Ummah in Islam

About the Notion of Umma (Ummah): The Evils of a Word

Muslim speaks about a word called Umma. Most of the non-Muslim people get confused about this word. They want to know the meaning of Umma word. They want to know the importance of this word in Islam. Actually, the Umma word refers to the people or followers of Islam in general.


However, usually Umma means the followers of Prophet Muhammad, but there are various other meanings of it. Due to political, religious and social evolution, this word witnessed various meanings for it.

Here, you are going to explore about the notion of Umma. You will know the evils of this word called Umma. How people misuse this word for their political gains.

What Does Umma Really Mean in Islam?

The initial meaning of Umma is the people of Arab. It refers to the followers of Prophet Muhammad. But there are various other variations or meanings of Umma word. For instance, it is also used to refer a nation. It also depicts the importance of a community or tribe in Arab world.

But basically, the meaning of Umma is followers or believers of Islam and Allah. Being a Muslim, you are automatically among the Umma of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon on him). However, the usual meaning of Umma is the group or community of believers, but there are various other variations of the same.

So, let’s unveil better understanding of Umma in Islamic history.

1 – Umma Was Used in Pre-Islamic World

If you assume that the word Umma came into existence when Islam started flourishing, you need to change your thinking. Actually, Umma or Ummah word was briefly used in pre-Islamic world. However, at that time, it was considered as the people of a nation.

This word i.e. Ummah was used throughout the Arab tribes, Turks, Persian, and other kingdoms to refer their people. According to pre-Islamic Arab history, Ummah was a word that referred to the people of a specific tribe or community lived in Arab.

2 – Does Umma Refer to Believers in Islam?

Usually, it’s assumed that Umma refers to the believers in Islam. But it’s not the reality. During the time of Prophet Muhammad, Umma means the people who reside under the Muslim rule or a place dominated by Muslims. Here, Umma also refers to people from non-Muslim communities such as Christian and Jews.

It means that Jews and Christians who lived during the reign of Caliphate were also called Umma or Ummah. So, Umma word doesn’t only refer to Muslim, but it also refers to people who live in a Muslim-dominated or Muslim-ruled nation or geographical location.

3 - Know the Connection between Umma and Caliphate/Imamate  

When you start using Umma word, you should first know about Khalifa or Imam. Knowing about the caliphate and Imamate system in Islam is needed when it comes to unveiling the meaning of Ummah in Islam. Actually, Khalifa or Imam is the guide or commander of the Islamic world.

There were four Khalifas in Islam. But later the caliphate system transformed into kingdom. There was the time when Umma i.e. people of Muslim communities in Arab used to choose the leader i.e. a Khalifa or Imam as a spiritual and political leader of the Muslims. But later the caliphate and Imamate system was replaced by kingdom and dictatorship.

What Is the Role of Umma in Modern Islamic Nations and Muslim World?

There are lots of Muslim countries throughout the world. Usually, in gulf countries, Umma is referred as the community or people who live in the nation. But when it comes to counting Muslims from non-Muslim countries, they are also called Ummah of Prophet Muhammad. But there is no political gain behind this meaning.

Actually, all Muslims throughout the world now are known as the Umma of Prophet Muhammad. Whether a Muslim live in India or Japan, he is still considered among the Umma of Prophet Muhammad. Being a believer and follower of Islam, you are considered as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

So, nowadays umma is considered as a spiritual or religious term rather than a political reference. It means that whether you live in a Muslim country or not, you are still among the Umma of Islam. Muslims are the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad. Umma isn’t considered as the people who live in a specific Muslim country.

Are Christians and Jews Also Ummah?

Yes, Christians and Jews are also among the Umma. But they are not among the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

But they are among the Ummah of their prophets i.e. Musa and Jesus Christ. Apart from Christians and Jews, there were other people who followed prophets of that time such as Prophet Noah, Prophet Ismail, Isak, Yusuf, and many more.

Umma word was basically referred as followers of a spiritual leader i.e. prophet of the time. Since Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet, now followers of him are known as the Umma or people of Prophet Muhammad.

1 – Judaism and Umma  

After about 1000 years of Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Musa was sent by almighty God to lead the people of Israel. There were four prophets who revealed the truth of God. But Musa was the most important one. The reason behind it was the Musa guided his people who lived in Egypt to get rid of slavery.

So, the umma of Musa now is known as people living in Israel. Here, you should know the fact that Musa was among the top Prophets mentioned in the sacred Quran. Umma means followers of a prophet especially in spiritual terms. But later, Umma word was erased by Israeli politicians from their dictionary.

2 – Followers of Jesus Christ Are Called Umma of Prophet Isa

Jesus Christ or Prophet Isa used to be the spiritual leader of his people. People who follow him called the Umma of Prophet Isa. But later the term Umma was replaced by the people of King. It means that a Christian king became the spiritual leader of Christian people.

Nowadays, you can observe Pope as the supreme spiritual leader of Christian communities around the world. But in Quran, Christians are mentioned as the Ummah of Prophet Isa.

3 – Umma of Prophet Muhammad

Now, Ummah or Umma word is widely used by Muslims throughout the world. Now, it has no political meaning. But this word is referred as a spiritual term. It means that in modern world whoever follows the path of Prophet Muhammad is called the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

So, basically followers of Islam are considered as the Umma. This word has lost its political and geographical value. Now, it is used widely in terms of spiritual followers of Prophet Muhammad.

Are You among the Umma of Prophet Muhammad?

If your answer is yes, then you should thank almighty Allah for this blessing. It’s a spiritual blessing for you to be a Muslim. People who follow Islam these days are considered as the Umma of Prophet Muhammad. According to Quran, Umma or followers of Prophet Muhammad are the true believers.

It’s a kind of blessing that you are born and brought up in a Muslim family. Now, it’s your responsibility to follow the path of our beloved Prophet Muhammad. We should not ignore the importance of Islam. Instead of blaming others for our situation, we need to introspect about how we can be true believers of Allah and his Prophet Muhammad.


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