Template:Islam Islam the submission to God" is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions, and the world's second largest religion.



In Arabic, Islām means "submission" (understood as submission to God) and is described as a Dīn or Deen, 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.


Followers of Islam, known as Muslims, believe that God (or, in Arabic, Allāh) revealed his direct word for mankind to Muhammad (c. 570632) and other prophets, including Adam, 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 believe that parts of the Bible and the Torah have been forgotten, misinterpreted, or distorted by their followers. With that perspective they view the Qur'an as corrective of Jewish and Christian scriptures.

Muslims 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 Muslim 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 these statements. All Muslims agree to this, although Sunnis further regard this as one of the five pillars of Islam.

, located in , the capital city of , was built in . It is one of the largest mosques in Asia.
Faisal Mosque, located in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, was built in 1986. It is one of the largest mosques in Asia.

Six articles of belief

There are six basic beliefs shared by all Muslims:

  1. Belief in God, the one and only one worthy of all worship.
  2. Belief in all the Prophets and Messengers (sent by God).
  3. Belief in the Books sent by God.
  4. Belief in the Angels.
  5. Belief in the Day of Judgment (Qiyamah) and in the Resurrection.
  6. Belief in Destiny (Fate) (Qadaa and Qadar in Arabic). (Note that this does not mean one is predeterminded to act or live a certain life. God has given the free will to do and make decisions.)

The 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.
"I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship but God; and I testify that Muhammad is His Messenger."


Main article: Allah

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 to Him."

In Arabic, God is called Allah, a contraction of al-ilah or "the only god". Allāh thus translates to "God" in English. The implicit usage of the definite article in Allah linguistically indicates the divine unity. In spite of the different name used for God, Muslims believe in the same deity as the Judeo-Christian religions. However, Muslims completely disagree with the Christian theology concerning the unity of God (the doctrine of the Trinity which sees Jesus as the eternal Son of God), seeing it as akin to polytheism. As it says in the Qur'an, "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." [Chapter 4 : Surah 171]

No Muslim visual images or depictions of God exist because such artistic depictions may lead to idolatry and are thus prohibited. Moreover, many 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, and also with the 99 names of Allah. 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)).

The Tenets of Islam

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 Pilgrimage to , , Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam.
The Pilgrimage to Kaaba, Masjid al Haram, Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam.
  • "Shahadah": The Testimony that there is none worthy of worship except God and that Muhammad is his messenger.
  • "Salah": Establishing of the five daily Prayers (salah).
  • "Zakat": 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 poor.
  • "Ramadhan": Fasting from dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadan (sawm).
  • "Hajj": 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.

All Muslims further agree on two of what the Shia call the Roots of Religion:

  • The Justice of God ('Adl).
  • The Resurrection (Me'ad).

and four 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).
  • Paying the tax on profit (Khums).

while two "branches", and one "root", are specifically Shia:

  • The belief in the divinely appointed and guided imamate of Ali and some of his descendants (Imamah).
  • To love the Ahl-ul-Bayt and their followers (Tawalla).
  • To hate the enemies of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (Tabarra).

The Qur'an

Main article: Qur'an

The 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”.

Muslims 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, bones, sticks, and leaves.

Muslims 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.

There are also numerous traditions, and many conflicting academic theories, as to the provenance of the verses later assembled into the Qur'an. (This is covered in greater detail in the article on 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.

Uthman's 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.

Because 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 "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 variant readings (qira'at) of the Qur'an as canonical, while agreeing that the differences are minor and do not affect the meaning of the text.

The form of the Qur'an most used today is the Al-Azhar text of 1923, prepared by a committee at the prestigious Cairo university of Al-Azhar.

The 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 Mu'tazili position was supported by caliph Al-Ma'mun. The caliph persecuted, tortured, and killed the anti-Mu'tazilis, but their belief eventually triumphed and is held by most Muslims of today. However, modern liberal movements within Islam are apt to take something approaching the Mu'tazili position.

Most Muslims regard the Qur'an with extreme veneration, wrapping it in a clean cloth, keeping it on a high shelf, and washing as for prayers before reading the Qur'an. Old Qur'ans are not destroyed as wastepaper, but deposited in Qur'an graveyards. The Qur'an is regarded as an infallible guide to personal piety and community life, and completely true in its history and science.

From the 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.


Main article: Prophets of Islam

 in . The mosque also has a tomb of prophet  and the first two ,  and
Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina. The mosque also has a tomb of prophet Muhammad and the first two caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab

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.

Notable 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.

Mainstream 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, perfecting 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

Main article: Islamic eschatology

Islamic eschatology is concerned with the Qiyamah (end of the world) and the final judgement 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.

Other beliefs

Other beliefs include the Angels, the Jinns (a species of beings not composed of solid matter, but of fire), and the existence of magic (the practice of which is strictly forbidden).


Religious authority

There is no official authority who decides whether a person is accepted to, or dismissed from, the community of believers, known as the Ummah ("Family"). 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.

Islamic law

Main article: Sharia

Muslims in Islamic societies have traditionally viewed Islamic law as essential to their religious outlook. For Muslims living in secular Western countries sharia ceases to be relevant as law, but remains a source of personal ethics (for example, the avoidance of pork and alcohol, and the use of Sharia-compliant banking services). 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 approved.

One hadith of special importance for Islamic contractual law should be mentioned here. A merchant named Hakim ibn Hizam reported, "I asked the Prophet: O Messenger of Allah! A man comes to me and asks me to sell him what is not with me, so I sell him and then buy the goods for him in the market. And the Prophet said: sell not what is not with you." This hadith has rendered controversial within the Muslim world much of what is considered routine finance outside of it, including the sale of futures and options, both of which might be characterized as the sale of 'what is not with you.'

In recent times, traditional Islamic law has often been questioned by liberal movements within Islam. In a related development, Mohammad Hashim Kamali has questioned the reliability and contemporary relevance of the above quoted hadith of Hakim ibn Hizam.

Apostasy and blasphemy

Main article: Apostasy in Islam

Islamic communities, as well as Christian and Jewish ones, often exclude apostates and blasphemers from the community of believers.

In orthodox Islamic theology, conversion out of Islam 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 can be no sharp distinction between these concepts, as many believers feel that there can be no blasphemy without apostasy.

In the 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.

In most 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. However, some countries, notably Iran under the Islamic Republic, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and Sudan, have been less reluctant to enforce the laws on the books. 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.

Other 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.

Here as 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.

Schools (Branches)

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 an extension of either Sunni or Shi'a thought. All denominations, however, follow the five pillars of Islam and believe in the six pillars of faith (mentioned earlier).

The Sunni sect of Islam comprises the majority of all Muslims (about 95%). It consists of four similar schools of thought (madhhabs) which interpret specific pieces of Islamic practice. They are named after their founders Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanafi, and Hanbali. On some issues, each school of thought differs slightly on fiqh (thoughts on how to practise Islam) although all accept the fundamentals contained within the Holy Quran. All four accept the validity of the others and a muslim can choose any one that he thinks is agreeable to his ideas.

Shi'a Muslims are those that are not Sunni. 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. The main Shi'ites areas are Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

Sufism occupies a place between the various schools of Islam, with practitioners falling into either Sunni or Shi'a. However, some consider Sufism a separate mystical school. Instead of focusing on the legal aspects of Islam (fiqh) as other madhhabs do, Sufism focuses on the internal aspects of Islam, such as perfecting the aspect of sincerity of faith and fighting one's own ego.

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. Sufism is found more or less across the Islamic world, though bearing distinctive regional variations, from Senegal to Indonesia.

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". This position is not generally accepted by mainstream Sunni scholarship, and al-Azhar itself distanced itself from this position.

Another denomination which dates back to the early days of Islam are the Kharijites. Members of this group in the present day are more commonly known as Ibadhi Muslims. A large number of Ibadhi Muslims today live in Oman.

Another more recent group are the "Wahhabis", though some classify them as the conservative branch of the Hanbali school of Sunni Islam. "Wahhabism" is a movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab in the 18th century in what is present-day Saudi Arabia.

Another recent group is the Ijtihadists, which represents a wide variety of views alternatively known as progressive, liberal or secular Muslims. They may be either Sunni or Shi'ite, and generally favour the development of personal interpretations of Qur'an and Hadith. See: Liberal Islam

Recently, with the usage of the Internet, and access to information, another part of Islam is begnning to emerge. These are the youngest genearation of muslim children, who for the first time can get answers to their questions from sources that are not biased in any way. This group does not necessarily mean to join themselves with any other group listed above. They are those who wish to follow the Q'uran only, not using other forms or papers such as the Hadith to augment the religion. These followers believe that when GOD says in the Q'uran: "Shall I seek other than God as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed?" 6:114. Also, there are other bold statements in the Q'uran such as : "These are God's revelations that We recite to you truthfully. In which Hadith other than God and His revelations do they believe?" 45:6 Using these statements as a basis to believe in the Q'uran as their only source of guidance, they are a group that puts themselves apart from all the other sects. Upon all the other sects (mentioned above), each has things that believe are theirs, and are the right way. Also, in some form on another, the sects use interpretations and decisions from people who are not looked upon as messengers or prophets. This new part of Islam is typically called just "muslims". They don't wish to label themselves as any particular sect, but just as followers of GOD and his will.

See also: Imam -- Islamic philosophy -- Zaiddiyah

Religions based on Islam

The following groups consider themselves to be Muslims, but are not considered Islamic by the majority of Muslims or Muslim authorities:

The following religions are said by some to have evolved or borrowed from Islam, but consider themselves independent religions with distinct laws and institutions:

The claim of the adherents of the Bah᧭ 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 Bah᧭ Faith and its relationship to Islam was that the Bah᧭ Faith was neither a sect of Islam, nor a religion based on Islam, but a clearly-defined, independently-founded, Faith.

Some see 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. However, Sikhs are forbidden from practices such as eating ritually prepared meat (halal) that are central in Islam.

The following religions might have been said to have evolved from Islam, but are not considered part of Islam, and no longer exist:

Islam and other religions

Main article: Islam 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 also have reviled them as having abandoned monotheism and corrupted their scriptures. At different times and places, Islamic communities have been both intolerant and tolerant. There are Quranic grounds for both attitudes.

Earlier passages of the Qur'an are more tolerant towards Jews and Christians. Later passages of the Qur'an speak more disparaging of them. Sura 5:51 commands Muslims not to take Jews and Christians as friends. Sura 9:29 commands Muslims to fight against Jews and Christians until they either submit to Allah or else agree to pay a special tax.

The 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. In Islamic territories, they were not to bear arms or proselytize, and they were to pay the aforementioned special tax, the jizyah. They were second-class citizens, or dhimmis.

As many have pointed out, the classic Islamic state, while deficient by modern standards, was more tolerant than the Christian states of the time, which insisted on complete comformity to a state religion. Now most Christians embrace tolerance and freedom of religion -- as do most religions. Conversely, some modern Muslim states are far less tolerant towards non-Muslims than they were during the Golden Age of Islam.


Main article: 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 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.

Nonetheless, 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.

In the 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 parcelled 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.

Contemporary Islam

Missing image
Map showing Muslim Distribution, by the CIA (1996).

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 reconcile the Islamic faith with the modern world.

Early 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.

This 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.

The claim that only "liberalisation" 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.

The demographics of Islam today

Main article: Islam by country

Based on the percentages published in the 2003 CIA factbook, 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 mainly due to the higher birth rates in many Islamic countries while a high conversion rate is also a noted factor. According to "The Almanac Book of Facts", the overall population increased 137% within the past decade, Christianity increased 46%, while Islam increased 235%.

Commonly cited estimates of the Muslim population today range between 900 million and 1.4 billion people (cf. (; estimates of Islam by country based on US State Department figures yield a total of 1.48 billion, 22.82% of the world's population (see Islam by country.) Only 18% of Muslims live in the Arab world; a fifth is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, about 30% in the Indian subcontinental 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. The number of Muslims in North America is variously estimated as anywhere from 1.8 to 7 million, depending on which source is used.

See also


  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: On Justice, Gender and Pluralism Omid Safi, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2003. ISBN 1-85168-316-X
  • The Challenge of Fundamentalism: Political Islam and the New World Disorder, Bassam Tibi, Univ. of California Press, 1998

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  • The International Museum of Muslim Cultures (, Jackson, MS. Features exhibits on Islamic Moorish Spain and the Timbuktu Manuscripts.

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