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Islam (/ˈɪslɑːm/) 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 24.1% of the global population, 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 mankind 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 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 viewpoint, 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 and empires, traders and conversion to Islam by missionary activities (dawah). Read more...

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Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic holy place in the Old City of Jerusalem. The mosque itself forms part of the al-Haram ash-Sharif or "Sacred Noble Sanctuary", a site also known as the Temple Mount and considered the holiest site in Judaism, since it is believed to be where the Temple in Jerusalem once stood. Widely considered, mainly by Sunni Muslims, as the third holiest site in Islam, Muslims believe that prophet Muhammad was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to al-Aqsa during the Night Journey. Islamic tradition holds that Muhammad led prayers towards this site until the seventeenth month after the emigration, when he turned towards the Ka'aba. The al-Aqsa Mosque was originally a small prayer house built by the Rashidun caliph Umar, but was rebuilt and expanded by the Ummayad caliph Abd al-Malik and finished by his son al-Walid in 705 CE. After an earthquake in 746, the mosque was completely destroyed and rebuilt by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur in 754, and again rebuilt by his successor al-Mahdi in 780. Another earthquake destroyed most of al-Aqsa in 1033, but two years later the Fatimid caliph Ali az-Zahir built another mosque which has stood to the present-day. When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, they used the mosque as a palace and church, but its function as a mosque was restored after its recapture by Saladin. Today, the Old City is under Israeli sovereignty, but the mosque remains under the administration of the Palestinian-led Islamic waqf.

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Palestinian costume
Credit: American Colony (Jerusalem) Photo Depart.

A young woman from Ramallah, c. 1898-1914. Until the 1940s, women of Palestine wore elaborate handcrafted garments. The creation and maintenance of these items played a significant role in their lives. A knowledgeable observer could determine a woman's village of origin and social status from her clothing. The circular band near this woman's forehead is a ring of coins made from a portion of her dowry money, and indicates that she is unmarried.

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Twin towers of the World Trade Center burning

Islam in the news

22 September 2018 – 2018 Ahvaz military parade attack
Four unknown gunmen, wearing military uniforms, open fire during a military parade to commemorate the Iran–Iraq War in Ahvaz, Khuzestan, Iran, killing 25 people and wounding up to 60. Both the Islamic State and Ahvaz National Resistance claim responsibility. (Reuters)
21 September 2018 – Islamist insurgency in Mozambique
Twelve villagers are killed and 14 are wounded in an attack by Ansar al-Sunna on a village in northern Mozambique. (News24)
19 September 2018 – Panama Papers case
Islamabad High Court suspends the NAB accountability court sentences and orders the release of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar Awan. However, the convictions remain standing. (Al-Jazeera)
7 September 2018 – Syrian Civil War
The presidents of Russia and Iran disagree with the Turkish president's proposal for a ceasefire in Idlib after meeting in Tehran, because it would not include the Islamist militants those nations aim to defeat. (Reuters)
28 August 2018 – Moro conflict
A suspected improvised explosive device planted by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters explodes at a town festival in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines, killing two people and injuring 35 others. (Rappler)

Selected biography

Wail al-Shehri (July 31, 1973 – September 11, 2001) was an al-Qaeda associate and hijacker on American Airlines Flight 11, which was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center as part of the September 11 attacks. Shehri was an elementary school teacher from Khamis Mushait in the Asir region of Saudi Arabia. In early 2000 he traveled to Medina to seek treatment for mental issues. He and his younger brother Waleed traveled to Afghanistan in March 2000 and joined an Al-Qaeda training camp. The brothers were chosen, along with others from the same region of Saudi Arabia, to participate in the September 11 attacks. Once selected, Shehri returned to Saudi Arabia in October 2000 to obtain a clean passport, then returned to Afghanistan. In March 2001, he recorded his last will and testament on video. Shehri arrived in the United States in early June 2001, staying in budget motels in the Boynton Beach area of south Florida. On September 5, 2001, Shehri traveled to Boston and checked into a motel with his brother. Six days later, Shehri arrived early in the morning at Boston's Logan International Airport and boarded American Airlines Flight 11. Fifteen minutes after take off, the flight was hijacked and deliberately crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.

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The elite are the men of religion, political leaders, media and press people, and teachers. Everyone can understand the truth and know what is right. These have the responsibility of showing this right and truth to the people. They should not remain silent....It is the responsibility of people to look for right and truth. As they hear me now, they should not accept everything I say. Even the masses of Hezbollah and the resistance should not do so....Forget what my faith is and what yours is. Hear what I say and see what I do and hear what others say and see what they do, and then decide.

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