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Islam is a religion based on the teachings of Muhammad, a man from the 7th century Arabia, who claimed to receive messages from Allah (god) through angel Gabriel. People who believe it are called Muslims and there are 1.5+ billion Muslims, which makes Islam the second most wide-spread religion after Christianity. The holiest text in Islam is the Qur'an, which contains what Muhammad claims to be revelations made by Allah. After Muhammad received the first revelation, he kept receiving more and more revelations until his death. The completion of the Qur'an took over twenty years and it was compiled into a book form many years after Muhammad's death. A great portion of the Qur'an deals with Muhammad's personal life and the early Muslim community. Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the final message from the creator of the universe and people should follow it, today, tomorrow, and forever.
A great emphasis is placed upon "tawheed", which means worshiping only Allah and no other gods . Muslims repeat phrases like "There is no god, but Allah!" (la ilaha illa allah) or "Allah is the greatest!" (Allahu Akbar) to emphasize the rejection of other gods. Polytheists are called Mushrik مشرك and polytheism is called shirk شرك and Islam even accuses other monotheistic religions, like Christianity of committing shirk (claiming Jesus is the son of God is a type of shirk). Similarly fundamental to the religion is the belief in the perfection of Muhammad in all parts of his life. Muhammad's way of life is called the sunnah, and this is studied through what was alleged to have been transmitted of Muhammad's saying in the hadiths and sira.
Islam is considered to be one of Abrahamic religions, as the Qur'an builds on much of the content of the Bible. The Qur'an talks about Abraham, Moses and Jesus (however, Jesus is considered to be only a prophet, and not the son of God). The Qur'an refers frequently to Jewish, Christian and pagan myths which were wide-spread in 7th century Arabia.
The Qur'an contains many verses dealing with Muhammad's personal life (for instance, there is an entire chapter dedicated to stating that the creator of the universe being angry at Muhammad's uncle, Abu Lahab) and the early Muslim community. Islamic law or Sharia permits war against the Dar al Harb, and as a part of this, raiding, kidnapping and enslaving non-Muslim unbelievers is also allowed. The Qur'an also comprises many other legal and moral commandments for Muslims, and gives direction and guidance to the Muslim polity or caliphate. These commandments are, today, of controversial nature, as many of the Qur'an's legal rulings tend to marginalize, among others, women, non-Muslims, homosexuals, and apostates. The political commandments are likewise controversial, as they frequently assert the need for global domination and conquest, not shying away from describing in explicit terms the great multitudes that will need to be slain in the process. Literal readings of the Qur'an's legal and political commandments constitute Islamic orthodoxy, though, in the absence of a "legitimate" caliphate, most orthodox voices suggest the political commandments need not be followed through with (legal commandments, however, are generally promoted for implementation). Islamists, on the other hand, believe that in the absence of a legitimate caliphate, the caliphate must be actively pursued. Indeed, it is the Islamists who are responsible for the great majority of Islamic extremism and Islamic terrorism.
- "...The man asked, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) What is Islam?" The Prophet (ﷺ) replied, "Islam is to worship Allah and not worship anything besides Him..." Sahih Bukhari 6:60:300
- William Gervase Clarence-Smith, Islam and the Abolition of Slavery, Oxford University Press, p. 27–28, ISBN 978-0-19-522151-0, 2006, https://archive.org/details/islamabolitionof0000clar