Islam is the second most practiced religion in the world. It was founded by the prophet Muhammad who began his teachings in Mecca in A.D. 610.
The holy city of Mecca in modern day Saudi Arabia
There are two major sects of Islam practiced today:
1.) Sunni: The largest branch of Islam, they believe that the first four caliphs are the legitimate successors to Muhammad.
2.) Shia: believes only the caliph Ali and his descendants are the legitimate successors to Muhammad and reject the first three caliphs.
Muslims, or those who practice Islam believe in one god referred to as "Allah". In the Islamic religion, god serves four functions: creation, sustenance, guidance, and judgement. The sacred text of the Islamic religion is the Quran, believed to contain the direct word of god.
The crescent moon, a sacred symbol in the Islamic religion
Muslims follow the five "Pillars of Islam":
1.) The Shahadah - A statement of faith Muslims must recite at one time in their lives.
2.) Salat or Salah - A ritual prayer of faith done five times a day.
3.) Zakat - a tax paid help the poor or those in need, or a donation to charity.
4.) Sawm - a fast done from dawn to sunset each day during the month of Ramadan.
5.) Hajj - a pilgrimage Muslims must perform at least once in their life, if they are physically and financially able, to the Holy city of Mecca.
An important holiday celebrated in the Islamic religion is known as Ramada. During this month-long celebration, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset to commemorate the time when Muhammad received the Quran from Allah.