Crash Course in Islam — Arabs
>>STEVE ST. GEORGE: Hello. I'm Steve St. George. And this is a crash course in Islam. Today are all Arabs Muslim? The short answer to that question is no, they aren't. Although Islam is the predominant religion among Arabs, there are a number of Christians and Jews who are in fact Arab. The term Arab is a tricky one, like the Hispanic label here in the United States. The Arab label refers to peoples of myriad backgrounds. The Arab world stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. As you can imagine in a region that vast, there are a lot of differences. But there are three signposts that help Arabs define themselves. The first is genealogy. This means a person calling him or herself an Arab is descended from people who have lived there for decades for centuries. The second is language. Arabs speak Arabic as their native tongue. Finally there's the political identity. The simple fact that someone is born in an Arab country and speaks Arabic makes them Arab. Religion in no way comes into the definition of Arab. Arab Muslims tend to be Shia Sunni Sufi or Druze. There are also a number of branches of Christianity in the Arab world. There are the Coptic Christians of Egypt as well as populations in places such as Lebanon and Syria that follow teachings of the Orthodox Church. And while Arab Jews no longer classify themselves as such, they do still exist. Although they are now found mostly in Tunisia, Morocco, and Iraq.