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The call to prayer, or adhanThe call to prayer, or adhanClick to play video Islam means “submitting to the will of God”. The followers of Islam are called Muslims. The Prophet of Islam was Mohammed, who was born in Mecca (Makkah), Arabia, in about AD 570. He was praying at Mount Nour, near Mecca, when the angel Jibril (Gabriel) came to him and told him that there is only one God, who is called Allah, and that he, Mohammed, should become the prophet of Allah and teach God’s will. Today there are more than 1.5 billion Muslims.


Jabal al-Nour, where Jibril came to MohammedJabal al-Nour, where Jibril came to Mohammed

Prophet Mohammed

The Prophet Mohammed was orphaned as a young boy. When he was about 12 years old, he began work as a trader for his uncle and soon became known for his honesty. He married the widow of a wealthy merchant and became a successful businessman. When he was about 40, Mohammed began to go to the mountains outside Mecca to be by himself and think. It was here that the angel Jibrill came to him with a message from Allah. Jibril told him that people should worship one God, Allah, and only Allah. Mohammed began to preach Jibril’s message to the people of Mecca.

Most people in Mecca worshipped many different gods. 
At first people refused to believe what Mohammed told them. Pilgrimages to Mecca brought money into the city and people did not want this to change. In AD 622, Mohammed and his followers were forced to flee from Mecca to the town of Yathrib, later renamed Medina (Madinah), “the City of the Prophet”. This flight, called the hijra, marked the start of the Islamic calendar. Mohammed continued to preach in Medina. He said that Allah had told him that people should live peacefully together, rather than fighting between tribes.

The origins of Islam

Today there are 1.57 billion Muslims, making up 23% of the world’s population. In 1900, when the total world population was 1.56 billion, there were 200 million Muslims, or 13% of the world's population.

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