Islam’s legal system is known as Sharia Law. This faith-based code of conduct directs Muslims on how they should live in nearly every aspect of their lives.
Sharia law requires men and women to dress modestly. It also outlines marriage guidelines and other moral principles for Muslims.
If crimes are committed, Sharia law is known for its harsh punishments. For example, the punishment for theft is amputating a person’s hand. Adultery can carry the penalty of death by stoning. However, many Muslims do not support such extreme measures.
The prophet Muhammad is credited with building the first mosque in the courtyard of his house in Medina. Mosques today follow some of the same principles he established in 622 A.D.
Muslim prayer is often conducted in a mosque's large open space or outdoor courtyard. A mihrab is a decorative feature or niche in the mosque that indicates the direction to Mecca, and therefore the direction to face during prayer.
Men and women pray separately, and Muslims may visit a mosque five times a day for each of the prayer sessions. In addition to hosting prayers, mosques often function as public gathering places and social centers.
The two major Muslim holidays are:
celebrates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for Allah.
marks the end of Ramadan—the Islamic holy month of fasting.
Muslims also celebrate other holidays, such as the Islamic New Year and the birth of Muhammad.
In recent years, Islam’s supposed association with terrorism and mass murder has sparked a political debate in many countries. The controversial term “radical Islam” has become a well-known label to describe the religion’s connection to acts of violence.
While some Muslims use their faith to justify terrorism, the vast majority do not. In fact, Muslims are frequently victims of violence themselves.
Recent surveys have found that in countries with high Muslim populations, the majority of Muslims have overwhelmingly negative views of terrorist groups like ISIS.
While Muslims aim to clear up misconceptions about their faith, the religion continues to spread rapidly. Today, Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion. Experts predict Islam will surpass Christianity as the largest religion by the end of the century.