Islam is a monotheistic religion founded by Muhammad in the 7th century. It is currently the second-largest religion
in the world, with about 1.4 billion adherents. Believers in Islam are called Muslims. "Islam" means
"submission", referring to total surrender to God, while Muslim means "one who submits."
Muslims believe that God revealed the true religion to Muhammad, as related in the Qur'an and that Muhammad is God's
final prophet. They revere all the previous prophets of the Old Testament and New Testament, but consider that Jesus was
not the Son of God and did not rise from the dead. The Qur'an and the traditions of Muhammad in the Sunnah are regarded as the fundamental sources of Islam.
Muslims believe that Muhammad was the restorer of the monotheistic faith
of Adam, Abraham, Jesus, Moses, Noah, and other prophets. He is the last "messenger," sent to correct the distortion of
the messages of previous messengers and the corrupted texts of the Bible. Like Judaism, and Christianity, Islam is an Abrahamic
religion, but most Muslims believe that Abraham sacrificed Ishmael (Isma'il) on the Kaaba stone in
Mecca, rather than Isaac.
It should be emphasized that Islam is composed of a wide variety of sects and individuals, and
that there are many variants of the faith. Caution should be used in concluding that "Muslims" as a group believe in any
specific doctrine or interpret the Quran or a particular doctrine in a particular way.
Islam is the major religion in North Africa, West Africa the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, Central
Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of the Indian subcontinent, and it is the religion of the state, enshrined in the
constitution of several Middle Eastern countries. Large communities can also be found in China, the Balkans and Russia.
Only about a fifth of all Muslims originate from Arab countries. However, Arab culture dominates Islam through the Quran,
which must be read in the original. Islam is the second largest
religion after Christianity in many European countries, such as France, which has the largest Muslim population in
Western Europe and the United Kingdom.
Muslim sects and branches:
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
Further Information: See
History of Islam and the Arabs