Who: Islam was revealed through various prophets, and came to completion in the revelation given by Allah (the word for God in Arabic) to the Prophet Muhammad, who lived from 570-632 CE (Common Era, formerly AD, from Anno Domini, or year of our Lord).
What: The word “Islam” comes from the Arabic word which means “surrender”. People who practice Islam are called Muslims, which means “one who submits (surrenders) to God”.
When: Muhammad ibn Abdullah lived from 570-632 CE. He was born in the city of Mecca, thought to have been founded by Ishmael, Abraham’s son through Hagar. When he was in his 40s, Muhammad was called upon by God to deliver His final guidance and message, the Qur’an, to mankind. Thus he assumed the title of Prophet Muhammad, and began working to bring about the Ummah Muslimah, the community of submitters to God. He received revelation while in meditation in the cave of Hira, through the angel Gabriel.
Where: Though Muhammad was born in Mecca, he and his followers, who were mostly family, were forced to leave Mecca in what became known as the hijrah, or flight. The Muslim calendar is dated from this event, and years are followed by the initials AH (anno hijrah, year of hijrah). Muhammad fled to the city of Medina, where he was welcomed and eventually installed as ruler. He truly began bringing about the Ummah Muslimah in Medina, which became the seat of power for the Islamic empire.
Islam is practiced all over the world today, in the Middle East, Western and Northern Africa, Turkey, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South Asia (Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country).