Note: Umm Kulthum4 // Umm Kulthum4 // TabulaRogeriana upside-down
Umayyad Era (661–750)
In 661, the Rashidun Caliphate fell into the hands of the Umayyad dynasty and Damascus was established as the empire's capital. The Umayyads were proud of their Arab ancestry and sponsored the poetry and culture of pre-Islamic Arabia. They established garrison towns at Ramla, Raqqa, 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 disparity, 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 with the Umayyads swept the region and an uprising occurred in which the Abbasids came to power and moved the capital to Baghdad.
Umayyads expanded their Empire westwards capturing North Africa from the Byzantines. Before the Arab conquest, North Africa was inhibited by various people including Punics, Vandals and Greeks. It was not until the 11th century that the Maghreb saw a large influx of ethnic Arabs. Starting with the 11th century, the Arab bedouin Banu Hilal tribes migrated to the West. Having been sent by the Fatimids to punish the Berber Zirids for abandoning Shias, they travelled westwards.
The Banu Hilal quickly defeated the Zirids and deeply weakened the neighboring Hammadids. Their influx was a major factor in the Arabization of the Maghreb. Although Berbers ruled the region until the 16th century (under such powerful dynasties as the Almoravids, the Almohads, Hafsids, etc.), the arrival of these tribes eventually helped Arabize much of it ethnically, in addition to the linguistic and political impact on local non-Arabs. With the collapse of the Umayyad state in 1031 AD, Islamic Spain was divided into small kingdoms.
Abbassid Era (750–1517)
The Abbasids were the descendants of Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, one of the youngest uncles of Muhammad and of the same Banu Hashim clan. The Abbasids led a revolt against the Umayyads and defeated them in the Battle of the Zab effectively ending their rule in all parts of the Empire with the exception of al-Andalus. In 762, the second Abbasid Caliph al-Mansur founded the city of Baghdad and declared it the capital of the Caliphate. Unlike the Umayyads, the Abbasids had the support of non-Arab subjects.
The Islamic Golden Age was inaugurated by the middle of the 8th century by the ascension of the Abbasid Caliphate and the transfer of the capital from Damascus to the newly founded city of Baghdad. The Abbassids were influenced by the Qur'anic injunctions and hadith such as "The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of martyrs" stressing the value of knowledge. During this period the Muslim world became an intellectual centre for science, philosophy, medicine and education as the Abbasids championed the cause of knowledge and established the "House of Wisdom" (Arabic: بيت الحكمة) in Baghdad. Rival dynasties such as the Fatimids of Egypt and the Umayyads of al-Andalus were also major intellectual centres with cities such as Cairo and Córdoba rivaling Baghdad.
The Abbasids ruled for 200 years before they lost their central control when Wilayas began to fracture in the 10th century; afterwards, in the 1190s, there was a revival of their power, which was ended by the Mongols, who conquered Baghdad in 1258 and killed the Caliph Al-Musta'sim. Members of the Abbasid royal family escaped the massacre and resorted to Cairo, which had broken from the Abbasid rule two years earlier; the Mamluk generals taking the political side of the kingdom while Abbasid Caliphs were engaged in civil activities and continued patronizing science, arts and literature.
From 1517 to 1918, much of the Arab world was under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans defeated the Mamluk Sultanate in Cairo, and ended the Abbasid Caliphate. Arabs did not feel the change of administration because the Ottomans modeled their rule after the previous Arab administration systems. After World War I when the Ottoman Empire was overthrown by the British Empire, former Ottoman colonies were divided up between the British and French as League of Nations mandates.
Arabs in modern times live in the Arab world, which comprises 22 countries in Western Asia, North Africa, and parts of the Horn of Africa. They are all modern states and became significant as distinct political entities after the fall and defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire (1908–1922).
Arabs are mostly Muslims with a Sunni majority and a Shia minority, one exception being the Ibadis, who predominate in Oman. Arab Christians generally follow Eastern Churches such as the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches, though a minority of Protestant Church followers also exists; The Copts and the Maronites, follow the Coptic Church and Maronite Church accordingly. The Greek Catholic church and Maronite church are under the Pope of Rome, and a part of the larger worldwide Catholic Church. There are also Arab communities consisting of Druze and Baha'is.
Before the coming of Islam, most Arabs followed a pagan religion with a number of deities, including Hubal, Wadd, Allāt, Manat, and Uzza. A few individuals, the hanifs, had apparently rejected polytheism in favor of monotheism unaffiliated with any particular religion. Some tribes had converted to Christianity or Judaism. The most prominent Arab Christian kingdoms were the Ghassanid and Lakhmid kingdoms. When the Himyarite king 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 gradually disappeared.
Today, Sunni Islam dominates in most areas, overwhelmingly so in North Africa and the Horn of Africa. Shia Islam is dominant among the Arab population in Bahrain and southern Iraq while northern Iraq is mostly Sunni. Substantial Shia populations exist in Lebanon, Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, northern Syria and the al-Batinah region in Oman. There are small numbers of Ibadi and non-denominational Muslims too. The Druze community is concentrated in Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Jordan. Many Druze claim independence from other major religions in the area and consider their religion more of a philosophy. Their books of worship are called Kitab Al Hikma (Epistles of Wisdom). They believe in reincarnation and pray to five messengers from God. In Israel, the Druze have a status aparte from the general Arab population, treated as a separate ethno-religious community.
In pre-Islamic Arabia, Christianity had a prominent presence among several Arab communities, including the Bahrani people of Eastern Arabia, the Christian community of Najran, in parts of Yemen, and among certain northern Arabian tribes such as the Ghassanids, Lakhmids, Taghlib, Banu Amela, Banu Judham, Tanukhids and Tayy. In the early Christian centuries, Arabia was sometimes known as Arabia heretica, due to its being "well known as a breeding-ground for heterodox interpretations of Christianity." Christians make up 5.5% of the population of Western Asia and North Africa. A sizeable share of those are Arab Christians proper, and affiliated Arabic-speaking populations of Copts and Maronites. In Lebanon, Christians number about 40.5% of the population. In Syria, Christians make up 10% of the population. In West Bank and in Gaza Strip, Christians make up 8% and 0.7% of the populations, respectively. In Egypt, Coptic Christians number about 10% of the population. In Iraq, Christians constitute 0.1% of the population. In Israel, Arab Christians constitute 2.1% (roughly 9% of the Arab population). Arab Christians make up 8% of the population of Jordan. Most North and South American Arabs are Christian, so are about half of the Arabs in Australia who come particularly from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. One well known member of this religious and ethnic community is Saint Abo, martyr and the patron saint of Tbilisi, Georgia. Arab Christians also live in holy Christian cities such as Nazareth, Bethlehem and the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and many other villages with holy Christian sites.
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Arabic culture is the culture of Arab people, from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea. Language, literature, gastronomy, art, architecture, music, spirituality, philosophy, mysticism (etc.) are all part of the cultural heritage of the Arabs.
Arabs share basic beliefs and values that cross national and social class boundaries. Social attitudes have remained constant because Arab society is more conservative and demands conformity from its members. It is important for Western observers to be able to identify and distinguish these cultural patterns from individual behaviors.
Another important and unifying characteristic of Arabs is a common language. Arabic is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic Family. Evidence of its first use appears in accounts of wars in 853 BC. It also became widely used in trade and commerce. Arabic also is a liturgical language of 1.7 billion Muslims. It is one of six official languages of the United Nations. It is revered as the language that God chose to reveal the Quran.
Arabic has developed into at least two distinct forms. Classical Arabic is the form of the Arabic language used in literary texts from Umayyad and Abbasid times (7th to 9th centuries). It is based on the medieval dialects of Arab tribes. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the direct descendant used today throughout the Arab world in writing and in formal speaking, for example, prepared speeches, some radio broadcasts, and non-entertainment content, while the lexis and stylistics of Modern Standard Arabic are different from Classical Arabic. Colloquial Arabic, an informal spoken language, varies by dialect from region to region; various forms of the language are in use today and provide an important force for Arab cohesion.