Muslims (Redirected from Muslim)

Prayer in Cairo (1865)
Jean-Léon Gérôme
Total population
c. 1.9 billion
(25% of the global population)Increase
(Worldwide, 2020 Pew Research Center)
Regions with significant populations
80–90% Sunni Islam
10–20% Shia Islam
~1% Ahmadiyya
~1% Other Islamic traditions (Ibadi Islam, Quranism, etc.)
Arabic (also Sacred), Bengali, Urdu, Indonesian, Persian, other South Asian languages, African languages, Southeast Asian languages, Turkic languages, Iranian languages, and other Muslim world languages

Muslims (Arabic: المسلمون, romanizedal-Muslimūn, lit.'submitters [to God]') are people who adhere to Islam, a monotheistic religion belonging to the Abrahamic tradition. They consider the Quran, the foundational religious text of Islam, to be the verbatim word of the God of Abraham (or Allah) as it was revealed to Muhammad, the main Islamic prophet. Alongside the Quran, Muslims also believe in previous revelations, such as the Tawrat (Torah), the Zabur (Psalms), and the Injeel (Gospel). These earlier revelations are associated with Judaism and Christianity, which are regarded by Muslims as earlier versions of Islam. The majority of Muslims also follow the teachings and practices attributed to Muhammad (sunnah) as recorded in traditional accounts (hadith).

With an estimated population of almost 1.9 billion followers as of 2020 year estimation, Muslims comprise around 25% of the world's total population. In descending order, the percentage of people who identify as Muslims on each continental landmass stands at: 45% of Africa, 25% of Asia and Oceania (collectively), 6% of Europe, and 1% of the Americas. Additionally, in subdivided geographical regions, the figure stands at: 91% of the Middle East–North Africa, 90% of Central Asia, 65% of the Caucasus, 42% of Southeast Asia, 32% of South Asia, and 42% of sub-Saharan Africa.

While there are several Islamic schools and branches, as well as non-denominational Muslims, the two largest denominations are Sunni Islam (75–90% of all Muslims) and Shia Islam (10–20% of all Muslims). By sheer numbers, South Asia accounts for the largest portion (31%) of the global Muslim population. By country, Indonesia is the largest in the Muslim world, holding around 12% of all Muslims worldwide; outside of the Muslim-majority countries, India and China are home to the largest (11%) and second-largest (2%) Muslim populations, respectively. Due to high Muslim population growth, Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world.


The word muslim (Arabic: مسلم, IPA: [ˈmʊslɪm]; English: /ˈmʌzlɪm/, /ˈmʊzlɪm/, /ˈmʊslɪm/ (MUZZ-lim, MUUZ-lim, MUUSS-lim) or moslem /ˈmɒzləm/, /ˈmɒsləm/ (MOZ-ləm, MOSS-ləm)) is the active participle of the same verb of which islām is a verbal noun, based on the triliteral S-L-M "to be whole, intact". A female adherent is a muslima (Arabic: مسلمة) (also transliterated as "Muslimah"). The plural form in Arabic is muslimūn (مسلمون) or muslimīn (مسلمين), and its feminine equivalent is muslimāt (مسلمات).

The ordinary word in English is "Muslim". In the 20th century the preferred spelling in English was "Moslem", but this has now fallen into disuse.[better source needed] The word Mosalman (Persian: مسلمان, alternatively Mussalman) is a common equivalent for Muslim used in Central and South Asia. In English it was sometimes spelled Mussulman and has become archaic in usage; however, cognates of this word remain the standard term for "Muslim" in various other European languages. Until at least the mid-1960s, many English-language writers used the term Mohammedans or Mahometans. Although such terms were not necessarily intended to be pejorative, Muslims argue that the terms are offensive because they allegedly imply that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God. Other obsolete terms include Muslimite and Muslimist. In Medieval Europe, Muslims were commonly called Saracens.

The Muslim philologist Ibn al-Anbari said:

a Muslim is a person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God, for just as we say in Arabic that something is ‘salima’ to a person, meaning that it became solely his own, so in the same way ‘Islām’ means making one's religion and faith God's alone.

In several places in the Quran, the word muslim conveys a universal meaning, beyond the description of the followers of Muhammad, for example:

"Abraham was not a Jew, nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim [مُّسۡلِمࣰا], and he was not a polytheist." -- Quran 3:67

"Then when Jesus perceived their disbelief he said, 'Who will be my helpers of God.' The disciples said 'We will be the helpers of God; we believe in God and bear witness that we are Muslims [مُسۡلِمُونَ].'" -- Quran 3:52


To become a Muslim and to convert to Islam, it is essential to utter the Shahada, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, a declaration of faith and trust that professes that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is God's messenger. It is a set statement normally recited in Arabic: ašhadu ʾan-lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu wa ʾašhadu ʾanna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh (أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمداً رسول الله) "I testify that there is no god [worthy of worship] except Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."

In Sunni Islam, the shahada has two parts: la ilaha illa'llah (there is no god but Allah), and Muhammadun rasul Allah (Muhammad is the messenger of God), which are sometimes referred to as the first shahada and the second shahada. The first statement of the shahada is also known as the tahlīl.

In Shia Islam, the shahada also has a third part, a phrase concerning Ali, the first Shia Imam and the fourth Rashid caliph of Sunni Islam: وعليٌ وليُّ الله (wa ʿalīyyun walīyyu-llāh), which translates to "Ali is the wali of God".

In Quranist Islam, the shahada is the testimony that there is no god but Allah (la ilaha illa'llah ).[citation needed]

The religious practices of Muslims are enumerated in the Five Pillars of Islam: the declaration of faith (shahadah), daily prayers (salah), almsgiving (zakat), fasting during the month of Ramadan (sawm), and the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime.

In Islamic theology

The majority of theological traditions of Islam accept that works do not determine if someone is a Muslim or not. God alone would know about the belief of a person. Fellow Muslims can only accept the personal declaration of faith. Only the Khawārij developed an understanding of Muslim identity based mainly on the adherence to liturgical and legal norms.

When asked about one's beliefs, it is recommended to say the Istit̲h̲nāʾ, for example, "in-sha'allah I am Muslim a believer" (so God will, I am Muslim), since only God knows the future of a person.

The Qur'an describes many prophets and messengers within Judaism and Christianity, and their respective followers, as Muslim. Some of those that were mentioned are: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus and his apostles are all considered to be Muslims in the Qur'an. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values, which included praying, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Thus, in Surah 3:52 of the Qur'an, Jesus' disciples tell him, "We believe in God; and you be our witness that we are Muslims (wa-shahad be anna muslimūn)." In Islamic belief, before the Qur'an, God had given the Tawrat (Torah) to the prophets and messengers amongst the Children of Israel, the Zabur (Psalms) to David and the Injil (Gospel) to Jesus, who are all considered important Muslim prophets.


World Muslim population by percentage
Muslim distribution worldwide

The most populous Muslim-majority country is Indonesia, home to 12.7% of the world's Muslims, followed by Pakistan (11.0%), Bangladesh (9.2%), Nigeria (5.3%) and Egypt (4.9%). About 20% of the world's Muslims live in the Middle East and North Africa. Non-majority India contains 10.9% of the world's Muslims. Arab Muslims form the largest ethnic group among Muslims in the world, followed by Bengalis, and Punjabis.

Over 75–90% of Muslims are Sunni. The second and third largest sects, Shia and Ahmadiyya, make up 10–20%, and 1% respectively. While the majority of the population in the Middle East identify as either Sunni or Shi'a, a significant number of Muslims identify as non-denominational.

With about 1.8 billion followers (2015), almost a quarter of earth's population, Islam is the second-largest and the fastest-growing religion in the world, primarily due to the young age and high fertility rate of Muslims, with Muslims having a rate of (3.1) compared to the world average of (2.5). According to the same study, religious switching has no impact on Muslim population, since the number of people who embrace Islam and those who leave Islam are roughly equal.

As of 2010, 49 countries countries in the world had Muslim majorities, in which Muslims comprised more than 50% of the population. In 2010, 74.1% of the world's Muslim population lived in countries where Muslims are in the majority, while 25.9% of the world's Muslim population lived in countries where Muslims are in the minority. A Pew Center study in 2010 found that 3% of the world's Muslims population live in non-Muslim-majority developed countries. India's Muslim population is the world's largest Muslim-minority population in the world (11% of the world's Muslim population). Followed by Ethiopia (28 million), China (22 million), Russia (16 million) and Tanzania (13 million). Sizable minorities are also found in the Americas (5.2 million or 0.6%), Australia (714,000 or 1.9%) and parts of Europe (44 million or 6%).

A Pew Center study in 2016 found that Muslims have the highest number of adherents under the age of 15 (34% of the total Muslim population) of any major religion, while only 7% are aged 60+ (the smallest percentage of any major religion). According to the same study, Muslims have the highest fertility rates (3.1) of any major religious group. The study also found that Muslims (tied with Hindus) have the lowest average levels of education with an average of 5.6 years of schooling, though both groups have made the largest gains in educational attainment in recent decades among major religions. About 36% of all Muslims have no formal schooling, and Muslims have the lowest average levels of higher education of any major religious group, with only 8% having graduate and post-graduate degrees.


Muslim culture or Islamic culture are terms used to describe the cultural practices common to Muslims and historically Islamic people. The early forms of Muslim culture, from the Rashidun Caliphate to early Umayyad period, were predominantly Arab, Byzantine, Persian and Levantine. With the rapid expansion of the Arab Islamic empires, Muslim culture has influenced and assimilated much from the Persian, Egyptian, Bengali, Caucasian, Turkic, Mongol, South Asian, Malay, Somali, Berber, Indonesian, and Moro cultures.

See also

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