Islam, as the religion of the Muslims is known, is one of the most practiced religions in the world. It is also the second most practiced religion in the subcontinent of India, following Hinduism. In fact, it is estimated that more than 13.4% of the over 160 million Indians currently subscribe to this faith. The highest concentration of Islamic residents can be found in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, where 70% of the population is Muslim. Assam and West Bengal also boast high population densities of Islamic followers.While Hinduism is believed to have evolved and developed within India, Islam was introduced from outside sources. As far back as the early 7th century, Arab traders would visit Malabar as it was the link between the areas today known as Iran et al and the South East Asian ports. These journeys were made for the purpose of trading. With them, the Arab merchants brought their religious ideals and customs, introducing them to the locals. By the end of the 7th century, the first Arab Muslims settled in India. By spreading their religion on such a global scale, the Arabs began to be recognised as major cultural and political forces.
Today, most of the Islamic Indians are believed to be ‘purely’ Indian. That is, their genetic code displays minute or no traces to Iranian or Central Asian roots.
Legal matters involving Islamic followers in the subcontinent deal with matters such as marriage and inheritance. These are determined by the Muslim Personal Law, which is still considered to be higher (or have more authority) than the civil law of the country.
The Holy Qur'an is the Islamic equivalent of the Christian Bible or Holy Scriptures. It is believed to contain the inspired words of God, which were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. These were then written by this prophet’s trusted friends. The sayings of Prophet Muhammad are considered to be the core of Muslim life and culture, dictating their values and setting a pattern for life. The prophet’s sayings and actions are called the Sunnah and are known as ‘the embodiment of God’s will’.