Islam: Key facts
• Islam is considered one of major world religions.
• Islam is strictly monotheistic, and its central teaching is that there is one all-powerful, all-knowing God who created the universe. God is referred by the Arabic name, Allah.
• In Arabic, Islam means "surrender" or "submission" -- to the will of God. Followers are known as Muslims, an Arabic word that means "one who surrenders to God."
• Islam says all Muslims are equal before God, and all Muslims belong to one community, regardless of ethnic or national background.
• Islam was founded by the prophet Mohammed, who Muslims believe was the last and most important in a series of prophets, including Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
• According to Islam, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mohammed and informed him that he was God's chosen messenger.
• Mohammed was born in Mecca around A.D. 570, and settled in Medina around 622. Islam rejects the idea that God was ever born, a key difference with the Christian belief that Jesus was born the son of God.
• The holy book of Islam is the Quraan, which means "the timeless words of God." It has 114 chapters and comprises the main teachings of Islam.
• The Quraan portrays Mohammed as a human being who sometimes makes mistakes but who never sins against God. Mohammed's humanity serves as a reminder that other humans can also aspire to lead a good life.
• The core practices of Islam are known as the Five Pillars: daily prayer, faith, fasting, pilgrimage and alms giving. For more information, go here.
• There are an estimated 1.2 billion Muslims world wide, with Malasia being the most populous Muslim country. The faith is considered the world's fastest growing religion.
• There are several sects and traditions within Islam, including Sunni Islam, Shiaa Islam and Sufism. Sunni Muslims constitute the vast majority of the world's Muslims.
• Islamic law forbids the artistic representation of God, the prophets and -- sometimes -- of human beings in general.
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