Islam originates in the Middle East, specifically in Mecca, now part of Saudi Arabia. It's the place where the prophet Muhammad was born, lived and died. The prophet was born around 570 CE and he received the first revelation from God in the year 610 CE.
Islam is a monotheistic religion centered around the belief in one God, Allah. Its followers are called Muslims and the essential belief of the faith is that Allah is the one and true God and there are no other Gods besides him. The primacy of sacred places, including the birthplace of the faith, Mecca, as well as Medina and Jerusalem, is one of the defining characteristics of Islam. After the seventh century, Islam quickly expanded beyond its birthplace in the Arabian peninsula and presently it has a significant influence throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. The Holy Book of Islam, the Qur'an, begins with the verses revealed to Muhammad in 610 CE. There are about 1.2 million Muslims in the world, with only about 18 percent living in the Middle East. There are two basic groups of Islam: the Sunnis and the Shi'ites, who share the basic beliefs of the Islamic faith but disagree concerning political differences.