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About Islam

Islam is the second largest religion in the world

Islam has over 1.8 billion followers. It is an Abrahamic monotheistic, (belief in one God), based faith and was spread by the Prophet Muhammad in 7th Century Saudi Arabia. The word Islam literally means ‘submission’ to the will of God. Followers of Islam are called Muslims.

Muslims believe Islam was revealed over 1400 years ago in the city of Mecca, Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad was 40 years old when he was commanded by God (Allah), through his angel Gabriel, to declare his oneness to the idolaters and polytheists of the whole world and to deliver the message of peace to an embattled humanity. These revelations through the angel Gabriel appeared to Prophet Muhammad during the course of over 20 years revealing to him many messages from God.

    Muslims Believe In One God

    Muslims believe God sent many prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to His law. Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham and Jesus are respected by Muslims as some of the important Prophets of God. However, in Islam Prophet Muhammad is the final of the law bearing Prophets sent by God to convey the divine message to the whole world.

    Muslims base their laws on the holy book “The Quran” and the Sunnah which basically means “The Prophet’s way”. The Sunnah is made up of the words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, collected in the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet). Muslims believe the Sunnah is the practical example of Prophet Muhammad and that there are five basic Pillars of Islam. These pillars are the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving money to charity, fasting, and at least once in a Muslims lifetime, a pilgrimage to Mecca, if affordable.

    There Is Life After Death

    Islam teaches a final judgment in the afterlife where God will reward the righteous to paradise and unrighteous will be placed in hell.

    In total there are seventy three sects in Islam, however, the two major sects are, Sunni and Shia. Sunni Islam is the main Islamic practice which makes up 75%–90% of all Muslims of the Muslim world. Sunni Muslims believe they follow the original teachings of Prophet Muhammad and accept the chain of leadership established after the death of the Prophet by his companions and the subsequent dynasties.

    Most Sunni Muslims follow one of four ‘Schools of Thought’ (Madhaahib). These ‘Schools of Thought’ are named after the scholars who founded them. Different parts of the Muslim world tend to follow one Madhhab or another:

    1. Imam Abu Hanifa (Hanifite School of Thought) – mostly in Indian sub-continent though has spread due to the Indian diaspora)
    2. Imam Maalik (Maliki School of Thought – Mostly in West Africa)
    3. Imam Shafi’ (Shaafi School of Thought – Mostly in East Africa and South East Asia)
    4. Imam Hanbali (Hanbali School of Thought – Mostly in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates)

    *( – Abu Ibrahim)

    Shia Islam is the second major sect of Islam. Muslims who follow the Shia interpretation of Islam are called Shi’ites. They make up between 10-15% of the Muslim world. Shia’s believe that Prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib, as his successor and only certain descendants of Ali could be Imams. As a result, they believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib was the first Imam (leader), rejecting the legitimacy of the previous Muslim Caliphs Abu Bakr, Uthman ibn al-Affan and Umar ibn al-Khattab.

    Sufism - A Mystical Form of Islam

    Sufism is Islamic mysticism (Tassawuf), the inward dimension of Islam (Martin Lings). Although Sufism is not a sect of Islam it is more accurately described as an aspect or dimension of Islam. Sufi orders (Tariqas) can be found in Sunni, Shia and other Islamic groups (Titus Burckhardt & Seyyed Hossein Nasr). Sufis make it clear that Islamic knowledge should be learned from teachers and not just from books alone. Tariqas can trace their teachers back through the generations to the Prophet himself.

    Origin Of UK Muslims

    The first groups of Muslims to come to the UK in large numbers were sailors in the 18th century, mainly from the Bengal region. However, in the 16th Century, Muslims from North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia had been present in London.

    Migration to Britain of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis originated due to the colonisation of India. Many soldiers who had joined the British army in World War II were posted to the British Isles, where some of them began to settle there. These numbers increased significantly after the partition of India. Also, the increase in demand for unskilled labour in British industries played a part in mass immigration.