Islam is the second most followed religion in the world, with over 1.3 billion advocates. Originating in the Middle East, it was disseminated by the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. The Arabic term, islem (surrender), illuminates the basic non secular idea of Islam, in which a Muslim surrenders to the will of the Creator. Allah, the term for God in Islam, is viewed as the only God - the creator, remodeler and nourisher of the Earth. The will of Allah, to which humankind must submit, is communicated thru the Quran, the Holy Scripture that Allah revealed to his herald, Muhammad.

In Islam, Muhammad is thought of as the last of a long line of great prophets, a list which includes Adam, Abraham (Ibrahim ), Moses (Musa) and Jesus Christ (Isa), among others. His message at once completes and revokes the revelations ascribed to earlier Prophets. Maintaining its emphasis on an absolute monotheism and a firm adherence to a number of principal religious tenets, the religion, which was at first taught by Muhammad to a little group of supporters, spread swiftly thru the Middle East to Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Europe, South East Asia and China.

Though Islam embraces various ethnicities and many sectarian movements have developed inside it over the centuries, all Muslims are bound by a collective religion and a feeling of belonging to a single community.


Muhammad

From the start of Islam, Muhammad inculcated a feeling of communal identity and a bond of camaraderie among his proponents that was enhanced by their experiences of persecution as a nascent community in Mecca. The conspicuous socioeconomic content of Islamic spiritual practices cemented this bond of religion.

Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570AD. At the time, the religious atmosphere of the land was a concatenation of paganism, idolatry and spirits of inanimates. Around 610AD, he started to receive visions, which he revealed were from the angel Gabriel. The Quran are the narration of the revelations he continues to get for the subsequent twenty-two years.

Muhammad's evangelizing of these visions in Mecca met up with considerable resistance. The cause of this was because Muhammad's message threatened not only the popular polytheism beliefs, but the socio-political and economic establishments. Naturally, Muhammad found his first supporters among the lower class and people who were ready for a new social order.

In 622AD, he made a journey to Medina with the bulk of his family and followers. This event, called the Hijrah, is viewed as the turning point of Islam. From then on, Islam was no longer simply a faith but a definite political power. In Medina, the community of followers metamorphosized into a state, with Muhammad as its spiritual and political leader. In 630AD, Muhammad and his followers took control of Mecca without resistance. Muhammad announced that the Kaabah, the temple sited in central Mecca, as the holiest shrine in Islam. To this day, Muslims prays facing the town of Mecca and the shrine of Kaaba.


Islamic Scriptures

Quran

The Quran is accepted as the Word of Allah brought to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel.

Hadith

A collection of sayings credited to the Prophet and members of the early Muslim community (Said Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunah Al-Tarmizi, Sunah Abu Daud)


The Five Pillars of Islam

Shahada
There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet

Solat
Five prayers a day, ideally upon rising (Subuh), at midday (Zuhur), in mid-afternoon (Asar), after sunset (Maghrib), and before retiring (Isha). Requests must be performed facing the Qiblat (Kaabah) in Mecca and it involves the reciting of the first verse of the Quran and other optional verses.

Zakat
A flat 2.5% alms from income to be paid to the state religious body. The funds are usually utilized for assistance towards the needy

Fasting
In the holy month of Ramadan, Muslim fasts between dawn and sunset to permit them a clearer understanding on the predicament of the impoverished and deprived.

The Hajj
For no less than once in their life, a Muslim is expected to make a pilgrimage to the Kaabah, in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.








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