In the Middle East the prevailing religion is Islam and the followers of Islamic belief are called Muslims. The majority of the countries and autonomies of the Middle East are traditionally the most radical Islamic societies, some of which have highly Islamic-oriented governments.
The region includes a number of Arabian countries (such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, etc.), countries of Western Asia (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and others), as well as Egypt and a number of autonomies (including Kurdish and Gaza). Most of the population practice Sunni denomination of Islam and only about 15% of Middle Eastern Muslims are Shi’a. The Sunni are considered to be the followers of Abu Bakar, one of the earliest Muslim caliphs, who according to the viewpoints of Shi’a-minority violated the teachings and orders of Mohammed.
Shi’a is quite widespread around the territories of modern Iran (where 85-90% of population are Shi’a), Yemen, Bahrain, as well as around some parts of Azerbaijan, Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Islam is the second largest religion in the world (after Christianity) and the amount of its adherents around the world exceeds 1 billion people. It is based on teachings of Mohammed, who is supposed to be the final prophet of God. According to the teachings, God sent Quran to Mohammed as the main source of the religion.
General practice of Islam is observation of the Five Pillars of Islam, which include praying five times a day, pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting during the most important Islamic holiday Ramadan, regularly giving away a small part of the income for poor and hungry people, etc.
• Martin, R. C. , Arjomand, S. A. , Hermansen, M. , Tayob, A. , Davis, R. & Voll, J. O. (Ed. ) (2003). Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. London, the U. K. : MacMillan Reference Books