What is Islam?

Islam is a monotheistic, or single-god, religion based on the 7th century CE teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

Muslims believe that Muhammad received these teachings in Arabic directly from God, via the Angel Gabriel.  The words were later written down to form the Qur’an (kor-AHN), Islam’s sacred text.  The Arabic word islam means “submission,” reflecting the religion’s central belief in submitting to the will of God.

 Islamic practices are defined by the Five Pillars of Islam:

- faith in God and his prophet Muhammad 
- daily prayer
- giving of alms, or charitable donations 
- fasting during the month of Ramadan, and
- if possible, at least one pilgrimage, or journey, to Mecca, where Muhammad received the words of God. 

The Star and Crescent, commonly used today as a symbol of Islam, comes from the 17th century Ottoman Empire.