"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."
Supplicating Pilgrim at Masjid Al Haram. Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Photo Courtesy of Ali Mansuri
Islam is a monotheistic religion based upon the Qur'an, which adherents believe was sent by God through Muhammad. Followers of Islam, known as Muslims, believe Muhammad to have been God's final prophet; most of them see the historic record of the actions and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad related in the Sunnah and Hadith as indispensable tools for interpreting the Qur'an.
Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam is classified as an Abrahamic religion. It is estimated that there are 1.4 billion adherents, making Islam the second-largest religion in the world. Secular historians place Islam's beginnings during the late 7th century in Arabia. Under the leadership of Muhammad and his successors, Islam rapidly spread by religious conversion and military conquest.
Today, followers of Islam may be found throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. The majority of Muslims are not Arabs (only 20 percent of Muslims originate from Arab countries). Islam is the second largest religion in the United Kingdom, and many other European countries, including France, which has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. If current trends continue it will soon become the second largest in the United States.