslims are a just and balanced nation. Allaah said:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا ۗ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلَّا لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ ۚ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّهُ ۗ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
Thus We have made you [true Muslims – real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you. And We made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e. disobey the Messenger). Indeed it was great (heavy) except for those whom Allah guided. And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e. your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind. [Surah Al-Baqarah Ayah 143]
They are the best of all nations. Allaah said:
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ
You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways, etc.)] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar(polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah. [Surah Aal Imran Ayah 110]
They are followers of a single religion agreed upon by all the Prophets. They ascribe themselves to it and unite upon it. Allaah said: [إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ – Truly! This, your Ummah [Sharia or religion (Islamic Monotheism)] is one religion, and I am your Lord, therefore worship Me (Alone)].
Allaah said: [وَإِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاتَّقُونِ – And verily! This your religion (of Islamic Monotheism) is one religion, and I am your Lord, so keep your duty to Me].
The believers are brothers in Religion and they give allegiance to one another. Allaah said:
[إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ – The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy].
Allaah named us Muslims. Allaah said:
وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ ۚ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ ۚ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ
And strive hard in Allah’s Cause as you ought to strive (with sincerity and with all your efforts that His Name should be superior). He has chosen you (to convey His Message of Islamic Monotheism to mankind by inviting them to His religion, Islam), and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship, it is the religion of your father Ibrahim (Abraham) (Islamic Monotheism). It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this (the Qur’an), that the Messenger (Muhammad) may be a witness over you and you be witnesses over mankind! So perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), give Zakat and hold fast to Allah [i.e. have confidence in Allah, and depend upon Him in all your affairs] He is your Maula (Patron, Lord, etc.), what an Excellent Maula (Patron, Lord, etc.) and what an Excellent Helper! [Surah Al-Hajj Ayah 78]
And from the branches of this ascription is ascription to Salafiyyah [i.e. the way of the pious predecessors], for indeed there is no prohibition from ascribing oneself to that; rather ascription to Salafiyyah is an ascription to Islaam based on what the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] and his companions were upon. Certainly, it is not permissible that ascription to Salafiyyah is made to mean a party [of illegal partisanship] – loving and hating based on other than what the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] and his companions were upon, because indeed this is blameworthy.
Ascription to Islaam is done in order to differentiate oneself from the followers of other religions, ascription to the Sunnah is done in order to differentiate oneself from Bidah and the Shiites and ascription to Salafiyyah is done in order to differentiate oneself from the Innovated Dawah Methodologies, which are followed by the followers of the different (deviant) groups. So the Muslim needs to say about himself that he is a Muslim, Sunni, Salafi. [Source: Silsilah Ar-Rasaa’il Al-Manhajiyyah Fin Nus’hi Wal Irshaad Wat-taw’iyah’ pages 45-46]
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from Tafseer As-Sadi]