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Difference Between Muslim and Islam

Muslim vs Islam

Islam (Arabic: s-l-m) means total surrender to God; Muslim’ is also derived from the root s-l-m, meaning a person who engages himself in the submission to God, another meaning is that a follower of Islam.

There may not be a wealth of difference between the two terms, Muslim and Islam. There is of course some difference between the two when it comes to their linguistic applications. In addition to showing some linguistic differences they show some other differences too between them.

The word ‘Islam’ is derived from the Arabic verbal noun s-l-m. The meaning of the word is ‘to accept’, ‘to surrender’ or ‘to submit’. The traditional method of total surrender to God is taken from the meaning of the word ‘Islam’.

The word ‘Muslim’ is also derived from the root s-l-m. In fact experts have explained it to be a participle form that means a person who engages himself in the submission to God. It would also mean total surrender to God. Thus the meaning of the word Muslim is ‘a person who submits himself to the will of God’. It has got another meaning too, namely, ‘a follower of Islam’

Thus at the outset the word Islam means a religion whereas the word Muslim means a person who follows Islam. This is the linguistic difference between the usages of the two words. The word Islam is also at times used to denote community of belief. Islamic thought means religious tenets that pertain to Islam.

The word Muslim is used to denote or distinguish a person that practices the religion of Islam. Look at the usage, ‘Do you know the Muslim that lives in your neighborhood?’ The usage ‘Muslim religion’ is wrong. The usage should be ‘Islam religion’ for that matter.


The difference between Muslim and Islam can be summarized as follows:

  • Both the words are generally used to denote the religion that has appealed to the Prophet Mohammed.
  • It is interesting to note that both the words have sprung from the same Arabic verbal root, s-l-m.
  • Islam describes the act of submitting oneself to the will of God, whereas Muslim refers to the person who submits himself to the will of God. In short it can be said that while Islam denotes the religion as such, Muslim denotes the person that practices the religion.
  • Islam refers to the conceptual thought whereas Muslim refers to the individual.


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