Asivat Abzaeva, Ph.D. (Econ.), senior research associate, Center for Foreign Economic Studies, Institute of International Economic and Political Studies, RAS (Moscow, RF)

Islam is the youngest of the great world religions; as such it imbibed the vast spiritual and intellectual wealth of the preceding epochs. The Muslim world and its theological pillars (monotheism, religion as the Revelation, religion-based ethics, and veneration of Jesus and St. Mary) are much closer to the Christian European legacy than any other of the great world religions. Socially and culturally, however, the Muslim world is far removed from the Christian European legacy because it emphasizes loyalty to the umma rather than the individuals spiritual life.

This is a dynamic religion with a rapidly increasing number of followers. Today, one-fifth of the planets population follows Islam (1.3 billion), which comes second after Christianity. Muslims live in more than 120 countries of the world. Russia with about 20 million Muslims is one of them. There are approximately 50 million Muslims in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, Islam moved to the forefront of world history and confronted mankind with a host of paradoxical problems. Today it attracts much more attention than any other religion; it stirs up heated discussions and contradictory conclusions. This is explained by its sheer size, and..

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