قُلْ هُوَ اللَّـهُ أَحَدٌ ﴿١﴾ اللَّـهُ الصَّمَدُ ﴿٢﴾ لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ ﴿٣﴾ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ ﴿٤
Say: He is Allah, the One and Only! Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.
— Surat Ikhlaas.
“Islam” means the submission of one’s will to the only one true God worthy: Allah (SWT) . Anyone who does so is a “Muslim” (female: Muslimah). This surah is the essence of Islam: it proclaims the Oneness of God (Tawhid); He is Eternal, i.e. beyond the bounds of time and space; and He has no partners, and is beyond comparison.
The Holy Qur’an makes it clear that Islam is the one and only faith consistently revealed by God to mankind from the very beginning. Nuh/Noah (AS), Ibrahim/Abraham (AS), Musa/Moses (AS) and Isa/Jesus (AS)—prophets who appeared at different times and places—all propagated the same religion. They were not founders of new faiths, but reiterating that of their predecessors.
Although Prophet Muhammad (SAW) brought the message of Islam directly to the people living in Mecca (and later Medinah), both he and the Qu’ran propagated a message of universality. At no point in the Prophet’s (SAW) life or in the Qu’ran is the invitation of Islam addressed specifically to the people of any particular area, race, tribe, colour, or language. The Prophet (SAW) said:
Listen! You have one God as you have one father (Adam). There is no distinction between an Arab and a non-Arab. There is no preference for the black over the fair, or the fair over the black. There is distinction only in submission to God. The most virtuous among you is the most honourable in the eyes of God.
Unfortunately, the people of Mecca did not react favourably towards the Prophet (SAW) . Early Muslims were treated harshly by Meccans. The weak, poor, and slaves were often brutally tortured and killed, while the more well-off Muslims were confined to their homes with the intent of making them renounce Islam. The Prophet (SAW) himself was publicly humiliated by people who would throw filth at him. He did not retaliate as he had not yet received a revelation on how to react to persecution, however, he sent some followers to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and eventually took all remaining Muslims to Medina (then Yathrib) during what is now called the Hijra.