The Arabic word Muslim means one who is in a state of Islam (willing submission and surrender to the will and law of God). The substance of Islam is universal, and anybody who accepts this message becomes a Muslim. A lot of people erroneously believe that Islam is a religion only for the Arabs, but nothing could be farther from the truth. As a matter of fact, over 80% of the world’s Muslims are not Arabs. Although most Arabs are Muslims, there are also Arab Christians, Jews and atheists. If given a look at the diverse people who live in the Muslim world — from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Morocco to Indonesia — it is effortless to ascertain that Muslims come from dissimilar races, ethnic groups, cultures and nationalities.
Islam has always been a universal message for all people. This can be ascertained in the fact that a few of the early Companions of the Prophet Muhammad were not only from the Arabs, but were also Persians, Africans and Byzantine Romans. Being a Muslim connotes absolute acceptance and active obeisance to the teachings and laws revealed by God. A Muslim is an person who freely consents to base his beliefs , values and faith in God Almighty.
In the past — even if it isn’t used much today — the word “Mohammedans” to refer to Muslims was used. This word is erroneous, and the result of calculated distortion or plain ignorance. One cause for the misconception is that for centuries, Europeans were taught that Muslims worshiped the Prophet Muhammad in the equivalent way that Christians revere Jesus. This is completely false, since a Muslim does not associate God with some other deity or person.