There are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, living in majority populations in 56 countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Niger, Egypt and Turkey. There are also significant Muslim populations living in India, China and Russia. In sharp contrast to popular assumption, only 20 percent of the global number of Muslims is of Arab origin. There are an estimated two million living in Britain.
Are all Muslims the same?
There is an extraordinary diversity of Muslim cultures stretching from North Africa to Southeast Asia and from Europe to Latin America. There are many Muslim interpretations of Islam that has invoked different schools of theology and law, along with a rich tradition of mysticism commonly known as Sufism. While this diversity exists, there is one underlying unity of belief that binds all Muslims together – the belief in the oneness of God and of his final Messenger, Muhammad.
What do Muslims believe?
The basis of the Islamic faith is the belief in One God (Allah, the Creator, Sustainer, Ruler and Judge of the universe), His prophets such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus, concluding with the last Prophet, Muhammad. Muslims believe in angels, in the books of revelation (Torah, Gospel), the Day of Judgement, in God’s Will, and in Heaven and Hell. Together, these beliefs constitute the seven articles of faith.
Muslims regard Christians and Jews as the ‘People of the Book’, believers who received, through prophets, revelation in the form of scriptures or revealed books from God. Islam, commonly perceived as the ‘youngest’ of the monotheistic religions, is from the Muslim point of view, the original as well as the final revelation of God. The Quran says, “He established for you the same religion as that which He established for Noah, that which We have sent to you as an inspiration through Abraham, Moses and Jesus, namely that you should remain steadfast and make no divisions within it.” [Quran, Chapter 42, Verse 13] Muslims believe that the revelation received by Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel served the purpose of correcting the human error that had become part of the belief systems of Judaism and Christianity.