Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice

Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice

Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice

Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice


An introductory guide to the important elements of the world's largest religion, including the Quran, the Pillars of Faith, and the life of Muhammad, as well as Islamic history, customs and rituals, and contributions to world culture.

• Introductory section provides extensive background and context

• Frequent subheads maximize organization and ease of reading

• Provides a helpful bibliography referencing print and online sources for further reading


Islam is a worldwide religion. About one out of every five people on earth is a Muslim. In other words, there are about as many Muslims as there are people living in China. Islam is the second-largest and fastest-growing religion on earth. (This fact alone explains why understanding Islam is critical for everyone.)

Estimations of the total number of Muslims range from 0.8 to 1.3 billion worldwide and from 1.1 to 7 million in the United States. About 70 percent of Muslims live in Asia, and most of the rest live in Africa. Only 10 percent of Muslims are Arabic, and only a quarter of them live in the Middle East. Muslims represent the majority in 56 countries around the world, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Nigeria. There are about 44 Islamic nations, and Muslims constitute a substantial minority in countries such as France, the United States, and India. It is already the second-largest faith in Canada and Europe; it will soon be the second-largest in the United States as well. In fact, since 1971, the Muslim population of the United States has increased sixfold. Its growth rate in the United States has been estimated at 6 percent a year—compared to the national average of 0.9 percent. And it’s a young religion: about two-thirds of Muslims in the United States are under 40 years old, whereas in the rest of the population, two-thirds are over 40 years old.

In the wake of World War II, many European and American Muslims came to the West in search of economic opportunities. Europe, especially, was short on labor. (Muslims were already established in the Balkans.) . . .

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