In Context

Islam is the second most common religion in the world after Christianity; it is one of the three major Abrahamic traditions (along with Judaism and Christianity). There are different denominations within Islam, but they all share some fundamental beliefs: that there is only one God ("Allah" means "God" in Arabic); the Qur'an is the word of God ; and Muhammad was the last in a series of prophets -- including Moses and Jesus -- who were sent to instruct humanity about how to live in accordance with God's law. Other tenets shared across the sects are the five pillars of the faith: the declaration of belief or shahada; reciting five daily prayers; giving to charity (Zakat); and fasting in the month of Ramadan; and making a pilgrimage to Mecca (also known as Makkah) Islam's holiest city.

Qur'an recitations are a year-round practice, although they hold an especially important significance in the month of Ramadan. Muslims believe that to be the month in which the Qur'an was revealed.

Caption: Ala'a and Teacher Anan pray at Al Zahra Mosque
Credit: Itab Azzam

» BBC. "Islam at a Glance."
» Frontline. "Muslims."
» Huffington Post. "HBO Film Follows Muslim Children in Quran Memorization Contest."