Among global religious communities, Islam shows the fastest rate of growth. There are six to eight million Muslims in America. John Renard, professor of theological studies at St. Louis University and author of Windows on the House of Islam: Muslim Sources of Spirituality and Religious Life (1998), has written a very useful overview of this religion, using a question-and-answer format.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam claim Abraham as father in faith and are all "Peoples of the Book." Muslims respect the sacred authority of the Qur'an and acknowledge the unity, uniqueness, and transcendence of God. Among the "Ninety-Nine Most Beautiful Names" of God the two most frequently invoked are "Gracious or Compassionate" and "Merciful."
The ethical teachings of Islam are consistent with those of Judaism and Christianity. Believers try to adhere to "the steep ascent," which is what the Qur'an calls "the whole demanding project of social responsibility and the difficult task of forming one's conscience accordingly."
Renard salutes Islam's openness to inter-religious dialogue and has some thought-provoking commentary on the remembrance of God, the five daily moments of ritual prayer, the Friends of God, and the rich tradition of Sufi mysticism.