Islam is the world’s second biggest religion after Christianity with 1.2 billion followers across the planet.

There are up to 2.6 million Muslims in the UK. Most come from India or Pakistan, or are descendants from immigrants from those countries.

An Arabic word, Islam means surrendering oneself to the will of God, achieving peace and security by doing so.

FAMILY life, law and order, ethics, dress, and cleanliness are all governed by the social and legal systems provided by Islam.

THE countries with the largest Islamic populations are in Asia and include Indonesia (170million), Pakistan (136million), Bangladesh (105 million) and India (103million).

SAUDI Arabia is home to Islam’s two holiest places, Mecca and Medina. A pilgrimage to Mecca is expected to be carried out by all physically able Muslims at least once in their life.

IN Islam there is only one God – Allah. Allah’s last prophet was Muhammad, a man through whom God revealed his will. Muslims revere Muhammad but do not worship him.

MUHAMMAD was not only a religious leader but a political leader too. He did not, however, found Islam. Which was created by Allah at the beginning of time? Earlier prophets include Adam, who is believed to be the first Muslim, Noah, Abraham and Moses.

MUSLIMS are guided in following Allah’s will by the holy book; the Qur’an (Koran) which they believe is the unaltered word of God. They believe the words were dictated to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel.

EVERY Muslim must perform the Five Pillars of Islam. They are: Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith Salat, a prayer ritual performed five times a day by all Muslims over the age of 10; Sawm, abstaining each day during Ramadan, the ninth Muslim month; Zakat, giving alms to the poor; and Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

THE Muslim place of worship is called a mosque. The word comes from the Arabic for “place of prostration”.

FOR one month each year Muslims fast as part of a special time for prayer and self-examination, known as Ramadan.

JIHAD is the Muslim word for struggle


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