There has been some debate on how to categorize Islam. Is Islam a religion? Is it a cult? Is it both? Perhaps we should look up the definitions of both religion and cult.
According to the dictionary, religion is defined as: 1) a belief in a divine or superhuman power or powers to be obeyed and worshipped as the creator(s) and ruler(s) of the universe; 2) an expression of such a belief in conduct and ritual; 3) any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy; 4) including any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values, etc., that resemble, are suggestive of, or likened to such a system; 5) the state or way of life of a person (e.g. living in a monastery, convent, etc.); and 6) any object of conscientious regard and pursuit.
Meanwhile, the dictionary defines cult as: 1) a system of religious worship and ritual; 2) a quasi-religious group, often living in a colony, with a charismatic leader who indoctrinates members with unorthodox or extremist views, practices, or beliefs; 3) a devoted attachment to, or extravagant admiration for, a person, principle, or lifestyle, especially when regarded as a fad; and 4) the object of such attachment.
Islam does meet the definitions when it comes to being classified as a religion, since it does involve the belief in a divine power. It also appears to meet definitions 2-4. Muslims believe in a god whom they refer to as Allah. They have places of worship, they pray, and they have a set of beliefs and practices.
But Islam also meets the definitions of being a cult, particularly the first three definitions. Muhammad founded the Islamic faith, and his followers were just as devoted to him as they were to Allah. In addition, he soon began a series of conquests, which resulted in not just deaths of non-Muslims on the battlefield, but also a series of massacres, people being enslaved, and subjugation of everyone else in the lands that the Muslims had conquered.
In addition, Muhammad (and eventually other Muslims) had multiple wives. He even married Aisha when she was six years old, and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old. Muhammad also had his adopted son Zayd divorce his wife Zaynab so he could marry her. Both marriages, Muhammad claimed, were done with Allah’s blessing.
In conclusion, Islam started off as a cult, then became a religion. It would soon become one of the world’s largest religions, and one that has become quite dangerous to the rest of the world.