[ is-lahm, iz-, is-luhm, iz- ]
/ ɪsˈlɑm, ɪz-, ˈɪs ləm, ˈɪz- /
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Definition of Islam

the religious faith of Muslims, based on the words and religious system founded by the prophet Muhammad and taught by the Quran, 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.


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Origin of Islam

First recorded in 1610–20; from Ottoman Turkish islām, from Arabic islām “submission (to God),” from aslama “to surrender, resign oneself, submit oneself (to God's will),” from the Semitic root šlm “to be whole, sound”; akin to Arabic salām and Hebrew shālōm “peace,” from the Semitic noun šalām


Is·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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Islam in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Islam

/ (ˈɪzlɑːm) /

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 forms of Islam

Islamic, 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

Cultural definitions for Islam


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.

notes for Islam

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

notes for 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.