What is Deen?

The root of the word is D-Y-N د ـ ي ـ ن , which leads to the following primary meanings:

-To obey [some authority]

-To become obedient [to some authority]

-To become abased, submissive and obedient [to some authority]

-To serve [some authority]

 The word DEEN has the following primary meanings:

 -Obedience [to some authority]

-State of abasement and submissiveness [to some authority]

-Service [of some authority]

There are other meanings of the word  deen as well, such as: “a particular law”, “a statute” “an ordinance”, “requital”, “recompense”, “judgement”, “reckoning”, etc. but when the preposition “la” OR “laam” ل is used with deen دين , it particularly means, “obedience”. Please see the following verses:

 …lahu ad-deen لَهُ الدِّينَ

  [10:22, 16:52, 29:65, 31:32, 39:2, 39:11, 40:14, 40:65, 98:5]

 which means:

 “Ad-Deen [i.e. obedience] is only to Him [i.e. Allah]”

The verse 42:13 indicates IQAAMAT-e-DEEN, i.e. the setting up or establishment of Ad-deen.

أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ

 "…aqeemoo alddeena…" [42:13]

which means:

 “…Establish Ad-Deen…”

 As Ad-deen is of Allah [10:22, 16:52, 29:6531:32, 39:2, 39:11, 40:14, 40:65, 98:5], so “…Establish Ad-Deen…” is actually “…Establish Allah's Deen”, which means “…establish a way of life in which obedience is only of Allah…”

 Now let us see verse 3:19, which says,

إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الإسْلامُ

 Ad-deen approved by Allah is AL-ISLAM.

The primary meanings of Al-ISLAM are:

- Submission and obedience to Allah
- Humility, submissiveness and conformance to the Laws of Allah

-Taking upon oneself what Allah Has ordained and His Messenger practically demonstrated and conveyed to the mankind

Now let us see 12:40:

إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلا لِلَّهِ أَمَرَ أَلا تَعْبُدُوا إِلا إِيَّاهُ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ

 …Verily Al-HUKM belong to none but Allah and He has commanded that you should serve none except Him; This is Ad-Deen-e-Qayyam… [12:40]

 Notice the use of the word Al-HUKM [from which the word HAKOOMAT is derived] in context of Deen.

 Now let us consider verses  مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ 1:4 and 82:18-19

  ثُمَّ مَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ
يَوْمَ لا تَمْلِكُ نَفْسٌ لِنَفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَالأمْرُ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلَّهِ
,

where the word Ad-Deen is used with the word “MAALIK” and “TAMLIK”. The root of the words  “MAALIK” and “TAMLIK” is M-L-K.

 MULK means the following:

-Dominion

-Sovereignty

-Authority

-Kingship

-Rule

-Ownership, etc.

 According to 82:18-19, YAUM-ul-DEEN is the time, day, era, age, zamaana when none have the sovereignty, authority or dominion except Allah.

 Now if we take it all together – the word Deen and its meaning as obedience, ordinance, a particular law-the word Islam and its meanings as submission and obedience - IQAAMAT-e-DEEN and its meaning as establishing Deen - the word MULK and its meanings as sovereignty, rule, kingship - the use of word Al-Hukm in context of Deen - this would lead to the following conclusions:

 Deen is not just about some rituals but it is about:

-Obedience to Allah,

-Submission to the Laws of Allah, and

-Establishment of the sovereignty, kingship and the rule of Allah

Now let us take the word MADDHAB مذهب.

 DHAHABA ذهب means “he went”. MADDHAB مذهب has the following meanings:

- A place to which one goes

-A way, course, mode or manner of acting or conduct or the like

-A way that one pursues in respect of doctrines and practices

-A way of believing, opining, thinking or judging

-A belief, a creed, a persuasion, a doctrine, an opinion, a tenet, a body of tenets

-A school of thought

Religion

 There is no definitive agreed-upon definition of religion. It has the following meanings: 

-Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

-A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.

-The life or condition of a person in a religious order.

-A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.

-A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

 Summary:

A careful reading of the above will indicate that Deen is not same as religion or Maddhab. MADDHAB and DEEN are both Arabic words and have entirely different meanings and connotations. The meaning and concept of religion is more close to MADDHAB rather than Deen.