"the submission to God" is a monotheistic
faith, one of the Abrahamic religions, and the world's
Etymology of Islam
In Arabic, Islām
from the root 'slm' (silm), to be in peaceful submission; to
surrender; to obey; peace; Islam literally meaning "The
active willful surrender, submission, obedience, in purity to the
will of another (Allah) in complete peace." (understood as
submission to God) and is described as a dīn, meaning
"way of life" and/or "religion."
Etymologically, it is derived from the same root as, for example,
Salām meaning "peace" (also a common salutation).
The word Muslim is also related to the word Islām and means
one who "surrenders" or "submits" to God.
Although both "Islam" and "Muslim" are often
pronounced with z sounds, the s should be pronounced not as a z
but as a s, like in bliss.
Followers of Islam known as
Muslims, believe that God (or, in Arabic, Allāh) revealed his
direct word for mankind to Muhammad (c. 570–632) and other
prophets, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Muslims
assert that the main written record of revelation to humankind is
the Qur'an, which they believe to be flawless, immutable, and the
final revelation of God. Muslims mistakenly believe that parts of the
Gospels, Torah and Jewish prophetic books (though originally
divine in their nature) have been forgotten, misinterpreted, or
distorted by their followers and thus, their original message has
been corrupted over time. With that perspective, Muslims view the
Qur'an as a corrective of Jewish and Christian scriptures.
hold that Islam is essentially the same belief as that of all the
messengers sent by God to mankind since Adam, with the Qur'ān
(the one definitive text of the Muslim faith) codifying the final
revelation of God. Islamic teaching sees Judaism and Christianity
as derivations of the teachings of certain of these prophets -
notably Abraham - and therefore acknowledges their Abrahamic
roots, whilst the Qur'an calls them People of the Book. Islam has
three primary branches of belief, based largely on a historical
disagreement over the succession of authority after Muhammad's
death; these are known as Sunni, Shi'ite and Kharijite. The basis
of Islamic belief is found in the shahādatān ("two
testimonies"): lā ilāhā illā-llāhu;
muhammadur-rasūlu-llāhi — "There is no god but
God; Muhammad is the messenger of God." In order to become a
Muslim, one needs to recite and believe in these statements.
Sunnis further regard this as one of the five pillars of Islam.
articles of belief
are six basic beliefs shared by all Muslims:
Belief in God, the one and only one worthy of all worship.
Belief in all the Prophets (nabi) and Messengers (rasul) (sent by
Belief in the Books (kutub) sent by God.
Belief in the Angels (malaikah).
Belief in the Day of Judgment (qiyamah) and in the Resurrection.
Belief in Destiny (Fate) (qadar). (Note that this does not mean
one is pre-determined to act or live a certain life. God has given
the free will to do and make decisions.)
Muslim creed in English:
"I believe in God; and in His Angels; and in His
Scriptures; and in His Messengers; and in The Final Day; and in
Fate, that Good and Evil are from God, and Resurrection after
death be Truth.
testify that there is nothing worthy of worship but God; and I
testify that Muhammad is His Messenger."
God of Islam
The fundamental concept in Islam is the oneness of God (tawhid).
This monotheism is absolute, not relative or pluralistic in any
sense of the word. God is described in Sura al-Ikhlas, (chapter
112) as follows: Say "He is God, the one, the Self-Sufficient
master. He never begot, nor was begotten. There is none comparable
Arabic, God is called Allāh. The word is etymologically
connected to al-ilah "deity", ultimately from
Proto-Semitic ilâh-al, and indirectly
related to Hebrew Ēl.
Allāh is also the word used by Christian and Jewish Arabs,
translating ho theos of the New Testament and LXX; it predates
Muhammad and in its origin does not specify a "God"
different from the one worshipped by Judaism and Christianity, the
monotheistic religions to which Muhammad's teaching stood in
contrast. Some Christians and Orthodox Jews dispute the notion
that the God that Muslims worship is the same God described in the
Old and New Testaments due to extreme differences in the two
implicit usage of the definite article in Allah linguistically
indicates the divine unity. Muslims believe that the God they
worship is the same as the Judeo-Christian God, i.e., the God of
Abraham. However, Muslims reject the Christian theology concerning
the unity of God (the doctrine of the Trinity which regards Jesus
as the eternal Son of God).
Quoting from the Qur'an, sura An-Nisa 171: "O People of the
Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught
concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary,
was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto
Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His
messengers, and say not "three". Cease! (it is) better
for you! Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His
transcendent majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is
in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is
sufficient as its defender."
Muslim visual images or depictions of God exist because such
artistic depictions may lead to idolatry and are thus prohibited.
A similar position in Christian theology is termed Iconoclasm.
Moreover, most Muslims believe that God is incorporeal, rendering
any two or three dimensional depictions impossible. Instead,
Muslims describe God by the many divine attributes mentioned in
the Qur'an. All but one Surah (chapter) of the Qur'an begins with
the phrase "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the
Merciful". These are consequently the most important divine
attributes in the sense that Muslims repeat them most frequently
during their ritual prayers (called salah in Arabic, and in India,
Pakistan and Turkey called "namaaz" (a Persian word)).
tenets of Islam
There are two main sects in
Islam: the Sunni and the Shi'a. Sunni Muslim make up roughly 90%
of the Muslim world. Sunni Islam's most fundamental tenets are
referred to as the Five Pillars of Islam2, while Shia Islam has a
slightly different terminology, encompassing five core beliefs
(the "roots of religion") and ten core practices (the
"branches of religion"). All Muslims agree on the
following statements, which Sunnis term the Five Pillars of Islam,
and Shia would consider two of the Roots of Religion and four of
the Branches of Religion:
The Testimony that there is none worthy of worship
except God and that Muhammad is his messenger.
Establishing of the five daily Prayers
The Giving of Zakaah (charity), which is one fortieth
(2.5%) of the net worth of savings kept for more than a year, with
few exemptions, for every Muslim whose wealth exceeds the nisab,
and 10% or 20% of the produce from agriculture. This money or
produce is distributed among the Muslim poor.
Fasting from dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadan
The Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca during the month of Dhul
Hijjah, which is compulsory once in a lifetime for one who has the
ability to do it.
include the following, though some of these beliefs are
also considered accurate in Sunni Islam as well:
Justice of God ('Adl).
of what the Shia call the Branches of Religion:
Enjoining what is good (Amr-bil-Ma'roof).
Forbidding what is evil (Nahi-anil-Munkar).
Striving to seek God's approval (Jihad).
the tax on profit (Khums).
two "branches", and one "root", are
belief in the divinely appointed and guided imamate of Ali and
some of his descendants (Imamah).
love the Ahl-ul-Bayt and their followers (Tawalla).
hate the enemies of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (Tabarra).
Qur'an is the sacred book of Islam. It has also been called, in
English, the Koran and the Quran. Qur'an is the currently
preferred English transliteration of the Arabic original (قرآن);
it means “recitation”. Although it is referred to as a
"book", when a Muslim refers to the Qur'an, they are
referring to the actual text, the words, rather than the printed
believe that the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by
the Angel Gabriel on numerous occasions between the years 610 and
Muhammad's death in 632. In addition to memorizing his
revelations, his followers are said to have written them down on
parchments, stones, and other media, so that the entire Qur'an was
written down during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad.
believe that the Qur'an available today is the same as that
revealed to Prophet Muhammad and by him to his followers, who
memorized his words. Scholars accept that the version of the
Qur'an used today was first compiled in writing by the third
Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, sometime between 650 and 656. He sent
copies of his version to the various provinces of the new Muslim
empire, and directed that all variant copies be destroyed.
However, some skeptics doubt the recorded oral traditions (hadith)
on which the account is based and will say only that the Qur'an
must have been compiled before 750.
are also numerous traditions, and many conflicting academic
theories, as to the provenance of the verses later assembled into
the Qur'an. Most Muslims accept the account recorded in several
hadith, which state that Abu Bakr, the first caliph, ordered Zayd
ibn Thabit to collect and record all the authentic verses of the
Qur'an, as preserved in written form or oral tradition. Zayd's
written collection, privately treasured by Muhammad's widow Hafsa
bint Umar, was used by Uthman and is the basis of today's Qur'an.
version organized the revelations, or suras, roughly in order of
length, with the longest suras at the start of the Qur'an and the
shortest ones at the end. More conservative views state that the
order of most suras was divinely set. Later scholars have
struggled to put the suras in chronological order, and among
Muslim commentators at least there is a rough consensus as to
which suras were revealed in Mecca and which at Medina. Some suras
(eg surat Iqra) were revealed in parts at separate times.
the Qur'an was first written (date uncertain) in the Hijazi, Mashq,
Ma'il, and Kufic scripts, which write consonants only and do not
supply the vowels, and because there were differing oral
traditions of recitation, as non-native Arabic speakers converted
to Islam, there was some disagreement as to the exact reading of
many verses. Eventually, scripts were developed that used
diacritical markings (known as points) to indicate vowels. For
hundreds of years after Uthman's recension, Muslim scholars argued
as to the correct pointing and reading of Uthman's unpointed
official text, (the rasm). Eventually, most commentators accepted
seven different readings (qira'at) of the Qur'an as canonical.
of the Qur'an most used today is the Al-Azhar text of 1923,
prepared by a committee at Cairo university of Al-Azhar.
Qur'an early became a focus of Muslim devotion and eventually a
subject of theological controversy. In the 8th century, the
Mu'tazilis claimed that the Qur'an was created in time and was not
eternal. Their opponents, of various schools, claimed that the
Qur'an was eternal and perfect, existing in heaven before it was
revealed to Muhammad. The Ashari theology (which ultimately became
predominant) held that the Qur'an was uncreated. However, modern
liberal movements within Islam are apt to take something
approaching the Mu'tazili position.
Muslims regard paper copies of the Qur'an with extreme veneration,
wrapping them in a clean cloth, keeping them on a high shelf, and
washing as for prayers before reading the Qur'an. Old Qur'ans are
not destroyed as wastepaper, but burned or deposited in Qur'an
every Muslim has memorized some portion of Qur'an in the original
language. Those who have memorized the entire Qur'an are known as
hafiz. This is not a rare achievement; it is believed that there
are millions of hafiz alive today.
beginning of the faith, most Muslims believed that the Qur'an was
perfect only as revealed in Arabic. Translations were the result
of human effort and human fallibility, as well as lacking the
inspired poetry believers find in the Qur'an. Translations are
therefore only commentaries on the Qur'an, or "translations
of its meaning", not the Qur'an itself. Many modern, printed
versions of the Qur'an feature the Arabic text on one page, and a
vernacular translation on the facing page
Prophets of Islam
The Qur'an speaks of God appointing two
classes of human servants: messengers (rasul in Arabic), and
prophets (nabi in Arabic and Hebrew). In general, messengers are
the more elevated rank, but Muslims consider all prophets and
messengers equal. All prophets are said to have spoken with divine
authority; but only those who have been given a major revelation
or message are called messenger.
messengers include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses (Musa), Jesus (Isa),
and Muhammad, all belonging to a succession of men guided by God.
Islam demands that a believer accept most of the Judeo-Christian
prophets, making no distinction between them. In the Qur'an, 25
specific prophets are mentioned.
Muslims regard Muhammad as the 'Last Messenger' or the 'Seal of
the Prophets' based on the canon. However, there have been a
number of sects whose leaders have proclaimed themselves the
successors of Muhammad, changing and extending Islam, or, whose
devotees have made such claims for their leaders. However, most
Muslims remain unaffected by those claims and simply regard those
said groups to be deviant from Islam.
Islamic eschatology is concerned with
the Qiyamah (end of the world) and the final judgment of
humanity. Like Christianity and some sects of modern Judaism,
Islam teaches the bodily resurrection of the dead, the fulfillment
of a divine plan for creation, and the immortality of the human
soul; the righteous are rewarded with the pleasures of Jannah
(Paradise), while the unrighteous are punished in Jahannam (a
fiery Hell, from the Hebrew ge-hinnom or "valley of Hinnom";
usually rendered in English as Gehenna). A significant fraction of
the Qur'an deals with these beliefs, with many hadith elaborating
on the themes and details.
beliefs of Islam
Other beliefs include the existence of
Angels, the Jinns (a species of beings not composed of solid
matter, but 'fire') and the existence of magic (the practice of
which is strictly forbidden).
There is no official authority who
decides whether a person is accepted into, or dismissed from, the
community of believers, known as the Ummah ("family" or
"nation"). Islam is open to all, regardless of race,
age, gender, or previous beliefs. It is enough to believe in the
central beliefs of Islam. This is formally done by reciting the
shahada, the statement of belief of Islam, without which a person
cannot be classed a Muslim. It is enough to believe and say that
one is a Muslim, and behave in a manner befitting a Muslim to be
accepted into the community of Islam.
The Sharia is Islamic Law, preserved through Islamic scholarship.
The Qur'an is the foremost source of Islamic jurisprudence; the
second is the Sunnah (the practices of the Prophet, as narrated in
reports of his life). The Sunnah is not itself a text like the
Qur'an, but is extracted by analysis of the Hadith (Arabic for
"report") texts, which contain narrations of the
Prophet's sayings, deeds, and actions of his companions he
law covers all aspects of life, from the broad topics of
governance and foreign relations all the way down to issues of
daily living. Islamic law at the level of governance and social
justice only applies where the government is Islamic.
to Islam, the Sharia is divinely revealed. It is understood as
protecting five things: faith, life, knowledge, lineage, and
wealth. However, it is by no means a rigid system of laws. There
are different schools of thoughts and movements within Islam that
allow for flexibility. Moreover, Islam is a diverse religion as
many cultures have embraced it.
Apostasy in Islam
Islamic communities, like other
religious communities, often exclude apostates and blasphemers
from the community of believers.
orthodox Islamic theology, conversion from Islam to another
religion is forbidden and punishable by death. Apostasy is public
disloyalty towards Islam by any one who had previously professed
the Islamic faith. Blasphemy is showing disrespect or speaking ill
of any of the essential principles of Islam. There is no sharp
distinction made between these concepts, as many believers feel
that there can be no blasphemy without apostasy.
period of Islamic empire, apostasy was considered treason, and was
accordingly treated as a capital offense; death penalties were
carried out under the authority of the Caliph. Today apostasy is
punishable by death in the countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar,
Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, and Mauritania. Blasphemy is also an
offence in many of these countries.
of these countries, such laws are invoked only sporadically and
selectively; convictions tend to be reversed at a higher level, or
if not reversed, those convicted may be allowed to leave the
country. Some Islamic countries, notably, Saudi, Iran under the
Islamic Republic, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and Sudan, have
been more willing to enforce laws and punishments against apostasy
and blasphemy. In each of these countries Islamist regimes are
estimated to have executed, flogged, and imprisoned hundreds or
thousands of people believed to be apostates or blasphemers.
punishments prescribed by sharia (depending on interpretation) may
include the annulment of marriage with a Muslim spouse, the
removal of children, the loss of property and inheritance rights,
or other sanctions.
elsewhere in Islam, scholars disagree on specific applications of
core principles, with some prominently advocating a punitive
approach to "exclusionary" issues and others tending to
de-emphasize such questions.
Islam dates from the Hijra, or migration
from Mecca to Medina. This is year 1, AH (Anno Hegira) - which
corresponds to 622 AD or 622 CE, depending on the notation
preferred (see Common era). It is a lunar calendar, but differs
from other such calendars (e.g. the Celtic calendar) in that it
omits intercalary months, being synchronized only with lunations,
but not with the solar year, resulting in years of either 354 or
355 days. This omission was introduced by Muhammad because the
right to announce intercalary months had led to political power
struggles. Therefore Islamic dates cannot be converted to the
usual CE/AD dates simply by adding 622 years. Islamic holy days
fall on fixed dates of the lunar calendar, which means that they
occur in different seasons in different years in the Gregorian
There are a number of Islamic religious
denominations, each of which has significant theological and legal
differences from each other. The major branches are Sunni and
Shi'a, with Sufism often considered as a mystical inflection of
either Sunni or Shi'a thought.
Sunni sect of Islam is the largest of the sects (some 80-85% of
all Muslims are Sunni). Sunnis recognize four legal traditions (madhhabs):
Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanafi, and Hanbali. All four accept the validity
of the others and Muslims choose any one that he/she thinks is
agreeable to his/her ideas. There are also several orthodox
theological or philosophical traditions (kalam).
Muslims differ from the Sunni in rejecting the authority of the
first three caliphs. They honor different traditions (hadith) and
have their own legal traditions. The Shi'a consist of one major
school of thought known as the Ithna Ashariyya or the "Twelvers",
and a few minor schools of thought, as the "Seveners" or
the "Fivers" referring to the number of infallible
leaders they recognise after the death of Muhammad. The term Shi'a
is usually taken to be synonymous with the Ithna Ashariyya/Twelvers.
Most Shi'a live in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon.
and Shi'a have often clashed. Some Sunni believe that Shi'a are
heretics while other Sunni recognize Shi'a as fellow Muslims.
According to Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot, head of the al-Azhar
University in the middle part of the 20th Century, "the
Ja'fari school of thought, which is also known as "al-Shi'a
al- Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" (i.e., The Twelver Imami
Shi'ites) is a school of thought that is religiously correct to
follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought". Al-Azhar
later distanced itself from this position.
sect which dates back to the early days of Islam is that of the
Kharijites. The only surviving branch of the Kharijites are the
Ibadhi Muslims. Most Ibadhi Muslims live in Oman.
as they are known by non-Wahhabis, are a more recent group. They
prefer to be called the Ikhwan, or Brethren, or sometimes Salafis.
Wahhabism is a movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab in
the 18th century in what is present-day Saudi Arabia. They
classify themselves as Sunni and some claim to follow the Hanbali
legal tradition. The major trend, however is the abolition of
these 'schools of thoughts' (legal traditions), and the following
of a more literalist interperation. Some even regard other Sunni
as heretics. They are recognized as the official religion of Saudi
Arabia and have had a great deal of influence on the Islamic world
due to Saudi control of Mecca and Medina, the Islamic holy places,
and due to Saudi funding for mosques and schools in other
trend in modern Islam is sometimes called progressive, liberal or
secular Islam. Followers may be called Ijtihadists. They may be
either Sunni or Shi'ite, and generally favour the development of
personal interpretations of Qur'an and Hadith. See: Liberal Islam
small Muslim group, based primarily in the United States, follows
the teachings of Rashad Khalifa and calls itself the
"Submitters". They reject hadith and fiqh, and say that
they follow the Qur'an alone. There is also an even smaller group
of Qur'an-alone Muslims who claim to represent the authentic
teachings of Rashad Khalifa and seem to have split from the
Submitters. Most Muslims of both the Sunni and the Shia sects
consider this group to be heretical.
is a spiritual practice followed by both Sunni and Shi'a. Sufis
generally feel that following Islamic law is only the first step
on the path to perfect submission; they focus on the internal
aspects of Islam, such as perfecting one's faith and fighting
one's own ego.
Sufi orders, or tariqa, can be classified as either Sunni or Shi'a.
There are also some very large groups or sects of Sufism that are
not easily categorised as either Sunni or Shi'a, such as the
Bektashi. Sufis are found throughout the Islamic world, from
Senegal to Indonesia.
based on Islam
The following groups consider themselves
to be Muslims, but are not considered Islamic by the majority of
Muslims or Muslim authorities:
Qadianis (or Ahmadiyya)
following consider themselves Muslims but acceptance by the larger
Muslim community varies:
* The Nation of Islam (African-American Cult)
following religions are said by some to have evolved or borrowed
from Islam, in almost all cases influenced by traditional beliefs
in the regions where they emerged, but consider themselves
independent religions with distinct laws and institutions:
claim of the adherents of the Bahá'í Faith that it represents an
independent religion was upheld by the Muslim ecclesiastical
courts in Egypt during the 1920's. As of January 1926, their final
ruling on the matter of the origins of the Bahá'í Faith and its
relationship to Islam was that the Bahá'í Faith was neither a
sect of Islam, nor a religion based on Islam, but a
clearly-defined, independently-founded faith. This seen as a
considerate act on part of the ecclesiastical court and in favor
of followers of Bahá'í Faith since the majority of Muslims would
regard a religion based on Islam as a heresy.
Sikhism as a syncretic mix of Hinduism and Islam. However, its
history lies in the social strife between local Hindu and Muslim
communities, during which Sikhs were seen as the "sword
arm" of Hinduism. The philosophical basis of the Sikhs is
deeply-rooted in Hindu metaphysics and certain philosophical
practices. Sikhism also rejects image-worship and believes in one
God, just like the Bhakti reform movement in Hinduism and also
like Islam does.
following religions might have been said to have evolved from
Islam, but are not considered part of Islam, and no longer exist:
religion of the medieval Berghouata
religion of Ha-Mim
and other religions
The Qur'an contains both injunctions to
respect other religions, and to fight and subdue unbelievers. Some
Muslims have respected Jews and Christians as fellow "peoples
of the book" (monotheists following Abrahamic religions), and
others have reviled them as having abandoned monotheism and
corrupted their scriptures. At different times and places, Islamic
communities have been both intolerant and tolerant. Support can be
found in the Qur'an for both attitudes.
classical Islamic solution was a limited tolerance - Jews and
Christians were to be allowed to privately practice their faith
and follow their own family law. They were called Dhimmis, and
they had fewer legal rights and obligations than Muslims.
classic Islamic state was often more tolerant than many other
states of the time, which insisted on complete comformity to a
state religion. The record of contemporary Muslim-majority states
is mixed. Some are generally regarded as tolerant, while others
have been accused of intolerance and human rights violations. See
the main article, Islam and other religions, for further
History of Islam
Islamic history begins in Arabia in the
7th century with the emergence of the prophet Muhammad. Within a
century of his death, an Islamic state stretched from the Atlantic
ocean in the west to central Asia in the east, which however was
soon torn by civil wars (fitnas). After this, there would always
be rival dynasties claiming the caliphate, or leadership of the
Muslim world, and many Islamic states or empires offering only
token obedience to an increasingly powerless caliph.
the later empires of the Abbasid caliphs and the Seljuk Turk were
among the largest and most powerful in the world. After the
disastrous defeat of the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in
1071, Christian Europe launched a series of Crusades and for a
time captured Jerusalem. Saladin however restored unity and
defeated the Shiite Fatimids.
14th to the 17th centuries one of the most important Muslim
territories was the Mali Empire, whose capital was Timbuktu.
18th century there were three great Muslim empires: the Ottoman in
Turkey, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean; the Safavid in
Iran; and the Mogul in India. By the 19th century, these realms
had fallen under the sway of European political and economic
power. Following WWI, the remnants of the Ottoman empire were parceled
out as European protectorates or spheres of influence.
Islam and Islamic political power have revived in the 20th
century. However, the relationship between the West and the
Islamic world remains uneasy.
Although the most visible movement in
Islam in recent times has been fundamentalist Islamism, there are
a number of liberal movements within Islam which seek alternative
ways to align the Islamic faith with contemporary questions.
shariah had a much more flexible character than is currently
associated with Islamic jurisprudence, and many modern Muslim
scholars believe that it should be renewed, and the classical
jurists should lose their special status. This would require
formulating a new fiqh suitable for the modern world, e.g. as
proposed by advocates of the Islamization of knowledge, and would
deal with the modern context. One vehicle proposed for such a
change has been the revival of the principle of ijtihad, or
independent reasoning by a qualified Islamic scholar, which has
lain dormant for centuries.
movement does not aim to challenge the fundamentals of Islam;
rather, it seeks to clear away misinterpretations and to free the
way for the renewal of the previous status of the Islamic world as
a center of modern thought and freedom. See Modern Islamic
philosophy for more on this subject.
claim that only "liberalization" of the Islamic Shariah
law can lead to distinguishing between tradition and true Islam is
countered by many Muslims with the argument that any meaningful
"fundamentalism" will, by definition, reject non-Islamic
cultural inventions - by, for instance, acknowledging and
implementing Muhammad's insistence that women have God-given
rights that no human being may legally infringe upon. Proponents
of modern Islamic philosophy sometimes respond to this by arguing
that, as a practical matter, "fundamentalism" in popular
discourse about Islam may actually refer, not to core precepts of
the faith, but to various systems of cultural traditionalism.
of Islam today
Based on the percentages published in
the 2005 CIA World Factbook ("World"), Islam is the
second-largest religion in the world. According to the World
Network of Religious Futurists, the U.S. Center for World Mission,
and the controversial Samuel Huntington, Islam is growing faster
numerically than any of the other major world religions. Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance estimate that it is growing at
about 2.9% annually, as opposed to 2.3% per year global population
growth. This is attributed either to the higher birth rates in
many Islamic countries (six out of the top-ten countries in the
world with the highest birth rates have a Muslim majority )
and/or high rates of conversion to Islam.
cited estimates of the Muslim population today range between 900
million and 1.4 billion people (cf. Adherents.com); estimates of
Islam by country based on US State Department figures yield a
total of 1.48 billion, while the Muslim delegation at the United
Nations quoted 1.2 billion as the global Muslim population in Sept
of Muslims live in the Arab world; 20% are found in Sub-Saharan
Africa, about 30% in the Indian sub-continental region of
Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and the world's largest single
Muslim community (within the bounds of one nation) is in
Indonesia. There are also significant Muslim populations in China,
Europe, Central Asia, and Russia.
has the highest Muslim population of any nation in Europe, with up
to 6 million Muslims (10% of the population). Albania is said
to have the highest proportion of Muslims as part of its
population in Europe (70%), although this figure is only a (highly
contested) estimate (see Islam in Albania). The number of Muslims
in North America is variously estimated as anywhere from 1.8 to 7
Major Muslim Countries of the World
(% of population)
Country - Muslim (%)
Burkina Faso 50
Gambia, The 90
Gaza Strip 98.7
|Country - Muslim (%)
Maldives Sunni Muslim
Saudi Arabia 100
Sierra Leone 60
Somalia Sunni Muslim
United Arab Emirates 96
West Bank 75
Green is commonly used when representing
Islam. It is much used in decorating mosques, tombs, and various
religious objects. Some say this is because green was the favorite
color of Muhammad and that he wore a green cloak and turban.
Others say that it symbolizes vegetation. Some say that after
Muhammad, only the caliphs were allowed to wear green turbans. In
the Qur'an, 18:31, it is said that the inhabitants of paradise
will wear green garments of fine silk.
reference to the Qur'an is verifiable; it is not clear if the
other traditions are reliable or mere folklore. However, the
association between Islam and the color green is firmly
established now, whatever its origins may have been.
color green is absent from medieval European coats of arms as
during the Crusades, green was the color used by their Islamic
* In the
palace of Topkapi, in Istanbul, there is a room with relics of
Muhammad. One of the relics, kept locked in a chest, is said to
have been Muhammad's banner, under which he went to war. Some say
that this banner is green with golden embroidery, others say that
it is black and others think there is no banner in the chest at
accounts of Muslim warfare, there are references to flags or
battle standards of various colors: black, white, red, and
greenish-black. Later Islamic dynasties adopted flags of different
Ummayads fought under white banners
Abbasids chose black
Fatimids used green
Various countries on the Persian Gulf have chosen red flags
four colors, white, black, green and red, dominate the flags of
crescent and star are often said to be Islamic symbols, but flag
historians citations state that they were the insignia of the
Ottoman empire, not of Islam as a whole.
1. Shi'a muslims do not believe in absolute predestination (Qadar), since they consider it incompatible with Divine Justice. Neither do they believe in absolute free will since that contradicts God's Omniscience and Omnipotence. Rather they believe in "a way between the two ways" (amr bayn al‑'amrayn) believing in free will, but within the boundaries set for it by God and exercised with His permission.
2. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad group claims, as did a few long-extinct early medieval Kharijite sects, that Jihad is the "sixth pillar of Islam." Some Ismaili groups consider "Allegiance to the Imam" to be the so-called sixth pillar of Islam. For more information, see the article entitled Sixth pillar of Islam.
* Encyclopedia of Islam
* The Koran Interpreted: a translation by A. J. Arberry, ISBN 0684825074
* Islam, by Fazlur Rahman, University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (1979). ISBN 0226702812
* The Islamism Debate, Martin Kramer, University Press, 1997
* Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook, Charles Kurzman, Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0195116224
* Progressive Muslims: Oneworld Publications, Oxford,
1986, 1989, 1997.
* The Challenge of Fundamentalism: Political Islam and the New World Disorder, Bassam Tibi, Univ. of California Press, 1998