The Middle East Cultural Geography Three major ethnic groups of the Middle East • Arabs • Persians • Turks *The major religion is Islam, followed by Christianity and Judaism. Two cultural tools came from the Middle East… • Western alphabet • Western numbers Three religions originated in this region: • Judaism • Christianity • Islam Countries with the Largest Muslim Population 1. Indonesia 183,000,000 6. Iran 62,000,000 2. Pakistan 134,000,000 7. Egypt 59,000,000 3. India 121,000,000 8. Nigeria 53,000,000 4. Bangladesh 114,000,000 9. Algeria 31,000,000 10. Morocco 29,000,000 5. Turkey 66,000,000 * Arabs make up only 20% of the total Muslim population of the world. To whom does the term Arabic refer? * People who speak Arabic and share a common culture… By what factors are Arabs united? * Their language, customs, and (to some extent) their religion Muslims practice Islam • The word Islam means “submission or surrender to the will of God.” • An Arab merchant named Muhammed taught that there was only one Allah, or God. • He said that he was God’s messenger. • His teachings are the foundation of Islam. Don’t get confused! • All 3 Middle Eastern Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are monotheistic (belief in one god) • Christians, however, believe in God as a trinity (father, son, holy spirit) and that Jesus was God’s son • Muslims believe that Muhammed was God’s messenger (not son) • Jews believe that the Messiah has not yet arrived • All 3 share the same foundation through the lineage of Abraham Abraham’s Genealogy HAGAR ABRAHAM Ishmael 12 Arabian Tribes SARAH Isaac Jacob 12 Tribes of Israel Esau Five pillars of Islam… • The hajj (the pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammed) • Belief in one God • Prayer 5 times daily • The giving of alms • Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan The hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is an important aspect of Islam *Millions travel to Mecca each year! Mecca road sign What about these required prayers? The mandatory prayers performed 5 times a day: * dawn * noon * late afternoon * sunset * before going to bed Wash before praying. Face Mecca and use a prayer rug. The call to prayer by the muezzin in the minaret. Pray in the mosque on Friday. 2 Those who complete the pilgrimage can add the title hajji to their name. 5 Three non-Arab Muslim groups include… • • • • • • Turks Persians Kurds Indonesians Pakistanis Nigerians How do the Turks and Persians differ from the Arabs? • Although they share the Muslim religion, their customs and languages are different from those of the Arabs. What foundations of faith do Christians and Jews have that are comparable to the five pillars? The Ten Commandments Which Middle Eastern people are nonMuslim, and where do they live? • Christians—Cyprus and Lebanon • Jews—Israel How are the roles of Middle Eastern women different from those of the United States and Western Europe? • In many Middle Eastern countries, women and men are expected to live apart more often. • Generally speaking, women have less power and opportunity in the Middle East. In some countries, laws limit their conduct and they must follow strict rules. Currently, the M.E. is experiencing a rise in conflict between the two major groups of muslims- Sunni and Shia. This has caused religious conflict in the area that goes back more than a 1000 years. Other factors contributing to unrest: 1. Cultural conflicts 2. Non-democratic governments 3. Lack of economic development Bazaars • Bazaars are outdoor markets where many of the same items traded long ago are still traded today. • Textiles, fine carpets, and farm products are often traded. OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries • This organization was formed to help the oil-producing countries get a fairer price for their oil. More oil facts: • The Middle East and North Africa produce 1/3 of the world’s oil annually. • Saudi Arabia produces the most oil annually (over 3 billion barrels)! • Oil-rich nations use oil money to produce schools, airports, highways, ports, hospitals, and factories. Agriculture in Israel • To farm their harsh lands, the early settlers of Israel developed two special kinds of farms: * a moshav (cooperative farm) * a kibbutz (collective farm) Israel uses advanced agricultural technology to farm the arid land. Arts and Recreation • Storytellers are highly regarded in this region. • Muslim artists are known for their calligraphy. • Camel racing is a popular traditional sport. • Sports and recreation in this area combine old and new pastimes. Middle Eastern Governments • Absolute rulers have complete power. Their authority cannot be challenged. • Most Middle Eastern rulers have traditional titles such as sultan or emir. • Many governments in the Middle East rely on Islamic law, or sharia, to govern them fully or partially. More recently, the Middle East has received a great deal of attention for an anti-government Afghan terrorist group. • There is a Muslim extremist group that has added a sixth pillar of Islam. This sixth pillar is the “jihad,” or “holy war.” It includes the belief that dying in the name of Allah sends one directly to heaven.