Islam in Under 500 Words

  1. Islam comes from an Arabic root word meaning "submission"

    Islam acknowledges both the Jewish and Christian traditions but considers that they have gone astray. The Prophet Muhammad is said to put a seal of divine approval on earlier prophets including Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus.

  2. A person who follows Islam is a Muslim
  3. About 1 billion people are Muslims. Only about a quarter of these live in the Middle East – and a still smaller proportion are Arab.

    The division between Sunni and Shi`a traditions relates to the succession of authority very early in Islam’s history. Shi`ites are about 10% of the total Muslim population and are found mostly in Iran and Iraq.

    Sufis are the mystics of Islam. There are many orders including the Turkish Mevlevi ("whirling dervishes")

  4. The Qur’an, comprising 114 sura, is the holy scripture revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is both poetry and a guide to living – including regulations for marriage, inheritance and food laws and prohibitions against usury, gambling and alcohol.
  5. As with other religions the degree and nature of observance varies between societies and individuals.

    As formal Arabic is a multi-layered language translations into other languages tend to only give a gist of the meaning. However, the MSA-USC Qur'an Database gives multiple English translations for sura, in context, for a given word or phrase.

    While An Index To The Qur'an provides individual sura by keyword.

  6. In Islam the emphasis is on practice rather than belief. The minimum practice is the five pillars of Islam revealed in the Qur’an:
  7. The exact manner of observance varies between Sunni and Shi`ite practice and among the four Sunni legal schools.

  8. The hadith are the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad seen or heard first hand. Various ones are regarded as more or less correct. Further, there is a range of interpretations of these.

  9. Friday is the day for special worship (al-jum`a)
  10. The Islamic year is based on the lunar year which is shorter than the solar year. Meaning the month of Ramadan is earlier every year. Here is a Current Calendar

    Islam dates from the last 10 years of the life of the Prophet Muhammad (1 AH = 622 CE).

  11. A jihad is a struggle against temptation and unjust oppression.

  12. A fatwa is an edict from a learned theologian based on formal education in Islamic jurisprudence and is only binding on his own followers.



Huda, "Introduction to Islam" [Online] [Accessed 14/3/05]
Shay, Anthony, (2002) "Dance and Jurisprudence in the Islamic Middle East", Habibi, vol.19, no 2 pp26-39
Welch, Alford, (1988) "Islam" in A Handbook of Living Religions pp 123-170, London: Penguin

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