Top ten facts you need to know to understand Pinecrest journalist's situation

The Islamic State threatened to kill journalist Steven Joel Sotloff


1. Caliphate

It is a sovereign Muslim empire, where Islamic law, also known as Shariah rules. Sharia is a word in Arabic that means "the path leading to the source of water." Sharia is derived from  The Holy Quran or Koran. It is a sacred book made up of 114 chapters of divine revelations to  the Prophet Muhammad, born in what is now Saudi Arabia. In Islam, God is known as Allah. The foundation of the religious system is the concept that Allah's will rules. Islamic jurisprudence is based on the Quran and the "Sunnah" or "Hadith" text -- the moral, ethical and political teachings of Muhammad. 

2. The Caliph

A caliph or calif means successor in Arabic. The Prophet Muhammad was the original leader of the Muslim community and the messenger of Allah. Muslims believe Angel Gabriel delivered Allah's message to Muhammad. When Muhammad died, his successors have been the civil and religious heads of the caliphate. Islam means "submission" or "surrender" to the will of Allah in Arabic.

3. About Muslim community

Islam is the second-largest religion after Christianity, and it is the fastest growing, according to the Pew Research Center. There were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims in the world in 2012, the Pew Research Center reported. They are a majority in the Asia-Pacific region and have a strong presence in the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. In the rest of the world, they are a minority. In South Florida, there are an estimated 100,000. A small percentage of them are Hispanics from countries like Brazil and Colombia. The Council of American-Islamic Relations is active in S. Fla.

4.  Sunni denomination

Muslims divided over future leadership when Muhammad died. Now there are six Muslim denominations: Sunni, Wahabi, Shiite, Alawite, Kharijites and Nation of Islam. The Sunni is the largest branch of Islam. The make up about 90 percent of the Muslim population, according to the Pew Research Center. They accept that the first four caliphs are legitimate. The Wahabi are a Sunni sect comprised of members of a tribe in Saudi Arabia. The Nation of Islam is a Sunni sect founded in Detroit, Michigan.

5. Shiite denomination

The Shiite is the second largest branch of Islam. They believe that only Muhammad and his descendants are the legitimate caliphs. They reject the first three caliphs. The Kharijites and the Alwite were originally Shiite. The Alwite is a sect in Syria.

6. People of the Book

Muslims believe that God was first revealed to the prophets of the Judeo-Christian religions through the Jewish Torah and the Christian Gospels. As in Christianity and Judaism, Muslims consider Angel Gabriel an intermediary. The three religions also share prophets:  Adam, Abraham, Moses, Noah, David and Jesus. Muslims consider Muhammad is the last prophet sent to mankind. Some Muslims believe that Jews and Christians strayed from true faith, but are closer to God than pagans, agnostics and atheists. This is why Muslims call Jews and Christians "People of the Book."

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7. Infidels

In Christianity and Islam the term infidels was used to describe a nonbeliever or enemy. The Holy Quran orders not to fight against those who are not fighting against you. But this message is easily lost when the majority of the 114 verses call Muslims to war. Some command to fight, subdue and humiliate nonbelievers until conversion. Some command to chop off heads and fingers. Some command to hunt and kill. Some command to cast terror into the hearts of nonbelievers. The majority of the interpretations clarify that the war is against tyranny, aggression and oppression.

8. About Islamic State

In 2004, a Jordanian ultra conservative established an affiliate of al-Qaida in Iraq. The group founded the  Islamic State in 2006. Since then the group of Sunni radicals has turned into one of the wealthiest terror groups, according to President Barack Obama's administration. The self-funded group pirates oil from the territories it controls in northeastern Syria and western Iraq. It sells the 30,000 to 70,000 barrels of oil a day for $26 to $35 a barrel to locals. The price goes up outside of the territory. Besides the oil, the Islamic State also has a taxation system, controls central-bank branches, sells wheat and antiquities, kidnaps for ransom and demands to be paid in gold or other precious metals, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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9. About Islamic State leader

The Islamic State's leader was killed during a U.S.-Iraqi operation in 2010. Group leaders named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as their leader and claimed he was the caliphate June 29, 2014. Under his leadership, Islamic State militants have clashed with armed forces in Iraq and Syria. The group began using modern methods to spread the message of a "worldwide caliphate."

10. About Islamic State militants

Islamic State militants have an Internet newscast produced from Iraq and use social media to recruit fighters from around the world. There are dozens of countries represented in the group. U.S. authorities said several Americans belong to the Islamic State and warned law enforcement of supporters here in the U.S. 

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Copyright 2014 by CNN NewSource contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.