Most Turks are Muslim. The majority follow the Sunni tradition, but there is a Shi'ite minority. Because of the predominance of Islam, and in spite of the growing influence of the West, many Turks will stop what they are doing when they hear the call to prayer, which is broadcast from mosques five times a day. The call for prayer says, "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger."

 In the 1920s, the traditional day of rest and devotion was changed from Friday to Sunday. Even though Friday is now a day of work, many people still go to the mosque for special cuma prayers (Friday prayers). Although most Turkish people are believers in the Islamic faith, religion is kept separate from secular life. 

Sufism is the mystical expression of Islam. Sufis believe that through meditation and asceticism,union with the divine can be reached. Since the 8th century, Sufis have established religious orders where they could practise their beliefs. Sufism has not always been accepted by proponents of orthodox Islam. Before 1956, Sufi orders were occasionally banned by the Turkish government. 

One of the most well-known of the Sufi orders was founded by the 13th century Persian poet Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, who was called Mevlana (Our Guide) by his followers. The Mevlevi, or whirling dervishes, believe that union with God can be attained through continuous spinning in a dance called sema. They wear long robes with full skirts that represent their shrouds and tall hats that represent their tombstones, because they have died to earthly things and are reborn in union with God. The centre for the Mevlevi order is in Konya in central Turkey, where Rumi is buried.

 Did you know? 
One of the most beautiful buildings in Istanbul is Aya Sofya (Holy Wisdom). It was built in the Byzantine era as a Christian basilica, but the Ottomans converted it into a mosque. In 1935 it was deconsecrated and turned into a museum.
Several other religions are practised in Turkey, including Roman Catholicism, Greek and Russian Orthodox Christianity and Judaism. The leader of the Greek Orthodox church, called the patriarch, lives in Istanbul. Most Christians and Jews live in the large cities such as Istanbul and Ankara. Many important Christian historical sites are located in Turkey, including the underground cities of the Christians of Cappadocia in the Goreme valley, which were built into the mountain rock, and the tomb of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus.