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Place of Origin Hijra 622 C.E.

Islam, "the submission to God" is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions and the world's second-largest religion. The Hijra is the emigration of Muhammad and his followers to the city of Medina in 622.

Historical Figures


Muhammad (ca. 570-632 CE) is believed by mainstream Muslims to be God's final prophet sent to guide mankind with the message of Islam. He is referred to as "The Prophet" within the faith. Non-Muslims generally consider him to be the founder of Islam. He could not read or write.

In 610, while praying in a cave called Hira near Mecca, Mohammad was visited by the Angel Gabriel. The angel commanded Mohammad to memorize and recite the verses sent by God, which were later collected as part of the Qur'an. Gabriel told Mohammad that God (Allah) had chosen him as the last of the prophets to mankind.

Mohammad expanded his mission as a prophet, publicly preaching a strict monotheism and warning against a Day of Judgement where all humans shall be held responsible for their deeds.

Many in Mecca resented his preaching, at least in part due to his followers' tendency to hold his authority above that of their leaders. Eventually, persecution followed and in 622, Mohammad was forced to flee from Mecca and settled in Medina with his followers, where he was the leader of the first avowedly Muslim community.

War between factions in Mecca and Medina followed, in which Muhammad and his followers were eventually victorious. The military organization honed in this struggle was then set to conquering the other tribes of Arabia. By the time of Muhammad's death, he had unified Arabia, spread Islam throughout the Arab Peninsula, and launched expeditions to the north, towards Syria and Palestine.

Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr (573 - 634) ruled as the first of the Muslim caliphs (632 - 634).

Abu Bakr was born in Mecca. Abu Bakr was a merchant, and highly esteemed as a judge, as an interpreter of dreams, and as one learned in Meccan traditions. He was one of the first converts to Islam and instrumental in converting many of the Quraish and the residents of Mecca.

Abu Bakr was one of Muhammad's constant companions. When Muhammad fled from Mecca in the migration to Medina, Abu Bakr alone accompanied him. Abu Bakr was also linked to Muhammad by marriage: Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha married Muhammad soon after the migration to Medina. He was a trusted lieutenant, high in Muhammad's councils.


Ali ibn Abi Talib (599 - 661) was an early Islamic leader and is seen by the Sunnis as the fourth and last of the rightly guided caliphs. Shi'a Muslims consider him the first imam and the first rightful caliph. Ali was the cousin of Muhammad, and after marriage to Fatima, he also became the prophet's son-in-law.

Abu al-Ghazali Moderate Suffism c. 1100

Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali (1058 - 1111) was a Muslim theologian, and philosopher, known as Algazel to the Western Medieval world. Al-Ghazali is one of the greatest Islamic theologians and mystical thinkers.

The eventful life of Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali can be divided into three major periods. The first is the period of learning, first in his hometown of Tus in Persia, then in Gurgan, and finally in Nishapur. After the death of his teacher, he moved to the court of Nizam al-Mulk, the powerful vizir of the Seljuq Sultans, who appointed him head of the Nizamiyyah College at Baghdad. The second period of al-Ghazali's life was his career as the highest-ranking orthodox "doctor" of the Islamic community in Baghdad. The third period of his life, that of retirement, but which also included a short period of teaching at the Nizamiyyah College in Nishapur. After leaving Baghdad, he wandered as a Sufi in Syria and Palestine before returning to Tus, where he was engaged in writing, Sufi practices and teaching his disciples until his death.

Saladin late 1100s

Greatest Muslim warrior. Saladin (1137 - 1193 was a 12th century Kurdish Muslim warrior who founded the Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt and Syria. He was also renowned in both the Christian and Muslim worlds for his leadership and military prowess tempered by his chivalry and merciful nature during the Crusades.

Important events

Revalation of the Qu'ran (611-612)

The Qur'an is the sacred book of Islam. The word of God. Muslims believe that the Qur'an was revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad by God through the Angel Gabriel on numerous occasions between the years 610 and up till his death in 632. In addition to memorizing his revelations, his followers are said to have written them down on parchments, stones, and leaves.

Flight to Medina / Retun to Mekka

Medina is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia. Medina is the second holiest city of Islam, after Mecca. Its importance as a religious site derives from the presence there of the shrine of Mohammad by the Mosque of the Prophet, known as Gumbad-e-Khizra. Like Mecca, the city of Medina only permits Muslims to enter.

In the ten years following the Hijra, Medina formed the base from which Muhammad attacked and was attacked and it was from here that he marched on Mecca, becoming its ruler without battle.

Spread of Islam

Under Muhammad's immediate successors, the Islamic empire expanded into Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, North Africa, and Iberia. Later conquests, commercial contact between Muslims and non-Muslims, and missionary activity spread Islam over much of the globe.

Conflict with Christian Crusaders

After Byzantine emperor Alexius I called for help with defending his empire against the Seljuk Turks, in 1095 at the Council of Clermont Pope Urban II called upon all Christians to join a war against the Turks, a war, which would count as full penance. Crusader armies marched to Jerusalem, sacking several cities on their way. In 1099, they took Jerusalem and massacred the population.

In 1187, Saladin, Sultan of Egypt, recaptured Jerusalem. Pope Gregory VIII called for a crusade, which was led by several of Europe's most important leaders. The Crusaders had recaptured Acre from the Muslims.

Pope Innocent III initiated the Fourth Crusade in 1202, with the intention of invading the Holy Land through Egypt.

Conquest of Constantinople 1453 C.E.

The Fall of Constantinople was the conquest of the Byzantine capital by the Ottoman Empire under the command of Sultan Mehmed II, in 1453. This marked not only the final destruction of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the death of Constantine XI, the last Byzantine emperor, but also the strategic conquest crucial for Ottoman rule over the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans. Known as Istanbul, the city remained capital of the Ottoman Empire until its dissolution in 1922.

European influence 19th and 20th century

Islamic governments inherited the knowledge and skills of the ancient Middle East, of Greece and of Persia, it added to them new and important innovations from outside, such as the manufacture of paper from China and decimal positional numbering from India.

Oil and the Islamic Emergence

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) came into existence in 1960. For the first decade or more of its existence, it was ineffectual in terms of increasing revenue for member nations. The OPEC is made up of Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela; since 1965, its international headquarters have been in Vienna, Austria. The principal aim of the Organization, according to its Statute, is the coordination and unification of the petroleum policies of its member countries and the determination of the best means for safeguarding their interests, individually and collectively; devising ways and means of ensuring the stabilization of prices in international oil markets.

Central Beliefs

Oneness with God

Allah is used by Muslims as the Arabic word for Singular God (not "God's personal name", but the equivalent of the Hebrew word "El").

Most of the 99 names of God found in the Qur'an are not actually names, but attributes. One, however, Al Haq, meaning The Truth, seems to equate to absolute truth as that which cannot be negated. Al Haq is more than a reflection of faith in the existence of The God, and links the concept of God to all creation forever. Thus Allah transcends the prophetic origins of Islam and is thus universal in all time and applies to all existence: past, present, and future.

Muslims believe that Allah cannot be held equal in any way to other beings or concepts. Allah is unique and supreme. It is for this reason that Muslims reject the Christian concept of the Trinity, which describes God as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Tawhid is among the five Shia Roots of Religion. Sunni Muslims regard Tawhīd as one of seven aspects of Aqidah or the Islamic creed. The Muslim profession of faith, or Shahadah (Lā 'ilāha 'illā llāha, translated there is no god except Allah) is an expression of Tawhid.

Mohammad as God's prophet

Muhammad had a reflective turn of mind and routinely spent nights in a cave (Hira) near Mecca in meditation and thought. Muslims believe that around the year 610, while meditating, Muhammad had a vision of the Angel Gabriel and heard a voice saying to him "Read in the name of your Lord the Creator. He created man from something, which clings. Read, and your Lord is the Most Honored. He taught man with the pen; taught him all that he knew not."

God's Mercy & Judgement

In Islam, a person is required only to pray to God. In Islam there are no priests or clergy, because each Muslim has a direct relationship with their God. Since God is the Owner and Sustainer of everything, as well as the only one who can provide true and complete forgiveness, it is completely futile to try to approach God through anyone else. According to the teachings of Islam, praying to or worshipping anything or anyone besides God is the greatest sin a person can commit. Islam teaches that God has the power to do all things and that no one should ever despair of His mercy. According to Islam, God is always ready to bestow His abundant Grace and Mercy on anyone who turns to Him in repentance. Even people who used to commit the worst sin of worshipping others besides God will be forgiven if they realize what they are doing is wrong and repent. Having a direct relationship with God, and understanding that He alone deserves worship and praise, goes hand-in-hand with the Islamic concept of God.


Nature of Devine

There are 99 names of God found in the Qur'an are not actually names, but attributes. One, however, Al Haq, meaning The Truth, seems to equate to absolute truth as that which cannot be negated. Al Haq is more than a reflection of faith in the existence of The God, and links the concept of God to all creation forever. Thus Allah transcends the prophetic origins of Islam and is thus universal in all time and applies to all existence: past, present, and future.



The Qur'an literally means the recitation and is the holy book of Islam. Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the literal word of God and the culmination of God's revelation to mankind, revealed to Muhammad, the final prophet of Islam, over a period of 23 years through the angel Gabriel.

The Qur'an consists of 114 surahs or chapters with a total of 6,236 ayat or verses excluding 112 of the 113 surah-commencing bismillahs, which are mostly considered as unnumbered. Muslims usually refer to the surahs not by their numbers, but by an Arabic name derived in some way from the surah. The surahs are not arranged in chronological order but in a different order, roughly by size, also believed by Muslims to be divinely inspired.

In addition to and largely independent of the division into surahs, there are various ways of dividing the Qur'an into parts of approximately equal length for convenience in reading, recitation and memorization. The seven manazil or stations and the thirty ajza' or parts can be used to work through the entire Qur'an in a week or a month. A juz' is sometimes further divided into two ahzab or groups, and each hizb is in turn subdivided into four quarters.


A complement to the Qur'an is the Sunna, the spoken and acted example of the Prophet, collected as hadith. The Sunna is almost as important to Islam as the Qur'an, for in it lie the elaborations of Qur'anic teaching essential to the firm establishment of a world religion.

Sunnah means "the way of the prophet" The word 'Sunnah' in Sunni Islam means the deeds, sayings and approvals of Muhammad during the 23 years of his ministry, and this means that whatever he did during his ministry as a prophet and messenger of Allah is considered a Sunnah. In Shi'a Islam, Sunnah means the deeds or the approvals of Muhammad and the twelve Imams who Shi'a Muslims believe were chosen by Allah to succeed the prophet.

Hadiths - Individual tales

Hadith are traditions relating to the sayings and doings of the prophet Muhammad. Hadith collections are regarded as important tools for determining the Muslim way of life, by all traditional schools of jurisprudence. The hadith can be divided in to what Muhammad said (qawl), what Muhammad did (fi'l) and what Muhammad approved (taqrir) in others' actions.

Ritual and Practice

The Five Pillars

The Five Pillars of Islam is the term given to the five most fundamental aspects of Sunni Islam. The term is not used in Shia Islam.

The Five Pillars of Islam (Arkan-al-Islam) are the five most important acts of a Muslim under Sharia law, and which devout Muslims will perform faithfully, believing them to be essential to pleasing Allah.

There are five beliefs, which are referred to as the Roots of Religion. In addition, there are ten practices, known as the Branches of Religion. The ten Branches of Religion correlate more closely to the Sunni concept of the "Pillars of Islam".

Confession of Faith

The profession of faith in Allah (Shahadah) - the declaration that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger.

Daily Payers

Muslims are obliged to perform ritual prayers or salat five times a day: between dawn and sunrise (Fajr), ffter midday (Dhuhr), midway between midday and sunset (Asr), right after sunset (Maghrib), and about one hour after sunset (Isha'a)

Almsgiving 2 ½ - 20%

The paying of alms (Zakat) - which is generally 2.5% of the total savings for a man working in trade or industry, and 10% or 20% of the annual produce for agriculturists. This money or produce is distributed among the poor.

Fasting -Ramadan

Fasting is refraining from eating, drinking or satisfying sexual needs from dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar.

Fasting is ordained in the Qur'an, and is observed by devout Muslims throughout the daylight hours of the 29 or 30 days of the lunar month of Ramadan.

As well as fasting, Muslims spend more time praying during this period. The Ramadan is intended to teach patience and self-control, and is seen as a debt owed by the believer to Allah.

The pilgrimage - Hadj

The Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is done during the month of Zul Hijjah, and is compulsory once in a lifetime for one who has the ability to do it. If the Muslim is in ill health or in debt, he or she is not required to perform Hajj.


Some Muslims hold that there is a sixth pillar of Islam, jihad literally meaning "struggle" or "combat" and understood to refer to holy war. Modern interpretations of Jihad have contributed to the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism and particularly suicide bombers. Adherents are known as Jihadists and have been involved in a number of spectacular mass murder events, including 9/11, the Beslan school murders in Southern Russia and the train bombings in Madrid and London.



A mosque is a place of worship for followers of the Islamic faith. The Arabic word for mosque is masjid, meaning temple in the language.


Proselytizing is the act of trying to convert another individual from the convertee's religion to the converter's religion.

According to some Muslims, one of the important doctrines of Islam is "la ikraha fiddeen," meaning "no compulsion (or coercion) in religion". They believe that this verse implies that no nation can coerce another nation or individuals to change their religion.

Mysticism ad Dance (Sufi)

Sufism is a mystic tradition of Islam based on the pursuit of spiritual truth as it is gradually revealed to the heart and mind of the Sufi (one who practices Sufism). Sufism is mainly focused on the direct perception of Truth or God through mystic practices based on divine love. Sufism embodies a number of cultures, philosophies, central teachings and bodies of esoteric knowledge.

Veiling and Polygamy

Veils are articles of clothing, worn almost exclusively by women, which cover some part of the head or face. A variety of headdresses worn by Muslim women in accordance with hijab (the principle of dressing modestly) are referred to as veils or headscarves. The Afghan burqa covers the entire body, obscuring the face completely, except for a grille or netting over the eyes to allow the wearer to see.

Muslim polygamy, in practice and law, differs greatly throughout the Islamic world. In some Muslim countries, polygamy is relatively common, while in most others it is often rare or non-existent. Polygamy is most widely practiced by Muslims in West Africa (where it is also widely practiced by non-Muslims), as well as in certain traditionalist Arabian states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. One of the reasons that polygamy is rarely practiced in much of the Muslim world is because you must be very wealthy in order to have multiple wives: each wife must have her own house, car, etc.

The Qur'an allows a man to have four wives at any one time.

Ethics and Morality

Islamic law covers all aspects of life, from the broad topics of governance and foreign relations all the way down to issues of daily living. Islamic laws, which were covered expressly in the Quran, were referred to as hudud laws. This covered the prohibition of murder, extra-marital sex, drinking of alcohol and gambling. The Quran also details laws of inheritance, marriage, restitution for injuries and murder, as wells as rules for fasting, charity, and prayer.

Variations of Islam


Sunni Islam is short for Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama'ah, the largest school in Islam.

The Qur'an as we have it today was written down in approximately 650 A.D., and is accepted by all Muslim denominations. However, there were many matters of belief and daily life that were not directly prescribed in the Qur'an, but simply the practice of the community. Later generations sought out oral traditions regarding the early history of Islam, and the practice of Muhammad and his first followers, and wrote them down so that they might be preserved. These recorded oral traditions are called hadith. Muslim scholars sifted through the hadith and evaluated the chain of narration of each tradition, scrutinizing the trustworthiness of the narrators and judging the strength of each hadith accordingly. Most Sunni accept the hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim as the most authentic (sahih, or correct), and grant a lesser status to the collections of other recorders.

Shi'a (Shiites)

Shi'a Islam or Shi`ism, meaning "the advocates of Ali" is the second-largest denomination of the religion of Islam.

Shi'a Muslims adhere to what they consider to be the teachings of Muhammad and Ahlul Bayt. Shi'as conclude that Muhammad's Ahlul Bayt were the best source of knowledge regarding Quran, Islam and Emulation and the best-qualified teachers of Islam and protectors of Muhammad's Sunnah (traditions). Shi'as uphold that Imam Ali, was directly appointed by Muhammad to succeed him and that he was the rightful leader of the Muslims after his passing.


Sufism is a mystic tradition of Islam based on the pursuit of spiritual truth as it is gradually revealed to the heart and mind of the Sufi.

Sufis are active in a diverse range of brotherhoods and sisterhoods, with a wide diversity of thought. Sufi orders (Tariqas) can be Shi'a Islam or Sunni Islam.

Black Muslims

USA 1934 Elijah Muhammad

Elijah Muhammad (1897 - 1975) led the largely African Muhammad taught what is considered a racist doctrine, and could be viewed as a mirror image of the Klu Klux Klan's set of beliefs. Rejecting the Ku Klux Klan's Christian fundamentalism, Elijah Muhammad chose instead an Islamic brand of fundamentalism.

Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam (NOI) is a religious and socio-political organization founded in the United States by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930 with a declared aim of "resurrecting" the spiritual, mental, social and economic condition of the black man and woman of America and the world. The Nation of Islam's The National Center and headquarters is located in Chicago, Illinois.

Malcom X (1925 - 1965)

Malcolm X, (1925 -1965) was a longtime spokesman for the Nation of Islam. He was also founder of the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

During his life, Malcolm went from being a street-wise Boston hoodlum to one of the most prominent Black Nationalist leaders in the United States. As a militant leader, Malcolm X advocated black pride, economic self-reliance, and identity politics. He became a human rights activist. Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City on February 21, 1965 on the first day of National Brotherhood Week.

His active membership in the Nation of Islam led to him opening several temples around the country, of which he often became Minister. His rousing, incendiary and inspirational speeches and spotless personal example led to the ranks of the Nation of Islam burgeoning. His preaching also inspired the famous boxer and political activist Cassius Clay to join the Nation of Islam and change his name to Muhammad Ali, and similarly Ali later left the NOI and joined mainstream Islam. Malcolm was soon seen as the number two man in the movement, next to Elijah Muhammad himself. He was largely credited with increasing membership in the NOI from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 in 1963.

On May 21, 1964, he returned to the United States as a traditional Sunni Muslim (and with a new name -- El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz).When Malcolm returned to the United States, he gave a speech about his visit. This time he gave a much larger meaning and message than before. The speech was not only for the Muslims , instead it was for the whole nation and for all races.

Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan born in 1933 and is the leader of the largely black Nation of Islam. The most controversial quote attributed to Farrakhan, and which led to him being censured unanimously by the United States Senate, was, "Hitler was a very great man."

Probably the most provocative aspect of Farrakhan's political philosophy is his alleged anti-Semitism. Certainly, one of the most controversial quotes attributed to Farrakhan, and which led to him being censured unanimously by the United States Senate, was, "Hitler was a very great man." Farrakhan made this statement in response to a Jewish journalist at The Village Voice referring to him as a "Black Hitler":

Louis Farrakhan has also alluded to a figure called "Yacub" (or, Biblically, "Jacob") in regards to whites. According to Farrakhan's mentor, Elijah Muhammad, blacks were "born righteous and turned to unrighteousness," while the white race was "made unrighteous by the god who made them (Mr. Yacub)."

Radical Islamists (circa 2000)


Mujahideen means "struggler," but is often translated in the West as "holy warrior". In the late twentieth century, the term "mujahideen" became popular in the Western media to describe various armed fighters who subscribe to militant Islamic ideologies, although there is not always an explicit "holy" or "warrior" meaning within the word.

A wealthy Saudi named Osama bin Laden was a prominent mujahideen organizer and financier; his Maktab al-Khadamat (MAK) (Office of Services) funnelled money, arms, and Muslim fighters from around the world into Afghanistan, with the assistance and support of the Saudi government. In 1988, bin Laden broke away from the MAK.

The most well-known and feared mujahideen were the various opposition groups that fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989.

Al Qaeda

Al-Qaeda meaning "the foundation" is the name given to an international Islamic fundamentalist campaign comprised of independent and collaborative cells that all profess the same cause of reducing outside influence upon Islamic affairs.

Al-Qaeda (Arabic: القاعدة‎ , translit: al-Qā'idah; "the foundation" or "the base") is an international Islamic fundamentalist organization and campaign comprising independent and collaborative cells that all profess the same cause of reducing outside influence upon Islamic affairs. Al-Qaeda itself is classified by the United States, European Union, United Nations, United Kingdom, Australia, and various other nations, as an international terrorist organization. Although al-Qaeda is philosophically heterogeneous, prominent members of the movement are considered to have Salafi beliefs.

The origins of al-Qaeda can be traced to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when a cadre of non-Afghani, Arab Muslim fighters joined the largely United States and Pakistan-funded Afghan mujāhidīn anti-Russian resistance movement. Osama bin Laden, a member of a prominent Saudi Arabian business family, led an informal grouping which became a leading fundraiser and recruitment agency for the Afghan cause in Muslim countries; it channelled Islamic fighters to the conflict, distributed money and provided logistical skills and resources to both fighting forces and Afghan refugees.

Al-Qaeda is responsible for a large number of violent attacks against civilians, military targets, and commercial institutions in both the west and the Muslim world, including the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon.

Osama bin Laden is the founder of al-Qaeda.


Hamas meaning courage is a Palestinian Islamist movement closely related to the Muslim Brotherhood. Its stated goal is to establish an Islamic theocracy in the area that is currently Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Hamas is listed as a terrorist group and, outside of the Arab world, Hamas is primarily known for its suicide bombings against civilians in busy urban areas in Israel.


Intifada meaning uprising came into common usage as the name for two recent Palestinian campaigns directed at ending the Israeli military occupation. These two uprisings have been significant aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent years.

The First Intifada began in 1987. Violence declined in 1991 and came to an end with the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.

The Second Palestinian Intifada or the Second Intifada) was the violent Palestinian-Israeli conflict that began in September of 2000.

Islam Page. Retrieved from the Internet between 12-16-05 and 01-16-06.

Islam Online. Retrieved from the Internet between 12-16-05 and 01-16-06. Retrieved from the Internet between 12-16-05 and 01-16-06.