The followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims come from all races, nationalities and cultures across the globe. They may be Arabs, Turks, Persians, Indians, Pakistanis, Malaysians, Indonesians, Europeans, Africans, Americans, Chinese, or any other nationality. They also have varied languages, foods, dress, traditions, cultures and customs, yet they all consider themselves Muslim.
One out of five people in the world are Muslim.
The Muslim community expanded rapidly after the Prophet's death. Within a few decades, Islam had spread as far as Spain in the West and China in the East. Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine.
As Muslim civilization developed, most of the important philosophical and scientific works of ancient times were all rendered into Arabic, including works of astronomy, mathematics and medicine. As a result, Arabic became the most important scientific language of the world for many centuries and the depository of much of the wisdom and the sciences of antiquity. Besides translation and preservation of ancient learning, these scholars built upon and developed the ancient heritage before passing it on to the West.
Muslims excelled in art, architecture, astronomy, geography, history, language, literature, medicine, mathematics, and physics. Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and the very concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were formulated by Muslim scholars and shared with medieval Europe. Sophisticated instruments that would make possible the later European voyages of discovery were invented or developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and navigational charts and maps. The Muslims of the early period of the Islamic era were pioneers in medicine, chemistry, physics, geography, navigation, arts, poetry, mathematics, algebra, logarithms, calculus, etc. They contributed to the Renaissance of Europe and world civilization.
Christians and Jews lived peacefully with Muslims throughout centuries in the Middle East and other Asian and African countries. Jews fled from Spain during the Inquisition, and they were welcomed by the Muslims. They settled in the heart of the Islamic Caliphate and enjoyed positions of power and authority. Throughout the Muslim world, churches, synagogues and missionary schools were built within the Muslim neighborhoods. These places were protected by Muslims even during the contemporary crises in the Middle East.