approx. 450 million
|Regions with significant populations|
|Arabic, Modern South Arabian|
|Predominantly Islam; largest minority: Christianity; other religions|
The Arabs (Arabic: العرب ʻarab) are an ethnicity widespread in the Middle East and North Africa. Arabic is one of the Semitic languages, which is also the name of the family of ethnicities that they belong to.
Who is an Arab[change | change source]
There are three points which decide whether someone is considered Arab or not:
- Political: whether they live in a country which is a member of the Arab League (or the Arab World); this definition covers more than 450 million people.
- Linguistic: whether their main language is Arabic; this definition covers more than 200 million people.
- Genealogical: whether they can trace their ancestry back to the people who first lived on the Arabian Peninsula.
There are many people who can be called Arabs by these points who do not think of themselves as Arab. One such example includes the original Egyptians (Coptics) and the Syriacs (Aramaics/Assyrians). Although they live in countries like Syria or Egypt which is part of the Arab League and speak the official language-Arabic, they are different cultural groups. They have their own languages, culture, identity and churches, such as the Coptic Orthodox and the Syriac Catholic and Orthodox churches. Even though many have assimilated to Arab society, they have their own heritage that spans 3,000 years.
Just because they live in a certain place and the government of those places act in a certain way, that does not make people a different race.
Traditional genealogy[change | change source]
In Islamic and Jewish tradition, Arabs are a Semitic people who trace their ancestry from Ishmael, a son of the ancient patriarch Abraham and Hagar. Medieval Arab genealogists separate the Arabs into two groups: the "original Arabs" of South Arabia, descending from Qahtan (identified with the biblical Joktan) and the "Arabized Arabs" (musta`ribah) of North Arabia, descending from Adnan who is descended from Ishmael.
Religion[change | change source]
Most Arabs today follow the religion of Islam, which originated from the teachings of the Arabian prophet Muhammad. Christianity makes up the largest religious minority - most of the Christians that do consider themselves Arabs belong to the Greek Orthodox Church with smaller pockets of Roman Catholics.
While Coptic and Maronite Catholic Christians are native Arabic-speakers, many reject the Arab pan-ethnicity, but are still considered Arab by outsider sources.
There are some small communities practicing Judaism, although Judaism along with polytheism (the worship of many gods) is more-often part of the historical ancient Arab World when Islam did not exist. A lot of the ancient Arabian Jews and Pagans formed kingdoms in South Arabia (today Yemen) and others (mostly polytheist or Christian) became citizens of the Roman Empire even up to big ranks.
References[change | change source]
- Arabic Language - ninemsn Encarta
- Brazil - Brasil - BRAZZIL - News from Brazil - Arabs: They are 12 Million in Brazil - Brazilian Immigration - September 2004
- By (2008-01-29). "French-Arabs battle stereotypes - Entertainment News, French Cinema, Media". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117979837.html?categoryid=2879&cs=1. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- Inmigración sirio-libanesa en Argentina
- http://www.aaiusa.org/about/17/our-history Arab American Institute (AAI)
- Iran, CIA factbook (1% Arabic-speakers and 3% ethnic Arabs)
- The World Factbook World Factbook website
- WorldStatesmen.org - Mexico
- Kister, M.J. "Ķuāḍa." Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2008. Brill Online. 10 April 2008: "The name is an early one and can be traced in fragments of the old Arab poetry. The tribes recorded as Ķuḍā'ī were: Kalb [q.v.], Djuhayna, Balī, Bahrā' [q.v.], Khawlān [q.v.], Mahra, Khushayn, Djarm, 'Udhra [q.v.], Balkayn [see al-Kayn ], Tanūkh [q.v.] and Salīh"
- Serge D. Elie, "Hadiboh: From Peripheral Village to Emerging City", Chroniques Yéménites: "In the middle, were the Arabs who originated from different parts of the mainland (e.g., prominent Mahrî tribes10, and individuals from Hadramawt, and Aden)". Footnote 10: "Their neighbours in the West scarcely regarded them as Arabs, though they themselves consider they are of the pure stock of Himyar.” 
- The Coptic language survives only in certain religious rituals; it is not now spoken by Coptic Christians.
Other websites[change | change source]
- A is for Arabs: What the world owes Arabs and Muslims
- Maps of the Arab World
- News from Arabic countries
- Business news from Arab countries
- Arabia in ancient history - with a discussion of the ancient usage of the word Arab
- Araboo.com - Arab Guide
- Arabic Search - Arabic ThroughSearch