Muslim world

The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the Islamic community (Ummah), consisting of all those who adhere to the religion of Islam,[1] or to societies where Islam is practiced.[2][3] In a modern geopolitical sense, these terms refer to countries where Islam is widespread, although there are no agreed criteria for inclusion.[4][3] The term Muslim-majority countries is an alternative often used for the latter sense.[5]

The history of the Muslim world spans about 1400 years and includes a variety of socio-political developments, as well as advances in the arts, science, philosophy, and technology, particularly during the Islamic Golden Age. All Muslims look for guidance to the Quran and believe in the prophetic mission of Muhammad, but disagreements on other matters have led to appearance of different religious schools and branches within Islam. In the modern era, most of the Muslim world came under influence or colonial domination of European powers. The nation states that emerged in the post-colonial era have adopted a variety of political and economic models, and they have been affected by secular and as well as religious trends.[6]

As of 2013, the combined GDP (nominal) of 49 Muslim majority countries was US$5.7 trillion,[7] As of 2016, they contributed 8% of the world's total.[8] As of 2015, 1.8 billion or about 24.1% of the world population are Muslims.[9] By the percentage of the total population in a region considering themselves Muslim, 91% in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA),[10] 89% in Central Asia,[11] 40% in Southeast Asia,[12] 31% in South Asia,[13][14] 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa,[15] 25% in AsiaOceania,[16] around 6% in Europe,[17] and 1% in the Americas.[18][19][20][21]

Islam percent population in each nation World Map Muslim data by Pew Research
World Muslim population by percentage (Pew Research Center, 2014).


TabulaRogeriana upside-down
The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by Al-Idrisi in 1154, one of the most advanced ancient world maps. Al-Idrisi also wrote about the diverse Muslim communities found in various lands.

Muslim history involves the history of the Islamic faith as a religion and as a social institution. The history of Islam began in the Arabian Peninsula when the Islamic prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Quran in the 7th century in the cave of Hira in the month of Ramadan. According to tradition, he was supposedly commanded by Allah to convey this message to the people, and to be patient with those hostile to it. These included the leaders of the Quraysh, the ruling tribe of Mecca, who opposed the assertion of tawhid (monotheism) and abolishing what Muhammed branded "idolatry", meaning the worship of gods other than Allah at the Kaaba, such as Hubal and the goddesses al-Lāt, Al-‘Uzzá and Manāt. After 13 years of spreading this message, despite increased persecution by the Quraysh, Muhammad and his followers migrated to Medina to establish a new state under the prophet's leadership and away from persecution. This migration, called the Hijra, marks the first year of the Islamic calendar. Islam was then spread to other parts of the Arabian Peninsula over the course of Muhammad's life.

After Muhammad died in 632, his successors (the Caliphs) continued to lead the Muslim community based on his teachings and guidelines of the Quran. The majority of Muslims consider the first four successors to be 'rightly guided' or Rashidun. The Rashidun Caliphate's conquests spread Islam beyond the Arabian Peninsula, stretching from northwest India, across Central Asia, the Near East, North Africa, southern Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula, to the Pyrenees. The Arab Muslims were unable to conquer the entire Christian Byzantine Empire in Asia Minor, however. The succeeding Umayyad Caliphate attempted two failed sieges of Constantinople in 674–678 and 717–718. Meanwhile, the Muslim community tore itself apart into the rivalling Sunni and Shia sects since the killing of caliph Uthman in 656, resulting in a succession crisis that has never been resolved.[22] The following First, Second and Third Fitnas and finally the Abbasid Revolution (746–750) also definitively destroyed the political unity of the Muslims, who have been inhabiting multiple states ever since.[23]

Subsequent empires dominated by Muslims, such as those of the Abbasids, Fatimids, Seljukids, Almoravids, Almohads and Marinids in Morocco, Nasrids in the Iberian Peninsula, Ayyubids, Bahris and Burjis in Egypt, Wagadou, Kanem-Bornu, Manden and Songhai in the Sahel, Ajuran, Adal and Warsangali in Somalia, Mughals in the Indian subcontinent (India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan e.t.c), Ghaznavids, Khwarazmids, Timurids and Safavids in Persia and Ottomans in Anatolia, were among the influential and distinguished powers in the world. 19th-century colonialism and 20th-century decolonisation have resulted in several independent Muslim-majority states around the world, with vastly differing attitudes towards and political influences granted to, or restricted for, Islam from country to country. These have revolved around the question of Islam's compatibility with other ideological concepts such as secularism, nationalism (especially Arab nationalism and Pan-Arabism, as opposed to Pan-Islamism), socialism (see also Arab socialism and socialism in Iran), democracy (see Islamic democracy), republicanism (see also Islamic republic), liberalism and progressivism, feminism, capitalism and more.

Classical culture

1541-Battle in the war between Shah Isma'il and the King of Shirvan-Shahnama-i-Isma'il

Battle between Ismail of the Safaviyya and the ruler of Shirvan, Farrukh Yassar

Mir Sayyid Ali - Portrait of a Young Indian Scholar

Mir Sayyid Ali, a scholar writing a commentary on the Quran, during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan

Ottoman Dynasty, Portrait of a Painter, Reign of Mehmet II (1444-1481)

Portrait of a painter during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II

6 Dust Muhammad. Portrait of Shah Abu'l Ma‘ali. ca. 1556 Aga Khan Collection

A Persian miniature of Shah Abu'l Ma‘ali, a scholar


Ilkhanate Empire ruler, Ghazan, studying the Quran

Laila and Majnun in School, New-York

Layla and Majnun studying together, from a Persian miniature painting

The term "Islamic Golden Age" has been attributed to a period in history wherein science, economic development and cultural works in most of the Muslim-dominated world flourished.[24][25] The age is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (786–809) with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where scholars from various parts of the world sought to translate and gather all the known world's knowledge into Arabic,[26][27] and to have ended with the collapse of the Abbasid caliphate due to Mongol invasions and the Siege of Baghdad in 1258.[28] The Abbasids were influenced by the Quranic injunctions and hadiths, such as "the ink of a scholar is more holy than the blood of a martyr," that stressed the value of knowledge. The major Islamic capital cities of Baghdad, Cairo, and Córdoba became the main intellectual centers for science, philosophy, medicine, and education.[29] During this period, the Muslim world was a collection of cultures; they drew together and advanced the knowledge gained from the ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Phoenician civilizations.[30]


A Seljuq, shatranj (chess) set, glazed fritware, 12th century.

Between the 8th and 18th centuries, the use of ceramic glaze was prevalent in Islamic art, usually assuming the form of elaborate pottery.[31] Tin-opacified glazing was one of the earliest new technologies developed by the Islamic potters. The first Islamic opaque glazes can be found as blue-painted ware in Basra, dating to around the 8th century. Another contribution was the development of fritware, originating from 9th-century Iraq.[32] Other centers for innovative ceramic pottery in the Old world included Fustat (from 975 to 1075), Damascus (from 1100 to around 1600) and Tabriz (from 1470 to 1550).[33]


Brooklyn Museum - Manuscript of the Hadiqat al-Su`ada (Garden of the Blessed) of Fuzuli - Muhammad bin Sulayman known as Fuzuli2

Hadiqatus-suada by Oghuz Turkic poet Fuzûlî

Princess Parizade Bringing Home the Singing Tree

The story of Princess Parizade and the Magic Tree.[34]

The best known work of fiction from the Islamic world is One Thousand and One Nights (In Persian: hezār-o-yek šab > Arabic: ʔalf-layl-at-wa-l’-layla= One thousand Night and (one) Night) or *Arabian Nights, a name invented by early Western translators, which is a compilation of folk tales from Sanskrit, Persian, and later Arabian fables. The original concept is derived from a pre-Islamic Persian prototype Hezār Afsān (Thousand Fables) that relied on particular Indian elements.[35] It reached its final form by the 14th century; the number and type of tales have varied from one manuscript to another.[36] All Arabian fantasy tales tend to be called Arabian Nights stories when translated into English, regardless of whether they appear in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights or not.[36] This work has been very influential in the West since it was translated in the 18th century, first by Antoine Galland.[37] Imitations were written, especially in France.[38] Various characters from this epic have themselves become cultural icons in Western culture, such as Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba.

A famous example of Arabic poetry and Persian poetry on romance (love) is Layla and Majnun, dating back to the Umayyad era in the 7th century. It is a tragic story of undying love. Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran, is a mythical and heroic retelling of Persian history. Amir Arsalan was also a popular mythical Persian story, which has influenced some modern works of fantasy fiction, such as The Heroic Legend of Arslan.

Ibn Tufail (Abubacer) and Ibn al-Nafis were pioneers of the philosophical novel. Ibn Tufail wrote the first Arabic novel Hayy ibn Yaqdhan (Philosophus Autodidactus) as a response to Al-Ghazali's The Incoherence of the Philosophers, and then Ibn al-Nafis also wrote a novel Theologus Autodidactus as a response to Ibn Tufail's Philosophus Autodidactus. Both of these narratives had protagonists (Hayy in Philosophus Autodidactus and Kamil in Theologus Autodidactus) who were autodidactic feral children living in seclusion on a desert island, both being the earliest examples of a desert island story. However, while Hayy lives alone with animals on the desert island for the rest of the story in Philosophus Autodidactus, the story of Kamil extends beyond the desert island setting in Theologus Autodidactus, developing into the earliest known coming of age plot and eventually becoming the first example of a science fiction novel.[39][40]

Theologus Autodidactus,[41][42] written by the Arabian polymath Ibn al-Nafis (1213–1288), is the first example of a science fiction novel.[43] It deals with various science fiction elements such as spontaneous generation, futurology, the end of the world and doomsday, resurrection, and the afterlife. Rather than giving supernatural or mythological explanations for these events, Ibn al-Nafis attempted to explain these plot elements using the scientific knowledge of biology, astronomy, cosmology and geology known in his time. Ibn al-Nafis' fiction explained Islamic religious teachings via science and Islamic philosophy.[44]

A Latin translation of Ibn Tufail's work, Philosophus Autodidactus, first appeared in 1671, prepared by Edward Pococke the Younger, followed by an English translation by Simon Ockley in 1708, as well as German and Dutch translations. These translations might have later inspired Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe, regarded as the first novel in English.[45][46][47][48] Philosophus Autodidactus, continuing the thoughts of philosophers such as Aristotle from earlier ages, inspired Robert Boyle to write his own philosophical novel set on an island, The Aspiring Naturalist.[49]

Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy,[50] derived features of and episodes about Bolgia[51] from Arabic works on Islamic eschatology:[52][53] the Hadith and the Kitab al-Miraj (translated into Latin in 1264 or shortly before[54] as Liber Scale Machometi[55]) concerning the ascension to Heaven of Muhammad,[56] and the spiritual writings of Ibn Arabi.[57] The Moors also had a noticeable influence on the works of George Peele and William Shakespeare. Some of their works featured Moorish characters, such as Peele's The Battle of Alcazar and Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Titus Andronicus and Othello, which featured a Moorish Othello as its title character. These works are said to have been inspired by several Moorish delegations from Morocco to Elizabethan England at the beginning of the 17th century.[58]


One of the common definitions for "Islamic philosophy" is "the style of philosophy produced within the framework of Islamic culture."[59] Islamic philosophy, in this definition is neither necessarily concerned with religious issues, nor is exclusively produced by Muslims.[59] The Persian scholar Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980–1037) had more than 450 books attributed to him. His writings were concerned with various subjects, most notably philosophy and medicine. His medical textbook The Canon of Medicine was used as the standard text in European universities for centuries. He also wrote The Book of Healing, an influential scientific and philosophical encyclopedia.

One of the most influential Muslim philosophers in the West was Averroes (Ibn Rushd), founder of the Averroism school of philosophy, whose works and commentaries affected the rise of secular thought in Europe.[60] He also developed the concept of "existence precedes essence".[61]

Another figure from the Islamic Golden Age, Avicenna, also founded his own Avicennism school of philosophy, which was influential in both Islamic and Christian lands. He was also a critic of Aristotelian logic and founder of Avicennian logic, developed the concepts of empiricism and tabula rasa, and distinguished between essence and existence.

Yet another influential philosopher who had an influence on modern philosophy was Ibn Tufail. His philosophical novel, Hayy ibn Yaqdha, translated into Latin as Philosophus Autodidactus in 1671, developed the themes of empiricism, tabula rasa, nature versus nurture,[62] condition of possibility, materialism,[63] and Molyneux's problem.[64] European scholars and writers influenced by this novel include John Locke,[65] Gottfried Leibniz,[48] Melchisédech Thévenot, John Wallis, Christiaan Huygens,[66] George Keith, Robert Barclay, the Quakers,[67] and Samuel Hartlib.[49]

Islamic philosophers continued making advances in philosophy through to the 17th century, when Mulla Sadra founded his school of Transcendent theosophy and developed the concept of existentialism.[68]

Other influential Muslim philosophers include al-Jahiz, a pioneer in evolutionary thought; Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen), a pioneer of phenomenology and the philosophy of science and a critic of Aristotelian natural philosophy and Aristotle's concept of place (topos); Al-Biruni, a critic of Aristotelian natural philosophy; Ibn Tufail and Ibn al-Nafis, pioneers of the philosophical novel; Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi, founder of Illuminationist philosophy; Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, a critic of Aristotelian logic and a pioneer of inductive logic; and Ibn Khaldun, a pioneer in the philosophy of history.[69]


Tusi manus

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's Astrolabe. (13th century)


One of Mansur ibn Ilyas (Ak Koyunlu era) colored illustrations of human anatomy.


Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi's Kitab al-Tasrif
Surgical instruments illustrations. (11th century)

Banu musa mechanical

A self-trimming lamp from Banū Mūsā's work On Mechanical Devices on Automation.

Lunar eclipse al-Biruni

An illustration from al-Biruni's astronomical works, explains the different phases of the moon.

Al-jazari elephant clock

The Elephant Clock was one of the most famous inventions of Al-Jazari.


"Cubic equations and intersections of conic sections", of Omar Khayyam.


Lagâri Hasan Çelebi's rocket flight depicted in a 17th-century engraving.

Muslim scientists contributed to advances in the sciences. They placed far greater emphasis on experiment than had the Greeks. This led to an early scientific method being developed in the Muslim world, where progress in methodology was made, beginning with the experiments of Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) on optics from circa 1000, in his Book of Optics. The most important development of the scientific method was the use of experiments to distinguish between competing scientific theories set within a generally empirical orientation, which began among Muslim scientists. Ibn al-Haytham is also regarded as the father of optics, especially for his empirical proof of the intromission theory of light. Some have also described Ibn al-Haytham as the "first scientist."[70] al-Khwarzimi's invented the log base systems that are being used today, he also contributed theorems in trigonometry as well as limits.[71] Recent studies show that it is very likely that the Medieval Muslim artists were aware of advanced decagonal quasicrystal geometry (discovered half a millennium later in the 1970s and 1980s in the West) and used it in intricate decorative tilework in the architecture.[72]

Muslim physicians contributed to the field of medicine, including the subjects of anatomy and physiology: such as in the 15th-century Persian work by Mansur ibn Muhammad ibn al-Faqih Ilyas entitled Tashrih al-badan (Anatomy of the body) which contained comprehensive diagrams of the body's structural, nervous and circulatory systems; or in the work of the Egyptian physician Ibn al-Nafis, who proposed the theory of pulmonary circulation. Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine remained an authoritative medical textbook in Europe until the 18th century. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (also known as Abulcasis) contributed to the discipline of medical surgery with his Kitab al-Tasrif ("Book of Concessions"), a medical encyclopedia which was later translated to Latin and used in European and Muslim medical schools for centuries. Other medical advancements came in the fields of pharmacology and pharmacy.[73]

In astronomy, Muḥammad ibn Jābir al-Ḥarrānī al-Battānī improved the precision of the measurement of the precession of the Earth's axis. The corrections made to the geocentric model by al-Battani, Averroes, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Mu'ayyad al-Din al-'Urdi and Ibn al-Shatir were later incorporated into the Copernican heliocentric model. Heliocentric theories were also discussed by several other Muslim astronomers such as Al-Biruni, Al-Sijzi, Qotb al-Din Shirazi, and Najm al-Dīn al-Qazwīnī al-Kātibī. The astrolabe, though originally developed by the Greeks, was perfected by Islamic astronomers and engineers, and was subsequently brought to Europe.

Some most famous scientists from the medieval Islamic world include Jābir ibn Hayyān, al-Farabi, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, Ibn al-Haytham, Al-Biruni, Avicenna, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, and Ibn Khaldun.


Illustration of al-Hariri Maqamat spinning wheel
The Spinning wheel is believed to have been invented in the medieval era (of what is now the Greater Middle East), it is considered to be an important device that contributed greatly to the advancement of the Industrial Revolution. (scene from Al-Maqamat, painted by al-Wasiti 1237)

In technology, the Muslim world adopted papermaking from China.[74] The knowledge of gunpowder was also transmitted from China via predominantly Islamic countries,[75] where formulas for pure potassium nitrate[76][77] were developed.

Advances were made in irrigation and farming, using new technology such as the windmill. Crops such as almonds and citrus fruit were brought to Europe through al-Andalus, and sugar cultivation was gradually adopted by the Europeans. Arab merchants dominated trade in the Indian Ocean until the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century. Hormuz was an important center for this trade. There was also a dense network of trade routes in the Mediterranean, along which Muslim-majority countries traded with each other and with European powers such as Venice, Genoa and Catalonia. The Silk Road crossing Central Asia passed through Muslim states between China and Europe.

Muslim engineers in the Islamic world made a number of innovative industrial uses of hydropower, and early industrial uses of tidal power and wind power,[78] fossil fuels such as petroleum, and early large factory complexes (tiraz in Arabic).[79] The industrial uses of watermills in the Islamic world date back to the 7th century, while horizontal-wheeled and vertical-wheeled water mills were both in widespread use since at least the 9th century. A variety of industrial mills were being employed in the Islamic world, including early fulling mills, gristmills, paper mills, hullers, sawmills, ship mills, stamp mills, steel mills, sugar mills, tide mills and windmills. By the 11th century, every province throughout the Islamic world had these industrial mills in operation, from al-Andalus and North Africa to the Middle East and Central Asia.[74] Muslim engineers also invented crankshafts and water turbines, employed gears in mills and water-raising machines, and pioneered the use of dams as a source of water power, used to provide additional power to watermills and water-raising machines.[80] Such advances made it possible for industrial tasks that were previously driven by manual labour in ancient times to be mechanized and driven by machinery instead in the medieval Islamic world. The transfer of these technologies to medieval Europe had an influence on the Industrial Revolution.[81]

Gunpowder Empires

Scholars often use the term Gunpowder Empires to describe the Islamic empires of the Safavid, Ottoman and Mughal. Each of these three empires had considerable military exploits using the newly developed firearms, especially cannon and small arms, to create their empires.[82] They existed primarily between the fourteenth and the late seventeenth centuries.[83]

Bullocks dragging siege-guns up hill during the attack on Ranthambhor Fort

Bullocks dragging siege-guns up hill during Mughal Emperor Akbar's Siege of Ranthambore Fort in 1568.[84]


Gun-wielding Ottoman Janissaries in combat against the Knights of Saint John at the Siege of Rhodes in 1522.

Ottoman and Acehnese guns after the Dutch conquest of Aceh in 1874 Illustrated London News

Cannons and guns belonging to the Aceh Sultanate (in modern Indonesia).

Great Divergence

The Great Divergence was the reason why European colonial powers militarily defeated preexisting Oriental powers like the Mughal Empire, Ottoman Empire and many smaller states in the pre-modern Greater Middle East, and initiated a period known as 'colonialism'.[85]

Shah Alam II, Mughal emperor of india, reviewing the East India Companys troops

Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II negotiates with the British East India Company after being defeated during the Battle of Buxar.

January Suchodolski - Ochakiv siege

Siege of Ochakov (1788), an armed conflict between the Ottomans and the Russian Tsardom.

Сражение под Елисаветполем.jpeg

Combat during the Russo-Persian Wars).

Bataille du mont-thabor

French campaign in Egypt and Syria against the Mamluks and Ottomans


World 1914 empires colonies territory
Map of colonial powers throughout the world in the year 1914 (note colonial powers in the pre-modern Muslim world).

Beginning with the 15th century, colonialism by European powers (particularly, but not exclusively, Britain, Spain, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Russia, Austria, and Belgium) profoundly affected Muslim-majority societies in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Colonialism was often advanced by conflict with mercantile initiatives by colonial powers and caused tremendous social upheavals in Muslim-dominated societies.

A number of Muslim-majority societies reacted to Western powers with zealotry and thus initiating the rise of Pan-Islamism; or affirmed more traditionalist and inclusive cultural ideals; and in rare cases adopted modernity that was ushered by the colonial powers.[86]

The only Muslim-majority regions not to be colonized by the Europeans were Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan. Turkey was one of the first colonial powers of the world with the Ottoman empire ruling several states for over 6 centuries.

Siege of Buda 1686 Frans Geffels

The Christian reconquest of Buda, Ottoman Hungary, 1686

Nicolaas Pieneman - The Submission of Prince Dipo Negoro to General De Kock

The submission of Diponegoro to General De Kock at the end of the Java War in 1830

1 5 Campaña Africa 1909

The Melilla War between Spain and Rif Berbers of Morocco in 1909

Postcolonial era

The end of the European colonial domination has led to creation of a number of nation states with significant Muslim populations. These states drew on Islamic traditions to varying degree and in various ways in organizing their legal, educational and economic systems.[87]


Jakarta Indonesia Kindergarten-children-visiting-National-Museum-01
Indonesia is currently the most populous Muslim-majority country.

Because the terms "Muslim world" and "Islamic world" are disputed, since all countries have some non-Muslims and there is not universal agreement on what proportion of the population would be required or if other factors (such as state recognition) should qualify a given country.[88][89][5] One commonly supported rule of thumb is a Muslim population of more than 50%.[88][5] Jones (2005) defines a "large minority" as being between 30% and 50%, which described nine countries in 2000, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Nigeria, and Tanzania.[5]

According to a 2010 study and released January 2011,[90][91] Islam has 1.5 billion adherents, making up over 22% of the world population.[92][93][94] According to the Pew Research Center in 2015 there were 50 Muslim-majority countries.[95][96] (April 2017) identified 45 'Islamic countries'. Among the Islamic states are: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Oman, and Yemen. Other states where Islam is the politically defined state religion are: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Somalia and Brunei. Other Muslim-majority countries include: Niger, Indonesia, Sudan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Northern Cyprus, Nigeria, Senegal, Syria, Lebanon, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.[97]


Skyline of Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country in the world.

More than 24.1% of the world's population is Muslim.[98][99] Current estimates conclude that the number of Muslims in the world is around 1.8 billion.[98] Muslims are the majority in 49 countries,[100] they speak hundreds of languages and come from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Major languages spoken by Muslims include Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Malay, Javanese, Sundanese, Swahili, Hausa, Fula, Berber, Tuareg, Somali, Albanian, Spanish, Bosnian, Russian, Turkish, Azeri, Kazakh, Uzbek, Tatar, Persian, Kurdish, Pashto, Tamil, Telugu, Balochi, Sindhi, Malayalam, and Kashmiri, among many others.


The two main denominations of Islam are the Sunni and Shia sects. They differ primarily upon of how the life of the ummah ("faithful") should be governed, and the role of the imam. Sunnis believe that the true political successor of the Prophet according to the Sunnah should be selected based on ٍShura (consultation), as was done at the Saqifah which selected Abu Bakr, Muhammad's father-in-law, to be Muhammad's political but not his religious successor. Shia, on the other hand, believe that Muhammad designated his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib as his true political as well as religious successor.[101]

The overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world, between 87–90%, are Sunni.[102]

Shias and other groups make up the rest, about 10–13% of overall Muslim population. The countries with the highest concentration of Shia populations are: Iran – 96%,[103] Azerbaijan – 85%,[104] Iraq – 60/70%,[105] Bahrain – 70%, Yemen – 47%,[106] Turkey – 28%,[107][108][109] Lebanon – 27%, Syria – 17%, Afghanistan – 15%, Pakistan – 5%/10%,[110][111][112][113][114][115][116][117][118] and India – 5%.[119]

The Kharijite Muslims, who are less known, have their own stronghold in the country of Oman holding about 75% of the population.[120]

عزاداری شیعیان در ماه محرم 02

Shi'a Muslims in Iran commemorate Ashura

Saying Juma Namaz (Friday prayer for Muslims), Dhaka, Bangladesh NK

Friday prayer for Sunni Muslims in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Islamic schools and branches

Madhhab Map2a
The main Islamic madh'habs (schools of law) of Muslim-majority countries or distributions

The first centuries of Islam gave rise to three major sects: Sunnis, Shi'as and Kharijites. Each sect developed distinct jurisprudence schools (madhhab) reflecting different methodologies of jurisprudence (fiqh).

The major Sunni madhhabs are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali.

The major Shi'a branches are Twelver (Imami), Ismaili (Sevener) and Zaidi (Fiver). Isma'ilism later split into Nizari Ismaili and Musta’li Ismaili, and then Mustaali was divided into Hafizi and Taiyabi Ismailis.[121] It also gave rise to the Qarmatian movement and the Druze faith. Twelver Shiism developed Ja'fari jurisprudence whose branches are Akhbarism and Usulism, and other movements such as Alawites, Shaykism[122] and Alevism.[123][124]

Similarly, Kharijites were initially divided into five major branches: Sufris, Azariqa, Najdat, Adjarites and Ibadis. Among these numerous branches, only Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali, Imamiyyah-Ja'fari-Usuli, Nizārī Ismā'īlī, Alevi,[125] Zaydi, Ibadi, Zahiri, Alawite,[126] Druze and Taiyabi communities have survived. In addition, new schools of thought and movements like Quranist Muslims, Ahmadi Muslims and African American Muslims later emerged independently.

Drummer at Hamed el-Nil Mosque (8625532075)

A Sufi dervish drums up the Friday afternoon crowd in Omdurman, Sudan

Flickr - Government Press Office (GPO) - Nebi Shueib Festival

Druze dignitaries celebrating the Nabi Shu'ayb festival at the tomb of the prophet in Hittin


Ibadis living in the M'zab valley in Algerian Sahara

Sanaa street

Zaydi Imams ruled in Yemen until 1962

Hunza Valley Karimabad

Most of the inhabitants of the Hunza Valley in Pakistan are Ismaili Muslims


According to the UNHCR, Muslim-majority countries hosted 18 million refugees by the end of 2010.

Since then Muslim nations have absorbed refugees from recent conflicts, including the uprising in Syria.[127] In July 2013, the UN stated that the number of Syrian refugees had exceeded 1.8 million.[128] In Asia, an estimated 625,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar, mostly Muslim, had crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 2017.[129]


In some Muslim-majority countries, illiteracy is a problem, whereas in others literacy rates are high. In Egypt, the largest Muslim-majority Arab country, the youth female literacy rate exceeds that for males.[130] Lower literacy rates are more prevalent in South Asian countries such as in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but are rapidly increasing.[131] In the Eastern Middle East, Iran has a high level of youth literacy at 98%,[132] whereas Iraq's youth literacy rate has sharply declined from 85% to 57%, during the American-led war and subsequent occupation.[133] Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, has a very high youth literacy rate at 99%.[134]

In Afghanistan, seminaries are operated by politically active religious organizations and have taken the place of basic education not provided and funded by the government.

A 2016 Pew Research Center study about religion and education around the world found that Muslims have the lowest average levels of education after Hindus, with an average of 5.6 years of schooling.[135] About 36% of all Muslims have no formal schooling,[135] Muslims have also the lowest average levels of higher education of any major religious group, with only 8% having graduate and post-graduate degrees.[135] The highest of years of schooling among Muslim-majority countries found in Uzbekistan (11.5),[135] Kuwait (11.0)[135] and Kazakhstan (10.7).[135] In addition, the average of years of schooling in countries where Muslims are the majority is 6.0 years of schooling, which lag behind the global average (7.7 years of schooling).[135] In the youngest age (25–34) group surveyed, Young Muslims have the lowest average levels of education of any major religious group, with an average of 6.7 years of schooling, which lag behind the global average (8.6 years of schooling).[135] The study found that Muslims have a significant amount of gender inequality in educational attainment, since Muslim women have an average of 4.9 years of schooling; compare to an average of 6.4 years of schooling among Muslim men.[135]

Schoolgirls in Bamozai

Young school girls in Paktia Province of Afghanistan.

Niger primary school MCC3500

A primary classroom in Niger.

Girls lining up for class - Flickr - Al Jazeera English

Schoolgirls in Gaza lining up for class, 2009.

Medical students before exam in saloon of moulages 1

Medical students of anatomy, before an exam in moulage, Iran

Bosniak youth in Novi Pazar, Serbia (7798130046)

Bosniak students in Novi Pazar, Serbia


The literacy rate in the Muslim world varies. Azerbaijan is in second place in the Index of Literacy of World Countries. Some members such as Iran, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have over 97% literacy rates, whereas literacy rates are the lowest in Mali, Afghanistan, Chad and parts of Africa. In 2015, the International Islamic News Agency reported that nearly 37% of the population of the Muslim world is unable to read or write, basing that figure on reports from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.[136]


Several Muslim-majority countries like Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Pakistan exhibit high rate of citable scientific publications.[137][138]


The Muslim world has been afflicted with economic stagnation for many centuries.[139][140] In 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama stated that apart from crude oil, the exports of the entire Greater Middle East with its 400 million population roughly equals that of Switzerland.[141] It has also been estimated that the exports of Finland, a European country of only five million, exceeded those of the entire 370 million-strong Arab world, excluding oil and natural gas.[142]


Throughout history, Muslim cultures have been diverse ethnically, linguistically and regionally.


The Taj Mahal situated in Agra city of India is one of the most notable example of Islamic architecture.[143] (Larger)

Chinese-style minaret of the Great Mosque

A Chinese pavilion instead of a minaret at the Great Mosque of Xi'an, one of China's largest mosques.


The term "Islamic art and architecture" denotes the works of art and architecture produced from the 7th century onwards by people who lived within the territory that was inhabited by culturally Islamic populations.[144][145]


Encompasses both secular and religious styles, the design and style made by Muslims and their construction of buildings and structures in Islamic culture included the architectural types: the Mosque, the Tomb, the Palace and the Fort. Perhaps the most important expression of Islamic art is architecture, particularly that of the mosque.[146] Through Islamic architecture, effects of varying cultures within Islamic civilization can be illustrated. Generally, the use of Islamic geometric patterns and foliage based arabesques were striking. There was also the use of decorative calligraphy instead of pictures which were haram (forbidden) in mosque architecture. Note that in secular architecture, human and animal representation was indeed present.

The North African and Iberian Islamic architecture, for example, has Roman-Byzantine elements, as seen in the Great Mosque of Kairouan which contains marble columns from Roman and Byzantine buildings,[147] in the Alhambra palace at Granada, or in the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

Persian-style mosques are characterized by their tapered brick pillars, large arcades, and arches supported each by several pillars. In South Asia, elements of Hindu architecture were employed, but were later superseded by Persian designs.


No Islamic visual images or depictions of God are meant to exist because it is believed that such artistic depictions may lead to idolatry. Moreover, Muslims believe that God is incorporeal, making any two- or three- dimensional depictions impossible. Instead, Muslims describe God by the names and attributes that, according to Islam, he revealed to his creation. All but one sura of the Quran begins with the phrase "In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful". Images of Mohammed are likewise prohibited. Such aniconism and iconoclasm[148] can also be found in Jewish and some Christian theology.


Islamic art frequently adopts the use of geometrical floral or vegetal designs in a repetition known as arabesque. Such designs are highly nonrepresentational, as Islam forbids representational depictions as found in pre-Islamic pagan religions. Despite this, there is a presence of depictional art in some Muslim societies, notably the miniature style made famous in Persia and under the Ottoman Empire which featured paintings of people and animals, and also depictions of Quranic stories and Islamic traditional narratives. Another reason why Islamic art is usually abstract is to symbolize the transcendence, indivisible and infinite nature of God, an objective achieved by arabesque.[149] Islamic calligraphy is an omnipresent decoration in Islamic art, and is usually expressed in the form of Quranic verses. Two of the main scripts involved are the symbolic kufic and naskh scripts, which can be found adorning the walls and domes of mosques, the sides of minbars, and so on.[149]

Distinguishing motifs of Islamic architecture have always been ordered repetition, radiating structures, and rhythmic, metric patterns. In this respect, fractal geometry has been a key utility, especially for mosques and palaces. Other features employed as motifs include columns, piers and arches, organized and interwoven with alternating sequences of niches and colonnettes.[150] The role of domes in Islamic architecture has been considerable. Its usage spans centuries, first appearing in 691 with the construction of the Dome of the Rock mosque, and recurring even up until the 17th century with the Taj Mahal. And as late as the 19th century, Islamic domes had been incorporated into European architecture.[151]

Interlaced-Triangles quasi-Arabesque Brunnian-link

Example of an Arabesque


Example of an Arabesque

Interlaced-Triangles Brunnian-link alternate

Example of an Arabesque


Girih is an Islamic decorative art form used in architecture and handicrafts (book covers, tapestry, small metal objects), consisting of geometric lines that form an interlaced strapwork.

Girih tiles

Girih tiles

Darbeimam subdivision rule

The subdivision rule used to generate the Girih pattern on the spandrel.

Girih compass straightedge example

Girih pattern that can be drawn with compass and straight edge.

Islamic calligraphy

Islamic calligraphy, is the artistic practice of handwriting, calligraphy, and by extension, of bookmaking, in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage.

Kufic Quran, sura 7, verses 86-87

Kufic script from an early Qur'an manuscript, 7th century. (Surah 7: 86–87)


Bismallah calligraphy.

Seven sleepers islam

Islamic calligraphy represented for amulet of sailors in the Ottoman Empire.

Shiite Calligraphy symbolising Ali as Tiger of God

Islamic calligraphy praising Ali.

Planets by ibrahimabutouq

Modern Islamic calligraphy representing various planets.


Islamic lunar calendar

The Book of the Table Regarding the Knowledge of the Time and the Heavens for the Calculation of the Beginning of the Islamic and Christian Months WDL4294.pdf&page=16
al-Ḥusayn ibn Zayd ibn ‘Alī ibn Jaḥḥāf's work on the Islamic Calendar.

The Islamic calendar, Muslim calendar or Hijri calendar (AH) is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim-majority countries and determines the proper days on which to observe the annual fast (see Ramadan), to attend Hajj, and to celebrate other Islamic holidays and festivals.

Solar Hijri calendar

The Solar Hijri calendar, also called the Shamsi Hijri calendar, and abbreviated as SH, is the official calendar of Iran and Afghanistan. It begins on the vernal equinox. Each of the twelve months corresponds with a zodiac sign. The first six months have 31 days, the next five have 30 days, and the last month has 29 days in usual years but 30 days in leap years. The year of Prophet Muhammad's migration to Medina (622 CE) is fixed as the first year of the calendar, and the New Year's Day always falls on the March equinox.

Contemporary developments

Museum Islamic Art Doha 3470122137 354168dabf

Ceiling with Islamic patterns at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha.

Flag of the Red Crescent

The Red Crescent is recognized in 33 countries.

Ahmed Salim, launch of 1001 Inventions in Sweden 2013

1001 Inventions project and its director Ahmed Salim.

Silk route

By the medieval era most of the countries on the Silk Road were Muslim majority.

Muhammad yunus at weforum

Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Prize, for his concepts in Microcredit and Microfinance.

As of 2015 Islam has 1.8 billion adherents, making up over 24.1% of the world population.[9] Due to globalization, Islam today has taken root and influenced cultures in places far from the traditional boundaries of the Muslim world.[152]


Democracy and compulsion indexes

The Open Doors USA organization, in its 2012 survey of countries around the world that persecute Christians, listed 37 members of the Muslim world amongst the top 50 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution. 9 of the top 10 countries are Islamic-majority states.[153]

Religion and state

Muslim Constitution Religion
Muslim-majority countries classified by constitutional role for religion.
  State religion
  Secular state
  Unclear / No declaration

As the Muslim world came into contact with secular ideals, societies responded in different ways. Some Muslim-majority countries are secular. Azerbaijan became the first secular republic in the Muslim world, between 1918 and 1920, before it was incorporated into the Soviet Union.[154][155][156] Turkey has been governed as a secular state since the reforms of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.[157] By contrast, the 1979 Iranian Revolution replaced a mostly secular regime with an Islamic republic led by the Ayatollah, Ruhollah Khomeini.[158]

Some countries have declared Islam as the official state religion. In those countries, the legal code is largely secular. Only personal status matters pertaining to inheritance and marriage are governed by Sharia law.

Islamic states

Islamic states have adopted Islam as the ideological foundation of state and constitution.

State religion

The following Muslim-majority nation-states have endorsed Islam as their state religion.

Unclear or no declaration

These are neutral states where the constitutional or official announcement regarding status of religion is not clear or unstated.

Secular states

Secular states in the Muslim world have declared separation between civil/government affairs and religion.

Law and ethics

Use of Sharia by country
Use of Sharia by country:
  Sharia plays no role in the judicial system
  Sharia applies in personal status issues only
  Sharia applies in full, including criminal law
  Regional variations in the application of sharia

In some nations, Muslim ethnic groups enjoy considerable autonomy.

In some places, Muslims implement Islamic law, called sharia in Arabic. The Islamic law exists in a number of variations, but the main forms are the five (four Sunni and one Shia) and Salafi and Ibadi schools of jurisprudence (fiqh)

  • Hanafi school in Pakistan, North India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, other Balkan States, Lower Egypt, Spain, Canada, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Russia, Caucasus Republics, China, Central Asian Republics, European Union, other countries of North and South America.
  • Maliki in North Africa, West Africa, Sahel, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
  • Shafi'i in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Eritrea, Somalia, Yemen, Maldives, Sri Lanka and South India
  • Hanbali in Saudi Arabia,
  • Jaferi in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Azerbaijan. These four are the only "Muslim states" where the majority is Shia population. In Yemen, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, and Syria, are countries with Sunni populations. In Lebanon, the majority Muslims (54%) were about equally divided between Sunni and Shia in 2010.
  • Ibadi in Oman and small regions in North Africa

In a number of Muslim-majority countries the law requires women to cover either their legs, shoulders and head, or the whole body apart from the face. In strictest forms, the face as well must be covered leaving just a mesh to see through. These hijab rules for dressing cause tensions, concerning particularly Muslims living in Western countries, where restrictions are considered both sexist and oppressive. Some Muslims oppose this charge, and instead declare that the media in these countries presses on women to reveal too much in order to be deemed attractive, and that this is itself sexist and oppressive.


Benazir bhutto 1988
Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan became the first woman elected to lead a Muslim-majority country.[209]

During much of the 20th century, the Islamic identity and the dominance of Islam on political issues have arguably increased during the early 21st century. The fast-growing interests of the Western world in Islamic regions, international conflicts and globalization have changed the influence of Islam on the world in contemporary history.[210]


Some people in Muslim-majority countries also see Islam manifested politically as Islamism.[211] Political Islam is powerful in some Muslim-majority countries. Islamic parties in Turkey, Pakistan and Algeria have taken power at the provincial level. Some in these movements call themselves Islamists, which also sometimes describes more militant Islamic groups. The relationships between these groups (in democratic countries there is usually at least one Islamic party) and their views of democracy are complex.

Some of these groups are accused of practicing Islamic terrorism.

Islam-based intergovernmental organizations

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is an inter-governmental organization grouping fifty-seven states. 49 are Muslim-majority countries, the others have significant Muslim minorities. The organization claims to be the collective voice of the Muslim world to safeguard the interest and ensure the progress and well-being of their peoples and those of other Muslims in the world over.


Kazakh wedding 3

A Kazakh wedding ceremony in a mosque

COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Een marabout gaat voor in het gebed tijdens een naamgevingsfeest TMnr 20018270

A group of marabouts – West African religious leaders and teachers of the Quran.

Muslim girls at Istiqlal Mosque jakarta

Muslim girls at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta

Chadian delegation

A tribal delegation in Chad

See also


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External links

A New Beginning

"A New Beginning" is the name of a speech delivered by United States President Barack Obama on 4 June 2009, from the Major Reception Hall at Cairo University in Egypt. Al-Azhar University co-hosted the event. The speech honors a promise Obama made during his presidential campaign to give a major address to Muslims from a Muslim capital during his first few months as president.White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated that Egypt was chosen because "it is a country that in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world." Egypt is considered a key player in the Middle East peace process as well as a major recipient of American military and economic aid. Reuters reporter Ross Colvin reported that the speech would attempt to mend the United States' relations with the Muslim world, which he wrote were "severely damaged" during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Arab Spring

The Arab Spring (Arabic: الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in late 2010. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living, beginning with protests in Tunisia (Noueihed, 2011; Maleki, 2011). In the news, social media has been heralded as the driving force behind the swift spread of revolution throughout the world, as new protests appear in response to success stories shared from those taking place in other countries (see Howard, 2011). In many countries, the governments have also recognized the importance of social media for organizing and have shut down certain sites or blocked Internet service entirely, especially in the times preceding a major rally (see The Telegraph, 2011). Governments have also scrutinized or suppressed discussion in those forums through accusing content creators of unrelated crimes or shutting down communication on specific sites or groups, such as through Facebook (Solomon, 2011; Seyid, 2011).The effects of the Tunisian Revolution spread strongly to five other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, where either the regime was toppled or major uprisings and social violence occurred, including riots, civil wars or insurgencies. Sustained street demonstrations took place in Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Iranian Khuzestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan. Minor protests occurred in Djibouti, Mauritania, the Palestinian National Authority, Saudi Arabia, and the Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. A major slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world is ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ an-niẓām ("the people want to bring down the regime").The wave of initial revolutions and protests faded by mid-2012, as many Arab Spring demonstrations were met with violent responses from authorities, as well as from pro-government militias, counter-demonstrators and militaries. These attacks were answered with violence from protestors in some cases.

Large-scale conflicts resulted: the Syrian Civil War; the Iraqi insurgency and the following civil war; the Egyptian Crisis, coup, and subsequent unrest and insurgency; the Libyan Civil War; and the Yemeni Crisis and following civil war.A power struggle continued after the immediate response to the Arab Spring. While leadership changed and regimes were held accountable, power vacuums opened across the Arab world. Ultimately it resulted in a contentious battle between a consolidation of power by religious elites and the growing support for democracy in many Muslim-majority states. The early hopes that these popular movements would end corruption, increase political participation, and bring about greater economic equity quickly collapsed in the wake of the counter-revolutionary moves by foreign state actors in Yemen and of the Saudi-UAE-linked military deep state in Egypt, the regional and international military interventions in Bahrain and Yemen, and the destructive civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.Some have referred to the succeeding and still ongoing conflicts as the Arab Winter. As of May 2018, only the uprising in Tunisia has resulted in a transition to constitutional democratic governance.

Caste system among South Asian Muslims

Although Islam does not recognize any castes, Muslim communities in South Asia apply a system of social stratification. It developed as a result of ethnic segregation between the foreign conquerors (Ashraf) and the local converts (Ajlaf), as well as influence of the indigenous Hindu culture.


A fatwā (; Arabic: فتوى‎; plural fatāwā فتاوى) is a nonbinding legal opinion on a point of Islamic law (sharia) given by a qualified jurist in response to a question posed by a private individual, judge or government. A jurist issuing fatwas is called a mufti and the act of issuing fatwas is called iftāʾ. Fatwas have played an important role throughout Islamic history, taking on new forms in the modern era.Resembling jus respondendi in Roman law and rabbinic responsa, privately issued fatwas historically served to inform Muslim populations about Islam, advise courts on difficult points of Islamic law, and elaborate substantive law. In later times, public and political fatwas were issued to address doctrinal controversies, support policies of the government or articulate grievances of the population. During the era of European colonialism, fatwas played a part in mobilizing resistance to foreign domination.Muftis acted as independent scholars in the classical legal system. Over the centuries, Sunni muftis were gradually incorporated into state bureaucracies, while Shia jurists progressively asserted an autonomous authority starting from the early modern era.In the modern era, fatwas have reflected changing political, social and economic circumstances, and addressed concerns arising in varied Muslim communities. The spread of codified state laws and Western-style legal education in the modern Muslim world has displaced muftis from their traditional role of clarifying and elaborating the laws applied in courts. Instead, modern fatwas have increasingly served to advise the general public on other aspects of sharia, particularly questions regarding religious rituals and everyday life. Modern public fatwas have addressed and sometimes sparked controversies in the Muslim world, and some fatwas in recent decades have gained worldwide notoriety. The legal methodology of modern ifta often diverges from pre-modern practice, particularly so in the West.Emergence of modern media and universal education has transformed the traditional institution of ifta in various ways. While the proliferation of contemporary fatwas attests to the importance of Islamic authenticity to many Muslims, little research has been done to determine how much these fatwas affect the beliefs or behavior of the Muslim public.

Hartford Seminary

Hartford Seminary is a non-denominational theological college in Hartford, Connecticut.

History of slavery in the Muslim world

Slavery in the Muslim world first developed out of the slavery practices of pre-Islamic Arabia, and was at times radically different, depending on social-political factors such as the Arab slave trade. Throughout Islamic history, slaves served in various social and economic roles, from powerful emirs to harshly treated manual laborers. Early on in Muslim history they were used in plantation labor similar to that in the Americas, but this was abandoned after harsh treatment led to destructive slave revolts, the most notable being the Zanj Rebellion of 869–883. Slaves were widely employed in irrigation, mining, and animal husbandry, but the most common uses were as soldiers, guards, and domestic workers. Some rulers relied on military and administrative slaves to such a degree that the slaves were sometimes in a position to seize power. Among black slaves, there were roughly two females to every one male. Two rough estimates by scholars of the number of slaves held over twelve centuries in the Muslim world are 11.5 million and 14 million, while other estimates indicate a number between 12 to 15 million slaves prior to the 20th century.Manumission of a slave was encouraged as a way of expiating sins. Many early converts to Islam, such as Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habashi, were former slaves. In theory, slavery in Islamic law does not have a racial or color component, although this has not always been the case in practice. In 1990, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam declared that "no one has the right to enslave" another human being. Many slaves were often imported from outside the Muslim world. Bernard Lewis maintains that though slaves often suffered on the way before reaching their destination, they received good treatment and some degree of acceptance as members of their owners' households.The Arab slave trade was most active in West Asia, North Africa, and Southeast Africa. In the early 20th century (post-World War I), slavery was gradually outlawed and suppressed in Muslim lands, largely due to pressure exerted by Western nations such as Britain and France. Slavery in the Ottoman Empire was abolished in 1924 when the new Turkish Constitution disbanded the Imperial Harem and made the last concubines and eunuchs free citizens of the newly proclaimed republic. Slavery in Iran was abolished in 1929. Among the last states to abolish slavery were Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which abolished slavery in 1962 under pressure from Britain; Oman in 1970; and Mauritania in 1905, 1981, and again in August 2007. However, slavery claiming the sanction of Islam is documented at present in the predominantly Islamic countries of the Sahel, and is also practiced in territories controlled by Islamist rebel groups, as in Libya.


Ijmāʿ (Arabic: إجماع‎) is an Arabic term referring to the consensus or agreement of the Muslim scholars basically on religious issues. Various schools of thought within Islamic jurisprudence may define this consensus to be that of the first generation of Muslims only; or the consensus of the first three generations of Muslims; or the consensus of the jurists and scholars of the Muslim world, or scholarly consensus; or the consensus of all the Muslim world, both scholars and laymen.


Islam () is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah), and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, unique and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative example (called the sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570 – 8 June 632 CE).

Muslims believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets including Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Muslims consider the Quran in its Arabic to be the unaltered and final revelation of God. Like other Abrahamic religions, Islam also teaches a final judgment with the righteous rewarded paradise and unrighteous punished in hell. Religious concepts and practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law (sharia), which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment. The cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are home to the three holiest sites in Islam.Aside from the theological narrative, Islam is historically believed to have originated in the early 7th century CE in Mecca, and by the 8th century the Umayyad Islamic Caliphate extended from Iberia in the west to the Indus River in the east. The Islamic Golden Age refers to the period traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 13th century, during the Abbasid Caliphate, when much of the historically Muslim world was experiencing a scientific, economic and cultural flourishing. The expansion of the Muslim world involved various caliphates, such as the Ottoman Empire, traders and conversion to Islam by missionary activities (dawah).Most Muslims are of one of two denominations; Sunni (85–90%) or Shia (10–15%). About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country, 31% of Muslims live in South Asia, the largest population of Muslims in the world, 20% in the Middle East–North Africa, where it is the dominant religion, and 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sizeable Muslim communities are also found in the Americas, the Caucasus, Central Asia, China, Europe, Mainland Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and Russia. Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world.

Islam and slavery

Islam and slavery or Islamic slave trade may refer to:

Islamic views on slavery in theology/jurisprudence

History of slavery under Muslim rule

Arab slave trade

Slavery in the Ottoman Empire

contemporary slavery in the Muslim world

Slavery in 21st century Islamism

Slavery in modern Africa

Slavery in Libya

Slavery in Mauritania

Slavery in Sudan

Slavery in Somalia

Slavery in Iran

Islamic attitudes towards science

Muslim scholars have developed a spectrum of viewpoints on science within the context of Islam. The Quran exhorts Muslims to study nature and investigate the truth. Muslims often cite verse 239 from Surah Al-Baqara – He has taught you what you did not know – in support of their view that the Quran promotes the acquisition of new knowledge. For some Muslim writers, the study of science stems from Tawhid.Scientists of medieval Muslim civilization (e.g. Ibn al-Haytham) made many contributions to modern science. This fact is celebrated in the Muslim world today. At the same time, concerns have been raised about the lack of scientific literacy in parts of the modern Muslim world.Some Muslim writers have claimed that the Quran made prescient statements about scientific phenomena that were later confirmed by scientific research for instance as regards to the structure of the embryo, our solar system, and the creation of the universe.

Islamic–Jewish relations

Islamic–Jewish relations started in the 7th century AD with the origin and spread of Islam in the Arabian peninsula. The two religions share similar values, guidelines, and principles. Islam also incorporates Jewish history as a part of its own. Muslims regard the Children of Israel as an important religious concept in Islam. Moses, the most important prophet of Judaism, is also considered a prophet and messenger in Islam. Moses is mentioned in the Quran more than any other individual, and his life is narrated and recounted more than that of any other prophet. There are approximately 43 references to the Israelites in the Quran (excluding individual prophets), and many in the Hadith. Later rabbinic authorities and Jewish scholars such as Maimonides discussed the relationship between Islam and Jewish law. Maimonides himself, it has been argued, was influenced by Islamic legal thought.Because Islam and Judaism share a common origin in the Middle East through Abraham, both are considered Abrahamic religions. There are many shared aspects between Judaism and Islam; Islam was strongly influenced by Judaism in its fundamental religious outlook, structure, jurisprudence and practice. Because of this similarity, as well as through the influence of Muslim culture and philosophy on the Jewish community within the Islamic world, there has been considerable and continued physical, theological, and political overlap between the two faiths in the subsequent 1,400 years. Notably, the first Islamic Waqf was donated by a Jew, Rabbi Mukhayriq. And in 1027, a Jew, Samuel ibn Naghrillah, became top advisor and military general of the Taifa of Granada.


Islamism is a concept whose meaning has been debated in both public and academic contexts. The term can refer to diverse forms of social and political activism advocating that public and political life should be guided by Islamic principles or more specifically to movements which call for full implementation of sharia. It is commonly used interchangeably with the terms political Islam or Islamic fundamentalism. In academic usage, the term Islamism does not specify what vision of "Islamic order" or sharia are being advocated, or how their advocates intend to bring them about. In Western mass media it tends to refer to groups whose aim is to establish a sharia-based Islamic state, often with implication of violent tactics and human rights violations, and has acquired connotations of political extremism. In the Muslim world, the term has positive connotations among its proponents.Different currents of Islamist thought include advocating a "revolutionary" strategy of Islamizing society through exercise of state power, and alternately a "reformist" strategy to re-Islamizing society through grass-roots social and political activism. Islamists may emphasize the implementation of sharia (Islamic law); pan-Islamic political unity, including an Islamic state; or selective removal of non-Muslim, particularly Western military, economic, political, social, or cultural influences in the Muslim world that they believe to be incompatible with Islam.Graham Fuller has argued for a broader notion of Islamism as a form of identity politics, involving "support for [Muslim] identity, authenticity, broader regionalism, revivalism, [and] revitalization of the community." Some authors hold the term "Islamic activism" to be synonymous and preferable to "Islamism", and Rached Ghannouchi writes that Islamists prefer to use the term "Islamic movement" themselves.Central and prominent figures in twentieth-century Islamism include Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Abul Ala Maududi, and Ruhollah Khomeini. Most Islamist thinkers emphasize peaceful political processes, which are supported by the majority of contemporary Islamists. Others, Sayyid Qutb in particular, called for violence, and his followers are generally considered Islamic extremists, although Qutb denounced the killing of innocents.

According to Robin Wright, Islamist movements have "arguably altered the Middle East more than any trend since the modern states gained independence", redefining "politics and even borders". Following the Arab Spring, some Islamist currents became heavily involved in democratic politics, while others spawned "the most aggressive and ambitious Islamist militia" to date, ISIS.

Liberalism and progressivism within Islam

Liberalism and progressivism within Islam involve professed Muslims who have produced a considerable body of liberal thought on the re-interpretation and reform of Islamic understanding and practice. Their work is sometimes characterized as "progressive Islam" (Arabic: الإسلام التقدمي‎ al-Islām at-taqaddumī); some regard progressive Islam and liberal Islam as two distinct movements.The methodologies of liberal or progressive Islam rest on the interpretation and re-interpretation of traditional Islamic scripture (the Quran) and other texts (such as the Hadith), a process called ijtihad (see below). This can vary from the slight to the most liberal, where only the meaning of the Quran is considered to be a revelation, with its expression in words seen as the work of the prophet Muhammad in his particular time and context. As a consequence, liberal/progressive Muslims may then interpret verses from the Quran allegorically or even set them aside.

Some liberal Muslims see themselves as returning to the principles of the early Ummah and to a claimed ethical and pluralistic intent of the Quran. They distance themselves from some traditional and less liberal interpretations of Islamic law which they regard as culturally based and without universal applicability. The reform movement uses monotheism (tawhid) "as an organizing principle for human society and the basis of religious knowledge, history, metaphysics, aesthetics, and ethics, as well as social, economic and world order".

List of inventions in the medieval Islamic world

The following is a list of inventions made in the medieval Islamic world, especially during the "Islamic Golden Age" (8th to 13th centuries), as well as the late medieval period, especially in the Emirate of Granada and the Ottoman Empire.

Science and technology in the Islamic world adopted and preserved knowledge and technologies from contemporary and earlier civilizations, including Persia, India, China, and Greco-Roman antiquity, while making a number of improvements and innovations.


Mullah (; Arabic: ملا‎, Azerbaijani: Molla, Persian: ملا‎ / Mollâ, Turkish: Molla, Bengali: মোল্লা) is derived from the Arabic word مَوْلَى mawlā, meaning "vicar", "master" and "guardian". However, used ambiguously in the Quran, some publishers have described its usage as a religious title as inappropriate. The term is sometimes applied to a Muslim man or woman, educated in Islamic theology and sacred law. In large parts of the Muslim world, particularly Iran, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Eastern Arabia, Turkey and the Balkans, Central Asia, the Horn of Africa and South Asia, it is the name commonly given to local Islamic clerics or mosque leaders.The title has also been used in some Sephardic Jewish communities to refer to the community's leadership, especially religious leadership.The term mullah is primarily understood in the Muslim world as a term of respect for an educated religious man.

Muslim World League

The Muslim World League (Rabitat al-Alam al-Islami, Arabic: رابطة العالم الاسلامي‎, Arabic pronunciation: [ra:bitˤat al ʕa:lami al isla:mij]) is Pan-Islamic NGO based in Makkah, Saudi Arabia that propagates Islamic teachings. The NGO was funded by the Saudi government from its inception in 1962, with that contribution growing to approximately $13 million by 1980. Because of the Saudi funding, the League is widely regarded as promoting Wahhabism. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam says that "the group has acted as a mouthpiece for the Saudi Arabian government, which finances it."Abdallah Ben Abdel Mohsen At-Turki is the General Secretary. The organization propagates the religion of Islam, encouraging Dawah and conversion of non-Muslims, and promotes apologetics against criticism of Islam. The organization funds the construction of mosques, financial reliefs for Muslims afflicted by natural disasters, the distribution of copies of the Quran, and political tracts on Muslim minority groups. The League says that they reject all acts of violence and promote dialogue with the people of other cultures, within their understanding of Sharia, but they are no strangers to controversy, having been the subject of several ongoing counterterrorism investigations in the U.S. related to Hamas, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.The League founded the International Islamic Relief Organization in 1978.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC; Arabic: منظمة التعاون الإسلامي‎; French: Organisation de la coopération islamique) is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states, with a collective population of over 1.8 billion as of 2015 with 40 countries being Muslim Majority countries. The organisation states that it is "the collective voice of the Muslim world" and works to "safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony".The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union. The official languages of the OIC are Arabic, English, and French.

Science in the medieval Islamic world

Science in the medieval Islamic world was the science developed and practised during the Islamic Golden Age under the Umayyads of Córdoba, the Abbadids of Seville, the Samanids, the Ziyarids, the Buyids in Persia, the Abbasid Caliphate and beyond, spanning the period c. 800 to 1250. Islamic scientific achievements encompassed a wide range of subject areas, especially astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. Other subjects of scientific inquiry included alchemy and chemistry, botany, geography and cartography, ophthalmology, pharmacology, physics, and zoology.

Medieval Islamic science had practical purposes as well as the goal of understanding. For example, astronomy was useful for determining the Qibla, the direction in which to pray, botany had practical application in agriculture, as in the works of Ibn Bassal and Ibn al-'Awwam, and geography enabled Abu Zayd al-Balkhi to make accurate maps. Islamic mathematicians such as al-Khwarizmi, Avicenna and Jamshīd al-Kāshī developed methods in algebra, geometry and trigonometry. Islamic doctors described diseases like smallpox and measles and challenged classical Greek medical theory. Al-Biruni, Avicenna and others described the preparation of hundreds of drugs made from medicinal plants and chemical compounds. Islamic physicists studied optics and mechanics (as well as astronomy) and criticised Aristotle's view of motion.

The significance of medieval Islamic science has been debated by historians. The traditionalist view holds that it lacked innovation, and was mainly important for handing on ancient knowledge to medieval Europe. The revisionist view holds that it constituted a scientific revolution. Whatever the case, science flourished across a wide area around the Mediterranean and further afield, for several centuries, in a wide range of institutions.


Ustād (abbreviated as Ust., Ut. or Ud.; from Persian استاد) is an honorific title for a man used in the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is used in various languages of the Muslim World, including Persian, Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Pashto, Turkish, Indonesian, Malay and Kurdish.

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