Islam is the predominant religion in the Middle East and is the second-largest religion in the world. Not limited to the Middle East, it has approximately 1.4 billion members, 80% of which are non-Arabs. It is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. Its adherents are called "Muslims" (also spelled Moslem), historically "Musselman", "Muhammedans", or even simply "Turks" in Europe and North America. In Arabic, a Muslim is "one who submits to God" (Allah).
Muslims, like Jews and Christians, are monotheistic and trace their roots to Abraham. However, they receive their instruction from the Qur'an (also spelled Koran) rather than the Bible or Torah. Islam's beginnings as a distinct people can be traced back to the 7th century under the leadership of Muhammed and his followers. An universalizing (evangelizing) religion, it spread throughout the world by military conquest and Muslim missionaries.
Islamic fundamentalism is fairly strong in middle-eastern regions, one result being the oppression of women. Spurred by, though unlikely exclusively due to, inflammatory passages of the Qu'ran, there have been instances of terrorism in the name of Islam, including suicide bombings, beheadings and public stonings .
Moderate Muslims are more prevalent in Europe, but despite this there are still extremists in Europe who a large part of the time push to silence criticism of their religion and of Muhammed rather than addressing the criticisms.
A Religion of Love and Peace?
Islam is often called a "religion of peace" but the quraan gives you an impression of anything but that. Just a few of many violent quotes from the Qur'an