Volume V - Spiritual Liberty
Part V: PEARLS FROM THE OCEAN UNSEEN
It is well for all those interested in religion to understand the essential meaning of Islam. The word, Islam, comes from Salam, which means peace, and the mistake which followers of all religions have made is to call the means by the name of the goal. Peace is the longing of every soul, and the soul seeks it either wisely or unwisely. Those who seek it wisely are called pious, and those who seek it in ignorance are called worldly. Islam, or peace, is the goal of every soul, and the different teachers of humanity have all come to show the way that leads to this goal.
The first ship to sail to America had to discover the way, and it took very long. But afterwards a course was mapped out, the way became known, and ships made the journey in a shorter time. America is the goal, and the ship is the means of getting to the goal, but it is not the goal itself. It is possible to reach the goal without a ship, but it is quicker and easier to reach it with a ship.
The God-ideal was taught to man gradually. There was a time when a certain rock was recognized as God. People at one period considered certain plants as sacred. At another time, certain animals and birds were considered sacred. For instance, the cow and the eagle were considered as sacred creatures. Many worshipped the primal elements in nature, such as earth, water, fire, and air. People worshipped the spirits of mountains, hills, trees, plants, birds, and animals, until the God-ideal was raised to the Absolute.
The planets and their gods were worshipped, and prayer was offered to the moon and sun. This lasted until God was realized in man. The light of the soul of man was recognized as higher than the light of the sun. Then came hero worship.
Warriors, speakers, physicians, musicians, poets, prophets, and teachers were idealized and worshipped by Hindus as incarnations of God, until from the Semitic race came Abraham, the father of religions, who taught the ideal of the formless God, which was explained gradually by different prophets who came after him. It was openly proclaimed by Moses and spiritually taught by Christ. This same truth was disclosed in plain words by Muhammad, who bore the final message: 'None exists save God.' This final message expands the ideal of worship to the invisible as well as to the visible being, in other words to the Absolute.
The perfection of the God-ideal leads up to the goal, which is the true Islam or peace.