Is there a difference between Muslim and mu’min?

Is there a difference between Muslim and mu'min? 


Is there a difference between Muslim and mu'min?


Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuh

 The word Muslim is derived from the word Islam and the word Mu’min is derived from the word Iman.

The word Islam refers to submitting to the laws of Allah apparently whilst Iman refers to believing in Allah from the heart. So the word Muslim refers to one who  practices on the apparent features of Islam by saying the Shahadah (testimony) in the oneness of Allah), performing Salaah, performing Hajj, fasting, giving charity etc.

 And the word Mu’min refers to one who believes in Allah from his heart and accepts whatever was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), the angels, the previous Prophets (Alaihimussalaam), the Aakhirah (hereafter etc).

In short, Muslim has more an external relationship to a person whilst Mu’min has more an internal relationship to a person.

وإذا انفرد الإيمان يكون حينئذ بمعنى: الاعتقاد بالقلب والتصديق بالله تعالى وملائكته وكتبه ورسله واليوم الآخر والقدر خيره وشره مع الانقياد

The above explanation applies when the words Muslim and Mu’min or Iman and Islam are mentioned together in context. Generally, this will be found in Hadith for example, in the famous Hadith called Hadith of Jibreel where he had asked the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) the meaning of Islam. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) repied:

الإسلام أن تشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وتقيم الصلاة، وتؤتي الزكاة، وتصوم رمضان، وتحج البيت إن استطعت إليه سبيلا

“Islam is to testify that there is no god besides Allah and Muhammed is the messenger of Allah, to establish Salaah, to give alms (Zakaat), to fast in month of Ramadaan and to perform Hajj if you are able to”

Jibreel then enquired about the meaning of Iman. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied:

أن تؤمن بالله، وملائكته، وكتبه، ورسله، واليوم الآخر، وتؤمن بالقدر خيره وشره

“To believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Prophets, the  day of judgment, and to believe destiny, the pleasant and the unpleasant”

(Sahih Muslim, Hadith #:1, Narrated by Umar)

When in context the word Muslim is found alone or the word Mu’min is found alone, then the word will include both meanings, the meaning of Muslim and Mu’min. For example, the Hadith:


المسلم من سلم المسلمون من لسانه ويده

The true Muslim is he who other Muslims are safe from his verbal and physical abuse

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith #: 6484, Narrated by Abdullah bin Amr)

So in this context, because the word Muslim is used alone without the word Mu’min, it will refer to both the Muslim and the Mu’min. I.e.; the person who practices on the apparent features of Islam together with believing in Allah, His Prophets, the angels, the day of judgment etc.


فمعناه منفردا: الدخول في دين الإسلام، أو دين الإسلام نفسه. والدخول في الدين هو استسلام العبد لله عز وجل باتباع ما جاء به الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم من الشهادة باللسان، والتصديق بالقلب، والعمل بالجوارح


NB. The difference between Muslim and Mu’min is generally realized in the context of the Arabic language. However, when the word Muslim or Mu’min is used in general speech especially in non-Arabic, both meanings are applicable and there is no difference.


And Allah Knows Best.


Mufti Suhail Tarmahomed

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