It is a great faith that preaches unity, peace, and love of a common God. And with 1.2 billion followers, it is the world's second-largest and fastest-growing religion. But Islam is also a singularly demanding faith, one that holds much that non-Muslims find abhorrent. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the continued desperation of misguided zealots has further tarnished Islam's image in the West. Yet the faith has a rich history, a glorious legacy in art, and ancient rituals that give structure and comfort to millions.
What do Muslims really believe? Who was Muhammad? What is the significance of the pilgrimage to Mecca? U.S. News provides answers to these and many other questions in its series Secrets of Islam: The Essential Guide to the World's Fastest-Growing Religion.