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Index /
Religions


In the MENA countries there are 14 formalized religions; in addition Sudan has several traditions of local religions.
Three of the religions classified here as unique religions are often in other sources included among the larger body of Islam; why LookLex defines these as independent is dealt with in each individual article. The religions in question are Ahl-e Haqq; Alevism; and Isma'ilism.
Conditions for religious minorities in MENA has since long been hard, and it is always Muslims against non-Muslims, never the other way around.
Muslim groups and Muslim leaders are in many countries directly, and indirectly, involved in many levels of a discriminatory policy towards non-Muslims. In recent years, conditions for Christians and Mandeans in Iraq have caused a near exodus of these groups, both with pre-Islamic roots. The only countries without a Muslim elite have no policy corresponding to this. There is no discrimination against Muslims in Israel, and in Lebanon, Muslims face no form for discrimination.
Iran has since 30 years conducted a policy of great discrimination against certain minority religions, while other groups are well-protected and respected. Here, the Baha'i are subject to a policy of lesser civil rights (like being rejected from entry to universities).
Radicalization is a trend across the MENA region. Radical orientations of Islam have increasing memberships, and even more, increasing influence on the public in general. Christians have become increasingly concious about their identities, but this is a result of pressure from the Muslim majority and frustration over lack of support from Western countries.
The indicator for number of adherents is only in MENA countries.

Ahl-e Haqq (Yarsanism)
2.2 million adherents in Iraq and Iran.
Alevism
19 million adherents in Turkey and Iran.
Babism
Nearly extinct, only in Uzbekistan.
Baha'i
645,000 adherents, most in Iran.
Christianity
18.6 million adherents, in most countries.

Armenian Orthodox | Coptic | Eastern Rite (Catholic) | Armenian Catholic | Chaldean Catholic | Coptic Catholic | Maronite | Melkite Greek Catholic | Syrian Catholic | Greek Orthodox | Nestorian | Protestants | Roman Catholic | Syrian Orthodox |
Druze
650,000 adherents, most in Syria and Lebanon.
Islam
395 million adherents, in all countries.
Sunni | Shi'i | Twelvers | Seveners | Zaydism | Ibadi | Khariji | Alawite | Sufism |
Isma'ilism
900,000 adherents, in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.
Judaism
6 million adherents, most in Israel.
Ashkenazi | Sephardi | Conservative | Karaism | Neturei Karta | Orthodox | Reform |
Mandeaism
30,000 adherents in Iraq.
Samaritanism
A few hundred adherents, in Israel and Palestine.
Shabak
Around 70,000 adherents in Iraq.
Zoroastrianism
60,000 adherents in Iran.
Yazidism
580,000 adherents, most in Iraq.

Religion families
Gnosticism
Iranian religions
Yazdanism





By Tore Kjeilen