Muslims believe he was the final prophet sent by God to reveal their faith to mankind. According to Islamic texts and tradition, an angel named Gabriel visited Muhammad in A.
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The angel ordered Muhammad to recite the words of Allah. Muslims believe that Muhammad continued to receive revelations from Allah throughout the rest of his life. Starting in about , Muhammad began preaching throughout Mecca the messages he received. He taught that there was no other God but Allah and that Muslims should devote their lives to this God. In , Muhammad traveled from Mecca to Medina with his supporters. This journey became known as the Hijra also spelled Hegira or Hijrah , and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
Some seven years later, Muhammad and his many followers returned to Mecca and conquered the region. He continued to preach until his death in A series of leaders, known as caliphs, became successors to Muhammad. This system of leadership, which was run by a Muslim ruler, became known as a caliphate. Abu Bakr died about two years after he was elected and was succeeded in by Caliph Umar, another father-in-law of Muhammad.
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Islam also spread throughout areas in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The caliphate system lasted for centuries and eventually evolved into the Ottoman Empire , which controlled large regions in the Middle East from about until , when World War I ended the Ottoman reign. When Muhammad died, there was debate over who should replace him as leader. This led to a schism in Islam, and two major sects emerged: the Sunnis and the Shiites. Sunnis make up nearly 90 percent of Muslims worldwide. They accept that the first four caliphs were the true successors to Muhammad.
Shiite Muslims believe that only the caliph Ali and his descendants are the real successors to Muhammad. They deny the legitimacy of the first three caliphs. Other, smaller Muslim denominations within the Sunni and Shiite groups exist. Some of these include:. It contains some basic information that is found in the Hebrew Bible as well as revelations that were given to Muhammad.
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The text is considered the sacred word of God and supercedes any previous writings. Muhammad himself was never taught to read or write.
The book is written with Allah as the first person, speaking through Gabriel to Muhammad. It contains chapters, which are called surahs. The Islamic calendar, also called the Hijra calendar, is a lunar calendar used in Islamic religious worship. The calendar began in the year A. The Islamic calendar indicates the proper days of Islamic holidays and celebrations, including the period of fasting and prayer known as Ramadan , which occurs during the ninth month of the calendar.
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As in many religions, there is no single image or symbol of Islam that is universally accepted by all Muslims worldwide. The crescent moon and star has been adopted in some predominantly Muslim countries as a symbol of Islam, though the crescent moon and star image is believed to pre-date Islam and was originally a symbol of the Ottoman Empire. In some other applications, such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent humanitarian aid movement, a red crescent indicates that followers of Islam are respected and treated accordingly.
The color green is also sometimes associated with Islam, as it was reportedly a favorite color of Muhammad's and is often featured prominently in the flags of predominantly Muslim countries.
This faith-based code of conduct directs Muslims on how they should live in nearly every aspect of their lives. Sharia law requires men and women to dress modestly. It also outlines marriage guidelines and other moral principles for Muslims. If crimes are committed, Sharia law is known for its harsh punishments. Adultery can carry the penalty of death by stoning. However, many Muslims do not support such extreme measures. Mosques today follow some of the same principles he established in A.
Muslim prayer is often conducted in a mosque's large open space or outdoor courtyard. A mihrab is a decorative feature or niche in the mosque that indicates the direction to Mecca, and therefore the direction to face during prayer. Men and women pray separately, and Muslims may visit a mosque five times a day for each of the prayer sessions.
In addition to hosting prayers, mosques often function as public gathering places and social centers. While some Muslims use their faith to justify terrorism, the vast majority do not. In fact, Muslims are frequently victims of violence themselves. Recent surveys have found that in countries with high Muslim populations, the majority of Muslims have overwhelmingly negative views of terrorist groups like ISIS. While Muslims aim to clear up misconceptions about their faith, the religion continues to spread rapidly. Experts predict Islam will surpass Christianity as the largest religion by the end of the century.
The issue of depicting the Prophet Muhammad
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