What Is Islam?
What is Islam?
Islam is an Arabic word meaning “surrender” or “submission.” It is a faith that encompasses approximately one-fifth of humanity. Its adherents reside in almost every country of the world and comprise majorities in large segments of Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and Asia. Approximately more than 6 million Americans follow Islam.
The Origins of Islam
The historical origins of Islam date back to seventh-century Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), an aristocratic Arabian born and raised an orphan in the sanctuary city of Makkah, experienced a revelation in his fortieth year. He began to preach to his own people, most of whom initially persecuted him. After thirteen years of suffering with patience and endurance, he migrated to the nearby city of Madinah. For over twenty-three years, beginning in 610 C.E., the Prophet orally transmitted the Qur’an. Muslims believe the Qur’an was revealed from God through the archangel Gabriel. In it, a cosmology, a theology, and an elaborate eschatology are described. By the end of the Prophet’s life in 632 C.E., almost the entire Arabian Peninsula had converted from paganism to Islam, and within a hundred years, its followers stretched from France to China.
Although considered the youngest of the three great Abrahamic faiths that include Judaism and Christianity, Islam does not view itself as a new religion but rather as a reformed Abrahamic faith. Muslims believe that the Qur’an corrects distortions of previous prophetic dispensations while not departing from the aboriginal faith of humanity, which according to the Muslims is Islam or submission to one God. While Muslims believe all prophets have taught the unity of God and that their beliefs about God were the same, their actual practices have changed to suit various times and places. According to Muslims, this is why religions tend to differ outwardly while retaining an essential inward truth common to them all. However, the Qur’an declares its message as uniquely universal applying to all people for all remaining time.
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