To beguine with, the following are 3 crucial definitions needed to answer one of the most sensitive questions today being —-> who are the Arabs? Are Arabs one race or one ethnic group?. …The misconceptions known about Arabs does not only cause social-cultural stereotypes, but its also misunderstood at a political level, this is quite obvious in the misunderstandings surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and most recently the current conflict in Sudan.
1) Arabization: is the process at which a nation or an ethnic group adopts the Arabic language as its first official spoken language. Their previous language either remains as a second language or as in most cases it completely disappears since its no longer spoken.
Arabization took place between the 2nd up till the 7th century, where people from the Levant region up till north Africa and some mid-African countries became arabized and today are all known collectively as ‘Arabs’.
2) Arab (عرب): is a “linguistic definition” used to describe all those from various backgrounds who became Arabized by adopting the Arabic language as their first spoken language. Simply by definition an Arab is anyone whose tongue is Arabic regardless of their ancestral origins.
3) Arabi (أعرابي ): is an “ethnic definition” named after the nomadic Bedouin tribes who roamed the deserts of the Arabia (today named the Arabian Peninsula or the Gulf region). Arabis are the original people who spoke Arabic, which is a minor member of the Semitic language family, historically used by a small number of largely nomadic tribes in the Arabian Peninsula.
Confusion between the ‘Arab’ verses ‘Arabi’ namings in Arabia (Gulf region):
The people of the gulf were all ethnically Arabi. Nevertheless many tribes later on settled down in the South (Yemen) and the West coast (Hejaz) and were given a new name (Arab) exclusively based on their lifestyle However, the word (Arabi) was continued to be used to refer only to those who preserved their nomadic lifestyle being the Bedouins.
So historically, before the process of Arabization outside the Peninsula began, ‘Arab’ was a term used to identify the sedentary urbanized tribes, it was then also used to describe all those people from various backgrounds who became arabized and who also happen to lead the same lifestyle as the Arabs of the Peninsula i.e. a sedentary urbanized lifestyle. Thefore the arabized populations were identified as ‘Arab’ rather than ‘Arabi’
Conclusion: “All Arabies are Arabs but not all Arabs are Arabis”
– Simply Arabies is an ‘ethnic definition’ while Arabs is an ‘linguistic definition’.
–The Arab world = 6 distinguished regions :
The Arab world is composed of 25 countries and territories with a combined population of 358 million people straddling North Africa and Western Asia. It can be divided into 6 categories according to their origins and the timings of their Arabization. The people of those regions are not only distinguished based on geography, but also their culture and lifestyle that differs and varies from one region to another at different degrees, and most importantly their spoken Arabic colloquial speech, which obviously varies due to their different origins, so each group adapted to the change in language by developing their own unique dialect.
a) Levanite Arabs: The arabized people from different ethnic backgrounds who inhabited part of the Levant region. Countries included: Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon. Historically those four countries were once united under the name ‘Belad Al-Sham’ (The home-land of Damascus, referring to the land surrounding the Damascus –their capital city).
b) Mesopotamian Arabs: The arabized people from different ethnic backgrounds who inhabited Mesopotamia (Iraq).
a+b = are today collectively known as Al-Mashreq (refers to the eastern part of the Arab world). Both were Arabized in the 2nd century.
c) Egyptian Arabs: the Arabized people from different ethnic backgrounds who inhabited Egypt. Arabized in the 7th century.
d) Andalus Arabs: the Arabized people from different ethnic backgrounds who inhabited western part of north Africa. Countries included: Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya). Today those four countries are collectively known as Al-Maghreb (refers to the western part of the Arab world), they were Arabized in the 7th century.
e) Gulfy Arabs: the original Arabies of the Arabian Peninsula. Countries included: United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen and Saudi Arabia (the biggest chunk of the gulf region).
f) Mid-African countries: the Arabized African people, who also became arabized in the 7th century Countries included: Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Mauritania, and Comoros.
–The truth must be said here, out of all those Arabs, the ones who are constantly making the headlines for their cultural disorders are the Gulf Arabs, also labelled as ‘Gulfies’ by other Arabs. So avoid generalization & Stereotypes…HOWEVA, there is hope in the youngest generation, there are lots of promising samples among them, hence the term ‘gulfies’ by be a bit way too offending, due to the negative image this word is associated with.
The process of Arabization:
The Levant region, was populated by various ethnic groups (Canaanites-Phoenician), Babylonian, Aramean, Assyrian, Nabatians and akkadians, who spoke different Semitic languages. The shift from multi-languages to one language under one rule can be only be reasonably explained as being a political strategic decision, to unify all those people under one government and to enhance the means of communications. Hence one language has to be chosen to become the official language spoken & understood by all, since choosing one out of the many local languages would have created disputes and division, they decided to choose a foreign language. They chose Arabic due to strong trade connections and massive flourishing businesses with both al-Hejaz & Yemen, and also due to the immigration of mainly Christian & few Jewish Arab tribes from the south of Arabia, which made the Arabic language a reasonable choice. The Levant became arabized between the 2nd & 3rd centuries, which even further enhanced the strong relationship between the two regions including the exchange of goods & knowledge. Centuries later Islam was fast spread to the Levant due to the common language. So Arabization came before Islamization in the Levant.
Whereas Islamization & Arabization took place simultaneously in North Africa and the mid-African countries during the 7th -8th century with the rise of Islam, (Its important not to dismiss the Christian& Jewish arabized people who weren’t Islamized).
In short Islam has crushed all those diverse cultures and civilizations in those regions and replaced it all by one culture which is the Islamic culture, centuries later we could sense some difference in culture and traditions between those arabized-islamized regions and even the in the Islamized but not arabized countries, yet they all remain Islamic at the core.
If those people only KNEW the potential they had before the Islamic culture ruined it all. Before they became islamized numerous civilizations and one of the oldest were established & flourished in those regions, from babylon, assyira, hittes, sumeria, cannites-phoenicians, moorish, phaoroes, ..etc. They claim Islam has brought civilization to those regions, but in reality it has replaced all those diverse cultures with one common backward culture. Then they dare to give Islam credit for the golden age, where in fact they were only able to florish for short period of time because of all the benefits they were able to get from uniting all those people and having direct access to all their resources and contributions. All the philosophers, doctors, scientists, and mathematicians from arabia to the arabized regions were atheists, its quite evident in their work. The Islamic age was doomed to be crushed at the same rate it was created, because its clearly a flawed system down to the core, it didn’t bring anything new or positive, they just captured all those people under the threat of a sword. The end of Islamic age caused those defenceless regions to be easily occupied and enslaved over & over again from the ottomans down to the western colonisers without having the chance to rise up again, the western occupiers eventually left for materialistic-economic reasons, they saw it would be less costly to control those regions by dividing those regions into small countries and installing puppet regimes in their place who would continue to allow them to interfere and abuse their resources, while the foolish Arabs today truly think that they have indeed got their full independence. So the way i see it Islam has not only ruined the Arab world culturally with its teachings but also politically (due to the drastic end of the Islamic empire which brought endless wars & occupations) and economically (by paralyzing half of the workforce-women) -its directly related to the current situation in the Arab world in every way possible.
How Islam managed to survive and its direct relationship to the Arabic language is to be explained in section (2).