Islam is one of the world’s monotheistic religions, along with Christianity and Judaism. Its followers are called Muslims. Below is a brief description and history of Islam.
Islam is Arabic for “peace”. This is a spiritual peace that a faithful Muslim obtains when submitting himself to God’s will. God is called Allah.
A historical figure and a prophet, he was born in 570 in Mecca and died in Medina in 632. He founded the first Islamic state.
In 622, amidst the persecution of the newly converted Muslims by the pagans, Muhammad was forced to flee Mecca for Medina. This flight became known as Hijra.
One of the first converts to Islam, Muhammad’s father-in-law, Abu Bakr lived from 573 to 634. He became the first Rashidun Caliph and successfully united the entire Arabian Peninsula into one state under the law of Islam.
The Caliphate was a government system established upon the death of Prophet Muhammad. The Rashidun Caliphate existed from 632 to 661. The first Fitna War cemented the break of the Sunni from the Shia, and the year 661 saw the origin of the second, Umayyad, Caliphate. Altogether there were four major caliphates after the decease of Muhammad.
Sunnis and Shiites
The Sunni and the Shia are two principal denominations of Islam divided by their attitude to Muhammad’s succession. The Sunni constitute 85-90% of Islamic population, the Shia – 10-15%.
Other Types of Islam
In addition to the Sunni and the Shia, there are other three main types of Islamic religion.
This doctrine originated in the 18th century within the Sunni community and aimed at reviving the Islam in its orthodox, pure form.
This Shia sect goes back to 9-10th cc. CE. This is a syncretic religion, uniting Islam, Christianity, and even neo-Platonism. They observe Christmas and Epiphany, celebrate Mass, and believe in reincarnation.
This was the first sect of Islam established in the 7th c. CE. They believed that, first, any morally irreproachable person could become a caliph. Secondly, if the caliph failed to comply with the Quran, he deserved to be killed. Traditional Islamic Clothing
This is the Muslim scripture, the verbatim word that God gave to people through Muhammad. It is thought to be the last and most reliable scripture. It contains 114 chapters, or surahs, that consist of verses.
The birth of the Islamic calendar commemorates the event in 622 CE when Muhammad and his followers moved over from Mecca to Medina in a bid to establish a true Islamic community there. It is called the Hijri calendar, thus marking the pivotal event. This is a lunar calendar that identifies the principal rituals and holidays, like the Lent (Ramadan) and the annual Hajj.
Islam has a few symbols, including colors and inscriptions.
The Star and Cresent
Although widely associated with Islam, this symbol was actually taken from the Ottoman Empire.
The name of God
Allah inscribed in Arabic characters symbolizes Islam.
The black color in Islam culture signifies modesty, while green is the color of heavenly life.
Five Pillars of Islam
Five founding principles of Islam are:
- Muslim life;
- concern for those in need;
This is a religious law that is a part of the Islamic tradition. It refers to God’s divine law that remains unchanged. It governs all spheres of a Muslim’s activity.
Islam is the second most followed religion in the world. Many countries, like Indonesia and African states, practise Islam.