Article Info

published: 3/17/04
updated: 6/13/13

Fast Facts on Islam

An Overview of the Mulsim religion

Muslim woman
Muslim woman

Islam is one of the largest religions in the world today. Adherents of Islam, called "Muslims," believe in one God, making them monotheists, like Jews and Christians. Islam was founded by Muhammad, who is considered the chief prophet of the faith, in the 7th century AD. Islam's sacred text is the Quran. (Go here to compare Sunnis and Shia Muslims.)

At the beginning of the 21st century, Islam is close to becoming a global religion, has a lot of media exposure, as well as a heavy online presence. With so much information in the world about Islam, it's sometimes challenging to separate fact from fiction. This page aims to help people do that as it provides readers with basic information that can be a foundation for more in-depth explorations.

The Facts of the Islamic faith

Date founded
622 CE

(Go here for more about Islamic history)
Place founded
Mecca, Saudi Arabia

(Go here for more about Mecca)
man reading the quran
"Man reading the Quran
Muhammad (born c.570), a trade merchant from Arabia

(Go here for more about Muhammad)
1.3 billion

(See Islamic symbols here)
Size rank
second largest in the world

(See religion statistics here)
Main location
Middle East and North Africa
Major sects and denominations

and Shiite (See Sunni and Shia Comparison Chart)

     Twelvers - Majority Shi'ite denomination that reveres the Twelve Imams

     Seveners - Shi'ite denomination holding that the legitimate line of imams ended with the seventh

is a mystical branch
Sacred text
Qur'an (Koran) and the Hadith

(See more about the Hadith)
Original language

(Go here to learn more about Allah)
Religious professionals
sheikh; imam (Shi'ite)

(Learn more about the Five Pillars of Islam)
House of worship

(See Mecca and Medina)
Ultimate reality
"Allah" in Arabic; the same God revealed (imperfectly)
in the Jewish and Christian Bibles
Type of theism
strict monotheism (see Islamic Beliefs About God)

Human nature
Born in a state of purity, imperfect yet capable of seeking God and
doing good (see Islamic Beliefs about Human Nature)
Purpose of life
Submit to the will of Allah and attain paradise after death
(see Purpose of Life and Salvation in Islam)
How to live
Follow the Qur'an, Hadith and Five Pillars of Islam
Resurrection of body and soul followed by eternal paradise or hell
(see Muslim Beliefs about the Afterlife)
crescent moon and star (see Islamic Symbols)
Major holidays
Ramadan - month long

Eid al-Fitr
- Festival of Breaking the Fast

- week long; begins 1 Muharram

Eid al-Adha
- Festival of Sacrifice
Five Pillars
1. Confession of faith (shahada)

2. Daily prayer (salat)

3. Alms tax (zakat)

4. Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)

5. Fasting during Ramadan (sawm)
Twelve Imams
1. Ali
2. Al-Hasan
3. al-Husain
4. Ali Zayn al-Abidin
5. Muhammad al-Baqir
6. Ja'far al-Sadiq
7. Musa al-Kazim
8. Ali al-Rida
9. Muhammad al-Taqi
10. Ali al-Naqi
11. al-Hasan al-Askari
12. Muhammad al-Mahdi
The Qur'an (link goes to the text of the Quran)

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