Question 506: Salaamun Alaikum. What is the difference between MOMIN and MUSLIM? Jazak’Allah Khayr.
Brief Answer 506: Muslim: According to the Quran a Muslim is one who has absolutely surrendered to Allah and his commands and believes in pure Tawhid (the oneness of God) that isn’t tainted with any Shirk and this is why the Almighty has introduced Prophet Abraham as a true Muslim in the Quran.
According to the Quran the true religion is Islam (surrender) (ان الدین عندالله الاسلام) and therefore all who have accepted religions of their time and have obeyed it’s commands are considered Muslims.
Momin: The Believers are that group of people who acknowledge the existence of God and surrender to Him, and who believe in His Prophets and follow their footsteps.
It is important to acknowledge that believing in the Wilayat of the Prophet’s family, according to the verses of the Quran and the narrations of the Holy Prophet is counted as one of the pillars of Imaan (Faith), and this quality is found in no other sect than the Shias. Also, with the emphasis regarding the deliverance of the Shias as being the rightful ones, and by comparing the thoughts and beliefs of the Shias, with the Holy Quran it becomes obvious that the verses of the Quran which talk about the “Believers” refer to none other than the Shias.
Detailed Answer 506: In order to understand the meaning of “Muslim” in the Quran it is necessary to understand the meaning of “Islam”.
The word “Islam” is an infinitive with the root letters of “س ل م”, the root letters mean healthy and devoid of an defects and corruption, but the infinitive means surrendering and obeying one’s commands with no opposition. 
The Quran has used the term in its broad sense as well: “All of those who are in the heavens and the earth or all of the creatures in the heavens and the earth are Muslims and have (willingly or unwillingly) submitted to Allah’s generative (takwini) or legislative (tashri’i) will.”
In the Quran, not only those who were among the companions of prophet Mohammad are considered Muslims, but rather all people throughout history who have surrendered and submitted to Allah and rejected paganism are Muslims and this is why the Quran introduces Prophet Abraham as a Muslim even though he lived before prophet Mohammad.
It can be understood from verse 85 of Surah Ale Imran (Whosoever chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him) and verse 3 from Surah Al Ma’edah (Today I have perfected your religion and am happy with Islam as your religion) that Muslims are only those who follow the religion of the prophet (pbuh), because by choosing Islam as their religion and believing in all previous prophets and divine religions, they have proven their submission to Allah (swt). According to this definition, today people of other religions are not Muslims because they have not surrendered to Allah by accepting the new religion that was revealed to the seal of prophets.
The verse commands the prophet to tell them to say that they have become Muslims and not Mu’mins. Of course, although practicing does not change the fact that one is Muslim or not, but to be a true Muslim not only should one believe in Islam but he must also act according to his belief and the teachings and laws of his religion, let those laws be social ones such as haqqul-nas or personal ones such as prayer and fasting.
Mu’min, or Believer, is derived from the word “Amn”, which means to testify, to believe, and have humility and tranquility of the soul.(4) Therefore, the word Mu’min is used to describe the acknowledgers.
The term “Believers” refers to those who acknowledge the existence of the Almighty, surrender to Him and are humble and obedient towards Him. They acknowledge and accept the prophethood of all of the divine prophets and their message. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has said: “Belief is understanding in your heart, saying with your tongue, and acting with your body.
Some of the signs of a Believer that are mentioned in the Holy Quran are:
- Prayers and recognizing its importance.
- Giving Zakat, and donating to charity in the way of Allah.
- Relying and placing complete trust in Allah.
- Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil.
- Staying away from frivolous and idle acts.
- Maintaining chastity and virtue.
- Obeying Allah and the Prophet.
- Obedience towards them.
The signs of a believer as described in the Quran are not limited to the signs that were mentioned. In fact, the true Believers are those who surrender totally to the orders and command of Allah and the Prophet.
One of the pillars of Imaan(Faith) is the belief in the Authority of the Ahlul-Bait. What it is understood from the Quran, the Holy Prophet and his family is that being obedient towards the Prophet’s family plays an essential role in the concept of faith, and if a person does not lead his life according to their teachings, his Beliefs are incomplete.
As an example, here are a few traditions and verses of the Quran which we will mention:
- The verse of “Tableegh” says: “O Apostle! Deliver what bas been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people.”
- The verse of “Wilayat”: “Only Allah is your Wali and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and give Zakat to the poor while they bow.”
Sunni books of Tafsir and Narrations state that this verse was revealed with regards to the status and position of Imam Ali (a.s).
Therefore, if a person does not believe in the Wilayat of Imam Ali (a.s), he has not accepted one of the most important and essential part of Allah’s Commands; so how can he be classified as a Believer? In this verse, the Wilayat of Imam Ali has been mentioned, alongside the Wilayat of Allah and the Wilayat of His Prophet, and we know that the accepting the Wilayat of God and His Messenger are the bases of Imaan (Faith), which means the Wilayat of Imam Ali, is an essential pillar of faith as well. There are several other verses as well, but for the sake of brevity these two will suffice.
According to Imam Baqir (as), Faith is something which is existed in our heart that connect us to Allah, the Almighty. By submission to Allah (SWT) we would be able to prove our faith in action. Islam is related to our words and deeds.
We can conclude that every Mumin is a Muslim, but it is not true to say that every Muslim who doesn’t believe in the Wilayat of the holy Prophet’s family can be a real Mumin. This means that everyone can be a Muslim by testifying that there is no God but Allah, the Almighty and the holy Prophet (pbuh) is the messenger of Allah (SWT), however if one, in addition to the previous conditions of being a Muslim, doesn’t believe in the holy Quran and Ahlul Bayt (pbuth) and Wilayat of Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) he is not considered as real believer.
From all of the aforesaid, it is obvious and clear that the only group of Muslims which is completely in coordination with the teachings of the Holy Quran, and the beliefs, actions and morals synchronized with it, are the Shias, who, by obeying and following the Prophet’s progeny have been able to understand the proper meanings of the verses of the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet, and have protected themselves from the darkness of the wrong path.
For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:
Index: Ask Islam: How to become a Muslim, answer 527.
Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.
Index: Shia answers: The Term Shia in Quran, answer 129.
Index: Shia Ithna Ashari is Jafari school of thought, answer 111.
Index: Principles of Religion: Usul al-Din in Quran, answer 230.
Index: Islam and Democracy / Khilafat is Appointed by Allah’s order, answer 592.
Index: The Wilayah of Imam Ali (as) / Political Authority in Ghadir Khumm, answer 470.
Related Link: Glossary 506.
Al-Nokat wal-Uyun, (Tafsir Maverdi), vol1, p 379-380
 Tafsir Nemooneh, vol2, p 643
 Ale Imran:67.
 Ma’jam Muqais al Lughah, Aqrab Almawaarid, Farhange Jami’, term: “Amn”.
 Kanzul Amaal, pg 95.
 Anfaal, ayah 2-4; Taubah ayah 71; Muminoon ayah 1-11.
 Nisaa, ayah 65 and 150.
 Maidah ayah 67.
 Maidah ayah 55
 Waahidi dar Asbaabe Nuzool, pg 133; Zamkhishri dar Kishaaf, Vol 1, pg 649; Abu Bakr Jisaas in Quranic Laws, Vol 2, pg 446
 . Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 26.