Our quote for today is from journalist Bruce Buursma. He said, “Almost every story around the world has a religion sub-plot."
In this podcast, we are making our way through Garry R. Morgan's book, "Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day."
Our Understanding World Religions topic for today is, "The Beginning of Islam."
Islam is the world's second largest religion, with about 1.6 billion followers in 2010 (more than 20 percent of the earth's population). Including biological growth, it is also the globe's fastest-growing, and is the majority religion in forty-nine countries. Contemporary politics and the issue of terrorism have thrust Islam into the worldwide spotlight as never before.
Islam is an Arabic word meaning "submission," and the religion's central theme is submission to the will of God. So a Muslim is one who submits to God's will, which is revealed in the Qur'an, the Islamic holy book. Qur'an, which is an Arabic word meaning "recite," is often transliterated Koran in English texts. Although the Arabic language and culture are central to Islam, only 25 percent of the world's Muslims are ethnically Arab, and the four countries with the largest Muslim populations (Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India) are all outside the Middle East.
Some older books on history and religion refer to this faith as Mohammedanism. This is inaccurate and offensive to Muslims, as they do not worship Muhammad. Although they revere him greatly and follow his example in many ways, they insist he was just a man. To deify him, they say, is contrary to Muhammad's own teaching.
Islam teaches that God has sent a long line of prophets to reveal his will to humans, and many Muslims would say Islam has existed since Adam's creation. However, to understand Islam today, we need to look at sixth-century Arabia and a man named Muhammad, considered Islam's final and greatest prophet.