Islam (m/)[note 1] is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, universal religion teaching that there is only one God (Arabic: Allah), and that Muhammad is the messenger of God.[1][2] It is the world's second-largest religion[3] with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population,[4] most commonly known as Muslims.[5] Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries.[3] Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique,[6] and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs.[2][7] The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples (called the sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570 – 8 June 632 CE).

Muslims believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets including Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.[8][9][10] Muslims consider the Quran in its original Arabic to be the unaltered and final revelation of God.[11] Like other Abrahamic religions, Islam also teaches a final judgment with the righteous rewarded paradise and unrighteous punished in hell.[12][13] Religious concepts and practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law (sharia), which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment.[14][15][16] The cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are home to the three holiest sites in Islam.[17]

Aside from the theological narrative,[18][19][20] Islam is historically believed to have originated in the early 7th century CE in Mecca,[21] and by the 8th century the Umayyad Caliphate 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, during the Abbasid Caliphate, when much of the historically Muslim world was experiencing a scientific, economic and cultural flourishing.[22][23][24] The expansion of the Muslim world involved various caliphates, such as the Ottoman Empire, traders and conversion to Islam by missionary activities (dawah).[25]

Most Muslims are of one of two denominations; Sunni (75–90%)[26] or Shia (10-20%).[27] About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country;[28] 31% of Muslims live in South Asia,[29] the largest population of Muslims in the world;[30] 20% in the Middle East–North Africa,[31] where it is the dominant religion;[32] and 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa.[33] Sizeable Muslim communities are also found in the Americas, the Caucasus, Central Asia, China, Europe, Mainland Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and Russia.[34][35] Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world.[36][37][38]

Etymology and meaning

The Kaaba in Mecca is the direction of prayer and Muslim destination of pilgrimage

Islam (Arabic: إسلام‎, IPA: [alʔɪsˈlaːm] (About this soundlisten)) is a verbal noun originating from the triliteral root S-L-M which forms a large class of words mostly relating to concepts of wholeness, submission, sincerity, safeness, and peace.[39] In a religious context it means "voluntary submission to God".[40][41] Islām is the verbal noun of Form IV of the root, and means "submission to God" or "surrender". Muslim, the word for an adherent of Islam, is the active participle of the same verb form, and means "submitter to God" or "one who surrenders". The word sometimes has distinct connotations in its various occurrences in the Quran. In some verses, there is stress on the quality of Islam as an internal spiritual state: "Whomsoever God desires to guide, He opens his heart to Islam."[42] Other verses connect Islam and religion (dīn) together: "Today, I have perfected your religion (dīn) for you; I have completed My blessing upon you; I have approved Islam for your religion."[43] Still others describe Islam as an action of returning to God—more than just a verbal affirmation of faith.[44] In the Hadith of Gabriel, islām is presented as one part of a triad that also includes imān (faith), and ihsān (excellence).[45][46]

Islam was historically called Muhammadanism in Anglophone societies. This term has fallen out of use and is sometimes said to be offensive because it suggests that a human being rather than God is central to Muslims' religion, parallel to Buddha in Buddhism.[47] Some authors, however, continue to use the term Muhammadanism as a technical term for the religious system as opposed to the theological concept of Islam that exists within that system.[48]