Islam started in Mecca, modern-day Saudi Arabia, during Prophet Muhammad’s life. Today, faith is spreading swiftly throughout the world. Islam is the second-largest monotheistic religion in the world after Christianity, with around 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. The word Islam means “submission or surrender to God” and its origin comes from the Arabic word “salam” or “peace”. Hence, the well-known Muslims greeting “As-Salaam-Alaikum”- “peace be upon/with you” and “Wa-Alaikum-Salaam”- “peace be also upon/with you”!
Let peace be with you too, while you go through these interesting facts about Islam, as a religion and a way of life…
Scholars date the foundation of Islam to the 7th century, making it the youngest of the main world religions.
Islam began as a religion in the Middle East and its holiest sites are located there, but the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims.
Muslims are the followers of Islam.
Muslims are monotheistic and worship one, all-knowing God, known as Allah.
Islam followers aim to live a life of full submission to Allah. They believe that nothing can happen without Allah’s consent, but humans have free will.
Islam explains that Allah’s word was shown to the prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel in 610 A.D. while he was meditating in a cave.
Muslims believe several prophets were sent to teach Allah’s law. They esteem some of the same prophets as Jews and Christians, including Abraham, Moses, Noah, and Jesus.
The Kaaba shrine in Mecca, the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and the Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina are some of the important Islamic holy places.
The Quran or Koran is Islam’s main holy text. Another important book is Hadith. Muslims also respect some materials in the Judeo-Christian Bible.
Muslims worship Allah by praying and reciting the Quran. They believe there will be a judgment day and life after death.
Islam’s central idea is “jihad,” which means “struggle.” Even though the term has been used with a negative connotation in mainstream culture, Muslims consider it refers to internal and external efforts to defend their faith. Although rare, this can involve military jihad if a “just war” is needed.
The prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 570 A.D. Muslims think he was the final prophet sent by God to show their faith to mankind.
Muslims believe that once Gabriel revealed to Muhammad, he continued to receive revelations from Allah throughout the rest of his life.
Around 613 A.D, Muhammad began preaching throughout Mecca the messages he received. He taught that Allah was the only God and that Muslims should dedicate their lives to this him.
Muhammad went from Mecca to Medina with his supporters in 622, a journey which became known as the Hijra and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
Muhammad and his many followers returned to Mecca 7 years later and conquered the region. Until his death in 632, he continued to preach.
Islam began to spread rapidly after Muhammad’s passing. The caliphs became Muhammad’s successors.
The leadership system run by a Muslim ruler became known as a caliphate.
Ottoman calligraphy mirror writing. Translates to “Ali is the vicegerent of God”
During the reign of the first four caliphs, Arab Muslims occupied large regions in the Middle East, including Syria, Palestine, Iran, and Iraq. Islam also spread through areas in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The caliphate system continued for centuries and grew into the Ottoman Empire, which controlled huge areas in the Middle East from about 1517 until 1917, when WWI ended the Ottoman rule.
When Muhammad died, two major sects emerged: the Sunnis and the Shiites.
Sunnis make up nearly 90 % of Muslims worldwide and they believe that the first four caliphs were the true successors to Muhammad.
Shiite Muslims believe that only the caliph Ali and his descendants are the real successors to Muhammad denying the legitimacy of the first three caliphs.
Today, Shiite Muslims have a substantial presence in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
Muhammad receiving his revelation from Gabriel
There are also other smaller Muslim forms within the Sunni and Shiite groups.
Wahhabi is a Sunni sect, made up of members of the Tameem tribe in Saudi Arabia, founded in the 18th
Alawite is the Shiite form of Islam predominant in Syria.
The nation of Islam is mostly African-American, Sunni sect, founded in the 1930s in Detroit, Michigan.
Kharijites are the sect that broke from the Shiites after conflicting over how to select a new leader.
The Quran is considered the sacred word of God and supersedes any previous writings.
The Quran’s text contains some basic information that is also found in the Hebrew Bible as well as revelations that were given to Muhammad.
Most Muslims believe that Muhammad’s scribes wrote down his words, which became the Quran. Muhammad was never taught to read or write.
The book is written with Allah as the first person, speaking through Gabriel to Muhammad.
The Quran has 114 chapters, which are called surahs.
Scholars believe the Quran was compiled under the guidance of Caliph Abu Bakr, shortly after Muhammad’s death.
There are 5 basic beliefs of Islam, belief in one god, in prophethood, in the justice of God, in the Imams, and judgement day.
Islam’s practice is based on 5 pillars.
Shahada is the first pillar which means to announce one’s belief in God and the prophetic role of Muhammad.
Salah or salat is the second of the 5 pillars as five daily obligatory prayers.
Zakat is a religious obligation to give charity to those in need.
Sawn means to fast from food, water, and other bodily pleasures during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan.
Hajj is a mandatory duty for Muslims to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime if physically and economically possible.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Islam that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!