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Word Count: 678
Islam is the dominant religion in the Middle East right now Muhammed founded Islam in the early seventh century When he was 40 years old Muhammed claimed to be receiving messages from God These messages were later recorded in the Koran--Islams holy book About this same time Muhammed began preaching against the greed economic oppression and idolatry that plagued the Arab peoples He called on the Arab peoples to unite under the worship of Allah the one and only god Though his message was initially rejected by the year 630 he had succeeded in gaining control of Mecca the economic and religious center of the Arabia Though Muhammed died two years later the movement he founded rapidly spread throughout the Arab world By AD 750 the Muslim empire spanned from Spain in the west to India in the east In the centuries that followed Islam spread deeper into Africa and Asia extending as far as the Philippines It was during this time that Islam and Christianity clashed as a result of the Crusades to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims Though the beliefs of Muslims worldwide are about as diverse as those among Christians there are six basic articles of faith common to nearly all Muslims The first of these is that there is no God but Allah The pre- Islamic Arabs were polytheistic but Muhammed succeeded in leading them to devote themselves solely to the only god whom they called Allah which simply means God To worship or attribute deity to any other being is considered shirk or blasphemy The Koran mentions numerous names of Allah and these names are found frequently on the lips of devout Muslims who believe them to have an almost magical power The second article of faith is belief in angels and jinn Jinn are spirit beings capable of both good and evil actions and of possessing human beings Above the jinn in rank
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