"There is no god but God. Muhammad is the Messenger of God."
A simple, transformative statement that beats in the hearts of one in every five people on the planet—the approximately 1 billion Muslims who live in the world today. Their numbers are projected to increase more rapidly than any other religion and they hail from every corner of the world.
Islam is the official religion in countries of diverse ethnicities: from Morocco in the West to the Malay Archipelago in the East, from the Central Asian republics in the North to the heart of Africa in the South, Islam has found a home. Each people blend their cultural heritage with the Islamic worldview to create a tapestry of cultural expression, all united by their desire to "surrender themselves to God"—which is the original meaning of Islam in the ancient Arabic tongue. "And who could be of better faith than he who surrenders his whole being unto God and is a doer of good withal, and wholeheartedly follows the way of Abraham?" (Quran, 4:125)
The media often paint a bleak picture of Islam in the modern world, selectively reporting action-packed news items like explosions, violence, and brutality. The more accurate picture, however, is that the openness of the modern world has allowed the message of Islam to be heard by people in non-Muslim lands to a historically unparalleled degree. There are now millions of first and second generation Muslims of—for example—completely American and European descent, people who have passed beyond the media smoke screen, recognized the beauty of Islam, and willingly surrendered themselves to God.