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World Religions: Islam

Use this primer with the lesson The World's Religions to teach about the diversity of faiths in the United States and around the globe.

Islam is a major world religion, with over a billion followers worldwide. It is considered a monotheistic faith (one that believes in a single god), along with Judaism and Christianity.

The word “Islam” comes from an Arabic word meaning "peace" and "submission." Islam teaches that one can find peace in life by submitting to Almighty God (Allah) in heart, soul and deed. A person who follows Islam is called a Muslim.

The Prophet Muhammad is a central figure in Islam. He revealed the words of the Qur’an (holy book) and serves as an example for Muslims to follow. Although usually associated with the Arabs of the Middle East, less than 10% of Muslims are in fact Arab. Muslims are found all over the world.

Some religious observances:


Time of Year: Different every year, but typically begins in June, July or August. Muslims who are physically able fast (do not eat) each day of the entire month of Ramadan, from sunrise to sunset. The evenings are spent enjoying family and community meals, engaging in prayer and spiritual reflection, and reading from the Qur’an (holy book). Eid al-Fitr (Breaking of the Fast) is celebrated at the end of the month of Ramadan.


Time of Year: Usually late November. Every year, millions of Muslims from around the world make the journey to Makkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia, for the annual pilgrimage (or Hajj). Pilgrims gather to perform rituals dating back to ancient times. Muslims are required to make the pilgrimage once in a lifetime, if they are physically and financially able.

When the pilgrims return to their home countries, they do so spiritually refreshed and forgiven of their sins (wrongdoings in God's eyes). After the completion of Hajj, Muslims around the world observe a special holiday called Eid al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice).  


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Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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