What is Islam

IslamIslam is one of the largest religions in the world. The Islam is a monotheistic religion which basis can be found in the Qur’an. A follower of Islam is called a Muslim. A Muslim believes that there is one God and that the purpose of life is to worship God, also referred to as Allah. Also, Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad is the Prophet of God and the founder of the religion.


Muslims view the Prophet Muhammad as the founder of Islam. The last twenty years of his life, the Prophet Muhammad received information which he believed to come from God. These revelations were conveyed to him by the anger Gabriel. In Islamic texts the angel  is also referred to as Jibril. When the Prophet received the information, he memorized and recorded it and wrote it down. All the revelations together are now known as the Qur’an. While receiving the revelations from God, the Prophet Muhammad preached to the people in Mecca. Mecca is considered to be the holy place of Muslims. While preaching to the people, he explained that people should believe in one God and abandon polytheism. While some people converted to Islam, the authorities of Mecca arrested and persecuted Prophet Muhammad and his followers. The authorities believed that the Prophet was created social disorder. Moreover, they also did not want him to bring new ideas to the poor population of society or the slaves. The Prophet Muhammad was striving for racial equality, which was not something the authorities were in favor of. After the Prophet and his followers were persecuted for over 12 years, they performed the Hijra. The Hijra is known as the emigration to the city of Medina. When they arrived in Medina, the Prophet Muhammad established his religious authority. He created the Constitution of Medina which was considered to be the foundation of a political authority. This Constitution formulated rights and responsibilities for people from different religions. Thus, the Constitution did not only prescribe rules for Muslims, but also for Jewish and Christian communities in Medina.

Teachings of Islam

Islam teaches that God, or Allah, is the Creator of the universe. He is All-Knowing and All-Powerful. Also, everything that we experience is due to the creation of God. For example, the stars, the excellence of the human mind and the mystery of life and death are all things which have been established by God. God is not considered to be a creature or anything that we have ever seen in the world. Islam also teaches that God is eternal and does not have any children. Also, unlike religions such as Christianity and Hinduism, Islam does not believe in the concept of incarnation of God. It is said that my believing in incarnation of God, the concept of God is limited. Moreover, since the Islam rejects the fact that God has children, it also rejects the belief that the Prophet Jesus was a son of God. The Prophet Jesus is honored and respected as being of the messengers and prophets of God, but he is not considered to be a son of God. Islam also teaches that followers of Islam should purify their soul which would eventually lead them closer to Allah. Another lesson Islam teaches is that God is aware of human imperfections. God would not condemn human for being imperfect. Rather, he would guide us to the path of self-perfection and would give us mercy when forgiveness is asked.  Muslims also believe in the Day of Judgment. This means that once people have passed away they will be given eternal life in Paradise or eternal life in Hell, dependent how they have lived their life. During their life, Muslims should fight against wrong-doings and strive to achieve justice and righteousness.

Five Pillars

As a Muslim, there are five principle duties which should be taken as a basis for your life. These duties are obligatory and aim to give structure to your life as a Muslim. The first pillar states that one should believe in the Oneness of God and the Prophet Muhammad. This implies that as a Muslim, one should believe that there is one God and that the Prophet Muhammad is his Messenger and his Prophet. The second pillar refers to the ritual of praying. As a Muslim you are expected to pray five times a day. The prayers are at dawn, noon, in the afternoon, at sunset an at nightfall. The aim of praying multiple times a day helps one to develop the consciousness of God in his or her daily life. Praying multiple times a day also aims to help an individual to stay on the right path, and not deviate from this path. Prayer is also a constant reminder of the presence of God in the worshipper’s life. The third pillar refers to charity and generosity. Islam highly values and puts great emphasis on charity and generosity. By giving to charity, one does not only come closer to God but it is also a means to purify one’s soul. A Muslim is encourages to give voluntarily to the poor and the needy, wherever he or she can. This is also referred to as Zakat. Zakat is meant so that the Muslim community takes care of its members and ensures that nobody will be deprived from their basic needs. The fourth pillar refers to fasting during the month Ramadan. Ramadan takes place during the ninth month of the lunar year. Fasting during this month is obligatory for all Muslims who are in good health and have attained maturity. People who are mentally ill, have a chronic condition or travel are exempt from doing Ramadan. The fasting starts at dawn and is until the sun sets. During this period of time, Muslims should abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity. Ramadan does not only teach self-control and discipline, but is seen as a period where one can purify its soul. The fifth pillar is the pilgrimage to Mecca. The pilgrimage to Mecca is required for all Muslims, if they have the financial means. The pilgrimage should be at least once in their lifetime. The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the greatest happenings for Muslims. Muslims from all over the world travel to Mecca to perform their pilgrimage.


The largest population of Muslims is Sunni. Around 80 to 90 percent of all Muslims in the world are Sunni Muslims. Sunni Muslims are also referred to as people of the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. This is the case because they recount the words and actions as they are described by the Prophet Muhammad in the Qur’an. Sunni Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad has rightful successors. These successors were the first four caliphs. They believe this to be the case since God did not specify any particular successor after the Prophet Muhammad. The successors were Abu-Bakr, Umar ibn Al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Al-Affan  and Ali ibn Abi Talib. Moreover, the Qur’an is the primary source of information for Sunni Muslims, and then they follow the Hadith. Also, if information cannot be found in the Qur’an or in the Hadith, there are a few schools of thought which are followed by Sunni Muslims. The two most important schools of thought are Hanafi and Hanbali. The school of thought of Hanafi is inspired by the teaching of Abu Hanafi. The school of thought of Hanbali was created based on the teachings of Ahmad bin Hanbal. Both schools of thoughts accept the validity of the other, and the other Sunni schools of thoughts. This implies that a Muslim can choose any school of thought he or she agrees with most.


Around ten to twenty percent of Muslims in the world are Shia Muslims. This means that Shia is the second-largest branch in Islam after Sunni. The biggest difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims is the fact who they believe the caliphs to be. For example, Sunni Muslims believe that the caliph of Prophet Muhammad was elected by the community. They therefore believe that the Prophet had four successors after he passed away. Shia Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law to be his successor. His son in law was Ali Ibn Abi Talib. Thus, they reject the fact that there were other caliphs besides Ali. Shia Muslims also follow the teachings in the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. They also follow the hadith which is taught by their own imams. Shia Muslims also believe Ali to be the first imam in the world and to be the first person converting to Islam. Shia Muslims are divided in three main groups. These groups are called the Twelvers, Ismailis and Zaidis. The group referred to as Twelvers are the largest group within the Shia community. They are also considered to be the group with the most influence among the Shia community.


A study which was conducted in 2009 among 232 countries and territories concluded that almost 25 percent of the world population is Muslim. This means that more than 1,5 billion people are followers of the Islamic religion. While the majority of the Muslim population is Sunny, and the second-largest Muslim population is Shia, there are also a few minority groups. There are around 57 countries in the world which have Islam as their main religion and have a majority of Muslim people living in their country. The majority of the Muslim population lives in Africa and in Asia. Over sixty percent of the Muslim population lives  in Asia. The Asian countries with the largest number of Muslims are Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Islam is also the second largest religion in the world after Christianity. This is primarily the case in Europe and this is also slowly becoming the case in the United States. It is estimated that the Muslim population in the United States is around 7 million. It is currently estimated that Islam will be as large as the Christian religion by 2050. Islam is therefore considered to be the fastest growing religion in the world. This is not only due to high fertility rates but also due to age.


Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1647x
Added: 02-09-2016 14:04
Last modified: 02-10-2016 13:14

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