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Updated January 27, 2021

Religion Diversity in the Middle East

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Religion Diversity in the Middle East essay
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Religion is a system of beliefs and worships which includes a code of ethics and a philosophy of life. There are over thousands of religions in the world today. Some of these religions are newly formed but most of them are very old. In fact, we know from history that man has always had a religion. Even the Homo Sapiens living in caves or jungles had some sort of religion. When we talk about the middle east, there are three major religious groups which are Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Judaism

Judaism is an Abrahamic religion that originated about 3500 years ago in the Middle East. Some believe that Moses was the founder of Judaism while others say Abraham. Torah is the main religious book of Judaism and its laws are known as Halkhah. Jews believe that there is only one god (Monotheism), Yahweh (God) has established a covenant with Abraham which must be passed on to future generations, God revealed the Torah to Moses and his prophecies are true. Israel have the highest number of Jewish people, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot are the three main pilgrimage festival in Judaism and their place of worship is called synagogues.

Christianity

Christianity is a religion based upon the teachings and miracles of Jesus and Jesus is the Christ. Some of the core beliefs of Christianity are: Monotheism, Adam and Eve was God’s creation and Jesus Christ is the son of God but not in the sense of a human father and a son because God did not mate with Mary to give birth to Jesus and he was conceived in Mary by the holy spirit. Christianity was originated in Palestine and is currently the largest religion of the world. Bible is the main text in Christianity and it has divided into three branches which are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism. Easter and Christmas are their two main festivals and christens go to church every Sunday for worshipping God.

Islam

Islam is a religious system began in the seventh century by Prophet Muhammad. During this time Muhammad claims angel Gabriel visited and revealed the word of God to him which continued for approximately twenty-three years until his death. These dictated revelations compose the Quran which is the holy book of Islam. Some of the major beliefs are: Monotheism, belief in the prophets, belief in the angels, predestination and the day of judgement. The believers of Islam are called Muslims and Allah is the Arabic term which means God is used by Muslims only. Muslims also believe to go to heaven they must follow the five pillars of Islam which are: the testimony of faith, Prayer, Giving, Fasting and Pilgrimage to Mecca. (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Muslims are fighting each other all over the world, especially in the middle east. It all began almost 1400 years ago after the death of Prophet Muhammad. Since he did not appoint his successor, one group of Muslims currently known as Shia believed that someone from Prophets blood line should become his successor where another group currently known as the Sunnis believed that prophets friend Abu Bakar should be the new successor. This led to Sunni-Shia conflict which yet continues. In the middle east, I think the war between Sunni majority countries like Saudi Arab against Shia majority countries such as Iran won’t stop even if both the groups agree on who the rightful successor of Prophet Muhammad was because now religion is a small part of a much bigger and complex geostrategic and political picture. The Sunni-Shia war in the Middle East happening now is for modern Nationalism, power, money, oil, land, military and influences.

The Shia-Sunni war is not the only religious issue in the middle east. Although all the three major religions in the middle east follow Monotheism and consider Abraham the founder of their religion but their beliefs still collude with one another. For example, Jews believe Sarah, wife of Abraham gave birth to his son Issac and was his successor where Muslims believe Hagar, servant of Sarah gave birth to Abrahams son Ishmael was his successor. Christens believe Jesus is the son of the God but Muslims believe he was only a prophet of Allah. Jewish, Christens and Muslims are fighting each other since world war-I for being the most dominant religion in the middle east. The conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims is one of the examples where both the groups are fighting for the hallowed land. Jews of Israel want Jerusalem as they believe God has promised to gift the holy piece of land to Jewish people as an eternal inheritance where Muslims also want Jerusalem as they consider this a holy place because of Prophet Mohammed ascending to Heaven on the Buraq over Jerusalem’s temple mount. Zionism, retaliation, military power, resources etc are some other reasons for Israel-Palestine conflict.

Reference Websites

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_Middle_East#Judaism
  2. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/three-religions-one-god_b_838605
  3. http://softschools.com/facts/religion/judaism_facts/997/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_the_Middle_East
  5. https://carm.org/what-is-christianity
  6. https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-Son-of-God.html
  7. http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e1507
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/05/sunni-shia-why-conflict-more-political-than-religious-sectarian-middle-east
  9. http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/09/16/avoid-a-classic-blunder-stay-out-of-religious-wars-in-the-middle-east/
  10. https://www.compellingtruth.org/Jews-Arabs-Muslims.html

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