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ORIGINS AND HISTORY Islam claims up to 15 billion followers worldwide For the last twenty years this religion has made the front page of todays newspapers which is more than any other As the fastest growing religion in the world the US holds up to eight million Muslims and over eleven hundred mosques or Islamic centers2 Islam was founded in the early seventh century by Muhammad1 When he was forty Muhammad claimed to be receiving messages from God4 These messages were later compiled and recorded in the Koran Islams holy book About this time Muhammad began preaching against the greed economic oppression and worship that plagued the Arab peoples He called on many factions of the Arab peoples to unite under the worship of Allah the chief god of the Arab pantheon of deities Though his message initially rejected by the year 632 he had succeeded in gaining control of Mecca the economic and religious center of the Arabian Peninsula1 Even though Muhammad died two years later the religious movement he founded rapidly spread throughout the Arab world and far beyond In the centuries that followed Islam penetrated deeper into Africa and Asia then extending as far as the Philippines During Islams golden era some of the worlds finest philosophers and mathematicians came about It was during this time also that Islam and Christianity clashed as a result of the Crusades to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims After the industrial revolution of the 1700-1800s Islam felt the increasing influence of the European powers1 Eventually large portions of the Muslim world were colonized by European Countries This political and economic domination by Europe continued until the end of WWII after which the Muslim countries began to attain political independence With the discovery and development of the vast oil reserves in many Muslim lands economic independence suddenly came within reach also At last Islam had in its grasp both the opportunity and the resources to
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