Religion in the Middle East

Reem, Rihab, Yasmine, & Isil

*Hyperlinks for Judaism: 3 (underlined)



Founded 3500 years ago in the Middle East

in 2007, there were an estimated 13.1 million Jewish people

Majority reside in the United States and Israel

Jews Trace their history back to Abraham: the first person who taught the idea that there was only one god- and his son, Isaac


However, judaism was founded by Moses, who received the 613 commandments.

these 613 commandments are known as mitzvahs

The oral version of jewish law is known as the talmud


jews trace back their history to when Moses let the enslaved jews out of Egypt to the "holy Land"

There were three kings in israel


1) Saul- the first king

2) david- Reign was looked back as a "golden era" -> united the 2 remaining jewish tribes of Judah (south) & Israel (North)

3) Solomon- built a holy temple

the last remnant of solomon's temple is known as the wailing wall:

-One of the holiest sites in jerusalem

-jews go there to pray or leave prayers in paper and stick it through the cracks


Judaism as a lifestyle

Spiritual leaders are known as Rabbis

The lead congregations in houses of worship which are known is synagogues.

Judaism emphasizes a sense of community.

A ritual that encourages this is known as Sabbath- a reminder of the covenant.

This is the jewish holy day in which families will rest and eat together.

It is from sundown friday to sundown saturday.


There are several Jewish holidays throughout the year, but the two most important ones are known as Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah

Yom Kippur- Follows the days of repentance

Jews abstain from food and drink for 25 hours and ask for forgiveness

It is at this time that God decided what the next year will be like for each person depending on how they repented for their sins

Rosh Hashanah- Jewish New Year

Commemorates the creation of the world


There are three major sects in Judaism

1) Orthodox- follow their religion most strictly

2) Conservative- slightly less strict

3) Reform- most modern


Islam is one of the world's three major religions. It is a faith that strongly emphasizes tawheed, the Oneness of Allah (God), described in the image below.

Five Pillars of Islam

These five things are the five pillars. Islam has five primary obligations that Muslims must fulfill throughout their worldly life. The five pillars of Islam make up the framework of a Muslim's life.


The Shahada is the first pillar of Islam. It is the declaration of faith of a Muslim. It can be phonetically written as, "La Ilaha Illa Allah, Muhammadun Rasulullah." It means "There is no God but Allah (God) and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah (God)." In addition, the Shahada is all a person needs to say to become a Muslim, to proclaim his/her faith.


Salah is the second pillar of Islam. Salah means prayer. Prayer offers Muslims a way to disconnect themselves from the worldly life and communicate with the All-Merciful Allah (God). Salah is a prominent duty of a Muslim.

Muslims pray five times a day. The prayers are as follows:

  1. Fajr (morning prayer, before sunrise)
  2. Dhuhr (noon prayer, when sun is at its highest point in the sky)
  3. Asr (afternoon prayer, before sunset)
  4. Maghrib (evening prayer, after sunset)
  5. Isha'a (night prayer, after twilight sets in)

Prayer is a Muslim's key to success in this worldly life and the hereafter. One of the recorded saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) describes what Salah does for a Muslim, "Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: "If a person had a stream outside his door and he bathed in it five times a day, do you think he would have any filth left on him?"

The people said, "No filth would remain on him whatsoever."
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ then said, "That is like the five daily prayers: Allah wipes away the sins by them."


Zakat is the third of the five pillars of Islam. All things belong to Allah (God), and thus wealth is one of the blessings that we must make use of in a way that pleases Allah (God). Zakat is alms-giving. It is the act of giving a portion of one's wealth to the needy. Zakat is an obligation on every Muslim adult, financially able, to support the poor.


Sawm is the fourth pillar of Islam. It means fasting. Able-bodied Muslims are obliged to fast in the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, the month in which the Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Muslims fast by abstaining from food, drink, sex, and inappropriate behavior from sunrise to sunset, when they break the fast each day. By fasting, Muslims are able to empathize with those who are not able to eat or drink whenever they wish to. It teaches Muslims self-restraint and makes Muslims appreciative of all the blessings from Allah (God).


Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam. It is the journey of a lifetime for a Muslim. Undertaking this journey at least once in a lifetime is a duty for Muslims who are physically and financially able to do so. Hajj is the religious high point of a Muslim's life, a journey Muslims dream of undertaking.

Six Pillars of Iman

Iman means faith or belief. A Muslim has six pillars of belief. They are as follows:

1. Belief in Allah (God)

Allah (Arabic name for God) on watermelon

2. Belief in His angels

3. Belief in His messengers

4. Belief in His revealed books

5. Belief in the Day of Resurrection

6. Belief in predestination

Sacred Texts

Muslims believe in the books sent by Allah (God) to mankind. Among the holy scriptures Muslims believe in include the Torah revealed to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), the Zabur revealed to Prophet David (pbuh), and the Injil revealed to Prophet Jesus (pbuh). However, Muslims take only the Qur'an as their book of guidance because they believe that this is the final word of Allah (God) and that the other holy books have been altered by people over time while the Qur'an has been kept as is since its revelation.


As it is among the six pillars of belief, Muslims believe in Allah's (God's) prophets. Muslims believe that Allah (God) has sent messengers to mankind throughout history to peoples of different times in order to guide them to the straight path. There are 25 prophets mentioned in the Qur'an. They include, in chronological order: Adam (Adam), Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Yaqub (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron), Dawud (David), Sulayman (Solomon), Isa (Jesus), and Muhammad (Muhammad). The depiction of prophets in Islam is forbidden. This is to prevent the worship of prophets rather than Allah (God).

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

Sunnah and Hadith

Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to be the final messenger from Allah (God) to mankind. Sunnah is a term used to refer to the way of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It includes his teachings and way of life. Hadith literally means "talk." It is a term used to refer of the sayings of the Prophet (pbuh). Muslims refer to the hadith in addition to the Qur'an. Hadith is part of the Sunnah. A Muslim looks up to and respects the Sunnah. It is preferred to follow the Sunnah, but it is not obligatory to do so.


Ummah literally means nation. In Islam, this word refers to the believers, the Muslims, who are considered part of the nation of believers.


Sharia is the Islamic law. It is derived from the Qur'an and the authentic tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), known as the Sunnah.


Jihad is a duty of a Muslim. It is the Arabic word for struggle or strive. Jihad is the struggle to become a good Muslim, the struggle to be the best Muslim you can be, to strive against your inward desires.

Jihad means serious and sincere struggle on the personal as well as on the social level. It is a struggle to do good and to remove injustice, oppression and evil from the society. This struggle should be spiritual as well as social, economic and political. Jihad is to work hard to do right things.


The term dhimmini means "people of the book." This means Jews and Christians. Islam teaches Muslims to never mock other religions and to treat dhimmis, as well as people of other religions with respect and kindness.


Islam is a religion and a way of life. It is a submission to the will of Allah (God). Below is a video explaining Islam in a few minutes.

The video below will further explain Islam, mostly its view on the beginning and the end of humankind.

Muslim Holidays

In Islam, there are many religious holidays. However, the most prominent ones are the two Eids:

  1. Eid Al-Adha - This Eid is the greater Eid. It is called the Festival of the sacrifice. It is celebrated by sacrificing a lamb just as Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (pbuh) did when Allah (God) tested him by commanding him to kill his son Ismail (Ishmael) and he willingly obeyed yet ended up only killing a lamb by the mercy of Allah (God).
  2. Eid Al-Fitr - This Eid is the lesser Eid. It is celebrated at the culmination of Ramadan. Muslims cannot fast on this day as it is the Feast of breaking the fast.


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