Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers. There are around 2 millions Muslims in Britain, around 2.7% of the population.
The word 'Islam' in Arabic means submission to the will of God.
Followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims believe there is one true God Allah (the Arabic word for God)
Muslims believe that Islam was revealed over 1400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia through a man called Muhammad. Muhammad is so revered that it is usual for Muslims to say 'peace be upon him' whenever they mention his name.
Muhammad is believed by Muslims to be the last prophet sent by God (Allah) According to Muslims, God sent prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to His law. Jesus (Isa), Moses (Musa) and Abraham (Ibrahim) are other respected prophets.
The Muslim holy book is called the Qur'an. Muslims believe this to be the word of Allah as dictated to Muhammad. They also have the Sunnah, which Muslims believe to be the practical example of Prophet Muhammad. Muslims follow the five basic Pillars of Islam.They are an essential part of Muslim life:
The Five Pillars of Islam are an essential part of Muslim life. These pillars are:
- the declaration of faith (Shahada)
- praying five times a day (Salat)
- giving money to charity (Zakah)
- fasting (Sawm)
- a pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in a lifetime(Hajj)
Muslims worship in a building called a Mosque. On Friday at noon, the most important of the weekly services is held. When Muslims pray, they must always face Makkah.
More Islamic festivals and events
Islam - An Introduction
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and a time when Muslims across the world will fast (do not eat) during the hours of daylight. Muslims believe that the gates of Heaven (Jannah) are open and the gates of Hell (Jahanam) are locked for the duration of Ramadan.
Muslims celebrate the time when the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Ramadan is a time of worship and contemplation. A time to strengthen family and community ties.
Every Muslim is expected to fast from sunrise to sunset. Muslims must not eat or drink during daylight hours. During Ramadan Muslims get up early before dawn (Fajr) and have a light meal. This time is known as Suhoor.
At the end of each day (Maghrib), Muslims traditionally break their fast with a meal called the iftar. Following the custom of Prophet Muhammad, the fast is often broken with dates, then followed by a prayer and dinner.
The Muslim year is a lunar (moon) year, so Ramadan moves forward by ten or eleven days each year. The day Ramadan begins is decided by the sighting of the new moon.
Ramadan concludes with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
Find out more about the Muslim faith