Al-Azhar Mosque (Arabic: الجامع الأزهر al-Gāmi` al-Azhar, "mosque of the most resplendent") is a mosque in Islamic Cairo in Egypt. Al-Mu‘izz li-Dīn Allāh of the Fatimid Caliphate commissioned its construction for the newly established capital city in 970. Its name is usually thought to allude to the Islamic prophet Muhammad's daughter Fatimah, a revered figure in Islam who was given the title az-Zahrā′ ("the shining one"). It was the first mosque established in Cairo, a city that has since gained the nickname "the city of a thousand minarets."
After its dedication in 972, and with the hiring by mosque authorities of 35 scholars in 989, the mosque slowly developed into what is today the second oldest continuously run university in the world after Al Karaouine. Al-Azhar University has long been regarded as the foremost institution in the Islamic world for the study of Sunni theology and sharia, or Islamic law. The university, integrated within the mosque as part of a mosque school since its inception, was nationalized and officially designated an independent university in 1961, following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.
The term Muslim world (also known as the Ummah or Islamosphere) has several meanings. In a religious sense, the Islamic Ummah refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, the Muslim Ummah refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization. In a modern geopolitical sense, the term Islamic Nation usually refers collectively to Muslim-majority countries, states, districts, or towns.
Although Islamic lifestyles emphasise unity and defence of fellow Muslims, schools and branches (see Shi'a–Sunni relations, for example) exist. In the past both Pan-Islamism and nationalist currents have influenced the status of the Muslim world.
As of 2010, over 1.6 billion or about 23.4% of the world population are Muslims. Of these, around 62% live in Asia-Pacific, 20% in the Middle East-North Africa, 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa, around 3% in Europe, and 0.3% in the Americas.