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Muslim terrorist Mohamed Atta (9/11 attacks)

A Muslim is an adherent of the religion of Islam. The feminine form of 'Muslim' is Muslimah. Literally, the word means "one who submits to God". The word "Muslim" is the participle of the same verb of which "Islam" is the infinitive.

Most Muslims accept as a Muslim anyone who has publicly and in good faith pronounced the Shahada which states, "There is none worthy of worship except God, and Muhammad is His Messenger." This is often translated as, "There is no God except Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet"; "Allah" is the Arabic word for "the God".

Number of Muslims

Islam is the predominant religion throughout the Middle East, as well as in parts of Africa and Asia. The largest Muslim countries in Asia are Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and there are several hundred million Muslims in India. Large communities are also found in China, the Balkan Peninsula (specifically Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and North Macedonia) and Russia in Eastern Europe. There are also large Muslim immigrant communities in wealthier and more developed parts of the world such as Western Europe and a community in Guyana and Suriname. About 20 percent of Muslims live in Arab countries.[1]

As of 2009, there were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims[2], making it the second largest religion in the world. Pew Research 2011 models projected 1.9 billion Muslims in 2020 and 2.2 billion in 2030[3], a 40-year long doubling from 1990's 1.1 billion. By 2050, it is estimated there will be 2.8 billion Muslims versus 2.9 billion Christians, which makes Islam the fastest growing religion (+73% between 2010-2050), while the Christian growth is at +35% (much of this growth is African). Furthermore, Christians are estimated to become minorities in France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand by 2050. [4][5]. However, these are all likely to be undercounts and underestimates downplaying the growth of the Islamic population: Pew (2010) claimed "By 2050 [...] In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.", a strangely low prediction given that, already in 2016, Muslims made up 6-10% of the population in major European countries (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Sweden and Greece), as well as 10% of Russia in 2010. [6]. The "10% in 2050" figure was further changed in 2017, to 7% in 2050 under a "zero migration scenario", 11% under a "medium-migration scenario" and 14% under a "high-migration scenario.[7] As of 2023, Pew Research is still working on their 2020 global religion estimates, partially based on censi that were delayed because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Religious Practices and Beliefs

Muslims believe that there is only one God, translated in Arabic as Allah. Muslims believe that Islam existed long before Muhammad and that the religion has evolved with time. The Qur'an describes many Biblical prophets and messengers as Muslim: Adam, Noah, Moses and Jesus and his apostles. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached his message and upheld his values.

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.

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 includes many religious practices. Sunni Adherents are generally required to observe the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five duties that unite Muslims into a community: Shahada (declaration of faith), Salah (praying facing Mecca five times a day during set hours - at dawn, noon, afternoon, evening and night - after the chant for prayer), Zakat (giving to charity following several rules such as not excessively spending money the same day), Sawm (fasting during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan), and Hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca during the 12th month of the lunar calendar at least once in one's life, with several rituals among which is walking in circles 7 times around the Kaaba and touching the Black Stone).[8] Ismā'īlī Shi'a Muslims do not consider the Shahadah to be a pillar, and have 3 more pillars: Walayah "guardianship" or love and devotion to God, Taharah "purity" and finally Jihad "Struggle". 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.[9]

History of Islam

Main article: Islam

Islam (traditionally known in English as Mohammedanism) is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion originating with the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure.

Muhammed was the founder of Islam and is regarded by Muslims as the last messenger and prophet of God (Allah), and is also regarded as a prophet by the Druze and as a Manifestation of God by the Baha'i Faith.[10] Muslims do not believe that he was the creator of a new religion, but the restorer of the original, uncorrupted monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham and others. They see him as the last and the greatest in a series of prophets of Islam.[11]

Sources on Muhammad’s life concur that he was born ca. 570 CE in the city of Mecca in Arabia.[12] He was orphaned at a young age and was brought up by his uncle, later worked mostly as a merchant, and was married by age 26. At some point, discontented with life in Mecca, he retreated to a cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation and reflection. According to Islamic tradition, it was here at age 40, in the month of Ramadan, where he received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event, Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "surrender" to Him (lit. islām)[13] is the only way (dīn),[14] acceptable to God, and that he was a prophet and messenger of God, in the same vein as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, and other prophets.[15][16][17]

Muhammad gained few followers early on, and was largely met with hostility from the tribes of Mecca; he was treated harshly and so were his followers. To escape persecution, Muhammad and his followers migrated to Yathrib (Medina)[18] in the year 622. This historic event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, Muhammad managed to unite the conflicting tribes, and after eight years of fighting with the Meccan tribes, his followers, who by then had grown to ten thousand, conquered Mecca. In 632, on returning to Medina from his 'Farewell pilgrimage', Muhammad fell ill and died. By the time of his death, most of Arabia had converted to Islam.

The revelations (or Ayats, lit. Signs of God), which Muhammad reported receiving till his death, form the verses of the Qur'an,[19] regarded by Muslims as the “word of God”, around which the religion is based. Besides the Qur'an, Muhammad’s life (sira) and traditions (sunnah) are also upheld by Muslims.


The pedophile prophet Muhammed married a child named Aisha when she was 6 years old and consumated his marriage with her when she was 9. At the time he was 54.[20] He also beheaded between six hundred and nine hundred men personally. [21]

Muhammed has been accused of developing his religion purely to conquer his enemies. Islam is a mixture of stolen material from Christianity and Judaism. Winston Churchill remarked of Islam; "How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome." [22]

See also


  1. See:
    • Esposito (2002b), p.21
    • Esposito (2004), pp.2,43
  8. Esposito (2002b), p.17
  9. See:
    • Esposito (2002b), pp.111,112,118
    • "Shari'ah". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 
  10. The Cambridge History of Islam (1977) writes that "It is appropriate to use the word 'God' rather than the transliteration 'Allah'. For one thing it cannot be denied that Islam is an offshoot of the Judaeo-Christians tradition, and for another the Christian Arabs of today have no other word for 'God' than 'Allah'." cf p.32.
  11. See:
    • Esposito (1998), p.12
    • Esposito (2002b), pp.4–5
    • F. E. Peters (2003), p.9
  12. Encyclopedia of World History (1998), p.452
  13. The word "islām" derives from the triconsonantal Arabic root sīn-lām-mīm, which carries the basic meaning of safety and peace. The verbal noun "islām" is formed from the verb aslama, a derivation of this root which means to accept, surrender, or submit; thus, 'Islam' effectively means submission to and acceptance of God. See: Islam#Etymology and meaning
  14. 'Islam' is always referred to in the Qur'an as a 'dīn', a word that means 'way' or 'path' in Arabic, but is usually translated in English as 'religion' for the sake of convenience
  15. Esposito (1998), p.12; (1999) p.25; (2002) pp.4-5
  16. "Muhammad", Encyclopedia of Islam Online
  17. Peters (2003), p.9
  18. After Muhhammad's migration to Yathrib, the city came to be known as Madina al-Nabi, lit. 'City of the Prophet'; hence, the name Medina
  19. The term Qur'an was first used in the Qur'an itself. There are two different theories about this term and its formation that are discussed in Quran#Etymology cf. "Qur'an", Encyclopedia of Islam Online.