Islam is the state religion of Bahrain. It originated in Arabia in the 7th century. Islam means "the way of submission," that is, submission to the will of Allah (God). Muslims believe that Allah revealed himself to his prophet, Mohammed. During his lifetime, Mohammed's followers carefully memorized his words. After Mohammed's death, they recorded his sayings in the Qur'an. This became the Holy Book for the followers of Islam.
Muslims observe five practices known as the Five Pillars of Islam. The shahadah is the profession of faith: "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his Prophet." Most Muslims repeat this at least daily. Salat is the requirement to pray five times a day. Muslims pray facing Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the city of Mohammed. Zakat is giving charity to the needy. Saum is fasting during the month of Ramadan. Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims must make at least once in their lives, if possible.
Being a mujahid, or "a striver," for moral and religious perfection includes respecting parents and elders, helping to provide for close relatives and observing the Islamic dietary laws, which prohibit eating pork and drinking alcohol.
Friday is the Muslim holy day and the day of rest. Muslims worship at a mosque. The largest building in Bahrain is the Grand Mosque in Manama, which is big enough to hold 7,000 worshippers.
There are two main branches of Islam: Shi'ite and Sunni. Shi'ite Muslims make up 75% of the Muslim population of Bahrain; Sunnis make up 25%. The Bahraini royal family and most of the merchant classes are Sunni. Generally, orthodox Sunni Islam holds that the Qur'an is the final authority on matters of religion. Shi'ite Islam maintains that the imam, or spiritual guide and leader (considered to be a successor to the prophet Mohammed), has both the divine inspiration and authority of Allah to interpret the message of the Qur'an.