Praise be to Allah,
This article was written in response to the following question:
Your religion orders the worship of a man because Muslims are called Muhammadans. How to handle this?
The name of our religion is Islam, and those who follow it are Muslims. The name Muslim is given in the Quran (22:78) to the followers of Islam, and never did the Quran or Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) call the followers of the religion “Muhammadans”. Moreover, the Muslims never used the word “Muhammadan” as a name or title to describe all Muslims.
Etymologically, the name “Muhammadans” has been given to us, Muslims, by the Europeans of the Middle Ages. This labeling may have been out of spite and animosity, to imply that we are a cult of followers of one man.[i] Some may, also, have done that out of ignorance, or because they were Christians, and being called after the Christ (blessings and peace be upon him), they may have, through analogy, thought of us as “Muhammadans”.
In the history of Europe during the Middle Ages, the distortion of names had been a common occurrence. The Europeans of the Middle Ages have, also, called us “Saracens” and “Moors” amongst other more offensive names.
The fact that Islam emphasizes the worship of God alone and forbids, with utmost condemnation, the ascribing of partners to Him, regardless of their status, should be beyond debate. No serious intellectual or writer of our times would contest that.
The Quran affirmed the humanity of Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) in many verses, including the following,
( قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يُوحَى إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ ) الكهف/110 .
“Say (O Muhammad): I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is One God” [Quran 18/110]
“وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ أَفَإِنْ مَاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انْقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَى أَعْقَابِكُمْ وَمَنْ يَنْقَلِبْ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَنْ يَضُرَّ اللَّهَ شَيْئاً وَسَيَجْزِي اللَّهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ” آل عمران/ 144.
“Muhammad is no more than an apostle: many were the apostle that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah. But Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude.” [Quran 3:144]
The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said,
( لاْ تُطْرُونِيْ كَمَا أُطرِيَ عِيْسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ ، وَقُولُوْا عَبدُ اللهِ وَرَسُولُهُ ) رواه البخاري .
“Do not exaggerate about me as was exaggerated about ‘Eesa ibn Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary). Say: the slave of Allah and His Messenger.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari, the most authentic collection of the Prophetic sayings.]
The Muslims didn’t betray that legacy of Prophet Muhammad, which was also the legacy of Prophet Jesus (blessings and peace be upon them both.) The first successor of the Prophet, Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (Allah be pleased with him), clearly highlighted this fact, upon the death of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), in his famous speech in which he said,
“من كان يعبد محمدا فإن محمدا قد مات ومن كان يعبد الله فإن الله حي لا يموت “.
“Whoever used to worship Muhammad, Muhammad has died. But he who used to worship Allah, Allah is alive and never dies.” [al-Bukhari]
Allah, the Most High, instructed us to do and say the following,
“وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ ۖ وَقُولُوا آمَنَّا بِالَّذِي أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَأُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ وَإِلَـٰهُنَا وَإِلَـٰهُكُمْ وَاحِدٌ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ”
“And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to Islamic Monotheism with His Verses), except with such of them as do wrong; and say (to them): “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our God and your God is One (i.e. Allah), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims).” [Quran al-'Ankaboot 29:46]
I hope you will find, here above, an answer to your inquiry.
[i]Western Hostility to Islam and Prophecies of Turkish Doom, by Kenneth Meyer Setton (1992). DIANE Publishing. pg 4-15.
Mohammedanism a Misnomer, by R. Bosworth Smith, Paul Tice. pg 133