Getting to Know Muslim Americans and Their Faith Presentation

This digital presentation and its accompanying notes provide an overview on the topic of Muslims and their faith, including basic definitions, demographics, notable Muslim Americans, and basic beliefs and practices. It concludes with a brief overview of common misconceptions about Muslims and relations with other religions.

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Slide 2: Basic Terminology

The universal Islamic greeting is salam alaikum, which means “peace be upon you.”  The response is wa-alaikum salaam, which means “may peace be upon you too.” The Islamic greeting is similar to the Hebrew greeting shalom aleichem. Islam has the same Arabic root as salam. Islam is the name of the religion, which means “peace through following God’s guidance.” The term “Muslim” refers to a follower of Islam.

Slide 3: Outline of Presentation

This presentation examines Muslim populations in the world and the U.S., the major beliefs and practices of Muslims, and common misconceptions about Islam, as well as Islam’s relationship with other religions.

Slide 4: 1.9 Billion Muslims Worldwide

According to the World Population Review, there are about 1.9 billion Muslims in the world, which is about 25% of the total global population. Contrary to common perception, less than 20% of Muslims are Arab, while around a billion of the world’s Muslims live in Asia, mainly in South Asia (including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). Indonesia is the nation with the largest Muslim population, nearly 230 million. There are growing populations of Muslims in China, Europe, and North America.[i]

Slide 5: Diversity Among Muslims

While representations of Muslims in mainstream media and culture are often monolithic, Muslims are extremely diverse in terms of their races, ethnicities, nationalities, and languages. Additionally, as with any religious group, in addition to religion, numerous other factors influence their attitudes and behaviors. These include culture, national origin, family and upbringing, level of education, economic status, and the political situation in one’s country. As in any other group, Muslims vary in their degrees of religious observance, and some of their behaviors may contradict religious teachings. It is important to recognize the diversity among Muslims and to avoid stereotyping an entire group of people based on the actions of a few.

Slide 6: Muslim Contributions to Civilization

Especially during medieval times, in what is called the Golden Age of Islam, Muslims contributed to a broad range of fields, including the sciences, humanities, and culture. In the sciences, they contributed to fields such as mathematics, medicine, zoology, astronomy, engineering, and chemistry. The Arabic origin of terms such as algebra, zenith, and alcohol are reminders of some of the foundational concepts which Muslims brought to these fields. In the humanities, Muslims made contributions in the fields of literature and poetry, geography and cartography, and language and philosophy. Today, the works of Muslim poets like Rumi are popular even in the West. Muslims have also left their mark in the arts and architecture with such features as calligraphy, geometric designs, arches and domes. Coffee traces its roots to Muslim lands and today Muslim cuisine has become increasingly popular in the West, including food items such as hummus, baklava, pita bread, and kebabs.

Slide 7: 3-6 Million Muslims in the U.S.

There are varying estimates of the number of Muslims in the U.S., ranging between three and six million, according to different surveys. According to a 2019 ISPU poll, 28% of Muslim Americans describe themselves as Black (mainly African American converts to Islam), 23% as Asian (mainly people of Pakistani or Indian descent), 19% identify as White (consisting of Bosnians, Persian/Iranians, North Africans, and Euro-American Muslims), 14% as Arab, 8% as Hispanic, and 7% as other.[ii] According to a 2017 Pew report, 82% of Muslim Americans report that they are U.S. citizens, and 42% say they were born in America.[iii]

Slide 8: History of Muslims in America

Muslims have a long history in America. It is estimated that 20% of enslaved Africans were Muslims. Before his enslavement, Abdul Rahman Ibrahima, was an African prince, highly educated and heir to a kingdom. After struggling for his freedom for 40 years, he was eventually able to return to Africa, but died soon after his return. While the descendants of these African Muslims were not able to continue their practice of Islam, there have been a number of movements towards some form of Islam in the 20th century, when significant numbers of African Americans converted to Islam, often for reasons of racial justice and to resist anti-black racism. They include the renown civil rights leader Malcolm X and the famous boxer Muhammad Ali who passed away in 2016. African American Muslims have contributed and continue to contribute to popular culture with notable figures in diverse fields, including civil rights, academia, sports, and entertainment.

Slide 9: Muslim Immigrants to America

In the late 19th century, Muslims from many parts of the world began migrating to the U.S. either for better job opportunities or for higher education or to get away from war or an oppressive government. They came in four major waves: the first wave was from the mid-1800s until the early 1900s; the second wave followed World War I (1918); the third wave was after World War II (1945); and the fourth wave was from 1965 until the present. After 1965, immigration of Muslims increased significantly due to a change in U.S. immigration laws. Muslim students from across the world came to America to study and eventually settled here after graduation. Simultaneously, many African Americans rediscovered Islam. The children and grandchildren of Muslim immigrants make up a growing percentage of Muslim Americans as do the children and grandchildren of African American and other converts. Today Muslim Americans are scientists, physicians, engineers, lawyers, academics, athletes, and entertainers.

Slide 10: Famous American Muslims

Today there are notable American Muslims in various professions, including Aaif Mandvi, actor and comedian; Ibtihaj Muhammad, Olympic fencer and bronze medalist; Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS; Abbas Hamad, ‘Bas,’ rapper; Iman Vellani, who plays Kamala Khan, or Ms. Marvel; DJ Khaled, rapper and inspirational speaker; Bella Hadid, model; Hasan Minhaj, comedian and actor; Dave Chappelle, comedian and actor; Amna Nawaz, Chief Correspondent, PBS NewsHour; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA’s all-time leading scorer, six-time NBA champion and the league’s only six-time MVP; and Mona Haydar, rapper and public figure.

Slide 11: American Muslims in Academia

There are also numerous American Muslims in academia, teaching in diverse fields. They include Kecia Ali, professor of religion at Boston University; Sherman Jackson, professor of religion at the University of Southern California; Asifa Qureishi, professor of law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University; Dr. Rania Awaad, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University; Jonathan Brown, professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University; Mansa Bilal Mark King, professor of sociology at Morehouse College; Zareena Grewal, professor of American studies and religious studies at Yale University; Omid Safi, professor of Asian and Middle Eastern studies at Duke University; Intisar Rabb, professor of law at Harvard University; Mohammad Qayoumi, past president of San Jose State University and California State University, East Bay; and Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, associate professor of American culture at the University of Michigan.

Slide 12: American Muslims Serve Our Country

A growing number of American Muslims serve or have served in the government or military. They include Keith Ellison, Attorney General of Minnesota and the first Muslim American Congressman; Ilhan Omar, Congresswoman from Minnesota, where she previously served as a state legislator; Andre Carson, second Muslim Congressman, representing Indiana; Rashida Tlaib, Congresswoman from Michigan where she previously served as a state legislator; Ali Zaidi, Deputy White House Climate Coordinator; Reema Dodin, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs; Sameera Fazili, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council; Zahid Quraishi, first Muslim federal judge in NJ; Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission; Sheikh Rahman, Georgia State Senator; Madinah Wilson-Anton, Delaware State Representative; Kayse Jama, Oregon State Senator; Iman Jodeh, Colorado State Representative; Mohamed Khairullah, Prospect Park, NJ mayor since 2005; Sadaf Jaffer, Montgomery, NJ mayor since 2019; Ibrahim Baycora, Paterson, NJ police chief; Saleha Jabeen, first female Muslim air force chaplain; and Khallid Shabazz, U.S. military chaplain, who ministers to the estimated five to six thousand Muslims who serve in the armed forces.

Slide 13: Beliefs and Practices

This section provides an overview of Islam, including its major teachings, beliefs, and practices.

Slide 14: What does Islam Teach?

Islam teaches the cultivation of excellent moral character to better oneself and the world. It also teaches a set of values that promote life, liberty, equality, and justice. Some of these values include respect for the earth and all creatures; care and compassion for those less fortunate; the importance of seeking knowledge; and honesty and truthfulness in word and deed.

Slide 15: Three Dimensions of Islam

There are three basic parts or dimensions of Islam: beliefs, practices, and the goals of those beliefs and practices.

Slide 16: Major Beliefs

Muslims have six core beliefs, some of which are similar to beliefs in Judaism and Christianity. They include the belief in one God; angels as another form of God’s creation; prophets who were chosen by God to provide guidance for their people; holy books or scriptures that were divinely revealed to the prophets; an afterlife which follows this life; and the concept of God’s Will. Each belief will be discussed individually.

Slide 17: One God

The name of God in Arabic is Allah, which is similar to the Aramaic word for God, Allaha, and the Hebrew word for God, Elohim. The slide shows the word Allah in Arabic calligraphy, which is common as a decoration in Muslim homes or mosques. Muslims believe that the term Allah refers to the same God, merely given different names in different languages. Arab Christians also use the term Allah when reading or speaking in Arabic. Similarly, the Spanish name for God is Dios and the German name is Gott.

Slide 18: Monotheism: Belief in One God

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are commonly referred to as the three monotheistic and Abrahamic faiths due to their belief in the same God and their common descent from Abraham. All three also have a shared origin and history in the Middle East. In addition to similar concepts of monotheism, adherents of these three world religions also believe in a succession of prophets and holy scriptures.

Slide 19: Angels

The second belief, also found in other faiths, including in Christianity, is the belief in angels. Muslims believe that, unlike humans, angels do not possess free will, but were created to carry out God’s commands on earth. For Muslims, one of the most important angels is the Archangel Gabriel, who is said to have brought divine revelation to the prophets, including the last prophet, Muhammad. Like some Christians, Muslims believe in other important angels such as Michael and Raphael.

Slide 20: Prophets

Muslims believe that prophets were chosen by God as messengers to teach two core messages: 1) worship God alone (monotheism); and 2) people should strive to live ethically by treating others as they wish to be treated themselves (the Golden Rule). Many of the prophets mentioned in the Qur’an are the same as those mentioned in the Jewish and Christian Bibles.

Slide 21: Prophets in the Qur’an

While Muslims believe that prophets were chosen for every community in history, the Qur’an mentions twenty-five prophets by name. These begin with Adam and include well-known biblical figures such as Noah, Abraham and his two sons Isaac and Ishmael, Moses, David, and Jesus. Muslims commonly name their children after the different prophets (in Arabic), since all are equally respected and revered. For example, Joseph is Yusuf, Abraham is Ibrahim, and Moses is Musa. Muslims believe that there are hundreds of other prophets whose names have not been mentioned in the Qur’an.

Slide 22: Muhammad

Muhammad was born in Mecca in the year 570 C.E. into a noble family. Muslims believe that in the year 610 C.E., at the age of 40, Muhammad was meditating in a cave near Mecca when he received the first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. These revelations continued for the next 23 years until his death in 632 C.E. In 615 C.E., many of the early Muslims migrated to neighboring Abyssinia (today known as Ethiopia), where a Christian king gave them refuge. Eventually, in the year 622 C.E. the majority of the early Muslims migrated with Muhammad to the neighboring town of Medina, where they were finally able to practice Islam openly since most of the people of the city embraced Islam and accepted Muhammad as their leader. Muhammad died in 632 C.E. and was buried in Medina. After his death, Islam began to spread to neighboring areas and eventually to much of the world.

Slide 23: Abrahamic Holy Books

Muslims believe that some of these prophets were also messengers who received a holy scripture to serve as guidance for their followers after they had passed on. The Qur’an mentions five holy books or scriptures by name: the Scrolls revealed to Abraham, the Torah revealed to Moses, the Psalms revealed to David, the Gospel revealed to Jesus, and the Qur’an revealed to Muhammad. The Qur’an and Islamic tradition describe Christians and Jews as Ahl-al-Kitab, or “People of the Book,” because they follow a scripture that Muslims believe was divinely revealed in its original form.

Slide 24: Qur’an 

Muslims consider the Qur’an to be the last and final revelation from God. Qur’an literally means “reading” or “recitation.” Muslims believe the Qur’an was sent down by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in Arabic over a period of 23 years. It contains many of the same stories about the prophets found in the Bible, as well as similar commandments and prohibitions. The Qur’an is made up of more than 6,000 verses, which are divided into 114 chapters, with longer chapters in the beginning and shorter chapters at the end.

Slide 25: Prophetic Sayings

Another important source for Muslims, second to the Qur’an in importance, is the Hadith, or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Another term Sunnah refers to the practice of the Prophet Muhammad. Unlike the Qur’an which is a single book, there are thousands of these sayings. The many volumes of Hadith contain sayings that cover a variety of subjects, such as honesty, humility, generosity, and kindness to family members, neighbors, and animals. The Hadith also provide details about how to perform acts of worship such as praying, fasting, or making the pilgrimage to Mecca, in addition to further explanation of Qur’anic teachings.

Slide 26: Afterlife

Muslims, like followers of other faiths, believe that eventually this world, and everyone in it, will come to an end, and that on the Day of Judgment all of humanity will be brought back to life to stand before God and be judged for their actions in this life. Like many Christians, Muslims believe that those who led a righteous life and followed God’s guidance will be rewarded with heaven while those who rejected God’s guidance and led an evil life will be punished for some time with hell. The concept of heaven and hell is based on the ideas of accountability and responsibility and on the principle that there are consequences for one’s actions.

Slide 27: God’s Will

Lastly, Muslims believe in what is known as God’s Will or Divine Will. This is the concept that God has knowledge and control over all that happens in creation. Other faith traditions share this concept. For a Muslim, this means that everything that happens in the world happens for a reason, which may not be obvious or known.  This belief gives Muslims a sense of comfort in the face of hardship. At the same time, Muslims believe that human beings have freedom of choice in their actions.

Slide 28: Spiritual Support for Muslims: Five Pillars of Islam

Muslims observe what are called the Five Pillars of Islam to help remember and establish a spiritual relationship with God. These acts are called “pillars” because they provide spiritual support for a Muslim, just as pillars provide support for a building. The pillars include the profession of faith or shahadah, five daily prayers or salat, a required donation or zakat, fasting in the month of Ramadan or sawm, and pilgrimage to Mecca or hajj.

Slide 29: Profession of Faith: Shahadah

The profession of faith or shahadah is the first pillar of Islam. It is a two-part statement, which means, “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” These two short statements summarize the Muslim creed by affirming monotheism and identifying the belief in Muhammad and the revelation which was sent to him as foundational.

Slide 30: Daily Prayers: Salat

The second pillar is prayer or salat in Arabic. Observant Muslims pray five times a day: before sunrise, around noon, in the afternoon, after sunset, and at night. The prayer times are determined by the movement of the sun and vary based on the time of year. The window of time during which one can perform a specific prayer is a two-to-four-hour time period, also dependent on the time of year. Each prayer lasts about five to ten minutes, depending on the number of verses recited. The prayers are physical, mental, and spiritual, with specific movements and recitations from the Qur’an and supplications from the prophetic tradition. Daily prayer reminds Muslims throughout the day of their relationship with God and the need to avoid harmful actions.

Slide 31: Mosque: Masjid

A Muslim house of worship is called a mosque or masjid in Arabic, which means “place of prostration.” Inside the prayer hall of a mosque there are generally no chairs or pews, only an expansive carpeted space. To keep the carpets clean, worshippers take off their shoes when they enter a prayer hall. On Fridays, in place of the regular noon prayer, Muslims go to the mosque for a special congregational prayer that follows a sermon by a prayer leader or knowledgeable member of the community.

Slide 32: Required Donation: Zakat

The third pillar is a required donation, in Arabic known as zakat. Once a year, Muslims are required to donate 2.5% of their excess wealth. This excludes money needed for normal expenses, such as food or rent. The purpose of zakat is to help the needy and encourage compassion and generosity. Muslims generally donate to charitable organizations or mosques who distribute the money to those in need, such as the poor, refugees, orphans, and others.

Slide 33: Fasting: Sawm

The fourth pillar is fasting in the month of Ramadan, referred to as sawm in Arabic. Because Ramadan follows the lunar calendar, the month rotates through the seasons, moving eleven days earlier each year. In Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink during the sunlight hours as a means of learning self-control, gratitude, and compassion for those less fortunate. Ramadan is also a time for heightened self-awareness, introspection, and cultivating good character. Ramadan is a month of intense spiritual rejuvenation with a heightened focus on devotion, during which Muslims spend extra time reading the Qur’an and performing special prayers.

Those unable to fast, such as pregnant or nursing women, the sick, or elderly people are exempt from fasting and can make up the missed fasts later if they are able to or donate money to a needy person if they are unable to make up the missed fasts. Children under the age of puberty are not required to fast but may choose to fast in emulation of their family members.

Slide 34: Pilgrimage to Mecca: Hajj

The fifth and final pillar is the pilgrimage to Mecca, known as hajj in Arabic.  Once in a lifetime, every adult Muslim with the physical and financial ability should travel to the holy city of Mecca to perform the pilgrimage. Hajj is a commemoration of the life and trials of the Prophet Abraham and his family. It is a large communal event, as two to three million Muslims of diverse backgrounds gather to perform the same rituals over a period of five days in and around Mecca.

Slide 35: Ka‘bah

The Ka‘bah, located in Mecca, is the focal point of the Hajj, as well as the direction towards which Muslims pray throughout the year. Muslims believe that it was built by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael, who consecrated it as the first house of worship of the One God. According to some accounts the original structure was first built by Adam.

Slide 36: Muslim Holidays

Muslims have two major holidays: Eid ul-Fitr or the “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” and Eid ul-Adha or the “Festival of the Sacrifice.” The first, Eid ul-Fitr, is a three-day holiday at the conclusion of Ramadan, celebrating the successful completion of the month of fasting. The second, Eid ul-Adha, is celebrated during the time of hajj. Both holidays begin with a special congregational prayer, followed by a short sermon. Children often receive new clothes, gifts, or money. After the prayers, there are festivities such as rides, games, and other fun activities for children as well as lots of good food.

Slide 37: Faith and Action

Islam emphasizes the importance of both faith and action. While the Five Pillars aim at cultivating a relationship with God through acts of worship, Muslims are also instructed to put their faith into action by doing good deeds. Most actions prescribed for Muslims involve positive behavior towards other people. Like most religions, Islamic teachings encourage such actions and characteristics as generosity, kindness, honesty, sincerity, and humility, to name a few.

Slide 38: Ihsan: Excellence in Character and All Actions 

The last, but actually the highest, dimension for Muslims, and the goal of the first two (beliefs and practices), is excellence in character and all actions. This is referred to as ihsan in Arabic. This excellence involves both one’s spiritual relationship with God and one’s interactions with other people. Central to attaining excellence in one’s character and actions is upholding the Golden Rule, a precept emphasized in all religions.

Slide 39: The Golden Rule

Some version of the Golden Rule (also referred to as the “Ethic of Reciprocity”) is found in the teachings of nearly every religion. It is often regarded as the most concise principle of ethics and the core tenet for interacting with our fellow humans. It is also a major goal of most religions, stated in a variety of ways. The Prophet Muhammad said, “None of you are real believers until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.” On the slide are different versions of the Golden Rule in the major religions.

Slide 40: Addressing Common Misconceptions

There are numerous misconceptions about Muslims and their faith. This section addresses some of the most common ones.

Slide 41: Islamophobia

Many of the misconceptions that people have about Muslims and their faith are due to Islamophobia. According to the Runnymede Trust in Great Britain, one of the earliest organizations to document Islamophobia, Islamophobia is defined as anti-Muslim racism, which commonly portrays Muslims and their cultures as monolithic, static, and unresponsive to change; separate, “other,” and not sharing common values with other cultures; inferior to the West; irrational, primitive, and sexist; violent, aggressive, and supportive of terrorism; engaged in a clash of civilizations; and adhering to a political ideology, not a religion. Anti-Muslim hostility is therefore seen as natural and is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and the exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.[iv]

Slide 42: Growing Anti-Muslim Sentiment

While anti-Muslim sentiment increased greatly after 9/11, it has risen even more dramatically in the last few years. According to a 2019 YouGov poll, only 15% of Americans have a favorable view of Islam, while 37% have an unfavorable view. 56% are “very concerned” or “fairly concerned” about a possible rise of extremism in Islam.[v] A 2017 Pew summary of reports found that 41% of Americans believe Islam encourages violence more than other faiths and that 50% of Americans believe Islam is not part of mainstream American society.[vi]

Slide 43: Impact of Islamophobia 

According to a 2021 UC Berkeley report, 95% of Muslim Americans believe that Islamophobia is a problem in the United States. Over two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed reported that they have personally experienced Islamophobia in their lifetimes. Among them, 76% responded that they experienced Islamophobia recently in the last twelve months. The report showed higher rates of personal experience with Islamophobia for American-born Muslims (82% compared to 58% of foreign-born participants); young adults (81% of respondents ages 18–29); and women (77% compared to 57% of men). 94% of participants reported that Islamophobia affects their emotional and mental well-being. Additionally, most survey participants (88.2%) censor their speech or actions out of fear of how people might respond or react to them.[vii]

Slide 44: Discrimination Against Muslims

A 2020 ISPU poll found that Muslims and Jews are the most likely groups to experience any religious discrimination (60% of Muslims and 58% of Jews, compared with 26% of Catholics, 29% of Protestants, 43% of White Evangelicals, 27% of the non-affiliated, and 33% of the general public). The poll also found that Muslims experience religious discrimination in institutional settings more than any other group. This includes at the airport (44% of Muslims vs. 5% of the general public), when applying for a job (33% of Muslims vs. 8% of the general public), when interacting with law enforcement (31% of Muslims vs. 8% of the general public), and when receiving healthcare (25% vs. 5% of the general public).[viii]

Slide 45: Moderation in Religion

According to Islamic teachings, moderation is encouraged in all aspects of life while extremism is discouraged. Terrorism is forbidden under any circumstance or for any reason. The Qur’an specifically condemns taking an innocent life, and murder is considered one of the most serious crimes. Suicide is also forbidden. Even in a state of war, there are strict rules that prohibit attacking non-combatants, particularly women, children, the elderly, and clergy.

Slide 46: Gender Equity

There is great variation in Muslim women’s rights today, since religious interpretation and practice are impacted by other factors such as culture, education, and economic and social class, which are diverse across different Muslim-majority countries and communities. The Qur’an emphasizes the spiritual equality of men and women and affords women rights that were progressive for their time, including the right to earn and keep their earnings and inheritance and to marry and divorce by their own choice. A growing number of Muslim women worldwide are physicians, engineers, lawyers, and businesswomen, and a significant number of women have even served as heads of state in countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey, and Indonesia.

Slide 47: Views of Other Religions 

This section looks at some of the pluralistic teachings and commonalities between Islam and other religions, particularly the other two Abrahamic faiths: Judaism and Christianity.

Slide 48: Theology of Religious Pluralism

The Qur’an emphasizes the common origin and humanity of all people. This oft-quoted Qur’anic verse states that the only measure of superiority among people and groups is in righteousness: “O humankind, We created you from a male and a female, and We made you races and tribes for you to get to know each other. The most noble of you in the sight of God are those of you who are most conscientious. And God is omniscient, fully aware.” (Qur’an 49:13)

The Qur’an also states that diversity in religion is part of God’s plan and that the goal of all religious traditions is to do good: “For each of them We have established a law, and a revealed way. And if God wished, God would have made you a single nation; but the intent is to test you in what God has given you. So let your goals be everything good. Your destiny, everyone, is to God, Who will tell you about that wherein you differed.” (Qur’an 5:48)

Slide 49: Shared Traditions with Abrahamic Religions

Islam shares much with the other Abrahamic traditions: Judaism and Christianity. Abraham, whom Muslims revere as a major prophet, is foundational in all three faiths and is often referred to as the “father of monotheism” for his unwavering faith in God. As the father of Ishmael and Isaac, he is also the progenitor of all three traditions. Muslims share many of the beliefs and practices of the other Abrahamic traditions, including belief in and worship of One God, teachings reflected in Ten Commandments, common prophets and their stories, the centrality of sacred scripture, and practices such as prayer and charity.

Slide 50: Islam and Judaism

Moses is mentioned more than any other prophet in the Qur’an and is regarded as one of the most important and revered messengers. The story of Moses in the Qur’an is close to the narrative in the Bible, including the story of his adoption and upbringing in the Pharaoh’s household, followed by his struggles and eventual success in freeing the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. The Qur’an concludes his story with the revelation of the Torah.

Slide 51: Islam and Christianity

The Qur’an also views Jesus as a very special messenger, born to the Virgin Mary, who is revered as the most righteous and honored of all women: “And the angels said, ‘O Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, chosen you over the women of all peoples.’” (Qur’an 3:42)

The Qur’an describes the miraculous birth of Jesus, his many miracles, and his high spiritual rank: “The angels said ‘O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from God, named the Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, honored in the world and the hereafter, and one of the intimates of God.’” (Qur’an 3:45)

Slide 52: Shared Ideals with All Religions

One can also find in the Qur’an many shared ideals with all religions. These include mercy towards all creation, including plants and animals; the sanctity of human life; respect for human dignity and rights; universal brotherhood and sisterhood that is rooted in unbiased justice towards all people; and peaceful coexistence among diverse people that fits the situation of modern-day, heterogeneous America.

Slide 53: Shared Practices Among Religions

There are also a number of shared practices among religions. Most religions have some version of prayer or worship, often at specific intervals or times of the day or week. Many religions also encourage their adherents to engage in some sort of periodic fasting or giving up of a particular food for a specified period for the purpose of attaining spiritual discipline. Similarly, giving charity to those who are less fortunate is encouraged in most religions. Finally, members of many major religions participate in pilgrimages.

Slide 54: Salam alaikum: “Peace be upon you”

Thanks for your interest and we hope this was useful. Salam alaikum – “peace be upon you!”

[i] “Muslim Population by Country 2021,” World Population Review, accessed December 20, 2021,

[ii] Dalia Mogahed and Azka Mahmood, “American Muslim Poll 2019,” The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, April 29, 2019,

[iii] “U.S. Muslims Concerned About Their Place in Society, but Continue to Believe in the American Dream,” Pew Research Center, July 26, 2017,

[iv] Gordon Conway, “Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All,” Runnymede, 1997,

[v] Joel Rogers de Waal, “Western/MENA attitudes to religion portray a lack of faith in common values,” YouGov, February 3, 2019,

[vi] Michael Lipka, “Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world,” Pew Research Center, August 9, 2017,

[vii] Elsadig Elsheikh and Basima Sisemore, “Islamophobia through the Eyes of Muslims: Assessing Perceptions, Experiences, and Impacts,” UC Berkeley Othering & Belonging Institute, September 2021,

[viii] Dalia Mogahed and Erum Ikramullah, “American Muslim Poll 2020,” The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, October 1, 2020,