Muslim’s have been stereotyped for generations, particularly owing to the wars waged in the Middle East and against extremist groups throughout the world. But, how much do we really know about Muslim’s and are we relying on stereotypes for our knowledge?
Here are 21 thought-provoking facts about Muslim’s, which are likely to surprise you!
Fact 1: The word “Islam” in Arabic means submission or surrender and has its roots in the word “salam”, which translates to peace and safety.
Fact 2: Islam is the name of the religion, while a person who practices Islam is a Muslim.
Fact 3: Muslims greet each other using the words “Assalamu Alaikum”, meaning “peace be upon you”.
Fact 4: In 2010, it was estimated that there are 1.57 billion Muslims in the world.
Fact 5: Islam is the second largest religion in the world, with Christianity being the largest.
Fact 6: Germany, France and Russia have the largest Muslim population in Europe. In 2010, Muslims represented 5.8% of Germany’s population, 7.5% of the French population and 10% of the Russian population.
Fact 7: It is projected that by 2030, Muslims will make up 8% of Europe’s population.
Fact 8: The European Union was home to approximately 13 million Muslim migrants in 2010. The foreign-born Muslim population was mostly made up of Turkish immigrants, followed by those born in Kosovo, Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Morocco.
Fact 9: Janet Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Shaquille O’Neal, Mike Tyson, Ice Cube, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dave Chappelle… are just a portion of the famous American Muslims.
Fact 10: The majority of Muslims, precisely 85%, belong to the Sunni sect (Arabic word for tradition) which is a more liberal and secular movement. 10 to 15% are Shiite Muslims (Arabic word for fraction) and are predominantly concentrated in Iran and Iraq. The latter make up the majority of the radical element of Islam.
Fact 11: Wahhabism, an extremely strict interpretation of Islam, was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the 18th century and is practiced in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Osama bin Laden advocated this form of Islam, which is often discounted by Islamic scholars.
Fact 12: The U.S. is home to an estimated 5.7 million Muslims.
Fact 13: The largest national Muslim population is found in Indonesia (170 million Muslims), followed by Pakistan (136 million), Bangladesh (106 million) and India (103 million).
Fact 14: Most Muslims are not Arabs! Nearly one half of the world’s Muslims live in South and Southeast Asia.
Fact 15: A majority of the world’s refugees, estimated 12 million, are Muslims.
Fact 16: “Jihad” has often been translated as “holy war” but in linguistic sense it means struggling or surviving. The Arabic word for war is “al-harb”.
Fact 17: Numerous academic traditions, such as the difference between graduates and undergraduates, originate from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, founded in the 10th century and famous for its philosophical and theoretical scholarships.
Fact 18: Ibn al-Hatham was a pioneering scientific thinker and greatly contributed to our understanding of vision, optics and light! He has been referred to as the world’s first true scientist and the first theoretical physicist. He was born during the creative period, A.D 965, known as the golden age of the Muslim civilization.
Fact 19: Ibn Nafis, a 13th century Islamic writer, described pulmonary circulation, the circulation of blood, 300 years before the English physician, William Harvey!
Fact 20: Stereotypes about Islam suggest that women are disempowered and treated as second class citizens, however the Iranian parliament has more female members than the U.S. Senate! Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Turkey have all had a female prime minister or president.
Fact 21: Jesus is an important figure in the Quran! Muslims believe that Jesus is not the son of God, but that he is one of the greatest of God’s messengers, second only to Muhammad in importance. Muslim’s also believe that Jesus wasn’t crucified, but that God saved him from an impending crucifixion and raised him up to the heavens.