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Islam (/ˈɪslɑːm/; Arabic: الإسلام, al-ʾIslām) is a religion articulated by the Quran, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Allāh), and, for the vast majority of adherents, the teachings and normative example (called the sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570–8 June 632 CE). It is the world's second-largest religion and the fastest-growing major religion in the world, with over 1.7 billion followers or 23% of the global population, known as Muslims. Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion that upholds that God is one and incomparable and that the purpose of existence is to worship God. Muslims consider Muhammad to be the last prophet of God.
Muslims also believe that Islam is the original, complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. As for the Quran, Muslims consider it to be the unaltered and final revelation of God. Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment.
Islam began in the early 7th century. Originating in Mecca, it quickly spread in the Arabian Peninsula and by the 8th century the Islamic empire was 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 when much of the historically Islamic world was experiencing a scientific, economic and cultural flourishing. The expansion of the Muslim world involved various caliphates and empires, traders and conversion to Islam by missionary activities.
Most Muslims are of one of two denominations: Sunni (75–90%) or Shia (10–20%). About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country, 32% in South Asia, 20% in the Middle East, and 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sizable Muslim communities are also found in Europe, China, Russia, and the Americas. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world.
Islam is often seen as having the simplest doctrines of the major religions. Its most fundamental concept is a rigorous monotheism, called tawḥīd (Arabic: توحيد). God is described in chapter 112 of the Quran as: "Say, He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He beg etteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him" (112:1-4). Muslims repudiate polytheism and idolatry, called Shirk, and reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus. In Islam, God is beyond all comprehension and Muslims are not expected to visualize God. God is described and referred to by certain names or attributes, the most common being Al-Rahmān, meaning "The Compassionate" and Al-Rahīm, meaning "The Merciful" (See Names of God in Islam).
Muslims believe that the creation of everything in the universe was brought into being by God's sheer command, “’Be' and so it is, and that the purpose of existence is to worship God. He is viewed as a personal god who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls him. There are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God who states, "I am nearer to him than (his) jugular vein."
Allāh is the term with no plural or gender used by Muslims and Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews to reference God, while ʾilāh (Arabic:إله) is the term used for a deity or a god in general. Other non-Arab Muslims might use different names as much as Allah, for instance "Tanrı" in Turkish, "Khodā" in Persian or Ḵẖudā in Urdu
Belief in angels is fundamental to the faith of Islam. The Arabic word for angel (Arabic: ملك malak) means "messenger", like its counterparts in Hebrew (malʾákh) and Greek (angelos). According to the Quran, angels do not possess free will, and therefore worship and obey God in total obedience. Angels' duties include communicating revelations from God, glorifying God, recording every person's actions, and taking a person's soul at the time of death. Muslims believe that angels are made of light. They are described as "messengers with wings—two, or three, or four (pairs): He [God] adds to Creation as He pleases..." Some scholars have emphasized a metaphorical reinterpretation of the concept of angels. Pictorial depictions of angels are generally avoided in Islamic Art, as the idea of giving form to anything immaterial is not accepted. Muslims therefore do not generally share the perceptions of angelic pictorial depictions, such as those found in Western Art.
Additionally, another kind of being that is sapient in Islam is called Jinn, who are believed to be invisible to humans and include Satan.
The Islamic holy books are the records which 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 (Gospels), had become distorted—either in interpretation, in text, or both. The Quran (literally, "Reading" or "Recitation") is viewed by Muslims as the final revelation and literal word of God and is widely regarded as the finest literary work in the Arabic language.
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 on June 8, 632. While Muhammad was alive, all of these revelations were written down by his companions (sahabah), although the prime method of transmission was orally through memorization.
The Quran is divided into 114 suras, or chapters, which combined, contain 6,236 āyāt, or verses. The chronologically earlier suras, revealed at Mecca, are primarily concerned with ethical and spiritual topics. The later Medinan suras mostly discuss social and moral issues relevant to the Muslim community.
The Quran is more concerned with moral guidance than legal instruction, and is considered the "sourcebook of Islamic principles and values". Muslim jurists consult the hadith ("reports"), 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. The set of rules governing proper pronunciation 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.
The Shahadah, which is the basic creed of Islam that must be recited under oath with the specific statement: "'ašhadu 'al-lā ilāha illā-llāhu wa 'ašhadu 'anna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh", or "I testify that there is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God. This testament is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam. Muslims must repeat the shahadah in prayer, and non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed.
Ritual prayers, called Ṣalāh or Ṣalāt (Arabic: صلاة), must be performed five times a day. Salat is intended to focus the mind on God, and is seen as a personal communication with him that expresses gratitude and worship. Salat is compulsory but flexibility in the specifics is allowed depending on circumstances. The prayers are recited in the Arabic language, and consist of verses from the Quran. The prayers are done with the chest in direction of the Kaaba though in the early days of Islam, they were done in direction of Jerusalem.
A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims, who often refer to it by its Arabic name masjid. The word mosque in English refers to all types of buildings dedicated to Islamic worship, although there is a distinction in Arabic between the smaller, privately owned mosque and the larger, "collective" mosque (masjid jāmi'). 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. In Medina, Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, or the Prophet's Mosque, was also a place of refuge for the poor. Modern mosques have evolved greatly from the early designs of the 7th century, and contain a variety of architectural elements such as minarets.
"Zakāt" (Arabic: زكاة zakāh "alms") is giving a fixed portion of accumulated wealth by those who can afford it to help the poor or needy and for those employed to collect Zakat; also, for bringing hearts together, freeing captives, for those in debt (or bonded labor) and for the (stranded) traveler. It is considered a religious obligation (as opposed to voluntary charity) 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 is estimated to be 15 times global humanitarian aid contributions. The amount of zakat to be paid on capital assets (e.g. money) is 2.5% (1/40) per year, for people who are not poor.
Sadaqah means optional charity which is practiced as religious duty and out of generosity. Both the Quran and the hadith have put much emphasis on spending money for the welfare of needy people, and have urged the Muslims to give more as an act of optional charity. The Quran says: Spend something (in charity) out of the substance which we have bestowed on you, before Death should come to any of you (63:10). One of the early teachings of Muhammad was that God expects men to be generous with their wealth and not to be miserly (Quran 107:1–7). Accumulating wealth without spending them to address the needs of the poor is generally prohibited and admonished. Another kind of charity in Islam is waqf which means perpetual religious endowment.
Fasting (Arabic: صوم ṣawm) from food and drink, among other things, must be performed from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan. The fast is to encourage a feeling of nearness to God, and during it Muslims should express their gratitude for and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and think of the needy. Sawm is not obligatory for several groups for whom it would constitute an undue burden. For others, flexibility is allowed depending on circumstances, but missed fasts usually must be made up quickly.
The obligatory Islamic pilgrimage, called the ḥajj (Arabic: حج), has to be performed during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. Rituals of the Hajj include: spending a day and a night in the tents in the desert plain of Mina, then a day in the desert plain of 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; then going to Mecca and walking seven times around the Kaaba which Muslims believe was built as a place of worship by Abraham; then walking seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah recounting the steps of Abraham's wife, while she was looking for water for her son Ismael in the desert before Mecca developed into a settlement. Another form of pilgrimage, Umrah, can be undertaken at any time of the year.
Muslims recite and memorize the whole or the part of the Quran as acts of virtue. Reciting the Quran in the correct manner has been described as an excellent act of worship. Pious Muslims recite the whole Quran at the month of Ramadan. In Islamic societies, any social program generally begins with the recitation of the Quran. Those who memorize the whole Quran is called hafiz who, it is said, will be able to intercede for ten people on the Last Judgment Day. Apart from this, almost every Muslim memorizes some portion of the Quran because they need to recite it during regular prayer.