Which religions began in the Middle East?
Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam all have their roots in the Middle East. The region is consequently filled with sites that are considered holy by all four religions.
What is Zoroastrianism?
Zoroastrianism is a religion that began in present-day Iran about 1000 b.c.e. It is based upon the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster and is an ancient religion that some believe may have influenced the later religions of Christianity and Islam.
Which religions came to be practiced first?
Before the advent of Judaism, many earlier religions were practiced, including Animism, which is the worship of nature and natural phenomena like fire, wind, water, and earth. Judaism came into practice around 5000 b.c.e., followed by Zoroastrianism in 1000 b.c.e., Christianity in 30 c.e. and Islam in 600 C.E.
What is the difference between Islam and a Muslim?
Islam is a religion and a Muslim is a person who is a follower of Islam.
Who was Muhammed?
The prophet Muhammed was the founder of Islam. He was born in Mecca in 571 and fled to Medina later in life. According to the Islamic religion, he received prophecies from God, which were subsequently written in the Koran, the holy book of Islam. Muhammed's death in 632 c.e. led to the expansion of Islam around Eurasia.
The Zoroastrian religion once thrived in what is now Iran. Today, a small minority of worshippers remain, as well as some reminders of the past like this symbol found on ruins of Persepolis.
Why do people travel to Mecca?
The holy book of Islam, the Koran, requires that all Muslims make a journey, known as a pilgrimage, to the city of Mecca at some time in their lives. Mecca, located in Saudi Arabia, is the holiest city of Islam, as it was the birthplace of Muhammed, the founder of Islam in the sixth century, and contains many important religious sites. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter Mecca.
What is the holiest site in Mecca?
The most important site in Mecca is the Great Mosque (called the Haram). It is located in the center of the city and houses the sacred Black Stone (Ka'abah). Muslims around the world face the Black Stone during prayer.
How many Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca each year?
Each year, approximately two million Muslims from around the world make a pilgrimage to Mecca during the last month of the Islamic calendar. While hundreds of years ago the trip took weeks or months to complete from the vast reaches of the Islamic Empire, today most people from great distances use the modern conveniences of travel and fly to Saudi Arabia.
The holy Islamic site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia swarms with faithful Muslims making their annual pilgrimage.
Who are the Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims?
The Sunni and Shi'ite are two sects of Islam. About 85 percent of Muslims are Sunnis, while Shi'ism is especially prevalent in Iran. After Muhammed's death, two relatives claimed to succeed him. Their followers developed into the two sects.
Who is an ayatollah?
The title of ayatollah was originally used for outstanding Shi'ite scholars. But in 1979 Iran went through a period of fundamentalism and replaced the secular shah (the former leader) with the ayatollah, a religious and political leader of the nation. Under the ayatollah's rule, traditional social values were mandated.
What is a theocracy?
A theocracy is a country ruled by religion. Iran has the world's largest theocracy, ruled by people who are national leaders as well as religious leaders. While there is a secular president, the division of power between mullahs (a Muslim trained in religious law) and the president is poorly defined.
How far did the Islamic Empire spread?
At its widest extent, the Islamic empire included most of northern Africa, Spain and Portugal, the Balkan Peninsula, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and the southern reaches of Russia. Islamic influence also spread east into western China. The areas that were under Islamic rule from the seventh through the sixteenth century c.e. still keep the religion as a major aspect of their culture.
What is the world's largest Islamic nation?
Indonesia, the world's fourth-most populated country, is the world's largest Islamic nation. About 87 percent of Indonesians are Muslims. Islam spread to Indonesia during the Medieval era.
Are all Israelis Jewish?
No, they are not. About 80 percent of Israelis are Jewish, and the remaining 20 percent are predominantly Arabs.