Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » World Religions » Abrahamic Religions » Islam

The second largest religion in the world, Islam is one in a line of Semitic, prophetic religious traditions that share a belief in monotheism, divine revelation, prophets, ethics, and accountability.

Like Jews and Christians, Muslims are the Children of Abraham, as each of these religions can be traced back to Abraham. According to Genesis, Ishmael was Isaac's older brother, and the Muslims trace their history from Abraham through Ishmael, while the Jews stem from Isaac, and the Christians from the Jews.

However, as a religion Islam has its roots in the teachings of Muhammad, in the city of Mecca, beginning around 610 CE. Muhammad based his message on revelations he had received from God.

Muslims believe that Islam is the perfect form of the faith that was revealed throughout history by a succession of prophets, including Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Although they profess respect for the Torah and the Bible, they believe that these documents have been adultered and tarnished. Faith in God and the Prophet Muhammad is the basis of Islamic belief and practice, as found in the Quran, the primary scriptures of the Muslim faith. Viewed as the verbatim Word of God (Allah), the Quran establishes the set of beliefs that are the foundation of the Islamic worldview.

Of particular importance is the Five Pillars of Islam, which are faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca. While the importance of these acts are shared throughout Islam, the Shia do not refer to them by the same name, and some Islamic scholars add additional pillars.

Although the followers of Islam belong to a single community of believers, there are two major divisions of the religion: Sunni and Shia. The Sunnis are by far the most prevalent, representing 80-90% of all Muslims. The Shia make up most of the remaining Muslims, from 10-20%

For the purpose of categorization, we will include them as such here, but the Sufis are not actually a denomination or sect of Islam, as the adherents of Sufism belong to one of the other Muslim denominations.

Other denominations or sects within the Muslim world do not represent a significant portion of Muslims. These include Ahmadiyya, Ibadi, Mahdavia, and the Quranists. There are also non-denominational Muslims, who do not belong or identify with any specific Islamic denomination.

Although Islam began as an Arabic religion, Arabs account for only about 20% of Muslims today. The Islamic faith is the fastest growing religion in the world, and Muslims make up the majority of the population in nearly sixty countries. More than 60% of the Muslims in the world are in Asia, but Africa also has a very large Muslim population. Europe's non-Muslim population is declining while its Muslim population is growing rapidly, both through immigration and high birth rates.

Additionally, the degree of piety among Muslims is increasing, while liberal Islam is declining in areas with Muslim majorities. The use of a hijab is becoming more common every year, and the number of Muslims who favor Sharia laws is steadily increasing.

Sharia is the religious law that forms part of the Islamic tradition. Derived largely from the Quran and the Hadith, Sharia laws have traditionally been used largely for religious or family matters, in recent years there have been calls for full implementation of Sharia laws by growing Islamist extremist movements, leading to debates as to whether Sharia is compatible with secular forms of government and considerations of human and religious rights, women's rights, and freedom of thought.

With some exceptions, in Muslim controlled countries Islamic law does not distinguish between matters of the church and matters of the state, and criminal charges for violations of religious rules are common, and penalties may include death.

Certain diet restrictions are in place for Muslims. All meat must come from a herbivorous animal that has been slaughtered in the name of God by a Muslim, Jew, or Christian, except for game obtained by hunting or fishing. Pork is specifically prohibited, as is the use of alcohol.

This category and its subcategories are focused on the religion of Islam. Websites whose topics relate to the overall religion, or to the religion in general, may be submitted to this category. Informational sites, whether complimentary or oppositional, may be submitted to this category. Those whose topics more specifically pertain to one of this category's subcategories should be submitted to the most appropriate category, which would be the one that is most closely represented by the site's chief topics. Those representing local mosques or other local Islamic facilities or programs should be submitted to the Local & Global category corresponding to the geographical location of the facility, however.

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