What is the literal meaning of the word "Islam"?
"Islam" literally means "submission (to the will of God)."
How many Muslims are there in the world?
Around 1.5 billion, making it the world's second-largest religion after Christianity
Who is the founding prophet of Islam?
When and where was he born?
Muhammad was born in Mecca (a town in modern-day Saudi Arabia) around 570 A.C.E.
What are the major differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims?
The major controversy centers on the true successor of Muhammad
Sunnis believe that a caliph (head of state) should be elected by the whole community
Shi'ites assert that only Allah himself can choose a leader, and that Muhammad's only rightful successors are his descendants
Sunni and Shia Muslims also accept different sets of hadith
What percentage of Muslims are Sunnis?
Which major modern Muslim countries are Sunni?
Sunnis are a majority in most Muslim countries in Africa, Asia, and the rest of the Arab World
- Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, and Ethiopia all have Sunni populations of more than 20 million
- Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh all have Sunni populations of well over 120 million
- Russia and China have Sunni populations of over 15 million
- Turkey, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, and Uzbekistan all have Sunni populations of 16 million or (much) more
Which major modern Muslim countries are Shia?
Shias make up the majority of the population in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain
- Shias are also the largest religious group in Lebanon (35%)
- Large shia minorities exist throughout the Middle East and Asia in countries like Turkey, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, and India
- Although Shias make up a minority in Pakistan and India, the Pakistani and Indian Shia populations are great (over 16 million Shias each)
What is the literal meaning of "Allah"?
(Specifically the god, not a god)
What is the Qur'an?
The central text of Islam
- Literal meaning: "recitation"
- Revealed to Muhammad over the course of 23 years by the voice of the archangel Gabriel
What is a Hadith?
A report regarding the statements or actions of Muhammad
- Hadith are not the word of God himself, like the Qur'an, but are regarded as important sources of Muslim moral guidance and commentary on religious law
- There are many collections of Hadith, and Sunnis and Shi'ites disagree about which Hadith are authentic
What are the Five Pillars of Islam?
Profession of the shahadah: "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet."
Canonical prayer (salah): The Muslim must pray, facing Mecca, five times a day.
Alms-giving (zakat): Giving a portion of one's earnings to the poor, if one is able to.
Fasting (sawm) during the month of Ramadan.
Pilgrimage (hajj): Once in his or her lifetime, every able Muslim must journey to the Ka'ba in Mecca.
What are the Six Articles of Faith?
Six items of faith that must be affirmed by any true Muslim, according to the Hadith of Gabriel:
- Belief in Allah
- Belief in His Angels
- Belief in His Books, especially the Koran
- Belief in all Messengers sent by Allah
- Belief in the Day of Judgment and the afterlife
- Belief in Destiny (fate)
Note: Shia Muslims reject the sixth article.
What is the first half of the shahadah in Arabic?
"La ilaha illa 'llah" (There is no god but Allah)
This phrase is uttered and heard by Muslims extremely often; its centrality to Muslim life cannot be overstated.
What is Ramadan?
A holy month during which Muslims do not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset
- They are also expected to follow the teachings of Islam more closely during this time
- Ramadan is determined by a lunar calendar, so it moves back about 11 days each calendar year
What was the hijra?
The migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.C.E., which marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar
Who was Muhammad's first wife?
A wealthy widow 15 years his senior named Khadija
- According to Muslim tradition, was the first to believe Muhammad was a prophet
- Marriage lasted for 25 years
What is the Ka'ba?
The physical center of Islam, located in Mecca
- A roughly cubical stone structure supposedly built by Abraham and his son Ishmael
- Muhammad rededicated it to Allah in the 6th century A.C.E.
- During daily prayer, Muslims face the Ka'ba
- All Muslims must visit it once in their lives
Summarize the Islamic belief regarding Abraham and his sons.
Abraham had a son named Ishmael by his second wife, Hagar
His first wife, Sarah, then bore Abraham a son named Isaac
Sarah forced Abraham to banish Hagar and Ishmael
Ishmael went to the place that would later become Mecca
The descendants of Ishmael later became Muslims, while the descendants of Isaac became the Jews
Summarize Islamic views on Jesus Christ.
Muslims believe that Jesus Christ was a true prophet, and they accept his virgin birth
- But they assert that the message transmitted through Jesus was incomplete and became corrupted over time
- The Qur'an is God's completion of that message
What is the Islamic belief regarding human nature?
In the Islamic creation story, Allah forgives the sins of Adam and Eve even as he punishes them with mortal life
Therefore, all humans are born into a natural state of submission to Allah, and are inherently good, though they have the capacity for evil
This is an important contrast with the Christian doctrine of original sin
Summarize Muslim views on the afterlife.
After death, the body remains in the grave, awaiting Judgment
On Judgment Day, Allah will recreate the bodies of the dead, and all humans will be judged by their deeds
Those whom Allah deems good will be sent to eternal paradise
Those deemed bad will suffer eternal hell
Warriors who die in the service of Allah will be immediately sent to paradise
Enemies of Islam will be immediately sent to hell
What is Sufism?
A mystical approach to Islam
- Emphasis on the love between man and God
- Famous for love poetry and for the "whirling dervishes," members of a Turkish Sufi sect who use spinning to aid meditation
What is Eid al-Fitr?
A three-day Muslim festival celebrating the end of Ramadan
What is Eid al-Adha?
A Muslim festival celebrating the end of the hajj season, during which families that can afford it sacrifice an animal to Allah and share the meat with friends and neighbors