Islam has its origins in the life and work of Muhammad, who lived at the turning of the 6th to the 7th Century AD. Islam sees itself as part of the Abrahamic theological tradition that stretches through Christianity back into Judaism. Muhammad is believed to have received the final revelation from God, which is the Qu’ran. Unlike other scriptures, the Qu’ran is believed to be the undiluted Word of God; dictated rather than inspired, and thus making any further revelations unnecessary.
Islam developed from the city of Meccah in the early part of the 7th Century AD. It quickly spread, not just in terms of its beliefs and teachings, but as a socio-political system. The socio-political systems that saw themselves as in the Islamic tradition grew through conquest to encompass territory from Spain, through North Africa, to Central Asia. It also spread along the trading routes of the Indian Ocean and became rooted across South Asia, finding a home in what is now Indonesia and other places in South-East Asia. It has split into different groups as rival states and interpretations of Islamic teachings developed. The main groups within Islam are Sunni and Shia. Sunni Islam has primarily been tied to political structures of Arabia and is the majority group at over 80% of the Muslim population. Shia Islam has historically been closely tied to Persia, modern day Iran, and makes up most of the remaining 10-20%. Sufi Islam is more of an approach rather than a branch as Muslims from various backgrounds engage in Sufism.
With the following pages we hope you will come to know and understand the basis for Islamic beliefs, teachings, and practices, and also be able to reference relevant sources of wisdom and authority. Ultimately ending up with a good grasp of common and divergent views within Islam in the way beliefs and teachings are understood and expressed.