One and a half billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures across the globe – from the southern Philippines to Nigeria – are united by their common Islamic faith. About 15% live in the Arab world; the world’s largest Muslim community is in Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, and Europe.
The followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims are not to be confused with Arabs. Muslims may be Arabs, Turks, Persians, Indians, Pakistanis, Malaysians, Indonesians, Europeans, Africans, Americans, Chinese, or other nationalities.
An Arab could be a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew or an atheist. Any person who adopts the Arabic language is called an Arab. Muslims all over the world try to learn Arabic so that they may be able to read the Qur’an (the Muslim holy book) and understand its meaning. Although the Qur’an has been translated into most languages, to truly appreciate its depth it is beneficial to read it in Arabic.
While there are one and a half billion (1500,000,000) Muslims in the world there are about 200 million Arabs. Among them, approximately ten percent are not Muslims. Thus Arab Muslims constitute about fifteen percent of the Muslim population of the world. A fifth are found in Sub-Saharan Africa; and the world’s largest Muslim community is in Indonesia. Substantial parts of Asia are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Central Asian republics, India, China, North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe.
Allah speaks to the people of all nations of the world in the following verses of the Qur’an:
O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you
from a single soul and from the same kind He created a mate,
and from them both He created many men and women and fear
Allah through Whom you demand your mutual rights,
and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship).
Surely, Allah is Ever-Watching over you. (4:1)
O mankind! the Apostle (Muhammed) hath come to you in truth
from Allah: believe in him: it is best for you. But if ye
reject faith then to Allah belong all things in the heavens
and on earth, and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (4:170)
O mankind! We created you front a single (pair) of a
male and a female and made you into nations and
tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may
despise each other). Verily the most honored of you
in the sight of Allah is (be who is) the most righteous
of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well
acquainted (with all things). (49:13)