What is Islam?
Islam is one of the major religions of the world, and the second biggest in terms of following with roughly 1.57 billion followers worldwide. Islam, a monotheistic religion, follows the Qu’ran or the Islamic holy book, which they believe to be the verbatim and literal word of God as told through the prophet Muhammad.
Islam, founded in 7th century AD, is one of the oldest monotheistic religions of the world, along with Christianity and Judaism. The world Islam is derived from the Arabic word ‘aslama’ meaning ‘surrender’. From this same word is also derived the typically used Islamic greeting ‘salaam’, meaning ‘peace’.
Practitioners of Islam are called Muslims, and Muslims refer to God as Allah. The Islamic place of worship is called a mosque, or ‘masjid’ in Arabic. In Islam, one of the most sacred duties of Muslims is to make a ‘hajj’ or pilgrimage at least once in his life to Mecca, considered the religion’s holiest site. It is believed that the prophet Muhammad first received his divine revelations from God in Mecca, thus the spiritual significance.
The laws of Islam color every aspect of a Muslim’s life, including family life, politics and governance, justice, art, business and even diet. Some of the more famous doctrines of Islam are: the allowing of men to marry up to four women, forbiddance of the eating of pork, and the segregation of men and women in the societal context.
Islam is the prevalent religion in much of Asia, with over 62% of the population residing in this continent. The world’s largest Muslim population is concentrated in Indonesia located in Southeast Asia. Islam has three main denominations: Sunni (the majority of Muslims belong to this denomination), Shi’a (roughly 12% of the entire Muslim population and the second-largest group) and Sufism.