The Word [Ummah] Used in the Qur’aan to mean four different things- By Shaikh Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah)

First Meaning: At-Taa-ifah [A Group] as stated in the saying of Allaah (The Most High):

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ

And verily, We have sent among Every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Taghut besides Allah). [Soorah An-Nahl: Ayah: 36]


Second Meaning: Al-Imaam [Leader], and in this regard is the saying of Allaah (The Most High):

إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ كَانَ أُمَّةً قَانِتًا لِّلَّهِ َ

Verily, Ibrahim (Abraham) was a Ummah (a leader having all the good righteous qualities), obedient to Allah. [Soorah An-Nahl: Ayah: 120]


Third Meaning: [A length of time], and in this regard is the saying of Allaah (The Most High):

وَقَالَ الَّذِي نَجَا مِنْهُمَا وَادَّكَرَ بَعْدَ أُمَّةٍ أَنَا أُنَبِّئُكُم بِتَأْوِيلِهِ فَأَرْسِلُونِ

But the one who was freed and remembered after a Ummah (i.e. length of time) said: ”I will inform you of its interpretation, so send me forth.” [Soorah Yoosuf: Ayah:45]

Fourth Meaning: Al-Milla [A way or Religion], and in this regard is the saying of Allaah (that the disbelievers) said:

إِنَّا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا عَلَىٰ أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِم مُّقْتَدُونَ

We found our fathers following a certain Ummah (i.e. way and religion) [Soorah Az-Zukhruf: Ayah:23]

[Source: Al-Qawlul Mufeed Alaa Kitaab At-Tawheed: page 27 Vol 1. Slightly paraphrased]


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The Quran and Sunnah Upon The Understanding of The Salaf