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The holiest city of Islam; Muhammad's birthplace


the Arab prophet who founded Islam (570-632)


a believer or follower of Islam


the religion of Muslims collectively which governs their civilization and way of life


a city in western Saudi Arabia


the Muslim community or people, considered to extend from Mauritania to Pakistan


the office of a caliph


the sacred writings of Islam revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad during his life at Mecca and Medina

Umayyad Caliphate

First hereditary dynasty of Muslim caliphs (661 to 750). From their capital at Damascus, the Umayyads ruled an empire that extended from Spain to India. Overthrown by the Abbasid Caliphate.


Muslims belonging to the branch of Islam believing that God vests leadership of the community in a descendant of Muhammad's son-in-law Ali. Shi'ism is the state religion of Iran.


Muslims belonging to branch of Islam believing that the community should select its own leadership. The majority religion in most Islamic countries.

Abbasid Caliphate

Descendants of the Prophet Muhammad's uncle, al-Abbas, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad Caliphate and ruled an Islamic empire from their capital in Baghdad (founded 762) from 750 to 1258.


Under the Islamic system of military slavery, Turkic military slaves who formed an important part of the armed forces of the Abbasid Caliphate of the ninth and tenth centuries. Mamluks eventually founded their own state, ruling Egypt and Syria (1250-1517)


a republic in West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea


the body of mullahs (Muslim scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law) who are the interpreters of Islam's sciences and doctrines and laws and the chief guarantors of continuity in the spiritual and intellectual history of the Islamic community


(Islam) the way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the basis of the teachings and practices of Muhammad and interpretations of the Koran

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