Islam (English /ˈɪzlɑːm/; Arabic: الإسلام al-ʾislām) is the monotheistic religion articulated by the Qur’an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Arabic: الله Allāh), and by the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and composed of Hadith) of Muhammad, considered by them to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim.
Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence is to worship God. Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through Abraham, Moses and Jesus, whom they consider prophets.
About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, 25% in South Asia, 20% in the Middle East, 2% in Central Asia, 4% in the remaining South East Asian countries, and 15% in Sub-saharan Africa. Sizable communities are also found in China and Russia, and parts of Europe. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world (see Islam by country). With about 1.3-1.57 billion Muslims, comprising about 21-23% of the world's population, Islam is the second-largest religion and one of the fastest-growing religions in the world.
Islam's most fundamental concept is a rigorous monotheism, called tawhīd (Arabic: توحيد). God is described in chapter 112 of the Qur'an as: "Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him." (112:1-4) Muslims repudiate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, comparing it to polytheism, but accept Jesus as a prophet.
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 Qur'an (literally, “Reading” or “Recitation”) is viewed by Muslims as the final revelation and literal Word of God and is widely regarded as the finest piece of literature work in the Arabic language. Muslims believe that the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Muhammad by God through the archangel Gabriel (Jibrīl). The Qur'an was reportedly written down by Muhammad's companions (sahabah) while he was alive, although the prime method of transmission was orally.
The Qur'an mentions the names of numerous figures considered prophets in Islam, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, among others. Muslims believe that God finally sent Muhammad (Seal of the Prophets) to convey the divine message to the whole world (to sum up and to finalize the word of God).
Ritual prayers, called Ṣalāh or Ṣalāt (Arabic: صلاة), must be performed five times a day. Salah is intended to focus the mind on God, and is seen as a personal communication with him that expresses gratitude and worship. Salah 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 Qur'an.
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 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 pilgrimage, called the ḥajj (Arabic: حج ḥaǧǧ) 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 walking seven times around the Kaaba, touching the black stone if possible, walking or running seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina.
Most Muslims belong to one of two denominations; with 80-90% being Sunni and 10-20% being Shia.
Sunni Muslims are the largest group in Islam, comprising the vast bulk (80-90%) of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, hence the title Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā‘ah. In Arabic language, as-Sunnah literally means "tradition" or "path". The Qur'an and the Sunnah (the example of Muhammad's life) as recorded in hadith are the primary foundations of Sunni doctrine. According to Sunni Islam, the "normative" example of Muhammad's life is called the Sunnah (literally "trodden path").
The Shi'a constitute 10–20% of Islam and are its second-largest branch. They believe in the political and religious leadership of Imams from the progeny of Ali ibn Abi Talib, who Shia's believe was the true successor after Muhammad. They believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib was the first Imam (leader), rejecting the legitimacy of the previous Muslim caliphs. To most Shias, an Imam rules by right of divine appointment and holds "absolute spiritual authority" among Muslims, having final say in matters of doctrine and revelation. Shias regard Ali as the prophet's true successor and believe that a caliph is appointed by divine will.
Sufism is a mystical-ascetic approach to Islam that seeks to find divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. By focusing on the more spiritual aspects of religion, Sufis strive to obtain direct experience of God by making use of "intuitive and emotional faculties" that one must be trained to use. However, Sufism has been criticized by the Salafi sect for what they see as an unjustified religious innovation. Many Sufi orders, or tariqas, can be classified as either Sunni or Shi'a, but others classify themselves simply as 'Sufi'.
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