Article Info

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

Fast Facts on Islam

What are the facts of the Mulsim religion?

At the begining of the 21st century, Islam is one of the largest religions in the world. 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. As other articles in this section suggest, there is some diversity in Islam. (Go here to compare Sunnis and Shia Muslims.)

Date founded
622 CE

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

(Go here for more about Mecca)
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
Books of the Qur'an (link goes to the text of the Quran)
The Opening
The Heifer
The Women
The Table Spread
The Cattle
The Heights
The Spoils of War
The Thunder
The Rocky Tract
The Bee
The Israelites
The Cave
Ta Ha
The Prophets
The Pilgrimage
The Believers
The Light
The Criterion
The Poets
The Ants
The Narration
The Spider
The Roman Empire
The Wise
The Confederates
The City of Saba
The Originator of Creation
The Rangers
The Companions
The Believer
Ha Mim
The Counsel
Ornaments of Gold
The Smoke
The Kneeling
The Sandhills
The Victory
The Chambers
The Scatterers
The Mountain
The Star
The Moon
The Beneficent
The Event
The Iron
She Who Pleaded
The Banishment
The Examined One
The Ranks
The Congregation
The Hypocrites
The Mutual Deceit
The Divorce
The Prohibition
The Kingdom
The Pen
The Inevitable
The Ways of Ascent
The Jinn
The Wrapped Up
The Covered One
The Resurrection Time
The Sent Forth
The Great Event
The Draggers
He Frowned
The Folded Up
The Cleaving
The Deceivers in Measuring
The Rending Asunder
The Celestial Stations
The Nightly Visitant
The Most High
The Overwhelming Calamity
The Daybreak
The City
The Sun
The Night
The Brightness
The Expansion
The Fig
The Clot
The Grandeur
The Clear Evidence
The Quaking
The Chargers
The Calamity
Vying in Abundance
The Age
The Slanderer
The Elephant
The Qureaish
The Abundance of Good
The Disbelievers
The Help
The Flame
The Unity
The Dawn
The People