Common misspelling(s) : Muhammadan, Mohammedan
A Muslim is a believer in or follower of Islam. The word 'Muslim' means someone who has submitted to the will of God (Allah). Islam is a monotheistic faith, considered one of the Abrahamic religions, and the world's second-largest religion. Muslims believe that God revealed his divine word directly to mankind through many prophets and that Muhammad was the final prophet of Islam. Muslims hold that Islam is essentially the same belief as that of all the messengers sent by God to mankind since Adam, with the Qur'an (the text used by all sects of the Muslim faith) codifying the final revelation of God.
The basic tenet of Islam is found in the shahadatan ("two testimonies"): la ilaha illa-llahu; muhammadu-r-rasulu-llahi. It means "There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God." A person who truly believes in the meaning of these words is a Muslim.
The Five Pillars of Islam : There are five basic tenets on which a Muslim's life is founded. These include:
Divisions of Islam : Islam is divided into two main groups - Sunnis and Shias. Majority of world's Muslims are Sunni. The split in Islam rose from an early dispute over who should be the leader of Islam after the death of Muhammad. The larger group, the Sunnis, argued that election and consensus should appoint the successor, as tradition dictated. (Sunni comes from the Arabic word Sunna, meaning "tradition.") The smaller group believed that Muhammad's successors should come from his family, starting with Ali, his son-in-law. These, the partisans of Ali, were named from the word Shia, meaning "partisan" in Arabic. The defeat of the Shi'ites by the Sunnis is thought to have determined some of the characteristic attitudes of the two groups, the Sunnis stressing merit and achievement, the Shi'ites appealing to the defeated, poor, and oppressed.
Founder : Prophet Muhammad
Time of Origin : Seventh century
Place of Origin : Arabia
Population : Islam is said to be the world's second-largest religion with over one-and-a-half billion Muslims worldwide.
Regional Spread : Researches show that only 18% of world Muslims live in the Arab world. About 20% are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, about 30% in the South Asian region of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and Indonesia. Indonesia is said to house the world's largest single Muslim community (within the bounds of one nation). A significant Muslim population is present in China, Europe, Central Asia, and Russia.
France has the highest Muslim population of any nation in Western Europe, with up to 6 million Muslims (10% of the population). Albania is said to have the highest proportion of Muslims as part of its population in Europe. The number of Muslims in North America is estimated between 1.8 - 7 million.
Language : Arabic, Persian, Urdu
God : The fundamental concept in Islam is the oneness of God (tawhid). This monotheism is absolute. In Arabic, God is called Allah. No Muslim visual images or depictions of God are meant to exist because such artistic depictions may lead to idolatry and are thus disdained. Moreover, most Muslims believe that God is incorporeal, making any two - or three - dimensional depictions is impossible.
Religious Texts : The holiest book for Muslims is the Qur'an, or the 'Koran' in English. Muslims consider the Arabic Qur'an as the direct revelation of God. Though translations do exist to other languages but these are not regarded as the literal word of God. Other holy books of the Muslim include the hadith which are recordings of the life of the prophet made by the people who were around him.
Sacred Symbols : Muslims do not accept any icon or color as sacred to Islam, as worshipping symbolic or material things is against the spirit of monotheism. Many people assume that the star and crescent symbolize Islam but these were actually the insignia of the Ottoman Empire, not of Islam as a whole. The color green is often associated with Islam as well but this is a custom and not prescribed by religious scholars. However, Muslims often use elaborately calligraphed verses from the Qur'an besides, pictures of the Ka'bah as decorations in mosques, homes, and public places.
Food Habits : Traditional food items consumed by Muslims include olives, fish, lamb, wheat, rice, chick peas and other legumes, pistachios, dates, cheese, and yogurt. Bread typically accompanies each meal. Lamb is the most widely eaten meat. Pork is eaten only by Christians and not by Muslims or Jews. According to Islam, Muslims cannot drink alcoholic beverages or foods laced with alcohol.
Wedding Traditions : Among Muslims, it is the family of the groom who searches for a suitable bride. Islamic Marriage laws regulate marital relations and deal with marriage (nikah) and divorce (talak). The essential terms and conditions of Muslim marriage are proposal and acceptance, eligibility for the marriage contract, presence of two witnesses, utterance of the proposal and acceptance in the same sitting, and absence of impediments.
Hence, in Muslims, the marriage is registered (nikaahnama). It is first signed by the groom and then two witnesses. The bride signs later.