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Islam is a major religion based on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. The literal translation of the Arabic word "Islam" is "to surrender." A person who practices Islam is a Muslim.

The major groups comprising the world community of Islam include the Arabs, sub-Saharan Africans, Turks, Iranians, Afghans, Indo-Muslims of Pakistan and India, and Southeast Asians. Islam is the second largest religion in Europe after Christianity, and it is rapidly growing in the United States.

The Koran
Muslims regard the Koran as the word of God to Muhammad. God is considered the author thus leaving the Koran infallible. The Koran is divided into 114 chapters.

The belief in only one God, monotheism, is central to Islam. God, or Allah, has four fundamental functions: creation, sustenance, guidance, and judgment. The purpose of humanity is the be in the "service of God" by worship and to construct an ethical social order free from "corruptions." Practicing Islam is to freely accept God's commandments.

Five Pillars of Islam
Its mission is to "command good and prohibit evil" and thus to reform the earth. The community must be moderate, however, and avoid all extremes.

  • Profession of Faith
  • Prayer
  • Almsgiving
  • Fasting
  • Pilgrimage

The term jihad, translated as "holy war," designates the struggle toward the Islamic goal of "reforming the earth," which may include the use of armed force if necessary. The prescribed purpose of jihad, however, is not territorial expansion or the forcible conversion of people to Islam, but the assumption of political power in order to implement the principles of Islam through public institutions. The concept of jihad was nevertheless used by some medieval Muslim rulers to justify wars motivated by purely political ambitions.