Islam is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion originating with the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. The word Islam means “submission”, or the total surrender of oneself to Allah. An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning “one who submits (to God)”. There are between 1.1 billion and 1.8 billion Muslims, making Islam the second-largest religion in the world, after Christianity.
Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad, God’s final prophet, and regard the Qur’an and the Sunnah (words and deeds of Muhammad) as the fundamental sources of Islam.They do not regard Muhammad as the founder of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. Islamic tradition holds that Judaism and Christianity distorted the messages of these prophets over time either in interpretation, in text, or both.
Islam includes many religious practices. Adherents are generally required to observe the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five duties that unite Muslims into a community. In addition to the Five Pillars, Islamic law (sharia) has developed a tradition of rulings that touch on virtually all aspects of life and society. This tradition encompasses everything from practical matters like dietary laws and banking to warfare.
Almost all Muslims belong to one of two major denominations, the Sunni and Shi’a. The schism developed in the late 7th century following disagreements over the religious and political leadership of the Muslim community. Roughly 85 percent of Muslims are Sunni and 15 percent are Shi’a. Islam is the predominant religion throughout the Middle East, as well as in parts of Africa and Asia. Large communities are also found in China, the Balkan Peninsula in Eastern Europe and Russia. There are also large Muslim immigrant communities in wealthier and more developed parts of the world such as Western Europe. About 20 percent of Muslims live in Arab countries.
Resources on Islam
This publication was produced by Interfaith Alliance and the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center, with support from 21 national religious and secular organizations including ISNA. It provides answers to some of the frequently asked questions about religious freedom and American Muslims.
This study is a needs assessment of those mosques that are associated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and/or the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). The general purpose of any needs assessment is to determine the strengths, weaknesses, priorities and needs of an institution, and based on the results to make recommendations for strengthening and growing that institution. The goal, therefore, of this needs assessment is to understand mosques in order to propose recommendations for developing mosques. ISNA and NAIT see this study as the first step in their efforts to make mosque development a top priority for themselves and the American Muslim community. Thus, this study was commissioned by ISNA and NAIT to begin the process of better serving mosques by providing support and guidance. Click hereor on the image to download the study.
On September 2, 2007, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) brought together leaders from both Sunni and Shia backgrounds to sign a Muslim Code of Honor in front of 12,000 Muslims at the Annual ISNA Convention. It was a collective action which provided American Muslim leaders with the opportunity to join together in forging a common understanding and in rejecting divisive practices.