To understand this concept of root words we can take some example from English language. For example there is this word irreversible. You can see that it is not the basic word rather it has some prefix and suffix. The basic word that you can find here is actually reverse. When we put –ir before it and –ible after it, it becomes ir=reverse-ible, and we write it as irreversible.
This way we can now understand Arabic words too.
The word Islam اسلام comes from the root word sa la ma. س-ل-م
Islam is the technical name of the creed preached by the holy Prophet Muhammed pbuh. It has been the religion of all prophets in all climes, other (so called religions) being so many deviations from it. No religion is acceptable with God save Islam, which consists in acknowledging the unity and soleness of God and embracing the code which Muhammed pbuh had brought. Literally and in practice it is ‘self-surrender’ , ‘submission’, ‘absolute surrender’ to the Divine Will and was a fit designation of the Faith revealed to Abraham, Ishmael and the Arabs. (Torrey; Jewish Foundation of Islam. P.104, cited from Jid, P. 3, n. 291.)
Islaama اسلاما means to submit or surrender, to accept Islam as ones religion.
Salaamah سلاما means to be in actual condition without blemish.
Muslim مسلم means one who surrenders himself to the will of God.
Assalaam or salamun اسلام، سلام means peace, greetings.
So when the Muslims say As salaamu alaykum اسلام علیکم it means Peace be upon you…alaykum علیکم means on you.
Some times because of the misinterpretations and miscommunications through media and common beliefs people of other faiths misunderstand the terms used in Arabic.
One of the most misinterpreted terms in Islam by other Faiths as well as Muslims themselves is the word Jihad جہاد
Jihad comes from the root word ja ha da. جہد
Jaahada, mujaahada, and jihaada جاہدہ، مجاہدہ، جہادہ mean to struggle.
Jihaadun جہاد means struggle or strive.
Mujahideen مجاہدین means strivers.
And this struggle is anything which is done to please Allah and it does not mean violence in any sense. The struggle can be with our own nafs or self to fight with our desires and wishes which go against the Will of Allah. This is the best struggle which one does with oneself to alienate it from wrongdoing and sin so that God is not displeased. How can one imagine that a follower of peace, a struggler with self can go out and destruct and destroy and create violence in the world? The real follower of Islam will not do this at any cost. Rather it is very clearly understood by each and every Muslim that Allah does not love those who do mischief. He does not love those who spread violence and do destruction. One of Allah’s beautiful names is As Salaamu السلام which means The All Peace. He is all peace and He likes the good doers, the peace makers, the submissive and patient persons.