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فارسی

 

An Arab is a person who identifies as such on genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds. The plural form, Arabs, refers to the ethnic group at large.

Though the Arabic language pre-dates the Common Era, Arabic culture was first spread in the Middle East beginning in the 2nd century as ethnically Arab Christians such as the Ghassanids, Lakhmids and Banu Judham began migrating into the Northern Arabian desert and the Levant.The Arabic language gained greater prominence with the rise of Islam in the 7th century AD as the language of the Qur'an, and Arabic language and culture were more widely disseminated as a result of early Islamic expansion.

Early Semites, such as the Arameans, Akkadians and Canaanites, built civilizations in Mesopotamia and the Levant; genetically, they often interlapped and mixed. Slowly, however, they lost their political domination of the Near East due to internal turmoil and attacks by non-Semitic peoples. Although the Semites eventually lost political control of the Middle East to the Persian Empire, the Aramaic language remained the lingua Franca of Mesopotamia and the Levant. Aramaic itself was replaced by Greek as the Middle East's prestige language following the conquest of Alexander the Great.

The Torah occasionally refers to `Arvi peoples (or variants thereof), translated as "Arab" or "Arabian". The scope of the term at that early stage is unclear, but it seems to have referred to various desert-dwelling Semitic tribes in the Syrian Desert and Arabia. Its earliest attested use refers to the neighboring nomadic groups such as those of Gindibu the Arab. Proto-Arabic, or ancient north Arabian, texts give a clearer picture of the Arabs' emergence. The earliest are written in variants of epigraphic south Arabian musnad script, including the 8th century BC Hasaean inscriptions of eastern Saudi Arabia, the 6th century BC Lihyanite texts of southeastern Saudi Arabia and the Thamudic texts found throughout Arabia and the Sinai (not in reality connected with Thamud).

The Nabateans were nomadic newcomers who moved into territory vacated by the Edomites -- Semites who settled the region centuries before them. Their early inscriptions were in Aramaic, but gradually switched to Arabic, and since they had writing, it was they who made the first inscriptions in Arabic. The Nabatean Alphabet was adopted by Arabs to the south, and evolved into modern Arabic script around the 4th century. This is attested by Safaitic inscriptions (beginning in the 1st century BC) and the many Arabic personal names in Nabataean inscriptions. From about the 2nd century BC, a few inscriptions from Qaryat al-Faw (near Sulayyil) reveal a dialect which is no longer considered "proto-Arabic", but pre-classical Arabic.

In Sassanid times, Arabia Petraea was a border province between the Roman and Persian empires[citation needed], and from the early centuries AD was increasingly affected by Arab influence, notably with the Ghassanids migrating north from the 3rd century.

The Ghassanids,Lakhmids and Kindites were the last major migration of non-Muslims out of Yemen to the north.

The Ghassanids revived the Semitic presence in the then Hellenized Syria. They mainly settled the Hauran region and spread to modern Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. The Ghassanids held Syria until engulfed by the expansion of Islam.

Greeks and Romans referred to all the nomadic population of the desert in the Near East as Arabi. The Greeks called Yemen "Arabia Felix"[19]. The Romans called the vassal nomadic states within the Roman Empire "Arabia Petraea" after the city of Petra, and called unconquered deserts bordering the empire to the south and east Arabia Magna.

The Lakhmids settled the mid Tigris region around their capital Al-hira they ended up allying with the Sassanid against the Ghassanids and the Byzantine Empire. The Lakhmids contested control of the Central Arabian tribes with the Kindites with the Lakhmids eventually destroying Kinda in 540 after the fall of their main ally Himyar. The Sassanids dissolved the Lakhmid kingdom in 602.

The Kindites migrated from Yemen along with the Ghassanids and Lakhmids, but were turned back in Bahrain by the Abdul Qais Rabi'a tribe. They returned to Yemen and allied themselves with the Himyarites who installed them as a vassal kingdom that ruled Central Arbia from Qaryah dhat Kahl (the present-day Qaryat al-Faw) in Central Arabia. They ruled much of the Northern/Central Arabian peninsula until the fall of the Himyarites in 525AD.

Early Islamic period

Muslims of Medina referred to the nomadic tribes of the deserts as the A'raab, and considered themselves sedentary, but were aware of their close racial bonds. The term "A'raab' mirrors the term Assyrians used to describe the closely related nomads they defeated in Syria.

The Qur'an does not use the word ?arab, only the nisba adjective ?arabiy. The Qur'an calls itself ?arabiy, "Arabic", and Mubin, "clear". The two qualities are connected for example in ayat 43.2-3, "By the clear Book: We have made it an Arabic recitation in order that you may understand". The Qur'an became regarded as the prime example of the al-?arabiyya, the language of the Arabs. The term ?i?rab has the same root and refers to a particularly clear and correct mode of speech. The plural noun ?a?rab refers to the Bedouin tribes of the desert who resisted Muhammad, for example in ayat 9.97, al'a'rabu ?ašaddu kufran wa nifaqan "the Bedouin are the worst in disbelief and hypocrisy".

Based on this, in early Islamic terminology, ?arabiy referred to the language, and ?a?rab to the Arab Bedouins, carrying a negative connotation due to the Qur'anic verdict just cited. But after the Islamic conquest of the 8th century, the language of the nomadic Arabs became regarded as the most pure by the grammarians following Abi Ishaq, and the term kalam al-?Arab, "language of the Arabs", denoted the uncontaminated language of the Bedouins.

Levant and Iraq

The arrival of Islam united the Arab tribes, who flooded into the Semitic Levant and Iraq. In 661, and throughout the Caliphate's rule by the Ummayad dynasty, Damascus was established as the Muslim capital. In these newly acquired territories, Arabs comprised the ruling military elite and as such, enjoyed special privileges. They were proud of their Arab ancestry and sponsored the poetry and culture of pre-Islamic Arabia whilst diffusing with Levantine and Iraqi culture. They established garrison towns, including Ramla, ar-Raqqah, Basra, Kufa, Mosul and Samarra — all of which developed into major cities.

Caliph Abd al-Malik established Arabic as the Caliphate's official language in 686. This reform greatly influenced the conquered non-Arab peoples and fueled the Arabization of the region. However, the Arabs' higher status among non-Arab Muslim converts and the latter's obligation to pay heavy taxes caused resentment. Caliph Umar II strove to resolve the conflict when he came to power in 717. He rectified the situation, demanding that all Muslims be treated as equals but, his intended reforms did not take effect as he died after only three years of rule. By now, discontent swept the region and a bloody uprising occurred in which the Abbasids came to power and moved the capital to Baghdad. The Abbasids were also Arabs (descendants of Muhammad's uncle Abbas) and unlike the Ummayads, they had the support of non-Arab Islamic groups.[20] Through Islam and Arabic as the language of administration the Levantine and Iraqi populations were eventually Arabized.

North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula

The Phoenicians and later the Carthaginians dominated North African and Iberian shores for more than 8 centuries until they were suppressed by the Romans and the later Vandal invasion. Inland, the nomadic Berbers allied with Arab Muslims in invading Spain. The Arabs mainly settled the old Phoenician and Carthagenian towns, while the Berbers remained dominant inland. Inland north Africa remained partly Arabized until the 11th century, whereas the Iberian Peninsula, particularly its southern part, remained heavily Arabized, until the expulsion of the Moriscos in the 17th century.

Medieval times

Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddima distinguishes between sedentary Muslims who used to be nomadic Arabs and the Bedouin nomadic Arabs of the desert. He used the term "formerly-nomadic" Arabs and refers to sedentary Muslims by the region or city they lived in, as in Egyptians, Spaniards and Yemenis.The Christians of Italy and the Crusaders preferred the term Saracens for all the Arabs and Muslims of that time. The Christians of Iberia used the term Moor to describe all the Arabs and Muslims of that time.

Arabs of Central Asia
Further information: History of Arabs in Afghanistan
Most Arabs of Central Asia are fully assimilated with local populations, and call themselves the same as locals (e.g. Kazakhs, Tajiks, Uzbeks). In order to notice their Arab origin they have a special term: Sayyid, Khoja or Siddiqui.

Banu Hilal in North Africa, 1046AD
The Banu Hilal was an Arabian tribal confederation, organized by the Fatimids. They struck in Libya, reducing the Zenata Berbers (a clan that claimed Yemeni ancestry from pre-Islamic periods) and small coastal towns, and Arabizing the Sanhaja berber confederation. The Banu Hilal eventually Settled modern (Morocco and Algeria) and subdued Arabized the Sanhaja by the time of Ibn Khaldun.

Banu Sulaym in North Africa, 1049AD
The Banu Sulyam is another Bedouin tribal confederation from Nejd which followed through the trials of Banu Hilal and helped them defeat the Zirids in the Battle of Gabis in 1052 AD, and finally took Kairuan in 1057 Ad. The Banu Sulaym mainly settled and completely Arabized Libya.

Banu Kanz Nubia/Sudan, 11th-14th century
A branch of the Rabi'ah tribe settled in north Sudan and slowly Arabized the Makurian kingdom in modern Sudan until 1315 AD when the Banu Kanz inherited the kingdom of Makuria and paved the way for the Arabization of the Sudan, that was completed by the arrival of the Jaalin and Juhayna Arab tribes.

Banu Hassan Mauritania 1644-1674AD
The Banu Maqil is a Yemeni nomadic tribe that settled in Tunisia in the 13th century. The Banu Hassan a Maqil branch moved into the Sanhaja region in whats today the Western Sahara and Mauritania, they fought a thirty years war on the side of the Lamtuna Arabized Berbers who claimed Himyarite ancestry (from the early Islamic invasions) defeating the Sanhaja berbers and Arabizing Mauritania.

Tribal genealogy

Medieval Arab genealogists divided Arabs into three groups:

"Ancient Arabs", tribes that had vanished or been destroyed, such as 'Ad and Thamud, often mentioned in the Qur'an as examples of God's power to destroy wicked peoples.

"Pure Arabs" of South Arabia, descending from Qahtan. The Qahtanites (Qahtanis) are said to have migrated the land of Yemen following the destruction of the Ma'rib Dam (sadd Ma'rib).

The "Arabized Arabs" (musta`ribah) of center and North Arabia, descending from Ishmael son of Abraham. The Book of Jubilees claims that the The sons of Ishmael intermingled with the 6 sons of Keturah from Abraham And was called Arabs and Ishmaelites:

Book of Jubilees 20:13 And Ishmael and his sons, and the sons of Keturah and their sons, went together and dwelt from Paran to the entering in of Babylon in all the land which is towards the East facing the desert. And these mingled with each other, and their name was called Arabs, and Ishmaelites.

Arab Muslims are Sunni, Shia or Ibadhi. The Druze faith is generally considered divergent enough to constitute a separate religion. The self-identified Arab Christians generally follow Eastern Churches such as the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches and the Maronite church. It should be noted that many, if not most, Coptic Christians do not identify as ethnic Arabs (see Egyptian people for more information on this ethnic controversy).[citation needed]

Before the coming of Islam, most Arabs followed a religion with a number of deities, including Hubal, Wadd, Allat, Manat, and Uzza. Some tribes had converted to Christianity or Judaism. A few individuals, the hanifs, had apparently rejected polytheism in favor of monotheism unaffiliated with any particular religion. The most prominent Arab Christian kingdoms were the Ghassanid and Lakhmid kingdoms. When Himyarite kings converted to Judaism in the late 4th century, the elites of the other prominent Arab kingdom, the Kindites, being Himyirite vassals, apparently also converted (at least partly). With the expansion of Islam, polytheistic Arabs were rapidly Islamized, and polytheistic traditions disappeared.

Today, Sunni Islam dominates in most areas, overwhelmingly so in North Africa. Shia Islam is dominant in southern Iraq and southern Lebanon. Shia Muslims are also believed to be in the majority in Bahrain, and substantial Shi'a populations exist in Kuwait, eastern Saudi Arabia, northern Syria, the al-Batinah region in Oman, and in northern Yemen. The Druze community, concentrated in the Levant, follow a faith that was originally an offshoot of Ismaili Shia Islam, and are also Arab.


 

 

  Page last updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2006 12:57:03 PM -0500