History of Islam
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Our digital history of Islam, meaning “submission [to God]”, focuses on the teachings of Muhammad (570-632 CE), a messenger of God. It is the world’s second-largest religion whose adherents (Muslims) number about one-quarter of the world’s population. Islam teaches that God is merciful and all-powerful, and has guided mankind through the teachings of prophets, revealed scriptures, and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, believed to be the literal word of God, as well as the teachings known as the sunnah, comprised of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad called hadith.
Islam is held to be the complete and universal version of a primordial faith of the People of the Book, who include Muslims, Christians, and Jews whose doctrine has been revealed through prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The Quran, in Arabic, is believed to be the verbatim revelation of God. Islam shares with the other Abrahamic religions its belief in a final judgment, with the virtuous rewarded in heaven and sinners punished in hell. The tenets of Islam include the Five Pillars: the declaration of faith in one God (Allah) and His messenger, the Prophet Muhammad; daily worship; adherence to Islamic law (sharia); fasting; almsgiving; and the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca, which along with Medina and Jerusalem, is home to the holiest shrines of Islam.
Islam originated in the early 7th century CE in Mecca, and by the 8th century, the Umayyad Caliphate had conquered the lands from Iberia and North Africa to India and Central Asia. The Golden Age of Islam is the period from the 8th century to the 13th century, during which the Abbasid Caliphate flourished scientifically, economically, and culturally. The expansion of the Muslim world included various states and caliphates and the Ottoman Empire itself, bringing trade, cultural exchange, and Islam to their most extensive reach.
Muslims are generally either Sunni (85–90%) or Shia (10–15%). Their differences arose over the legitimacy of the contending successors to Muhammad, and these differences persist in modern political, theological, and juridical practices and beliefs.
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