3 Major Religions of SW Asia

3 Major Religions of SW Asia
(The Middle East)
SS7G8 The student will describe the diverse cultures of the people
who live in Southwest Asia
(Middle East).
c. Compare and contrast the prominent religions in Southwest Asia
(Middle East): Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
d. Explain the reason for the division between Sunni and Shia Muslims.
United Arab
• All three religions of this region originated in
Southwest Asia
– Judaism
– Christianity
– Islam
• All three religions are monotheistic
– Meaning you believe in only one god
• Each religion also has its own sacred text, or
book, which stand at the center of their beliefs.
Brief History of Judaism
 Click
here for the brief history of Judaism
 (Internet required)
 Judaism
Judaism- facts
is the oldest of the three religions.
2000 BCE
 Sacred book: The Torah
Part of the Hebrew Bible is made up of five books
called the Torah which talk about Jewish laws
and history
 Central
one day a human leader will come as a
messenger from God and restore the
greatness of Israel. This leader is called
the messiah
Also : Belief in one god, justice,
righteousness, and law
Judaism- facts
Also central to the Jewish religion are the ideas
of justice and righteousness in dealing with
Place of Worship: Synagogue
Jewish Holidays: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur,
Hanukkah and Passover
Judaism- origin
Abraham is considered the father of
the Jewish people.
God came to Abraham and told him to leave his home in Ur
(today’s Iraq) and move his family to Canaan (today’s Israel),
which he promised to Abraham and his descendents
• This is why Jews believe that Israel is considered
their “promise land”.
• Judaism originated in Israel
Judaism- origin
 The Hebrews (Jewish people) lived in Canaan for
many years but eventually…
 The Hebrew people began to migrate to
Egypt- probably because of a famine in
the area
In Egypt they were forced into slavery by the
 The
Hebrews were eventually freed from
slavery by Moses
This was called the Exodus
Judaism- origins continued
Moses ->
The Jewish people eventually
made their way back to Canaan,
but were forced off their land by
invaders. The scattering of
Jews outside of Israel is known
as the Diaspora.
The fight for Israel will continue for many
years….. which we will come back to later!!!
A Brief History of
Click here for the video (internet required)
Christianity- facts
The Christian religion grew out Judaism.
Holy book: The Bible—made up OLD & NEW
Testaments—Gospels are parts of the life of
– It is made up of two parts the Old Testament (which
is very similar to the Hebrew Bible) and the New
Testament (stories of the life and teachings of Jesus
and the early history of the Christian religion
Christianity- facts
Place of worship: Church
The central belief is: that Jesus is the
messiah and died for the sins of man and
will return one day to restore the
greatness of Israel.
Christianity- origins
Origin-1st Century CE
 Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem and
raised a Jewish boy.
 At the age of 30 he began to teach ideas that
challenged the authority of political and religious
– He believed that the old laws should be replaced by a
simpler system based on love of one’s fellow human
Christianity- origins
The Jewish leaders fearing loss of power asked
the Romans to arrest him
Jesus was crucified (nailed to a cross) by the Romans
Christianity- origin con.
After his resurrection, Jesus stayed with his 12
disciples (or apostles) to teach them so they
could continue what he had started.
12 apostles spread Jesus’ word after he
As Christianity continued to spread and become popular
the Roman leaders became worried.
were often arrested or killed for refusing
to worship the gods of Rome; forcing
many to practice the Christian religion in
Christianity- origin con.
Though the religion was made illegal, it
continued to grow and spread
 Eventually reaching members of the
Roman Emperor himself- Constantine.
– 313 C.E.- Going into battle he had his soldiers
fight with the Christian symbol- they won the
– Shortly after Constantine he removed bans
against the practice of Christianity and formed
a council of Christian leaders to help unify the
A Brief Introduction to Islam
Click here for the video (Internet required)
Islam- Facts
The Third religion to develop
Origin: 622 CE
Its holy book is called the: Qur’an
Place of Worship: Mosque
Islam Facts
The central belief Allah is their God and
Muhammad is the prophet & founder!
The Five Pillars – Five main beliefs
1. Believe in only one God and
2. Pray in the direction of Mecca 5
times a day
3. Give money to the poor
4. Fast during the holy month of
5. Make a journey (Hajj) to Mecca
(Saudi Arabia) at least once
Mecca- Saudi Arabia
Islam- origin
Muhammad was born in Mecca, Saudi
At the age of 40 the angel Gabriel (a
figure from the Hebrew Bible) appeared to
Muhammad while he was praying in a
The angel gave him messages from Allah,
which he began spreading the teaching of
Islam throughout parts of the Middle East.
Islam Branches
There are TWO branches of Islam:
Sunni: 90% of the world Muslims, DO NOT
believe you have to be related to Muhammad to be
a supreme leader
 Shia:
10% of the world Muslim
population, DO BELIEVE you have to be
related to Muhammad to be a supreme
leader (tend to be more strict)
The majority of people living
in the Middle East
(Southwest Asia) follow
Since all 3 major
monotheistic religions
originated in the Middle
East…what are some
problems that could arise
because of this?

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