Middle East and North Africa, commonly known as the MENA region, consists mostly of Arab Countries. People that are living in West know just a little about these people. This lack of knowledge has given boost to a lot of misconceptions among the people of West and they often end up mixing things that are not even close to each other. For example, as a person from outside MENA region, you might think that all Arabs are Muslims. Many may not know the difference that lies between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Here, we are going to address some of these things for you.
Arabs as ethnic group
The first thing that you need to consider is that Arab is not a religion. Arabs are actually a part of ethnic group. They were in this world before Islam. Therefore, one can also say that an Arab is a person that speaks Arabic language or of the Arabian blood.
Arabs and Muslims
As you can see above that the Arabs were in this world before Islam came. Therefore, not each and every single Arab is Muslim. Prior to Islam, there were Arab Jews and Arab Christians. Till today, there are a lot of Arabs from countries including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, etc. that are either Jews or Christians.
Islam and Muslims
Like Christianity, Islam is also a religion. And as the followers of Christ are known as Christians, The followers of Mohammad (PBUH) are known as Muslims. You cannot say that a person is following Muslim or the person himself is Islam. It is wrong. Just as you will not say that a person follows Christian or the person himself is Christianity.
The Shia Sunni difference
In Christianity, you have the Roman Catholics. You can consider the Shia Muslims in their perspective. These people have strong clerical presence and believe in following the Imams in order to be able to put the religion in practice appropriately. On the other side, the Protestant Christian can be taken in contrast to the Sunni Muslims. These people believe in Imams but have a bit more direct line relation to God.
The Iran and Arab
There are countless people that believe in the wrong fact that Iran is also a part of Arab World. Well, it is not. Iran has Persian as its local language and practice a different culture. They possess varying traditional values as compared to the Arabs. These people are known as the Persians.
Now, here are some facts for you. First of all, the Sunni Muslims consist of around 90% of the Muslim World. Secondly, the country with greatest Muslim population is Indonesia. And last but not the least, according to the Bible, the Jews and Muslims are related. How? Well, the Jews are descendants of Isaac, son of Abraham. The Arabs’ ancestor is Ishmael who was also son of Abraham.
So, these are some facts about the Arab World and MENA Region. Hope that these will help in making a lot of things clear to you regarding people that live here.