A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheisticAbrahamic religion based on the Qur'an—which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophetMuhammad—and, with lesser authority than the Qur'an, the teachings and practices of Muhammad as recorded in traditional accounts, called hadith. "Muslim" is an Arabic word meaning "one who submits to God".
Muslims believe that God is eternal, transcendent, absolutely one (the doctrine of tawhid, or strict or simple monotheism), and incomparable; that he is self-sustaining, who begets not nor was begotten. Muslim beliefs regarding God are summed up in chapter 112 of the Qur'an, al-Ikhlas, "the chapter of purity". Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through the prophetsAbraham, Moses and Jesus. Muslims maintain that previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time, but consider the Qur'an to be both unaltered and the final revelation from God—Final Testament.
Most Muslims accept as a Muslim anyone who has publicly pronounced the Shahadah (declaration of faith) which states, "I testify that there is no god except for the God [Allah], and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God." Their basic religious practices are enumerated in the Five Pillars of Islam, which, in addition to Shahadah, consist of daily prayers (salat), fasting during Ramadan (sawm), almsgiving (zakat), and the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime.
Currently, the most up-to-date reports from an American think tank and PBS have estimated 1.2 to 1.57 billion Muslims populate the world, or about 20% of an estimated 2009 world population of 6.8 billion.
The ordinary word in English is "Muslim". It is sometimes transliterated as "Moslem", which is an older spelling. The word Mosalman (Persian: مسلمان) is a common equivalent for Muslim used in Central Asia.
Until at least the mid-1960s, many English-language writers used the term Mohammedans or Mahometans. Although such terms were not necessarily intended to be pejorative, Muslims argue that the terms are offensive because they allegedly imply that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God.
"A Muslim is a person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God...Islam means making one's religion and faith God's alone.
Used to describe earlier prophets in the Qur'an
The Qur'an describes many prophets and messengers as well as their respective followers as Muslim: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Jesus and his apostles are all considered to be Muslims in the Qur'an. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values, which included praying, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Thus, in Surah 3:52 of the Qur'an, Jesus’ disciples tell Jesus, "We believe in God; and you be our witness that we are Muslims (wa-shahad be anna muslimūn)." In Muslim belief, before the Qur'an, God had given the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David and the Gospel to Jesus, who are all considered important Muslim prophets.