Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, originated by Muhammad in the 7th century A.D. The nearly 1.5 billion adherents consider Muhammad to be the last prophet from God (Allah), and his actions, and teachings, particularly as written in the Qur'an and interpreted in the Sunnah and Hadith, to be authoritative. The root of the term Islam is "al-silm" which means "submission" or "surrender." The largest concentration of Muslims live in the 10/40 window.






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The Five Pillars

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While there are many different branches of Islam (the largest and best known being the Sunni and Shi'ite), most possess the same set of essential beliefs, succinctly stated in The Five Pillars:

  • Shah?dah - Professing La ilaha illa Allah; Muhammad rasul Allah. ("There is no god but Allah; and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.")
  • Salat - Reserving time each day for five acts of devotion and prayer.
  • Zakât - Giving alms to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate inequality.
  • Sawm - Abstaining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk during Ramadan.
  • Hajj - Making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during one's lifetime.


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  • Answering Islam, 2d ed.: The Crescent in Light of the Cross, by Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb. Baker, 2002 ISBN 0801064309
  • The Koran, N.J. Dawood, trans., Penguin Books, 1983.
  • Islam: The Straight Path, 3rd edition, John L. Esposito, Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • The Word of Islam, J. Alden Williams, University of Texas Press, 1984.

See also