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Islam facts for kids

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Islam ( Arabic: ٱلْإِسْلَام‎, romanized: al-Islām ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion. All of its teachings and beliefs are written out in the Quran (also spelled Qur'an or Koran), the holy scripture of Islam. Believers of Islam are called Muslims which means "submitter to God". They believe that the Quran was spoken to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, and that it is the word of God (or Allah). They view Muhammad as a prophet and messenger of God. Other beliefs and rules about what Muslims should do come from reports of what Muhammad taught or hadith.

Linguistically, Islam is defined as surrender to the command of God without objection, without submission, rebellion, and stubbornness. As for its idiomatic meaning, it is the religion that was brought by “Muhammad bin Abdullah,” sent by Almighty God, and which Muslims believe is the law with which God sealed the heavenly messages. In a hadith on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet Muhammad defined Islam: “By worshiping God and not associating anything with Him, performing the prayer, paying the obligatory zakat, fasting Ramadan and performing the pilgrimage to the house of God.”

Muslims believe that there were many other prophets before Muhammad since dawn of humanity, beginning with the Prophet Adam and including the Prophet Noah (Nuh), the Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim), the Prophet Moses (Musa), and the Prophet Jesus (Isa). They believe that all these prophets were given messages by God of the oneness of God to their communities at different times in history of mankind, but Satan (referred to as 'Shaytan' in Arabic) made the past communities deviate from the message of oneness and other social codes. Muslims believe that the content of the Quran (written in Arabic) is protected by Allah as mentioned in the Quran and is the final message of God for all of mankind until the day of judgment.

Most Muslims belong to one of two groups. The most common is Sunni Islam (75–90% of all Muslims are Sunni Muslims). The second is Shia Islam (10–20% of all Muslims are Shias – also called Shiites). But there are many more groups like the Alevis in Turkey.

With about 1.75 billion followers (24% of the world's population), Islam is the second-largest religion in the world. Islam is also the fastest-growing religion in the world. Islam is also the second-largest and fastest-growing religion in Europe.


Muslims believe the Qur'an was first revealed to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel in a cave on the mountain of Hira in Mecca, and then over a period of twenty-three years until his death.

Scientific researches;

Approximate map of areas under Ibn al-Zubayr's control after the death of Muawiya II
After the death of Muawiyah II, the area approximately affected by Ibn Zubayr.

Beliefs and practices

Men praying in a mosque.
Biggest Quran book -Bait al- Quran
The Qur'an is the holy book to Muslims. They believe it holds the revealed word of God

According to the Qur’an, Muslims believe in God, his angels, his books, his messengers, the Last Day, and Fate. In accordance with a Qur’anic verse: “We have created everything with predestination As much is good and bad". And in hadith the Messenger Muhammad when he said that faith is: “to believe in God, his angels, his books, his messengers, and the Last Day, and believe in the destiny of good and bad.” Muslims believe that God is the one God who created the universe with everything in it. The Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel. They believe that he is the final messenger of all messengers that are sent before him. The Prophets are human beings and children of Adam, whom God chose to be his messengers. Muslims believe that the prophets are not gods, but merely human beings with some miracles to prove their prophethood. They are the ones who receive divine revelation.

The Quran mentions the names of many prophets, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and others. According to the Qur’an, all of the prophets were Muslims who preached Islam, but with different laws. Islam is defined in the Qur’an as “the instinct of God upon which people have broken in.” "Therefore set your face to the religion purely, the upright creation upon which He originated people. There is no change in the creation of Allah. This is the valuable religion, although most people do not know} (The Romans -Ar-Rum Surah, versus 30) Muslims also believe that Hanifism is the basis of Abraham's religion. And they see that the difference between the Abrahamic religions is in the Sharia (Law) only and not in the creed and that the Sharia of Islam abrogates what preceded it from the Sharia. this means that Islamic religion consists of Belief and Sharia.

As for belief, it is the set of principles that a Muslim must believe in, and it is fixed and does not differ according to the different prophets. As for Sharia (Law), it is the name for practical rulings that differ according to the different messengers.

The Five Pillars of Islam

According to Islamic tradition, there are five basic things that Muslims should do. They are called "The Five Pillars of Islam":

  1. Shahadah: The Testimony (faith in English) is the core of the Muslim belief that there is no god but Allah himself, and that Muhammad is his last messenger.
  2. Salaat: Muslims pray five times per day, at special times of the day. When they pray, they face Kaaba, a large cubic structure located at the holy city of Mecca. Salat is namaz in Persian, Turkish and Urdu. Shia Muslims can pray the afternoon and evening prayers right after each other.
  3. Zakat: Muslims who have money must give a percentage of the money which it's still with them for a year 1/40th of their money (charity in English) to help people who do not have money or need help.
  4. Sawm or Siyam: Fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year. Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn till sunset for one lunar month. After Ramadan, there is a holiday called Eid al-Fitr (which means "festival of end-fast" in English). On Eid al-Fitr, Muslims usually go to the mosque in the morning for a special religious service, and then have a party with families and friends.
  5. Hajj (Pilgrimage in English): During the month of Zulhejja, the 12th month of the Islamic Calendar is the pilgrimage season where many Muslims go to Mecca, the holiest city of Islam. However, if a Muslim is financially unable to perform the Hajj, it is not necessary for them to do so. Those who possess great financial capacity were the most obligated to perform the Hajj.

Note: The Five Pillars of Islam is a term in the view of Sunni Islam that gathered out of the hadith. There is another term Osul al-Din (Religion Principles in English) in Shia Islam. That contains five beliefs : Tawheed, Adl, Nabovah, Imamah, Maad.


In Islamic belief, the Quran is the holy book of Islam and contained to words of Allah (God) and is conveyed to the Prophet Muhammad by the archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel), who had been tasked since Adam as the conveyor of the words of God as guidance to mankind. The Quran is the central point of reference and is a link which connects humanity with God.

The Qur'an contains many passages and chapters which covers the entire aspect of humanity, down to the most minute detail. From the creation and conception of human child to the details of the Earth and beyond. In the aspect of human life it contains stories and tales of old civilizations and past prophets and their life chronicles. The Quran also contains the Syaria' law or hudud, and emphasizes the equal rights man and women alike with mothers given special status where it is sinful to even glare at them.

The Qur'an has a total of 30 juzuks. In each juzuk, contains many surahs or verses, with 114 surahs which begins with Surah al-Fatehah(The Beginning) and ended with Surah an-Naas(Humanity). A Hafeez is a Muslim who has committed the Quran to memory and can accurately recite every word in the Quran without flipping a single page and apply them to daily life.

Other important teachings in Islam are the Sunnah (which tell about Muhammad's life) and the Hadith (which are collections of dialogues of conversation that Muslims believe Muhammad said).

The Qur'an is considered in Islam as a manual to all of humanity and its teachings are to be implemented and shared by its readers.

Place of worship / Quran readings

Jerusalem Al-Aqsa Mosque BW 2010-09-21 06-38-12
Muslims pray in a mosque, such as this located at Jerusalem.

Muslims pray in a place of worship called the mosque. A mosque is called a masjid in Arabic. Most mosques were mostly recognized having at least a single dome, and some have one or more towers. However many mosques were built without either domes or towers.

Muslims take their shoes off before entering the masjid to pray. Prayer is one of the most important things that a Muslim does.


The Muslim is called to prayer or solah five times a day. This call to prayer is called Adhan. The muezzin, a man chosen to make the call to prayer, uses a loudspeaker, which carries his voice to the people nearby. The call to prayer is often done out loud, in public, in Muslim countries. Being called to solah is a normal part of daily life for most people in Muslim countries.

A prayer mat

Muslims pray on a mat, which is called a prayer mat or prayer rug in English. Common Arabic names for the prayer mat include sajjāda and namazlık.

When it is time to pray, Muslims face the direction of Qibla - the direction they are supposed to pray in, towards Mecca. They then roll out their prayer mat, and perform their prayers to God.

Peace be upon him

According to Islamic teachings, Muslims must say "Peace be upon him" (PBUH or pbuh) whenever they hear a Prophet's name. In this way, they show respect to Muhammad and other prophets(like Moses and Jesus).

Islam in the world

Muslim majority countries2
Countries where more than half the people are Muslim

In 2009, a study was done in 232 countries and territories. This study found that 23% of the global population or 1.57 billion people are Muslims. Of those, between 75% and 90% are Sunni and between ten and twenty five percent are Shi'a. A small part belong to other Islamic sects. In about fifty countries, more than half of the people are Muslim. Arabs account for around twenty percent of all Muslims worldwide. Islam has three holy sites; Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina.

Most Muslims live in Asia and Africa. Around 62% of the world's Muslims live in Asia, with over 683 million followers in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. In the Middle East, non-Arab countries such as Turkey and Iran are the largest Muslim-majority countries; in Africa, Egypt and Nigeria have the biggest Muslim communities.

Most estimates indicate that the People's Republic of China has about 20 to 30 million Muslims (1.5% to 2% of the population). However, data provided by the San Diego State University's International Population Center to U.S. News & World Report suggests that China has 65.3 million Muslims. Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity in many European countries, and is slowly catching up to that status in the Americas.

Different denominations

Like with other religions, over time different movements have developed in Islam. These movements are based on different interpretations of the scriptures. The following sections list the most common movements.

  • Non-denominational Muslims are Muslims who don't follow any branch and simply call themselves Muslim. They are also called Ghayr Muqallids.
  • The Muwahidin or Muwahid Muslims are a Muslim restoration movement that accepts mainstream Islam, but prefer to orient themselves towards a primacy of God's commands on issues pertaining to sharia law. Muwahidists believe that modern Islam has been mixed with many cultural traditions and they want to change that.
  • The Shi'ites believe that just as only God can appoint a prophet, he can appoint a second leader after the prophet. Shi'a Muslims believe that God chose Ali as the leader after Muhammad. About 10-20% of Muslims are Shi'a which means that there are about 120 million world wide. Shi'a Muslims form the majority of Muslims in Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iraq, and Lebanon. The largest adhab in Yemen is Zaydi Shia. Shias commonly gather for Day of Ashura in Karbala. They accept four hadiths.
  • Sunnism considers Abu Bakr to be the successor of Muhammad. Sunnis make up roughly 75% of Muslims. Sunnis believe that leaders of Islam should be chosen by the people of the Muslim world. After Abu Bakr died, Omar took his place, then Uthman, and then Ali. All of them were companions of Muhammad and lived in Medina. Sunni beliefs are typically based on the Qur'an and the Kutub al-Sittah (six hadiths). Sunnis are sometimes called Bukharists.
Whirling Dervishes 2
Sufi whirling dervishes in Turkey
  • The Sufi are a branch Sunnism that focuses more on the spiritual and mystic elements of Islam. Sufis usually conclude their prayers with dhikr recitations.
  • The Quraniyoon generally reject the authority of the hadiths. Such Muslims, also known as Quranists and Ahle Quran, believe that the Quran is the only source of guidance. They say the hadiths are not endorsed by the Quran, and some call them an innovative bid'ah.
  • Ibadis are Muslims who originated from the Kharijites. Ibadis today have reformed beliefs from original Kharijites.
  • Ahmadiyyas are Muslims who follow Mirza Ghulam Ahmed whom they consider to be the mahdi. They are divided into two subgroups; the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement. However, they are not recognised as Muslims by most of the Muslim community.
  • The Nation of Islam is a denomination in Islam primarily geared towards African Americans.
  • The Five-Percent Nation, a denomination predominantly consisting of African Americans, also known as Nation of Gods and Earths.

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