[is-lahm, iz-, is-luh m, iz-]


the religious faith of Muslims, based on the words and religious system founded by the prophet Muhammad and taught by the Koran, the basic principle of which is absolute submission to a unique and personal god, Allah.
the whole body of Muslim believers, their civilization, and the countries in which theirs is the dominant religion.

Origin of Islam

First recorded in 1605–15, Islam is from the Arabic word islām literally, submission (to God)
Also called Muhammadanism.
Related formsIs·lam·ic [is-lam-ik, -lah-mik, iz-] /ɪsˈlæm ɪk, -ˈlɑ mɪk, ɪz-/, Is·lam·it·ic [is-luh-mit-ik, iz-] /ˌɪs ləˈmɪt ɪk, ˌɪz-/, adjectivenon-Is·lam·ic, adjectivenon-Is·lam·it·ic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for islam

Contemporary Examples of islam

Historical Examples of islam

  • It was a nauseous draught from the bitterest waters of Islam.

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • The religion and the art of Islam seem destined to live and die together.


    Thomas Roger Smith

  • It is in this guise that Islam assumes the rle of a universal religion.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies

  • A great genius might then have restored the fighting power and the prestige of Islam.


    Frank Fox

  • There were some Christian converts to Islam at Abyssinia also.

British Dictionary definitions for islam



the religion of Muslims, having the Koran as its sacred scripture and teaching that there is only one God and that Mohammed is his prophet; Mohammedanism
  1. Muslims collectively and their civilization
  2. the countries where the Muslim religion is predominant
Derived FormsIslamic, adjective

Word Origin for Islam

C19: from Arabic: surrender (to God), from aslama to surrender
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for islam



"religious system revealed by Muhammad," 1818, from Arabic islam, literally "submission" (to the will of God), from root of aslama "he resigned, he surrendered, he submitted," causative conjunction of salima "he was safe," and related to salam "peace."

... Islam is the only major religion, along with Buddhism (if we consider the name of the religion to come from Budd, the Divine Intellect, and not the Buddha), whose name is not related to a person or ethnic group, but to the central idea of the religion. ["The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity," Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 2002]

Earlier English names for the faith include Mahometry (late 15c.), Muhammadism (1610s), Islamism (1747), and Ismaelism (c.1600), which in part is from Ishmaelite, a name formerly given (especially by Jews) to Arabs, as descendants of Ishmael (q.v.), and in part from Arabic Ismailiy, name of the Shiite sect that after 765 C.E. followed the Imamship through descendants of Ismail (Arabic for Ishmael), eldest son of Jafar, the sixth Imam. The Ismailians were not numerous, but among them were the powerful Fatimid dynasty in Egypt and the Assassins, both of whom loomed large in European imagination.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

islam in Culture


A religion, founded by Muhammad, whose members worship the one God of Jews (see also Jews) and Christians (see also Christian)(God is called Allah in Arabic) and follow the teachings of the Koran. Islam means “submission to the will of God”; adherents of Islam are called Muslims. The fundamental belief of Islam is “There is only one God, and Muhammad is his prophet.”

Muslims are obliged to pray five times a day, to fast in the daytime during the holy month of Ramadan, to abstain from pork and alcohol, and to make gifts to the poor. All of them are expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca (see also Mecca), Muhammad's birthplace, at least once in their lives.


Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims make up the two main branches of Islam.


Islam is the dominant faith in Arab nations, a number of countries of central Asia, and Malaysia and Indonesia.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.