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Islam ( /ˈɪslɑːm/ ; [lower-alpha 1] Arabic : اَلْإِسْلَامُ, romanized: al-’Islām, [ɪsˈlaːm] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) "submission [to God]") [1] is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that Muhammad is a messenger of God. [2] [3] It is the world's second-largest religion with 1.9 billion followers, or 24.9% of the world's population, [4] [5] known as Muslims. [6] Muslims make up a majority of the population in 47 countries. [7] [8] Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, [9] and has guided humanity through prophets, revealed scriptures, and natural signs. [3] [10] The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, believed to be the verbatim word of God, as well as the teachings and normative examples (called the sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith ) of Muhammad (c. 570 – 632 CE). [11]


Muslims believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. [12] Muslims consider the Quran, in Arabic, to be the unaltered and final revelation of God. [13] Like other Abrahamic religions, Islam also teaches a final judgment with the righteous rewarded in paradise and the unrighteous punished in hell. [14] Religious concepts and practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are obligatory acts of worship, as well as following Islamic law ( sharia ), which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment. [15] [16] The cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are home to the three holiest sites in Islam. [17]

From a historical point of view, Islam originated in early 7th century CE in the Arabian Peninsula, in Mecca, [18] and by the 8th century, the Umayyad Caliphate extended from Iberia in the west to the Indus River in the east. The Islamic Golden Age refers to the period traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 13th century, during the Abbasid Caliphate, when much of the historically Muslim world was experiencing a scientific, economic, and cultural flourishing. [19] [20] [21] The expansion of the Muslim world involved various states and caliphates such as the Ottoman Empire, trade, and conversion to Islam by missionary activities ( dawah ). [22]

Most Muslims are of one of two denominations: Sunni (85–90%) [23] or Shia (10–15%). [24] [25] [26] Sunni and Shia differences arose from disagreement over the succession to Muhammad and acquired broader political significance, as well as theological and juridical dimensions. [27] About 12% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country; [28] 31% live in South Asia, [29] the largest percentage of Muslims in the world; [30] 20% in the Middle East–North Africa, where it is the dominant religion; [31] and 15% in sub-Saharan Africa. [31] Sizable Muslim communities can also be found in the Americas, China, and Europe. [32] [33] Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world. [34] [35]


The Kaaba in Mecca is the direction of prayer and destination of pilgrimage Kaaba Mirror like.jpg
The Kaaba in Mecca is the direction of prayer and destination of pilgrimage

In Arabic, Islam (Arabic:إسلام, "submission [to God]") is the verbal noun originating from the verb سلم (salama), from triliteral root س-ل-م (S-L-M), which forms a large class of words mostly relating to concepts of wholeness, submission, sincerity, safeness, and peace. [36] Islam is the verbal noun of Form IV of the root and means "submission" or "total surrender". In a religious context, it means "total surrender to the will of God". [1] [37] A Muslim (Arabic:مُسْلِم), the word for a follower of Islam, is the active participle of the same verb form, and means "submitter (to God)" or "one who surrenders (to God)". The word "Islam" ("submission") sometimes has distinct connotations in its various occurrences in the Quran. Some verses stress the quality of Islam as an internal spiritual state: "Whoever God wills to guide, He opens their heart to Islam." [lower-roman 1] [37] Other verses connect Islam and religion (dīn) together: [lower-roman 2]

"Today, I have perfected your religion for you; I have completed My blessing upon you; I have approved Islam for your religion." [38]

Others describe Islam as an action of returning to God—more than just a verbal affirmation of faith. [lower-roman 3] In the Hadith of Gabriel, Islam is presented as one part of a triad that also includes imān (faith), and ihsān (excellence). [39] [40]

The word "silm" (Arabic:سِلْم) in Arabic means both peace and also the religion of Islam. [41] A common linguistic phrase demonstrating its usage is "he entered into as-silm" (Arabic:دَخَلَ فِي السِّلْمِ) which means "he entered into Islam," with a connotation of finding peace by submitting one's will to the Will of God. [41] The word "Islam" can be used in a linguistic sense of submission or in a technical sense of the religion of Islam, which also is called as-silm which means peace. [41]

Islam itself was historically called Mohammedanism in the English-speaking world. This term has fallen out of use and is sometimes said to be offensive, as it suggests that a human being, rather than God, is central to Muslims' religion, parallel to Buddha in Buddhism. [42] Some authors, however, continue to use the term Mohammedanism as a technical term for the religious system as opposed to the theological concept of Islam that exists within that system.

Articles of faith

The Islamic creed ( aqidah ) requires belief in six articles: God, angels, books, prophets, the Day of Resurrection and providence.

Concept of God

The central concept of Islam is tawḥīd (Arabic:توحيد), the unity of God. Usually thought of as a precise monotheism , but also panentheistic in Islamic mystical teachings. [43] God is described in Chapter 112 of the Quran: Say, “He is God—One and Indivisible; God—the Sustainer ˹needed by all˺. He has never had offspring, nor was He born. And there is none comparable to Him.” No human eyes can see God till the Day Of Judgement. [44] According to Islam, God is transcendent, therefore Muslims do not attribute human forms to God. God is described and referred to by several names or attributes, the most common being Ar-Rahmān(الرحمان) meaning "The Entirely Merciful," and Ar-Rahīm( الرحيم) meaning "The Especially Merciful" which are mentioned before reciting every chapter of the Quran except chapter nine. [45] [46]

Islam teaches that the creation of everything in the universe was brought into being by God's command as expressed by the wording, "Be, and it is," [lower-roman 4] [47] and that the purpose of existence is to worship God without associating partners to Him. [lower-roman 5] [48] [49] God is not a part of the Christian Trinity. [50] He is viewed as a personal god who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls him. [lower-roman 6] [47] There are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God, who states: "Your Lord has proclaimed, Call upon Me, I will respond to you." [lower-roman 7] Consciousness and awareness of God is referred to as Taqwa. Allāh is traditionally seen as the personal name of God, [51] a term with no plural or gender being ascribed to it. It is used by Muslims and Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews in reference to God, whereas ʾilāh (Arabic : إله) is a term used for a deity or a god in general. [52]


Muhammad receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. From the manuscript Jami' al-Tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, 1307. Mohammed receiving revelation from the angel Gabriel.jpg
Muhammad receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. From the manuscript Jami' al-Tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, 1307.

Belief in angels is fundamental to Islam. The Quranic word for angel (Arabic:ملك malak) derives either from Malaka, meaning "he controlled", due to their power to govern different affairs assigned to them, [53] or from the triliteral root ’-l-k, l-’-k or m-l-k with the broad meaning of a "messenger", just as its counterpart in Hebrew (malʾákh). Unlike the Hebrew word, however, the term is used exclusively for heavenly spirits of the divine world, as opposed to human messengers. The Quran refers to both angelic and human messengers as rasul instead. [54]

The Quran is the principal source for the Islamic concept of angels. [55] Some of them, such as Gabriel and Michael, are mentioned by name in the Quran, others are only referred to by their function. In hadith literature, angels are often assigned to only one specific phenomenon. [56] Angels play a significant role in literature about the Mi'raj, where Muhammad encounters several angels during his journey through the heavens. [56] Further angels have often been featured in Islamic eschatology, theology and philosophy. [57] Duties assigned to angels include, for example, communicating revelations from God, glorifying God, recording every person's actions, and taking a person's soul at the time of death.

In Islam, just as in Judaism and Christianity, angels are often represented in anthropomorphic forms combined with supernatural images, such as wings, being of great size or wearing heavenly articles. [58] The Quran describes "Angels as His messengers with wings—two, three, or four." [lower-roman 8] [59] Common characteristics for angels are their missing needs for bodily desires, such as eating and drinking. [60] Their lack of affinity to material desires is also expressed by their creation from light: angels of mercy are created from nūr ('light') [61] in opposition to the angels of punishment created from nār ('fire'). [62] Muslims do not generally share the perceptions of angelic pictorial depictions, such as those found in Western art.


The first chapter of the Quran, Al-Fatiha (The Opening), is seven verses FirstSurahKoran (fragment).jpg
The first chapter of the Quran, Al-Fatiha (The Opening), is seven verses

The Islamic holy books are the records that most Muslims believe were dictated by God to various prophets. Muslims believe that parts of the previously revealed scriptures, the Tawrat (Torah) and the Injil (Gospel), had become distorted—either in interpretation, in text, or both. [63] The Quran (lit. "Recitation") is viewed by Muslims as the final and literal revealed word of God and is widely regarded as the finest literary work in the classical Arabic language. [64] [65] Although the Quran is the last verbatim of God towards mankind, communication with God is not enclosed, but an ongoing process. [66] (p173) Many Muslims believe that "friends of God" (ʾawliyāʾ) could communicate with God, for example, to predict future events, know God's will and interpret the Quran. [67] (p77)

Muslims believe that the verses of the Quran were revealed to Muhammad by God through the archangel Gabriel ( Jibrīl ) on many occasions between 610 CE until his death in 632. [68] While Muhammad was alive, these revelations were written down by his companions ( sahabah ), although the prime method of transmission was orally through memorization. [69] The Quran is divided into 114 chapters (suras) which combined contain 6,236 verses ( āyāt ). The chronologically earlier suras, revealed at Mecca, are concerned primarily with ethical and spiritual topics. The later Medinan suras mostly discuss social and legal issues relevant to the Muslim community. [47] [70]

The Quran is more concerned with moral guidance than legislation, and is considered the "sourcebook of Islamic principles and values". [71] Muslim jurists consult the hadith ('accounts'), or the written record of Prophet Muhammad's life, to both supplement the Quran and assist with its interpretation. The science of Quranic commentary and exegesis is known as tafsir . [72] [73] The set of rules governing proper elocution of recitation is called tajwid. Muslims usually view "the Quran" as the original scripture as revealed in Arabic and that any translations are necessarily deficient, which are regarded only as commentaries on the Quran. [70] [74]

Prophets and sunnah

A Persian miniature depicts Muhammad leading Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other prophets in prayer. Medieval Persian manuscript Muhammad leads Abraham Moses Jesus.jpg
A Persian miniature depicts Muhammad leading Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other prophets in prayer.

Prophets (Arabic: أنبياء, anbiyāʾ) communicate with God and receive a divine message. A prophet delivering a message to a nation is called a rasul (Arabic: رسول‎, rasūl). [75] Muslims believe prophets are human and not divine, though some can perform miracles to prove their claim.[ citation needed ] According to Islam, all of God's messengers preached the message of Islam—submission to the will of God. The Quran mentions the names of numerous figures considered prophets in Islam, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, among others. [47]

Muslims believe that God finally sent Muhammad as the last law-bearing prophet ("Seal of the prophets") to convey the divine message to the entire world (to sum up and to finalize the word of God). In Islam, the "normative" example of Muhammad's life is called the sunnah (literally "trodden path"). Muslims are encouraged to emulate Muhammad's actions in their daily lives, and the sunnah is seen as crucial to guiding interpretation of the Quran. [76] This example is preserved in traditions known as hadith, which recount his words, his actions, and his personal characteristics. Hadith Qudsi is a sub-category of hadith, regarded as God's verbatim words quoted by Muhammad that are not part of the Quran. A hadith involves two elements: a chain of narrators, called sanad, and the actual wording, called matn . Hadiths can be classified, by studying the narration as: "authentic" or "correct" (صَحِيْح, ṣaḥīḥ ); "good", hasan (حَسَن, ḥasan ); or "weak" (ضَعِيْف, ḍaʻīf ), among others. The Kutub al-Sittah are a collection of six books, regarded as the most authentic reports in Sunnism. Among them is Sahih al-Bukhari , often considered by Sunnis to be one of the most authentic sources after the Quran. [77] [78] Another famous source of hadiths is known as The Four Books , which Shias consider as the most authentic hadith reference. [79] [80] [81]

Because the Quran only briefly covered the lives of biblical prophets, scholars, poets, historians, and storytellers elaborate their stories in Tales of the Prophets . Many of these scholars were also authors of commentaries on the Quran; however, unlike Quran commentaries which follow the order and structure of the Quran itself, the Tales of the Prophets told its stories of the prophets in chronological order—which makes them similar to the Jewish and Christian versions of the Bible.

Besides prophets, saints possess blessings (Arabic:بركة , "baraka") and can perform miracles (Arabic:امات, Karāmāt). Saints rank lower than prophets and they do not intercede for people on the Day of Judgment. However, both the tombs of prophets and saints are visited frequently (Ziyarat). People would seek the advice of a saint in their quest for spiritual fulfillment. Unlike saints in Christianity, Muslim saints are usually acknowledged informal by consensus of common people, not by scholars. Unlike prophets, women like Rabia of Basra, were accepted as saints. [82]

Resurrection and judgment

Belief in the "Day of Resurrection" or Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Arabic:يوم القيامة), is also crucial for Muslims. It is believed that the time of Qiyāmah is preordained by God but unknown to man. The Quran and the hadith, as well as in the commentaries of scholars describe the trials and tribulations preceding and during the Qiyāmah. The Quran emphasizes bodily resurrection, a break from the pre-Islamic Arabian understanding of death. [83]

On Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Arabic: يوم القيامة), Muslims believe all humankind will be judged by their good and bad deeds and consigned to Jannah (paradise) or Jahannam (hell). The Quran in Surat al-Zalzalah describes this as: "So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it. And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it." The Quran lists several sins that can condemn a person to hell, such as disbelief in God (كفر, kufr), and dishonesty. However, the Quran makes it clear that God will forgive the sins of those who repent if he wishes. Good deeds, like charity, prayer, and compassion towards animals, [84] [85] will be rewarded with entry to heaven. Muslims view heaven as a place of joy and blessings, with Quranic references describing its features. Mystical traditions in Islam place these heavenly delights in the context of an ecstatic awareness of God. [86] Yawm al-Qiyāmah is also identified in the Quran as Yawm ad-Dīn (Arabic:يوم الدين "Day of Religion"); [lower-roman 9] as-Sāʿah (Arabic:الساعة "the Last Hour"); [lower-roman 10] and al-Qāriʿah (Arabic:القارعة "The Clatterer"); [lower-roman 11]

Divine Destiny

The concept of divine decree and destiny in Islam (Arabic: القضاء والقدر, al-qadāʾ wa l-qadar) means that every matter, good or bad, is believed to have been decreed by God and is in line with destiny. Al-qadar meaning "power" derives from a root that means "to measure" or "calculating". [87] [88] The Quran emphasises that nothing occurs outside of His divine decree: "Say, 'Nothing will ever befall us except what God has destined for us'." [89] Muslims often express this belief in divine destiny with the phrase "Insha-Allah" meaning "if God wills" when speaking on future events. [90] [91]

Acts of worship

There are five core practices in Islam, [92] collectively known as "The Pillars of Islam" (Arkān al-Islām) or "Pillars of the Religion" (Arkān ad-din), which are considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith: [93] Three of the pillars are obligatory for all Muslims, while Zakāt and Hajj are obligatory only for able Muslims. [94] Both Sunni and Shi'a sects agree on the essential details for performing these acts. [93] Apart from these, Muslims also perform other religious acts. Notable among them are voluntary charity (Sadaqah) and recitation of the Quran.


Silver coin of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, inscribed with the Shahadah Silver Rupee Akbar.jpg
Silver coin of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, inscribed with the Shahadah

The shahadah, [95] which is the basic creed of Islam, must be recited under oath with the specific statement: "ʾašhadu ʾal-lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu wa ʾašhadu ʾanna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh" (أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمداً رسول الله), or, "I testify that none deserves worship except God and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God." [96] This testament is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam. Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed in front of Muslim witnesses. [97] [98] [99]


Muslim men prostrating in prayer, at the Umayyad Mosque, Damascus. Mosque.jpg
Muslim men prostrating in prayer, at the Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.

The five daily ritual prayers are called salah or ṣalāt (Arabic: صلاة|صلاة). Salat is intended to focus the mind on God and is seen as a personal communication with him expressing gratitude and worship. Salat consists of bowing and prostrating to God and praising God. Performing prayers five times a day is compulsory, but flexibility in the timing specifics is allowed depending on circumstances. The prayers are recited in the Arabic language and consist of verses from the Quran. [100] The prayers are done in direction of the Ka'bah. The act of supplicating is referred to as dua. Ritual purity is required for salat, this is achieved through wudu (ritual purification) or ghusl (full body ritual purification).

A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims, who often refer to it by its Arabic name masjid. A large mosque for gathering for Friday prayers or Eid prayers is called masjid jāmi (مَسْجِد جَامِع, "congregational mosque"). [101] Although the primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place of prayer, it is also important to the Muslim community as a place to meet and study. The Masjid an-Nabawi ("Prophetic Mosque") in Medina, Saudi Arabia, was also a place of refuge for the poor. [102] Modern mosques have evolved greatly from the early designs of the 7th century and contain a variety of architectural elements such as minarets. [103] The means used to signal the prayer time is a vocal call called the adhan .


Righteousness is not in turning your faces towards the east or the west. Rather, the righteous are those who believe in God, the Last Day, the angels, the Books, and the prophets; who give charity out of their cherished wealth to relatives, orphans, the poor, needy travelers, beggars, and for freeing captives; who establish prayer, pay alms-tax, and keep the pledges they make; and who are patient in times of suffering, adversity, and in the heat of battle. It is they who are true ˹in faith˺, and it is they who are mindful ˹of God˺.

— Quran (2:177)

Zakāt (Arabic: زكاة, zakāh, ' alms ') is a means of welfare in a Muslim society, characterized by the giving of a fixed portion (2.5% annually) [104] of accumulated wealth by those who can afford it to help the poor or needy, such as for freeing captives, those in debt, or for (stranded) travellers, and for those employed to collect zakat. [lower-roman 12] [105] It is considered a religious obligation (as opposed to supererogatory charity, known as Sadaqah) that the well-off owe to the needy because their wealth is seen as a "trust from God's bounty". Conservative estimates of annual zakat are that it amounts to 15 times global humanitarian aid contributions. [106] The first Caliph, Abu Bakr, distributed zakat as one of the first examples of a guaranteed minimum income, with each man, woman and child getting 10 to 20 dirhams annually. [107]

Sadaqah means optional charity practiced as a religious duty and out of generosity. [108] Both the Quran and the hadith put much emphasis on spending money for the welfare of needy people, [109] and have urged Muslims to give more as an act of optional charity. [lower-roman 13] [110] The Quran says: "Those who spend their wealth in charity day and night, secretly and openly—their reward is with their Lord." [lower-roman 14] One of the early teachings of Muhammad was that God expects men to be generous with their wealth and not to be miserly. [lower-roman 15] [111] Accumulating wealth without spending it to address the needs of the poor is generally prohibited and admonished. [112] Another kind of charity in Islam is waqf, meaning a perpetual religious endowment of property.


A fast-breaking feast, known as Iftar, is served traditionally with dates Iftar for Ramadhan.jpg
A fast-breaking feast, known as Iftar , is served traditionally with dates

Fasting (Arabic: صوم, ṣawm) from food and drink, among other things, is performed from dawn to sunset. The fast is to encourage a feeling of nearness to God by restraining one self for God's sake from what is otherwise permissable and to think of the needy. Sawm is obligatory during the month of Ramadan except for several groups for whom it would constitute an undue burden. [113] In addition, there are other days when fasting is supererogatory.


Pilgrims at the Great Mosque of Mecca during the Hajj season A packed house - Flickr - Al Jazeera English.jpg
Pilgrims at the Great Mosque of Mecca during the Hajj season

The obligatory Islamic pilgrimage, called the "ḥajj" (Arabic: حج), has to be performed during the first weeks of the twelfth Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. Every physically and financially able Muslim must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. All Muslim men should wear simple white clothing (ihram) during Hajj and Umrah. Rituals of the Hajj include: spending a day and a night in the tents on the desert plain of Mina, then a day in the desert plain of Mount Arafat praying and worshiping God, following the footsteps of Abraham; then spending a night out in the open, sleeping on the desert sand in the desert plain of Muzdalifah; then moving to Jamarat, symbolically stoning the Devil recounting Abraham's actions; [114] [115] [116] [ self-published source? ] then going to Mecca and walking seven times around the Kaaba which Muslims believe Abraham built as a place of worship; then walking seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah recounting the steps of Abraham's wife, Hagar, while she was looking for water for her son Ishmael in the desert before Mecca developed into a settlement. [117] Another form of pilgrimage, umrah, is supererogatory (not morally required) and can be undertaken at any time of the year. The Quran refers to Islamic Pilgrimage in various places, often describing the rites and rulings which apply when undertaking Hajj.

Quranic recitation and memorization

Muslim men reading the Quran Men reading the Koran in Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, Syria.jpg
Muslim men reading the Quran

Muslims recite and memorize the whole or parts of the Quran as acts of virtue. Reciting the Quran with elocution (tajwid) has been described as an excellent act of worship. [118] Pious Muslims recite the whole Quran during the month of Ramadan. [119] In Muslim societies, any social program generally begins with the recitation of the Quran. [119] One who has memorized the whole Quran is called a hafiz ("memorizer") who, it is said, will be able to intercede for ten people on the Last Judgment Day. [118] Apart from this, almost every Muslim memorizes some portion of the Quran because they need to recite it during their prayers.


Madina Haram at evening.jpg
A panoramic view of Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Mosque of the Prophet) in Medina, Hejaz region, today's Saudi Arabia, the second most sacred Mosque in Islam

Muhammad (610–632)

Islamic tradition views Muhammad (c. 570 – June 8, 632) as the seal of the prophets, sent by God to the rest of mankind. [120] [121] During the last 22 years of his life, beginning at age 40 in 610 CE, according to the earliest surviving biographies, Muhammad reported receiving revelations from God, conveyed to him through the archangel Gabriel while he was meditating in a cave. [121] Muhammad's companions memorized and recorded the content of these revelations, known as the Quran. [122]

During this time, while in Mecca, Muhammed preached to the people, imploring them to abandon polytheism and worship one God. Many early converts to Islam were women, the poor, foreigners, and slaves like Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habashi. The Meccan elite profited from the pilgrimages to the idols of the Kaaba and felt Muhammad was destabilizing their social order by preaching about one God and that in the process he gave ideas to the poor and slaves. [123] [124] Muhammad, who was accused of being a poet, a madman or possessed, presented the challenge of the Quran to imitate the like of the Quran in order to disprove him. The Meccan authorities persecuted Muhammad and his followers, including a boycott of Muhammad's clan to withdraw their protection of him. This resulted in the Migration to Abyssinia of some Muslims (to the Aksumite Empire).

After 12 years of the persecution of Muslims by the Meccans, Muhammad's relatives, Muhammad and the Muslims performed the Hijra ("emigration") in AD 622 to the city of Yathrib (current-day Medina). There, with the Medinan converts (the Ansar ) and the Meccan migrants (the Muhajirun ), Muhammad in Medina established his political and religious authority. The Constitution of Medina was formulated, instituting a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and pagan communities of Medina, bringing them within the fold of one community—the Ummah. [125] [lower-alpha 2]

The Constitution established: [131]

All the tribes signed the agreement to defend Medina from all external threats and live in harmony amongst themselves. Within a few years, two battles took place against the Meccan forces: first, the Battle of Badr in 624—a Muslim victory—and then a year later, when the Meccans returned to Medina, the Battle of Uhud, which ended inconclusively.[ citation needed ]

The Arab tribes in the rest of Arabia then formed a confederation and during the Battle of the Trench (March–April 627) besieged Medina, intent on finishing off Islam. In 628, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah was signed between Mecca and the Muslims and was broken by Mecca two years later. After the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, many more people converted to Islam. At the same time, Meccan trade routes were cut off as Muhammad brought surrounding desert tribes under his control. [132] By 629 Muhammad was victorious in the nearly bloodless conquest of Mecca, and by the time of his death in 632 (at age 62) he had united the tribes of Arabia into a single religious polity. [133]

The earliest three generations of Muslims are known as the Salaf, with the companions of Muhammad being known as the Sahaba. Many of them, such as the largest narrator of hadith Abu Hureyrah, recorded and compiled what would constitute the sunnah.

Caliphate and civil strife (632–750)

Rashidun and Umayyad expansion Mohammad adil-Rashidun empire-slide.gif
Rashidun and Umayyad expansion
Dome of the Rock built by caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan; completed at the end of the Second Fitna Dome of the Rock1.jpg
Dome of the Rock built by caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan; completed at the end of the Second Fitna

Following Muhammad's death in 632, Muslims disagreed over who would succeed him as leader. The first four successors – Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman ibn al-Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib – are known in Sunni Islam as al-khulafā' ar-rāshidūn ("Rightly Guided Caliphs"). [134] Abu Bakr's leadership oversaw the beginning of the compilation of the Qur'an and reunification of Arabia through the Ridda wars. [135] [38] Under Umar, the caliphate expanded rapidly as Muslims scored major victories over the Persian and Byzantine empires. [136] Uthman was elected in 644 and oversaw the compilation of the Quran. The assassination of Uthman in 656 plunged the caliphate into the first civil war. The next caliph, Ali, fought against three separate factions in the Battle of the Camel, Battle of Siffin and Battle of Nahrawan, respectively. The Kharijites assassinated Ali in 661. To avoid further fighting, Ali's son Hasan ibn Ali signed a peace treaty abdicating to Mu'awiyah, which began the Umayyad dynasty. [137] These disputes over religious and political leadership would give rise to the Sunni-Shia schism, with the Shia believing leadership belonging to Ali and the ahl al-bayt. [138] The succession of Mu'awiyah by his son Yazid I sparked the "second civil war". During the Battle of Karbala, Husayn ibn Ali and other descendants of Muhammad were massacred; the event has been annually commemorated by Shia ever since. Sunni Islam and Shia Islam differ in some respects. [139]

The Murji'ah was early Islamic sect that taught that people's righteousness could be judged by God alone and that wrongdoers might be considered misguided but not denounced as unbelievers. [140] They urged unity among Muslims, and their conciliatory principles made them popular. Abu Hanifa, founder of the Hanafi (c. 699–767) school of Sunni jurisprudence, was often associated with the Murji'ah. [141] In his al-Fiqh al-Akbar I he lay down probably the oldest surviving work regarding early Muslim creed, advocating respect for all the companions of Muhammad, withholding judgment regarding Uthman and Ali and predeterminism. His works were fundamental to later Sunni theology, Hanbalism being an exception. [141]

The Umayyad dynasty conquered the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Narbonnese Gaul and Sindh. [142] Local populations of Jews and indigenous Christians, persecuted as religious minorities and taxed heavily to finance the Byzantine–Sassanid Wars, often helped Muslims take over their lands from the Byzantines and Persians, resulting in exceptionally speedy conquests. [143] [144]

The generation after the death of Muhammad but contemporaries of his companions are known as the Tabi'un, followed by the Tabi‘ al-Tabi‘in. The Caliph Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz set up the influential committee, The Seven Fuqaha of Medina, [145] [146] headed by Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. [147] Malik ibn Anas wrote one of the earliest books on Islamic jurisprudence, the Muwatta , [148] as a consensus of the opinion of those jurists. [149] [150] [151]

The descendants of Muhammad's uncle Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib rallied discontented non-Arab converts ( mawali ), poor Arabs, and some Shi'a against the Umayyads and overthrew them, inaugurating the Abbasid dynasty in 750. [152] [153]

The first Muslim states independent of a unified Islamic state emerged from the Berber Revolt (739/740-743).

Classical era (750–1258)

The eye, according to Hunain ibn Ishaq from a manuscript dated c. 1200 Cheshm manuscript.jpg
The eye, according to Hunain ibn Ishaq from a manuscript dated c. 1200

Al-Shafi'i codified a method to determine the reliability of hadith. [154] During the early Abbasid era, scholars such as Bukhari and Muslim compiled the major Sunni hadith collections while scholars like Al-Kulayni and Ibn Babawayh compiled major Shia hadith collections. The four Sunni Madh'habs, the Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, and Shafi'i, were established around the teachings of Abū Ḥanīfa, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Malik ibn Anas and al-Shafi'i, while the teachings of Ja'far al-Sadiq formed the Ja'fari jurisprudence. In the 9th century, al-Shafi'i provided a theoretical basis for Islamic law and introduced its first methods by a synthesis between the proto-rationalism of Iraqi jurisprudence and the pragmatic approach of the Hejaz traditions, in his book ar-Risālah. [155] He also codified a method to determine the reliability of hadith. [154] However, Islamic law would not be codified until 1869. [156] In the 9th century Al-Tabari completed the first commentary of the Quran, that became one of the most cited commentaries in Sunni Islam, the Tafsir al-Tabari .

Some Muslims began questioning the piety of indulgence in worldly life and emphasized poverty, humility, and avoidance of sin based on renunciation of bodily desires. Ascetics such as Hasan al-Basri would inspire a movement that would evolve into Tasawwuf or Sufism. [157] [158] Hasan al Basri opposed the Umayyad governors of Iraq and the violent rebellion of the Kharijites. Connected to his political dissent was his rigorist view of sin: He denied God was the source of all human actions, emphasized responsibility and free will instead. For Hasan al Basri, although God knows the actions of people, good and evil comes from abuse of free will and the devil. [159] [lower-alpha 3] Basran al Wasil ibn Ata (d. 748), an associate of Hasan al-Basri is usually considered the originator, along with Amr ibn Ubayd (699-761) of Mu‘tazilism, a school of thought ultimately rooted in Greek philosophy and known for upholding the doctrine of free-will. [161] However, the main doctrine, the Five Principles, is probably developed by Abu’l-Hudhayl al-Allaf (c. 753–841). [162]

Abbasid Caliphs Mamun al Rashid and Al-Mu'tasim made the Mu'tazilite theology an official creed. Ahmad ibn Hanbal opposed most of the Mu'tazilite doctrines, for which he was imprisoned and sent to an unlit Baghdad prison cell for nearly thirty months. [163] He became a representative for traditionalistic Sunni theology, trying to minimalize reason and applying to literal readings. Later Sunnis also condemned the Mutazilite idea of the creation of the Quran. [159] Al-Ash'ari and Maturidi founded the scholastic theology of Sunni Islam (kalam) Ash'arism and Maturidism, respectively.

By the end of the 9th century, Ismaili Shias spread in Iran, whereupon the city of Multan became a target of activistic Sunni politics. [164] In 930, the Ismaili group known as the Qarmatians rebelled unsuccessfully against the Abbassids, sacked Mecca and stole the Black Stone, which was eventually retrieved. [165]

With the expansion of the Abbasid Caliphate into the Sasanian Empire, Islam adapted many Hellenistic and Persian concepts, imported by thinkers of Iranian or Turkic origin. [166] [167] Philosophers such as Al-Farabi (872 – 950/951) and Avicenna (c. 980 – June 1037) sought to incorporate Greek principles into Islamic theology, while others like Al-Ghazali (c. 1058 – 1111) argued against such syncretism and ultimately prevailed. [168]

This era is sometimes called the "Islamic Golden Age". [169] Avicenna pioneered the science of experimental medicine, [170] and was the first physician to conduct clinical trials. [171] His two most notable works, The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine , were used as standard medicinal texts in the Islamic world and later in Europe. Amongst his contributions are the discovery of the contagious nature of infectious diseases, [170] and the introducing clinical pharmacology. [172] In mathematics, the mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi gave his name to the concept of the algorithm, while the term algebra is derived from al-jabr. [173] Public hospitals established during this time (called Bimaristan hospitals), are considered "the first hospitals" in the modern sense of the word, [174] [175] and issued the first medical diplomas to license doctors. [176] [177] The Guinness World Records recognizes the University of Al Karaouine, founded in 859, as the world's oldest degree-granting university. [178] The doctorate is argued to date back to the licenses to teach in Islamic law schools. [179] Standards of experimental and quantification techniques, as well as the tradition of citation, [180] were introduced. An important pioneer in this, Ibn al-Haytham (c. 965 – c. 040) is regarded as the father of the modern scientific method and often referred to as the "world's first true scientist". [181] [182] [183] [184] The government paid scientists the equivalent salary of professional athletes today. [180] It is argued that the data used by Copernicus for his heliocentric conclusions was gathered and that Al-Jahiz (776–868/869) proposed a theory of natural selection. [185] [186] The Persian poet Ferdowsi (940–1019/1025) wrote his epic poem Shahnameh . Legal institutions introduced include the trust and charitable trust (Waqf). [187] [188]

While the Abbasid Caliphate suffered a decline following the reign of Al-Wathiq (842–847) and Al-Mu'tadid (892–902), [189] the Mongol Empire put an end to the Abbassid dynasty in 1258. [190] During its decline, the Abbasid Caliphate disintegrated into minor states and dynasties, such as the Tulunid and the Ghaznavid dynasty. The Ghaznavid dynasty was a Muslim dynasty established by Turkic slave-soldiers from another Islamic empire, the Samanid Empire. [191] Two other Turkish tribes, the Karahanids and the Seljuks, converted to Islam during the 10th century. They were later subdued by the Ottomans, who share the same origin and language. The Seljuks played an important role in the revival of Sunnism, when Shi'ism increased its influence. The Seljuk military leader Alp Arslan financially supported sciences and literature and established the Nezamiyeh university in Baghdad. [192]

Religious missions converted Volga Bulgaria to Islam. In the Indian Subcontinent, during the Delhi Sultanate, the Indian Islamic missionaries achieved their greatest success in terms of dawah and the number of converts to Islam. [193] [194] The Delhi Sultanate is known for enthroning one of the few female rulers in Islamic history, Razia Sultana. [195] Many Muslims also went to China to trade, virtually dominating the import and export industry of the Song dynasty. [196]

Pre-Modern era (1258–18th century)

Ghazan Khan, 7 Ilkhanate ruler of the Mongol Empire, converts to Islam GhazanConversionToIslam.JPG
Ghazan Khan, 7 Ilkhanate ruler of the Mongol Empire, converts to Islam

After the Mongol conquests and the final decline of the Abbasid Caliphate, the Mongol Empire enabled cross-cultural exchanges throughout Asia. People could practice any religion as long as it did not interfere with the interests of the ruling Khan. The new social and political tolerance brought by the Ilkhanate, which was ruled by the grandson of Genghis Khan and had converted to Sunni Islam, allowed science and arts to flourish even in previously forbidden aspects [197] and extended Middle Eastern influence up to China. The Ilkhans justified their rule with Chinggissid descendence and as defenders of Islam, perhaps even claiming to legacy of the Abbasid Caliphate. [67] (p59) Some Sufi writers, like Aflaki and Abu Bakr Rumi, regarded the Mongol's conquest of Muslim rulers as a legitimate punishment of God, as the Mongols and Turks were more pious than the ulama, ascetics and muftis during this time. [67] (p81) Jalaluddin Rumi (1207 – 1273) wrote his Masnawi, believed to be "sent down" from God, and understood as the Quran's proper explanation (tafsir), [67] (p97) still one of the best selling poets in America. [198] [199] The Turks probably found similarities between Sufi rituals and Shaman practices. [200] Muslim Turks incorporated elements of Turkish Shamanism beliefs to Islam. [lower-alpha 4] Shamanism influenced Muslims in Anatolia, Central-Asia and Balkans. [200]

Ibn Taymiyya (1263–1328) promoted a puritanical form of Islam, [201] rejecting philosophical approaches and much of established exegetical methods in favor of simpler theology. [201] He called for a jihad against the Crusaders, the Mongols, and those he deemed heretics. [202] His writings only played a marginal role during his lifetime. [203]

The Timurid Renaissance was observed in the Timurid Empire based in Central Asia. Ruled by the Timurid dynasty, it experienced phenomenal growth in the fields of arts and sciences, covering both the eastern and western world. [204] Outstanding throughout the stages of the Renaissance were the inventions of numerous devices and the constructions of Islamic learning centres, mosques, necropolises and observatories. Herat, like Florence the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, was the focal point of a cultural rebirth. [205] [206] Such aspects were seen to be strongly influenced across Islamic Gunpowder empires, mainly in Mughal India. [207] [208] [209] [210]

The Reconquista launched against Muslim principalities in Iberia succeeded in 1492. Through Muslim trade networks, the activity of Sufi orders, and the conquests of the Gunpowder Empires, Islam spread into Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Malay archipelago. [37] [211] Conversion to Islam, however, was not a sudden abandonment of old religious practices; rather, it was typically a matter of "assimilating Islamic rituals, cosmologies, and literatures into... local religious systems". [212] Throughout this expanse, Islam blended with local cultures everywhere, as illustrated by the prophet Muhammad's appearance in Hindu epics and folklore. [213] Muslims in China, who were descended from earlier immigrants, began to assimilate by adopting Chinese names and culture while Nanjing became an important center of Islamic study. [214] [215]

The Ottoman Caliphate, under the Ottoman dynasty of the Ottoman Empire, was the last caliphate of the late medieval and the early modern era. It is important to note that a symbiosis between Ottoman rulers and Sufism strongly influenced Islamic reign by the Ottomans from the beginning. According to Ottoman historiography, the legitimation of a ruler is attributed to Sheikh Edebali who interpreted a dream of Osman Gazi as God's legitimation of his reign. [216] Since Murad I's conquest of Edirne in 1362, the caliphate was claimed by the Turkish sultans of the empire. [217] During the period of Ottoman growth, claims on caliphal authority were recognized in 1517 as Selim I became the "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" in Mecca and Medina through the conquering and unification of Muslim lands, strengthening their claim to the caliphate in the Muslim world. [218] The Mevlevi Order and Bektashi Order had a close relation to the sultans, [219] as Sufi-mystical as well as heterodox and syncretic approaches to Islam flourished. [220] [221] Under the Ottoman Empire, Islam spread to Southeast Europe. [222] In Ottoman understanding, the state's primary responsibility was to defend and extend the land of the Muslims, and to ensure security and harmony within its borders in the overarching context of orthodox Islamic practice and dynastic sovereignty. [223]

The Shia Safavid dynasty rose to power in 1501 and later conquered all of Iran. [224] At that time, the majority and oldest group among the Shia, the Zaydis, named after the great-grandson of Ali, the scholar Zayd ibn Ali, used the Hanafi jurisprudence, as did most Sunnis. [225] [226] [227] The ensuing conversion of Iran to Twelver Shia Islam ensured the final dominance of the Twelver sect within Shiism over the Zaidi and Ismaili sects. [228] Nader Shah, who overthrew the Safavids, attempted to improve relations with Sunnis by propagating the integration of Twelverism into Sunni Islam as a fifth madhhab, called Ja'farism. [229] However, Ja'farism failed to gain recognition from the Ottomans. [230]

In South Asia, Babur founded the Mughal Empire. The Mughals made major contributions to Islamic architecture, including the Taj Mahal and Badshahi mosque, and compiled the Fatwa Alamgiri. Mughal India surpassed Qing China to become the world's largest economy, worth 25% of world GDP, [231] [232] [233] with the Bengal Subah signalling the proto-industrialization and showing signs of the Industrial revolution. [234] After Mughal India's collapse, Tipu Sultan's Kingdom of Mysore based in South India, which witnessed partial establishment of sharia-based economic and military policies i.e. Fathul Mujahidin, replaced Bengal ruled by the Nawabs of Bengal as South Asia's foremost economic territory. [235] [236] After Indian independence, the Nizams of Hyderabad remained as the major Muslim princely state until the Annexation of Hyderabad by the modern Republic of India. [237]

Modern era (18th – 20th centuries)

Abdulmecid II was the last Caliph of Islam from the Ottoman dynasty. Portrait Caliph Abdulmecid II.jpg
Abdülmecid II was the last Caliph of Islam from the Ottoman dynasty.

During the 18th century, Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab founded a military movement that opposed the Ottoman Sultanate as an illegitimate entity. The movement call for a return to the principles of Islam based on the theology of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. [238] [239] He was deeply influenced by the works of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim and condemned many traditional Islamic practices, such as visiting the grave of Muhammad or Saints, as sin. [239] During this period he formed an alliance with the Saud family, who founded the Wahhabi sect. This revival movement allegedly seeks to uphold monotheism and purify Islam of what they see as later innovations. Their ideology led to the desecration of shrines around the world, including that of Muhammad and his companions in Mecca and Medina. [240] [241] Many pan-Arab Islamists like Muhammad Rashid Rida had regarded the Caliphate as an Arab right taken away by the Turks. Therefore, they rebelled against the Ottoman Sultanate until the Ottoman Empire disintegrated after World War I and the Caliphate was abolished in 1924. [242] Concurrently Ibn Saud conquered Mecca, the "heartland of Islam", and enforced Wahhabi doctrines as part of his newly established Islamic state. [243]

The Muslim world was generally in political decline starting the 1800s, especially relative to the non-Muslim European powers. This decline was evident culturally; while Taqi al-Din ibn Ma'ruf founded an observatory in Istanbul and the Jai Singh Observatory was built in the 18th century, there was not a single Muslim-majority country with a major observatory by the twentieth century. [244] By the 19th century; the British East India Company had formally annexed the Mughal dynasty in India. [245] As a response to Western Imperialism, many intellectuals sought to reform Islam. They aimed to unite Muslims into one international brotherhood with collective opinions and goals. [246] For many such reformers, theological and religious matters played only a marginal role. They focused on social aspects within Muslim communities instead. In the 19th century, the Deobandi and Barelwi movements were initiated.

The Barelwi movement, founded in India, emphasises the primacy of Islamic law over adherence to Sufi practices and personal devotion to the prophet Muhammad. [247] It grew from the writings of Ahmed Raza Khan, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, Shah Ahmad Noorani and Mohammad Abdul Ghafoor Hazarvi in the backdrop of an intellectual and moral decline of Muslims in British India. [248] The movement was a mass movement, defending popular Sufism and reforming its practices, and grew in response to the Deobandi movement. [249] The movement is famous for the celebration of Mawlid and today, is spread across the globe with followers also in Pakistan, South Africa, United States, and United Kingdom among other countries. [250]

At the end of the 19th century, Muslim reformers like Muhammad 'Abduh, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, etc sought to reconcile Islam with the social and intellectual ideas of the Age of Enlightenment by purging Islam from alleged alterations and adhering to the basic tenets held during the Rashidun era. Their movement is regarded as the precursor to Islamic Modernism. [251] Beginning with the French intellectual Loius Massignon in 1919, they were often labelled by the Western scholars as Salafiyya - a technical term of theology - to denote broad swathes of Muslim modernists who were scripture-oriented; yet open to the ideals of Enlightenment. [252] [253] However, after the First World War, Western colonialism of Muslim lands and the advancement of secularist trends; Islamic reformers felt betrayed by the Arab nationalists and underwent a crisis. This schism was epitomised by the ideological transformation of Sayyid Rashid Rida, a pupil of 'Abduh, who began to revive the treatises of Hanbali theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and became the "forerunner of Islamist thought". Rida transformed the Reformation into a movement primarily concerned about protecting Islamic culture, identity, and politics from Western influences. He advocated for a theological doctrine that emphasized the necessity of an Islamic state; in which the ulema (Islamic scholars) would play a leading role. Rida's fundamentalist doctrines would be later adopted by Islamic scholars and movements like the Muslim Brotherhood. [254] Unlike 'Abduh and Afghani, Rida and his disciples susbcribed to the Hanbali theology. They would openly campaign against adherents of other schools, like the Shi'ites, who were critical of Wahhabi religious interpretations. [255]

On 3 March 1924, the first President of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as part of his secular reforms, constitutionally abolished the institution of the caliphate. The Ottoman Caliphate, the world's last widely recognized caliphate, was no more and its powers within Turkey were transferred to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the parliament of the newly formed Turkish Republic and the Directorate of Religious Affairs. [256] [257]

Contact with industrialized nations brought Muslim populations to new areas through economic migration. Many Muslims migrated as indentured servants (most from India and Indonesia) to the Caribbean, forming the largest Muslim populations by percentage in the Americas. [258] Migration from Syria and Lebanon was the biggest contributor to the Muslim population in Latin America. The resulting urbanization and increase in trade in sub-Saharan Africa brought Muslims to settle in new areas and spread their faith, likely doubling its Muslim population between 1869 and 1914. [259] Muslim immigrants began arriving largely from former colonies in several Western European nations since the 1960s, many as guest workers.

Postmodern times (20th century–present)

Jamal-al-Din al-Afghani and his acolyte Muhammad Abduh have been credited as forerunners of the Islamic revival. [260] Abul A'la Maududi helped influence modern political Islam. [261] Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood advocate Islam as a comprehensive political solution, often despite being banned. [262] In Iran, revolution replaced a secular regime with an Islamic state. In Turkey, the Islamist AK Party has democratically been in power for about a decade, while Islamist parties did well in elections following the Arab Spring. [263] The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), consisting of Muslim-majority countries, was established in 1969 after the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. [264]

Muslim intellectuals are increasingly striving to separate scriptural Islamic beliefs from archaic cultural traditions. [265] Salafism has deepening worldwide. [266] [267] [268] This has led to internet debates between salafis and traditional institutions, the latter of which are sometimes seen as puppets of the state. [267] The internet has also led to more "individualized" interpretations of Islam. [269] Liberal Muslims attempt to reconcile religious tradition with secular governance and human rights. [270] [271] Women's issues receive significant weight in the modern discourse on Islam. [272] In many places, the prevalence of the hijab is growing increasingly common [273] and the percentage of Muslims favoring sharia has increased. [274]

Secular powers such as the Chinese Red Guards closed many mosques and destroyed Qurans, [275] and Communist Albania became the first country to ban the practice of every religion. [276] About half a million Muslims were killed in Cambodia by communists who, some argue, viewed them as their primary enemy and wished to exterminate them since they stood out and worshiped their own god. [277] In Turkey, the military carried out coups to oust Islamist governments, and headscarves were banned in official buildings, as also happened in Tunisia. [278] [279] Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have impacted the Middle East. [280]

It is estimated that, by 2050, the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world, "due to the young age and high fertility-rate of Muslims relative to other religious groups". [281] The religious conversion has no net impact on the Muslim population growth as "the number of people who become Muslims through conversion seems to be roughly equal to the number of Muslims who leave the faith". [282] Perhaps as a sign of these changes, most experts agree Islam is growing faster than any other faith in East and West Africa. [283] [284]


Distribution of Sunni, Shia and Ibadi branches Madhhab Map3.png
Distribution of Sunni, Shia and Ibadi branches


The 9 volumes of Sahih Al-Bukhari, one of the six Sunni hadith books Sahih Al-Bukhari in English.png
The 9 volumes of Sahih Al-Bukhari, one of the six Sunni hadith books

The largest denomination in Islam is Sunni Islam, which makes up 85–90% of all Muslims, [26] and is arguably the world's largest religious denomination. [285] Sunni Muslims also go by the name Ahl as-Sunnah which means "people of the tradition [of Muhammad]". [286] [287] [288] [289]

Sunnis believe that the first four caliphs were the rightful successors to Muhammad; since God did not specify any particular leaders to succeed him and those leaders were elected. Further authorities regarding Sunnis believe that anyone who is righteous and just could be a caliph as long they act according to the teachings of Islam. Alternatively, Sunnis commonly accept the companions of Muhammad as reliable for interpreting Islamic affairs. [290]

The hadith recorded in Sunni traditions are known as Al-Kutub Al-Sittah (six major books). For legal matters derived from the Quran or the Hadith, many often follow four schools of jurisprudence, called madhabs: Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi'i. All four accept the validity of the others, and a Muslim may choose any one that they find agreeable. [16] [291]

Sunni schools of theology encompass Asharism founded by Al-Ashʿarī (c. 874–936), Maturidi by Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (853–944 CE) and traditionalist theology under the leadership of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780–855 CE). Traditionalist theology is characterized by its adherence to a literal understanding of the Quran and the Sunnah, the belief in the Quran being uncreated and eternal, and opposition to reason (kalam) in religious and ethical matters. [292] On the other hand, Maturidism asserts, scripture is not needed for basic ethics and that good and evil can be understood by reason alone, [293] but people rely on revelation, for matters beyond human's comprehension. Asharism holds ethics can derive just from divine revelation, but not from human reason. However, Asharism accepts reason regarding exegetical matters and combines Muʿtazila approaches with traditionalist ideas. [294]

In the 18th century, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab led a Salafi movement, referred by outsiders as Wahhabism, in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Originally shaped by Hanbalism, many modern followers departed from any of the established four schools of law Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki, and Hanbali. [295] Similarly, Ahl al-Hadith is a movement that deemphasized sources of jurisprudence outside the Quran and Hadith, such as informed opinion (ra'y).

Nurcu is a Sunni movement founded at the beginning of the twentieth century based on the writings of Said Nursi (1877–1960). [296] His philosophy is based on Hanafi law and further incorporates elements of Sufism. [296] He emphasized the synthesis of Islam, science and democracy as the best form of governance within the rule of law. [297] From Nurcu other movements such as the Gülen movement derived.


The Imam Hussein Shrine in Iraq is a holy site for Shia Muslims Kerbela Hussein Moschee.jpg
The Imam Hussein Shrine in Iraq is a holy site for Shia Muslims

Shi'ism is the second largest branch of Islam and constitutes 10–15% of Muslims. [298] [24] [299] [26] The doctrinal causes for the split between Sunnis and Shi'ites date back to the very founding of Islam, with Shia Muslims holding that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor and the Imam (spiritual and political leader) after him, [300] most notably at the event of Ghadir Khumm, but was prevented from succeeding Muhammad as the leader of the Muslims as a result of the choice made by some of Muhammad's other companions at Saqifah. This view primarily contrasts with that of Sunni Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad did not appoint a successor before his death and consider Abu Bakr, who was appointed caliph by a group of senior Muslims at Saqifah, to be the first rightful caliph after Muhammad. [301] Although there are many Shia subsects, modern Shia Islam is mainly divided into three main groupings: Twelvers, Ismailis and Zaidi, with Twelver Shia being the largest and most influential group among Shia. [302] [303] [304] Different branches accept different descendants of Ali as imams.

Twelver Shi'ism

Twelver Shia is the largest and far most prominent branch of Shia Islam, [305] with 2012 estimates saying that 85% of Shias were Twelvers. [306] It holds to a succession of twelve Imams and is the state religion of Iran.


Ismaili Shi'ites recognized Isma'il ibn Jafar as the successor to Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam, in contrast to Twelver Shi'a, which followed his other son Musa al-Kadhim as the seventh Imam. [307] [308]


Zaydis consider Zayd ibn Ali, the uncle of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, as their fifth Imam, and follow a different line of succession entirely.


Ibadism dates back to the early days of Islam and is today practiced by 1.45 million Muslims around the world (~ 0.08% of all Muslims), most of them in Oman. [309] The movement rose to prominence in the Hejaz region in the 740s, when the Ibadis launched an armed insurrection against the Umayyad Caliphate. Ibadims is often associated with and viewed as a moderate variation of the Khawarij movement, though Ibadis themselves object to this classification. Unlike most Kharijite groups, Ibadism does not regard sinful Muslims as unbelievers.

An overview of the major sects and madhahib of Islam Islam branches and schools.svg
An overview of the major sects and madhahib of Islam

Other denominations

Non-denominational Muslims

Non-denominational Muslims is an umbrella term that has been used for and by Muslims who do not belong to or do not self-identify with a specific Islamic denomination. [321] [322] [323] Prominent figures who refused to identify with a particular Islamic denomination have included Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, [324] and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. [325] Recent surveys report that large proportions of Muslims in some parts of the world self-identify as "just Muslim", although there is little published analysis available regarding the motivations underlying this response. [326] [327] [328] The Pew Research Center reports that respondents self-identifying as "just Muslim" make up a majority of Muslims in seven countries (and a plurality in three others), with the highest proportion in Kazakhstan at 74%. At least one in five Muslims in at least 22 countries self-identify in this way. [329]

Derived religions

Some movements, such as the Druze, [330] [331] [332] [333] [334] Berghouata and Ha-Mim, either emerged from Islam or came to share certain beliefs with Islam, and whether each is a separate religion or a sect of Islam is sometimes controversial. Yazdânism is seen as a blend of local Kurdish beliefs and Islamic Sufi doctrine introduced to Kurdistan by Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir in the 12th century. Bábism stems from Twelver Shia passed through Siyyid 'Ali Muhammad i-Shirazi al-Bab while one of his followers Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri Baha'u'llah founded the Baháʼí Faith. [335] Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak in late-fifteenth-century Punjab, incorporates aspects of both Islam and Hinduism. [336]


Sharia is the religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. [16] It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. In Arabic, the term sharīʿah refers to God's divine law and is contrasted with fiqh , which refers to its scholarly interpretations. [337] [338] The manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between Muslim traditionalists and reformists. [16]

Traditional theory of Islamic jurisprudence recognizes four sources of sharia: the Quran, sunnah (Hadith and Sira), qiyas (analogical reasoning), and ijma (juridical consensus). [339] Different legal schools developed methodologies for deriving sharia rulings from scriptural sources using a process known as ijtihad . [337] Traditional jurisprudence distinguishes two principal branches of law, ʿibādāt (rituals) and muʿāmalāt (social relations), which together comprise a wide range of topics. [337] Its rulings assign actions to one of five categories called ahkam: mandatory ( fard ), recommended ( mustahabb ), permitted ( mubah ), abhorred ( makruh ), and prohibited ( haram ). [337] [338] Some areas of sharia overlap with the Western notion of law while others correspond more broadly to living life in accordance with God's will. [338]

Historically, sharia was interpreted by independent jurists (muftis). Their legal opinions (fatwa) were taken into account by ruler-appointed judges who presided over qāḍī's courts, and by maẓālim courts, which were controlled by the ruler's council and administered criminal law. [337] [338] In the modern era, sharia-based criminal laws were widely replaced by statutes inspired by European models. [338] The Ottoman Empire's 19th-century Tanzimat reforms lead to the Mecelle civil code and represented the first attempt to codify sharia. [340] While the constitutions of most Muslim-majority states contain references to sharia, its classical rules were largely retained only in personal status (family) laws. [338] Legislative bodies which codified these laws sought to modernize them without abandoning their foundations in traditional jurisprudence. [338] [341] The Islamic revival of the late 20th century brought along calls by Islamist movements for complete implementation of sharia. [338] [341] The role of sharia has become a contested topic around the world. There are ongoing debates whether sharia is compatible with secular forms of government, human rights, freedom of thought, and women's rights. [342] [343] [344]


Crimean Tatar Muslim students (1856) Karlo Bossoli. Tatarskaia shkola dlia detei (cropped).jpg
Crimean Tatar Muslim students (1856)

Islam, like Judaism, has no clergy in the sacerdotal sense, such as priests who mediate between God and people. However, there are many terms in Islam to refer to religiously sanctioned positions of Islam. In the broadest sense, the term ulema (Arabic: علماء) is used to describe the body of Muslim scholars who have completed several years of training and study of Islamic sciences. A jurist who interprets Islamic law is called a mufti (مفتي) and often issues legal opinions, called fatwas. A scholar of jurisprudence is called a faqih (فقيه). Someone who studies the science of hadith is called a muhaddith . A qadi is a judge in an Islamic court. Honorific titles given to scholars include sheikh, mullah, and mawlawi. Imam (إمام) is a leadership position, often used in the context of conducting Islamic worship services.

Schools of jurisprudence

Islamic schools of law in the Muslim world Madhhab Map3.png
Islamic schools of law in the Muslim world

A school of jurisprudence is referred to as a madhhab (Arabic : مذهب). The four major Sunni schools are the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali madhahs while the three major Shia schools are the Ja'fari, Zaidi and Isma'ili madhahib. Each differs in their methodology, called Usul al-fiqh ("principles of jurisprudence"). The following of decisions by a religious expert without necessarily examining the decision's reasoning is called taqlid . The term ghair muqallid literally refers to those who do not use taqlid and, by extension, do not have a madhab. [345] The practice of an individual interpreting law with independent reasoning is called ijtihad. [346]


Mainstream Islamic law does not distinguish between "matters of church" and "matters of state"; the scholars function as both jurists and theologians. Currently, no government conforms to Islamic economic jurisprudence, but steps have been taken to implement some of its tenets. [347] [348] [349] Terms used to refer to traditionally Muslim leaders include Caliph and Sultan and terms associated with traditionally Muslim states include Caliphate, Emirate, Imamate and Khanate.

Within Islamic jurisprudence, jihad is usually taken to mean military exertion against non-Muslim combatants. [350] [351] Jihad is the only form of warfare permissible in Islamic law and may be declared against illegal works, terrorists, criminal groups, rebels, apostates, and leaders or states who oppress Muslims. [352] [350] Most Muslims today interpret Jihad as only a defensive form of warfare. [353] Jihad only becomes an individual duty for those vested with authority. For the rest of the populace, this happens only in the case of a general mobilization. [350] For most Twelver Shias, offensive jihad can only be declared by a divinely appointed leader of the Muslim community, and as such, is suspended since Muhammad al-Mahdi's occultation in 868 AD. [354] [355]


The Whirling Dervishes, or Mevlevi Order by the tomb of Sufi-mystic Rumi Mevlana Konya.jpg
The Whirling Dervishes, or Mevlevi Order by the tomb of Sufi-mystic Rumi

Sufism (Arabic: تصوف, tasawwuf), is a mystical-ascetic approach to Islam that seeks to find a direct personal experience of God. It is not a sect of Islam and its adherents belong to the various Muslim denominations. Classical Sufi scholars defined Tasawwuf as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God", through "intuitive and emotional faculties" that one must be trained to use. [356] [357] Sufis themselves claim Tasawwuf is an aspect of Islam similar to sharia, inseparable from Islam and an integral part of Islamic belief and practice. [358] Sufi congregations form orders ( tariqa ) centered around a teacher ( wali ) who traces a spiritual chain back to Muhammad. [359]

The religiosity of early Sufi ascetics, such as Hasan al-Basri, emphasized fear of failing God's expectations of obedience, in contrast to later and more prominent Sufis, such as Mansur Al-Hallaj and Jalaluddin Rumi, whose religiosity is based on love towards God. For that reason, some academic scholars refuse to refer to the former as Sufis. [360] Nevertheless, Hasan al-Basri is often portrayed as one of the earliest Sufis in Sufi traditions [361] and the influential theologian Al-Ghazali later developed his ideas.[ citation needed ] Traditional Sufis, such as Bayazid Bastami, Jalaluddin Rumi, Haji Bektash Veli, Junaid Baghdadi, and Al-Ghazali, argued for Sufism as being based upon the tenets of Islam and the teachings of the prophet. [362] [363] As History scholar Nile Green pointed out, Islam in the Medieval period, was more or less Sufism. [67] (p24) Sufism poems were regarded as sent by God to explain the Quran. [67] (p97) Sufis played an important role in the formation of Muslim societies through their missionary and educational activities. [157] [364] [365]

Popular devotional practices such as the veneration of Sufi saints have faced stiff opposition from followers of Wahhabism, who have sometimes physically attacked Sufis, leading to a deterioration in Sufi–Salafi relations. Sufism enjoyed a strong revival in Central Asia and South Asia. Sufi influenced Ahle Sunnat movement or Barelvi movement defends Sufi practices and beliefs with over 200 million followers in south Asia, [366] [367] [368] Sufism is prominent in Central Asia, where different orders are the main religious sources, [369] [370] as well as in African countries like Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Chad and Niger. [329] [371]

Ismaili Shias, as well as by the Illuminationist and Isfahan schools of Islamic philosophy have developed mystical interpretations of Islam. [372]


Family life

The dome of the Grand Mosque in Constanta, Romania, topped by the Islamic crescent Minaret roof in constanta.jpg
The dome of the Grand Mosque in Constanța, Romania, topped by the Islamic crescent

In a Muslim family, some religious ceremonies attend the birth of a child. Immediately after the birth, the words of Adhan are pronounced in the right ear of the child. [373] On the seventh day, the aqiqah ceremony is performed, in which an animal is sacrificed and its meat is distributed among the poor. [374] The child's head is shaved, and an amount of money equaling the weight of its hair is donated to the poor. [374] Apart from fulfilling the basic needs of food, shelter, and education, the parents or the elderly family members undertake teaching moral qualities, religious knowledge and religious practices to the children. [375] Marriage, which serves as the foundation of a Muslim family, is a civil contract that consists of an offer and acceptance between two qualified parties in the presence of two witnesses. The groom is required to pay a bridal gift ( mahr ) to the bride, as stipulated in the contract. [376] Most families in the Islamic world are monogamous. [377] [378] Polyandry, a practice wherein a woman takes on two or more husbands, is prohibited in Islam. [379] However, Muslim men are allowed to practice polygyny and can have up to four wives at the same time, per Surah  4 Verse 3. A man does not need approval of his first wife for a second marriage as there is no evidence in the Qur'an or hadith to suggest this. With Muslims coming from diverse backgrounds, including 49 Muslim-majority countries, plus a strong presence as large minorities throughout the world, there are many variations on Muslim weddings. Generally, in a Muslim family, a woman's sphere of operation is the home and a man's corresponding sphere is the outside world. However, in practice, this separation is not as rigid as it appears. [380] Regarding inheritance, a son's share is double that of a daughter's. [lower-roman 16] Respecting and obeying one's parents, and taking care of them especially in their old age have been made a religious obligation. [375] [381] The Quran forbids harsh and oppressive treatment of orphaned children while urging kindness and justice towards them, and rebukes those who do not honor and feed them. [lower-roman 17]

Certain religious rites are performed during and after the death of a Muslim. Those near a dying man encourage him to pronounce the Shahada as Muslims want their last word to be their profession of faith. After death, according to Islamic burial rituals, members of the same gender bath the body appropriately and enshrouded it in a threefold white garment called kafan. [382] The Salat al-Janazah ("funeral prayer") is said over the bathed and enshrouded body. Placing it on a bier, the body is first taken to a mosque where the funeral prayer is offered for the deceased, and then to the graveyard for burial.

Etiquette and diet

Many practices fall in the category of adab, or Islamic etiquette. This includes greeting others with " as-salamu 'alaykum " ("peace be unto you"), saying bismillah ("in the name of God") before meals, and using only the right hand for eating and drinking. Islamic hygienic practices mainly fall into the category of personal cleanliness and health. Circumcision of male offspring is practiced in Islam. Muslims are restricted in their diet. Prohibited foods include pork products, blood, carrion, and alcohol. All meat must come from a herbivorous animal slaughtered in the name of God by a Muslim, Jew, or Christian, except for game that one has hunted or fished for them self. Food permissible for Muslims is known as halal food. [383]


To reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, Islamic economic jurisprudence encourages trade, [384] discourages the hoarding of wealth and outlaws interest-bearing loans (i.e. usury; Arabic: riba ). [385] [386] Therefore, wealth is taxed through Zakat, but trade is not taxed. Usury, which allows the rich to get richer without sharing in the risk, is forbidden in Islam. Profit-sharing and venture capital where the lender is also exposed to risk is acceptable. [387] Hoarding of food for speculation is also discouraged. [388]

The taking of land belonging to others is prohibited. The prohibition of usury and the revival of interest-based economies has resulted in the development of Islamic banking. During the time of Muhammad, any money that went to the state was immediately used to help the poor. Then, in AD 634, Umar formally established the welfare state Bayt al-Mal ("House of Wealth"), which was for the Muslim and Non-Muslim poor, needy, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. The Bayt al-Maal ran for hundreds of years under the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century, continuing through the Umayyad period, and well into the Abbasid era. Umar also introduced child support and pensions. [389] [390] [391]


Islamic veils represent modesty Salat Eid al-Fitr, Tehran (113344343).jpg
Islamic veils represent modesty

The Quran and the sunnah of Muhammad prescribe a comprehensive body of moral guidelines for Muslims to be followed in their personal, social, political, and religious life. Proper moral conduct, good deeds, righteousness, and good character come within the sphere of the moral guidelines. [392] In Islam, the observance of moral virtues is always associated with religious significance because it elevates the religious status of a believer [393] and is often seen as a supererogatory act of worshiping. [394] One typical Islamic teaching on morality is that imposing a penalty on an offender in proportion to their offense is permissible and just; but forgiving the offender is better. To go one step further by offering a favor to the offender is regarded as the peak of excellence. [393] The Quran says: "Good and evil cannot be equal. Respond ˹to evil˺ with what is best, then the one you are in enmity with will be like a close friend." [lower-roman 18] Thus, a Muslim is expected to act only with good manners as bad manners and deeds earn vices. [395] The fundamental moral qualities in Islam are justice, forgiveness, righteousness, kindness, honesty, and piety. [392] Other mostly insisted moral virtues include but are not limited to charitable activities, fulfillment of promise, modesty (haya) and humility, decency in speech, tolerance, trustworthiness, patience, truthfulness, anger management, and sincerity of intention.

As a religion, Islam emphasizes the idea of having a good character as Muhammad said: "The best among you are those who have the best manners and character." [lower-roman 19] In Islam, justice is not only a moral virtue but an obligation to be fulfilled under all circumstances. [396] The Quran and the hadith describe God as being kind and merciful to His creatures, and tell people to be kind likewise. As a virtue, forgiveness is much celebrated in Islam, and is regarded as an important Muslim practice. [397] On modesty, Muhammad is reported as saying: "Every religion has its characteristic, and the characteristic of Islam is modesty." [398] [ better source needed ]

Jihad means "to strive or struggle [in the way of God]". In its broadest sense, it is "exerting one's utmost power, efforts, endeavors, or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation". Depending on the object being a visible enemy, the Devil and aspects of one's own self (like sinful desires), different categories of jihad are defined. [399] Jihad also refers to one's striving to attain religious and moral perfection. [400] [401] When used without a qualifier, jihad is understood in its military form. [399] [400] Some Muslim authorities, especially among the Shia and Sufis, distinguish between the "greater jihad", which pertains to spiritual self-perfection, and the "lesser jihad", defined as warfare. [352] [350]


The phases of the Moon form the basis for the Islamic calendar Lunar libration with phase Oct 2007.gif
The phases of the Moon form the basis for the Islamic calendar

Caliph Umar reportedly chose the formal beginning of the Muslim era to be the Hijra in 622 CE, which was an important turning point in Muhammad's fortunes. It is a lunar calendar with days lasting from sunset to sunset. [402] Islamic holy days fall on fixed dates of the lunar calendar, meaning they occur in different seasons in different years in the Gregorian calendar. The most important Islamic festivals are Eid al-Fitr (Arabic|عيد الف) on the 1st of Shawwal , marking the end of the fasting month Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha (Arabic|عيد الأضحى) on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah, coinciding with the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage). [403]


The term "Islamic culture" can be used to mean aspects of culture that pertain to the religion, such as festivals and dress code. It is also controversially used to denote the cultural aspects of traditionally Muslim people. [404] Finally, "Islamic civilization" may also refer to the aspects of the synthesized culture of the early Caliphates, including that of non-Muslims, [405] sometimes referred to as "Islamicate".

In Islamic architecture, varying cultures show influence such as North African and Spanish Islamic architecture such as the Great Mosque of Kairouan containing marble and porphyry columns from Roman and Byzantine buildings, [406] while mosques in Indonesia often have multi-tiered roofs from local Javanese styles.

Islamic art encompasses the visual arts including fields as varied as architecture, calligraphy, painting, and ceramics, among others. [407] While the making of images of animate beings has often been frowned upon in connection with laws against idolatry, this rule has been interpreted in different ways by different scholars and in different historical periods. This stricture has been used to explain the prevalence of calligraphy, tessellation, and pattern as key aspects of Islamic artistic culture. [408]


World Muslim population by percentage (Pew Research Center, 2014). Islam percent population in each nation World Map Muslim data by Pew Research.svg
World Muslim population by percentage (Pew Research Center, 2014).

A 2015 demographic study reported that 24.1% of the global population, or 1.8 billion people, are Muslims. [409] Of those, it has been estimated that 85–90% are Sunni and 10–15% are Shia, [26] with a minority belonging to other sects. Approximately 49 countries are Muslim-majority, [410] and Arabs account for around 20% of all Muslims worldwide. [411] The number of Muslims worldwide increased from 200 million in 1900 to 551 million in 1970, [412] and tripled to 1.6 billion by 2010. [281]

Most Muslims live in Asia and Africa. [413] Approximately 62% of the world's Muslims live in Asia, with over 683 million adherents in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. [414] [415] In the Middle East, non-Arab countries such as Turkey and Iran are the largest Muslim-majority countries; in Africa, Nigeria and Egypt have the most populous Muslim communities.

Most estimates indicate China has approximately 20 to 30 million Muslims (1.5% to 2% of the population). [416] [417] [418] However, data provided by the San Diego State University's International Population Center to U.S. News & World Report suggests China has 65.3 million Muslims. [419] Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity in many European countries, [420] and is slowly catching up to that status in the Americas, with between 2,454,000, according to Pew Forum, [421] and approximately 7 million Muslims, according to the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), in the United States. [422]

Religious conversion has little net impact on the Muslim population as the number of people who convert to Islam is roughly similar to those who leave it. [282] Growth rates of Islam in Europe were due primarily to immigration and higher birth rates of Muslims in 2005. [423]


John of Damascus, under the Umayyad Caliphate, viewed Islamic doctrines as a hodgepodge from the Bible. John Damascus (arabic icon).gif
John of Damascus, under the Umayyad Caliphate, viewed Islamic doctrines as a hodgepodge from the Bible.

Criticism of Islam has existed since Islam's formative stages. Early criticism came from Christian authors, many of whom viewed Islam as a Christian heresy or a form of idolatry, often explaining it in apocalyptic terms. [425] Later, criticism from the Muslim world itself appeared, as well as from Jewish writers and from ecclesiastical Christians. [426] [427] [428] Issues relating to the authenticity and morality of the Quran are also discussed by critics. [429]

Islamic salvation optimism and its carnality were criticized by Christian writers. Islam's sensual descriptions of paradise led many Christians to conclude that Islam was not a spiritual religion. Although sensual pleasure was also present in early Christianity, as seen in the writings of Irenaeus, the doctrines of the former Manichaean, Augustine of Hippo, led to the broad repudiation of bodily pleasure in both life and the afterlife. Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari defended the Quranic description of paradise by asserting that the Bible also implies such ideas, such as drinking wine in the Gospel of Matthew. [430]

Defamatory images of Muhammad, derived from early 7th century depictions of the Byzantine Church, [431] appear in the 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. [432] Here, Muhammad appears in the eighth circle of hell, along with Ali. Dante does not blame Islam as a whole but accuses Muhammad of schism, by establishing another religion after Christianity. [432]

Since the events of September 11, 2001, Islam has faced criticism over its scriptures and teachings. Some claim they are a significant source of terrorism and terrorist ideology. [433] [434]

Other criticisms focus on the question of human rights in modern Muslim-majority countries, and the treatment of women in Islamic law and practice. [435] [436] In the wake of the recent multiculturalism trend, Islam's influence on the ability of Muslim immigrants in the West to assimilate has been criticized. [437] Both in his public and personal life, others objected to the morality of Muhammad, therefore also the sunnah as a role model. [428] [438]

See also


  1. There are ten pronunciations of Islam in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the s is /z/ or /s/ , and whether the a is pronounced /ɑː/ , /æ/ or (when the stress is on the first syllable) /ə/ ( Merriam Webster ). The most common are /ɪzˈlɑːm,ɪsˈlɑːm,ˈɪzləm,ˈɪsləm/ ( Oxford English Dictionary ) and /ˈɪzlɑːm,ˈɪslɑːm/ ( American Heritage Dictionary ).
  2. Watt argues that the initial agreement came about shortly after the hijra and that the document was amended at a later date—specifically after the battle of Badr (AH [anno hijra] 2, = AD 624). [126] Serjeant argues that the constitution is in fact eight different treaties that can be dated according to events as they transpired in Medina, with the first treaty written shortly after Muhammad's arrival. [127] See also Caetani (1905) who argue that the document is a single treaty agreed upon shortly after the hijra. [128] Wellhausen argues that it belongs to the first year of Muhammad's residence in Medina, before the battle of Badr in 2/624. [129] Even Moshe Gil, a skeptic of Islamic history, argues that it was written within five months of Muhammad's arrival in Medina. [130]
  3. "Hasan al Basri is often considered one of the first who rejected an angelic origin for the devil, arguing that his fall was the result of his own free-will, not God's determination. Hasan al Basri also argued that angels are incapable of sin or errors and nobler than humans and even prophets. His view was opposed by both early Shias and Sunnis. [160]
  4. "In recent years, the idea of syncretism has been challanged. Given the lack of authority to define or enforce an Orthodox doctrine about Islam, some scholars argue there had no prescribed beliefs, only prescribed practise, in Islam before the sixtheenth century. [67] (p20-22)
  5. A figure of 10-20 million represents approximately 1% of the Muslim population. See also: Ahmadiyya by country.

Related Research Articles

<i>Hadith</i> Collections of sayings and teachings of Muhammad

Ḥadīth or Athar in Islam refers to what the majority of Muslims believe to be a record of the words, actions, and the silent approval of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Imam Islamic leadership position

Imam is an Islamic leadership position. For Sunni Muslims, Imam is most commonly used as the title of a worship leader of a mosque. In this context, imams may lead Islamic worship services, serve as community leaders, and provide religious guidance. For Shia Muslims, the Imams are leaders of the Islamic community or ummah after the Prophet.

Islamic eschatology Islamic theology concerning life after death

Islamic eschatology is the aspect of Islamic theology incorporating the afterlife and the end of the world, with special emphasis in the Quran on the inevitability of resurrection, the final judgment, and the eternal division of the righteous and the wicked, which take place on the Day of Resurrection. Also known as the Day of Judgement, it is characterized by the annihilation of all life, which will then be followed by the resurrection and judgment by God. Multiple verses in the Qur'an mention the Last Judgment.

Muhammad Founder and main prophet of Islam

Muhammad ibn Abdullah was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of the world religion of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet, divinely inspired to preach and confirm the monotheistic teachings of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. He is believed to be the final prophet of God in all the main branches of Islam, though some modern denominations diverge from this belief. Muhammad united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran as well as his teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief.

Muslims Adherents of the religion of Islam

Muslims are people who follow or practice Islam, an Abrahamic monotheistic religion. The word "Muslim" derives from Arabic and means "submitter ". Muslims consider the Quran, their holy book, to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet and messenger Muhammad. The majority of Muslims also follow the teachings and practices of Muhammad (sunnah) as recorded in traditional accounts (hadith).

Shia Islam or Shi'ism is the second largest branch of Islam. It holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor and the Imam after him, most notably at the event of Ghadir Khumm, but was prevented from succeeding Muhammad as the leader of the Muslims as a result of the choice made by some of Muhammad's other companions at Saqifah. This view primarily contrasts with that of Sunni Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad did not appoint a successor before his death and consider Abu Bakr, who was appointed caliph by a group of senior Muslims at Saqifah, to be the first rightful caliph after Muhammad. Adherents of Shia Islam are called Shia Muslims, Shi'ites, or simply Shia.

In Islam, Sunnah are the traditions and practices of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, that constitute a model for Muslims to follow. The sunnah is what all the Muslims of Muhammad's time evidently saw and followed and passed on to the next generations. According to classical Islamic theories, the sunnah are documented by hadith, and along with the Quran, are the divine revelation (Wahy) delivered through Muhammad that make up the primary sources of Islamic law and belief/theology. Differing from Sunni classical Islamic theories are those of Shia Muslims, who hold that the Twelve Imams interpret the sunnah, and Sufi who hold that Muhammad transmitted the values of Sunnah "through a series of Sufi teachers."

Imamate in Shia doctrine Doctrine of Shia Islam

In Shia Islam, the Imamah is a doctrine which asserts that certain individuals from the lineage of the Islamic prophet Muhammad are to be accepted as leaders and guides of the ummah after the death of Muhammad. Imamah further says that Imams possess divine knowledge and authority (Ismah) as well as being part of the Ahl al-Bayt, the family of Muhammad. These Imams have the role of providing commentary and interpretation of the Quran as well as guidance.

Zayd ibn Ali Son of Ali ibn Husayn

Zayd ibn ʿAlī, also spelled Zaid, was the son of Ali ibn Husayn, and great-grandson of Ali ibn Abi Talib. He led an unsuccessful revolt against the Umayyad Caliphate, in which he died. The event gave rise to the Zaidiyyah sect of Shia Islam, which holds him as the next Imam after Ali ibn Husayn. Zayd ibn Ali is also seen as a major religious figure by many Sunnis and was supported by the prominent Sunni jurist, Abu Hanifa, who issued a fatwa in support of Zayd against the Ummayids.

Companions of the Prophet Companion, disciple, scribe or family members of prophet Muhammad

Companions of the Prophet or aṣ-ṣaḥābah were the disciples and followers of Muhammad who "saw or met the prophet during his lifetime and were physically in his presence". "Al-ṣaḥābah" is definite plural; the indefinite singular is masculine صَحَابِيٌّ, feminine صَحَابِيَّةٌ.

Succession to Muhammad Overview and history of the succession to Muhammad, the original split between Shias and Sunnis

The succession to Muhammad is the central issue that split the Muslim community into several divisions in the first century of Islamic history, with the most prominent among these sects being the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam. Shia Islam holds that Ali ibn Abi Talib was the appointed successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad as head of the community. Sunni Islam maintains Abu Bakr to be the first leader after Muhammad on the basis of election.

Islamic schools and branches Overview of sectarian divisions in Islam and differing schools of thought

Islamic schools and branches have different understandings of Islam. There are many different sects or denominations, schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and schools of Islamic theology, or aqidah (creed). Within Islamic groups themselves there may be differences, such as different orders (tariqa) within Sufism, and within Sunnī Islam different schools of theology and jurisprudence. Groups in Islam may be quite large or relatively small in size. Differences between the groups may not be well known to Muslims outside of scholarly circles or may have induced enough passion to have resulted in political and religious violence. There are informal movements driven by ideas as well as organized groups with a governing body. Some Islamic sects and groups regard certain others as deviant or not truly Muslim. Some Islamic sects and groups date back to the early history of Islam between the 7th-9th centuries CE, whereas others have arisen much more recently or even in the 20th century. Still others were influential in their time but are not longer in existence.

Hadith al-Thaqalayn

The Hadith al-Thaqalayn, also known as the Hadith of the Two Treasures, refers to a statement by the Islamic prophet Muhammad about the importance of the Quran and the Ahl al-Bayt. Quran is the central religious text of Islam and Ahl al-Bayt literally translates to the people of the house. The hadith of al-Thaqalayn is widely reported by both Sunni and Shia sources. The version that appears in Musnad Ahmad, a canonical Sunni source, is as follows:

I [Muhammad] left among you two treasures which, if you cling to them, you shall not be led into error after me. One of them is greater than the other: The book of God [Quran], which is a rope stretched from Heaven to Earth, and [the second one is] my progeny, my Ahl al-Bayt. These two shall not be parted until they return to the Pool [of Abundance in Paradise].

Aqidah is an Islamic term of Arabic origin that literally means "creed".

Ahl al-Ḥadith was an Islamic school of Sunni Islam that emerged during the 2nd/3rd Islamic centuries of the Islamic era as a movement of hadith scholars who considered the Quran and authentic hadith to be the only authority in matters of law and creed. Its adherents have also been referred to as traditionalists and sometimes traditionists. The traditionalists constituted a powerful and highly influential school of Islamic scholars before the institutionalization of the Sunni legal schools (Madh'habs) in the 4th Islamic century.

Hadith of the Quran and Sunnah

Several hadith indicate the importance as sources of Islam not only the Quran, but also of the Sunnah. One of these hadith quotes Muhammad as saying :

I have left with you two things which, if you follow them, you will never go astray: the Book of God and the sunna of His Prophet.

Mahdi Prophesied Islamic eschatological figure

The Mahdi, meaning "the rightly guided one", is an eschatological Messianic figure who, according to Islamic belief, will appear at the end of times to rid the world of evil and injustice. In Islam, it is said that he will appear alongside Isa and establish the Divine kingdom of Allah.

Twelver Shi’ism Branch of Shia Islam

TwelverShi’ism, also known as Imamiyyah, is the largest branch of Shia Islam, with about 95% of all Shia Muslims. The term Twelver refers to its adherents' belief in twelve divinely ordained leaders, known as the Twelve Imams, and their belief that the last Imam, Imam al-Mahdi, lives in occultation and will reappear as the promised Mahdi. According to Shia tradition, the Mahdi's tenure will coincide with the Second Coming of Isa, who, along with Mahdi, would kill the Dajjal.

Criticism of Twelver Shia Islam dates from the initial ideological rift among early Muslims that led to the two primary denominations of Islam, the Sunnis and the Shias. The question of succession to Muhammad in Islam, the nature of the Imamate, the status of the twelfth Shia Imam, and other areas in which Shia Islam differs from Sunni Islam have been criticized by Sunni scholars, even though there is no disagreement between the two sects regarding the centrality of the Quran, Muhammad, and many other doctrinal, theological and ritual matters. Shia commentators such as Musa al-Musawi and Ali Shariati have themselves, in their attempts to reform the faith, criticized practices and beliefs which have become prevalent in the Twelver Shia community.

Schools of Islamic theology Set of theological beliefs in the Islamic faith

Schools of Islamic theology are various Islamic schools and branches in different schools of thought regarding aqidah (creed). According to Muhammad Abu Zahra, Qadariyah, Jahmis, Murji'ah, Muʿtazila, Batiniyya, Ashʿarī, Māturīdī, and Aṯharī are the ancient schools of Islamic theology.


Citations of Qur'an and hadith

  1. Q6:125 Quran   6:125, Q61:7 Quran   61:7, Q39:22 Quran   39:22
  2. Q5:3 Quran   5:3, Q3:19 Quran   3:19, Q3:83 Quran   3:83
  3. Q9:74 Quran   9:74; Quran   49:14
  4. Q2:117 Quran   2:117
  5. Q51:56 Quran   51:56
  6. Q2:186 Quran   2:186
  7. Q40:60 Quran   40:60
  8. Q35:1 Quran   35:1
  9. Quran   1:4;
  10. Quran   6:31;
  11. Quran   101:1
  12. Quran   9:60 . "Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (Zakat) and for bringing hearts together and for freeing captives and for those in debt (or bonded labour ) and for the cause of Allah and for the (stranded) traveller—an obligation (imposed) by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise"
  13. Quran   2:177
  14. Quran   2:274
  15. Quran   107:1–7
  16. Quran   4:11.
  17. Quran   89:17–18
  18. Quran   41:34
  19. Sahih al-Bukhari , 8:73:56


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