Date: Sep 4, 2010
“Islam (Arabic: ???????? al-‘isl?m, pronounced [?islæ?m] is the monotheistic religion articulated by the Qur’an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of the one, incomparable God (Arabic: ?????, All?h), and by the Prophet of Islam Muhammad’s teachings and normative example (in Arabic called the Sunnah, demonstrated in collections of Hadith). Islam literally means “submission (to God).” Muslim, the word for an adherent of Islam, is the active participle of the same verb of which Isl?m is the infinitive.
Muslims regard their religion as the completed and universal version of a primordial, monotheistic faith revealed at many times and places before, including, notably, to the prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Islamic tradition holds that previous messages and revelations have been changed and distorted over time. Religious practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five obligatory acts of worship. Islamic law (Arabic: ????? Šar??ah) touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, encompassing everything from banking and warfare to welfare and the environment.
The majority of Muslims belong to one of two denominations, the Sunni and the Shi’a. Islam is the predominant religion in the Middle East, North Africa, and large parts of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Sizable communities are also found in China and Russia, and parts of the Caribbean. About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, 31% in the Indian Subcontinent, and 20% in Arab countries. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world. With approximately 1.57 billion Muslims comprising about 23% of the world’s population, Islam is the second-largest religion in the world and arguably the fastest growing religion in the world.