The followers of Islam, Muslims, believe in one God, Allah, and believe Muhammad was his prophet.
There are five "Pillars of Islam" that Muslims follow:
- The Shahadah - A statement of faith all Muslims recite at least one time in their lives.
- The Salat or Salah - A daily ritual prayer of faith done five times a day.
- Zakat - a tax paid to benefit the poor or those in need.
- Sawm - a fast done during the month of Ramadan.
- Hajj - a pilgrimage every Muslim must do at least once in his/her life, if he or she can afford it, to the Holy city of Mecca, in modern-day Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage begins on the 7th or 8th day of the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and ends on the 12th day of that same month.
The Kaaba is the shrine located in Mecca, which is visited during the pilgrimage (or Hajj). It is the most holy place for Muslims.
Muslims believe the Quran is the divine words or revelations on which they base their faith. Muslims believe the Angel Gabriel delivered the ideas in the Quran to Muhammad. There are 114 chapters in the Quran.
Sunni - The largest branch of Islam. They accept that the first four caliphs (leaders) are the legitimate successors to Muhammad.
Wahabi - A Sunni sect comprised of members of the Tameem tribe in Saudi Arabia, following the strict orthodox teachings of Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulawahab.
Shiite - Or Shia, the second-largest branch of Islam, believes only the caliph Ali and his descendants are the legitimate successors to Muhammad and reject the first three caliphs.
Alawite - Concentrated in Syria, a sect within the Shiite community that maintains similar but different core beliefs about the divinity of Ali and seven of pillars of the faith. They also observe some Christian and Zoroastrian holidays in addition to Islamic holidays.
Kharijites - Members of the earliest sect in Islam that left the followers of Ali; their break with the Shiite was over the selection method for a new leader. They were known for uncompromising positions on the observance of the Quran and for radical fundamentalism. Today they are known as the Ibadi or Ibadities.
Nation of Islam - Primarily African-American, founded in the 1930s in Detroit, Michigan. It is a Sunni sect.
There are other sects of both Sunni and Shiite in African and Arab nations.