Islam could very well be listed as the fastest growing religion in the world
today. Estimates of its followers (Muslims) range from a conservative
800 million to 1.5 billion worldwide. This means that about 1 out of
every 5 people on Earth is a Muslim. This population extends to 40
countries on 3 continents.
There are 2 major sects of Islam - the Sunnis make up 80- 90% of the
Muslim population and the Shiites comprise the rest. The Shia is a sect of
all which broke off from the main body of Muslims in the 7th century
(which they call their 1st century). The division arose over a dispute that
concerned the succession of leadership after Mohammed's death. The
Shiites favored Mohammed's son-in-law and nephew: All believed that
the caliph should have divine appointment and not be elected by men.
The 2nd disagreement for the Shiites concerned the Doctrine of lmam.
An Imam is a divinely appointed leader that will guide the people. New
ones appear from time to time as they are needed. Throughout the
history of Islam, numerous men have claimed this position. The Sunnis
believe that the Imam is just the leader of the Friday night prayer service
and nothing more.
The Sunniites make up the majority of the population in countries such
as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. The Shiites populate Iran, Iraq,
Lebanon, and parts of Africa and are the fundamentalists that we hear
about so often on the news. They are also very active in the war for the
Both conservative and fundamentalist Muslims believe in a jihad, or Holy
War. There are different interpretations of what a Jihad really is:
Conservatives consider the Jihad to be a spiritual war, while the
fundamentalists see it as literal.
There are also cults that have arisen from Islam such as the Baha'is. It is
the group's goal to unite all religions under their prophet, Baha'u'lah. He
has many similar claims to the Muslims' prophet Mohammed, one of
which is being the comforter and successor to Christ.
Other Islam-based cults or offshoots of Islam include the Sufis (mystics),
and the Druze (Shiite mystics). In addition, there are the Black Muslims
who belong to the Nation of Islam, led by Louis Farrakhan.
Although a majority of Arabs are Muslims, not all Muslims are Arabs.
We are probably familiar with certain Arab countries that are Islamic, but
are not so familiar with the many non-Arab countries that are comprised
of a Muslim majority. Here are some examples: Indonesia (pop. 195.6
million; 87% Muslim), Sumatra (pop. 1.8 million; 99% Muslim), Turkey
(99.8% Muslim), Yemen (99.9% Muslim), Afghanistan (pop. 18 million;
99% Muslim), Central Africa (Chad 90%; Sudan - 70%; Nigeria - 40%),
Pakistan (97% Muslim), Bangladesh (85% Muslim - Note: These non-
Arab countries are equal in Muslim population to Arab Muslim
countries), and Iraq (pop. 22.4 million; 95.4% Muslim).
The above-mentioned are just a few statistics to demonstrate Islam's
great influence throughout the world. Almost 1/5 or more of the people
on earth are Islamic.
In the United States, there are anywhere from 6 to 8 million Muslims.
There are presently more Muslims than there are Episcopalians and
Methodists, with 1500 mosques (Muslim temples) throughout America.
Islam first made its way onto American soil in 1860 with Syrian and
Lebanese immigrants. In the last 20 years, Islam has seen tremendous
Islam is promoted strongly on college campuses. One-fifth of more than
400,000 international students in the U.S. comes from Islamic countries.
We have 80,000 Muslims currently attending our universities.
In the U.S. Armed Forces there are approximately 10,000 Muslims. In
1993, the army needed to commission a Muslim chaplain to care for its
needs. This is a conflict in their religion since the majority of Shiite
Muslims consider Americans to be satanic. But the majority that are here
in America are Sunni, and very conservative and would even be
considered liberals to the rest of the Muslims in other countries
throughout the world.
Why has Islam come to America and how has it grown so much in so
little time? The Muslims believe it is their duty to evangelize the world
with what they consider to be the last prophet's message. In their view,
Mohammed was the final revelation to all mankind. Muslims pray 17
prayers five times a day. They will fast almost a whole day for nearly a
month during their religious period called Ramadan. This is a celebration
of Allah in which they thank him for the Koran.
What are the tenets of the Islamic faith ? A true Muslim must accept 5
main articles of faith. These are known as The Shahada (witness) :
lst Article: Belief in Allah as the one true God. This is a strict, numerical
monotheism. A Muslim looks at the Judeo-Christian view of a unity in
the Godhead with contempt.
2nd Article: Belief in angels as instruments of God's will. Mohammed
allegedly received his revelation from the angel Gabriel.
3rd Article: Belief in the 4 inspired books - the Torah (5 books of
Moses), the Zabur (the psalms), the lnjil (the gospel), and the final
revelation, the Koran.
Muslims claim that the Koran has been kept perfectly unlike the Christian
Bible. While they claim to respect the Bible, they also believe that it has
been corrupted. The Muslims make incredible claims about their writings
and will always compare our Bible to the Koran for testing the truth.
However, many of their claims cannot be substantiated and scholars have
decidedly proven them untrue.
4th Article: Belief in the 28 prophets of Allah, Mohammed being the last
and the greatest.
According to Islam, there are 124,000 prophets (Note: No one has ever
seen the listing of names) which comprised the history of the human
race, but there are 28 main prophets which include : Adam, Noah,
Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus. Jesus is viewed as just another
prophet in line with the others.
5th Article: Belief in a final Day of Judgment.
Only those who obey Allah and his prophet can enter into Heaven. All
others will be sent to Hell.
So, if one wants to become a Muslim they need to say The Shahada,
bearing witness that there is no God but Allah. The Islamic believer must
perform good works which will be weighed at the end of his/her life. If
Allah is graceful and merciful, the Muslim will enter Heaven. However,
the Koran teaches that Allah is arbitrary in passing out his mercy, and no
one has any guarantee of making it. The only sure way to make it to
Heaven is if the Muslim dies in a Jihad. Only then will they go directly to
Heaven. This is their only assurance for salvation. This explains why so
many Muslims willingly give their lives in terroristic acts for their cause.
There are also 5 obligations that are required for a Muslim -- to pray,
fast, give alms (“shakat” - 2.5% of their income), recite the Shahada
while praying, and to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (the “Haaj”) at
least once in their lifetime. As they pray, they must face towards Mecca
and bow their faces to the ground. While Christians meet on Sundays and
Jews meet on Saturdays, the Muslims meet on Fridays.
The word “Islam” means "submission to God”, although it did not
originally mean this. Dr. M. Braumann, a Middle East scholar, states in
his book The Spiritual Background of Early Islam that Islam originally
referred to “that strength which characterized a desert warrior who, when
faced with impossible odds, would fight even to the death of his tribe.”
Who is Jesus to a Muslim, and what do they believe about Him?
According to Islam, Jesus is a prophet in line with many other prophets.
Sura 43:59 states “Jesus was no more than a mortal whom Allah favored
and made an example to the Israelites." Muslims think Christians believe
in three gods and that the trinity consists of father, mother and the son.
Everything Muslims understand about Jesus is wrong because of the
incorrect teaching from the Koran. They also claim that Jesus was taken
to heaven alive because God does not allow true prophets to be killed. If
Jesus is a true prophet to them, how could his teachings completely
contradict the Koran and His own? It is not possible. How could Allah
favor Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God and the only way to
The fact is that Muslims simply embrace what they believe because they
want to believe they are the "chosen people" rather than seeking out the
truth. Jesus' offer is for all people who come to him, including repentant
Muslims. The Koran instructs their own to kill Jews and Christians. Who
would you want to follow?
According to Islam, Jesus was the Word spoken, not the Word as God.
For this reason, the Muslims call Jesus the Spirit of God, but this term
also does not mean he was God Himself according to the Islamic
interpretation. They believe Jesus lived a sinless life without fault,
performed miracles, and ascended bodily into Heaven.
What Islam excludes is the very purpose that Jesus came for which is to
die for the sins of the whole world. Muslims refuse to believe this since
the Koran says that someone else took His place on the cross. According
to Islam, God only kills false prophets so Jesus could not have been
crucified. Since all false prophets are killed or die, this eliminates not only
Jesus' death but His resurrection as well. It only stands to reason that
since Mohammed was not killed, he was not a false prophet in the eyes
of a Muslim.