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Thread: Which are the Arab countries?

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by palomnik View Post
    I'm resurrecting this thread because I was intrigued by Pedro de la Torre's bringing it up again, and there was what I believe an important point missing in this discussion.

    The question of who is an Arab is one of recent vintage. 120 years ago most of the people who call themselves "Arab" today would have been insulted by the term. Egyptians, Moroccans and Lebanese identified the term with bedouins who lived in the desert and lived on dates and camel meat. The fact that one spoke Arabic did not make one an Arab. Part of the reason for this was historical. While tribes and ethnic groups always existed, the traditional political entity in the Middle East was built around religion, not Arabism.

    At the end of the nineteenth century this started to change. The concept of being an "Arab" arose from two intertwined sources: dislike of the Ottoman Empire, whose ramshackle administration vacilated between being senile and oppressive in its dealings with virtually all ethnic groups in the empire, and the growth of a class largely educated in Western disciplines, mainly in Syria and Lebanon, and very largely Christian, since the Christians were the ones who benefited mainly by the new schools being opened by European and American missionaries in the Levant. To some extent, this was mirrored in Egypt by the Coptic Christians, who started joining the government administration under Muhammad Ali in the early 19th century and slowly emerged from the relative ghetto existence they had previously had. Being Christians, not too surprisingly groups like the Lebanese Maronites and the Egyptian Copts had an interest in creating a non-religious concept of an ethnic group where they could be recognized as full fledged citizens.

    Arabism as a concept was fueled by the Arab revolt in World War I and probably fueled equally by the cavalier way that the European powers cast the Arabs aside after that war. Most of the anti-western political affiliations were tied to the concept of Arabism in the thirties and forties. The concept probably reached its apogee under Nasser in the fifties. It's worth remembering how Nasser tried to create a unified state out of Egypt and Syria.

    While Arabism as an ethnic identity continues, it should be remembered that it is a relatively modern concept, and I think that it is mainly honored in the breach any more; the more traditional Middle Eastern concept of religion as the definition of ethnicity is regaining ground. My impression is based on the way that Arab Christian groups like the Christian Palestinians and the Copts seem to be getting more and more marginalized in their own countries. Echoes of political Arabism lingered on in Hafiz al Assad's Syria and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, but the concept seemed more anachronistic as time went on.

    I think this may be potentially explosive but I'd be interested to see what the rest of the foreros think about this.
    Very interesting. I've always wondered why Egyptians were referred to as Arabs seen as, to me at least, Arabs are people from the Arabian penninsula. Now I know!

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    hello All :

    the Arab world in my opinion consists of four nations "socially, geographicly, and historically" which are :

    1-the nation of the fertile crescent (( "Syria",lebanon, jordan,palestine, iraq))

    2- The egyptian nation
    3- the nation of the western part of the arab world "al maghreb" which consists of (( Morroco,tunisia,algeria,mauritania,libya,western desert))

    4- the real Arabs the people of the Arabic peninsula and which were called Arabs because of their land "Arabia" which in old "semetic " languages means "desert" and since this peninsula with most of its parts is a desert the people who came from it are called "Arabs" .

    the other nations of the Arab world got arabized, although they have too many in common, but you can distinguish them as I mentioned above, for example the national music in the fertile crescent has a common style which differs from what in Egypt or Arabia, and the same in Architecture and national clothes...etc, and I don't say that this is the reason , I say this the result of them being many nations even after they got Arabized.
    The nations are divided, I mean each nation politiecally is divided to many states like in the fertile crescent " Lebanon, "Syria", jordan...etc" or in the Maghreb "the western part of Arab world" we have Tunisia, Algeria...etc.

    the name the Arab world is because of the Language spoken there and because of that the common thing between them is the relgious lingual relation that Arabs established between them .

    Ethnically , the Arab nations are mixtures, for example here in the Fertiles crescent they are mixed ethnically and culturally starting from the ancient folks of the region and untill our days, but such mixtures are congenial , I mean you can't say they descent from one race , the effect of all races which were part of the mixture can bee seen in a one family usually.

    but you can some times distinguish between people of the Arab world because there are some types of looks that exist usually in Egypt and others exist usually in Arabian peninsula and so on....
    this is what I think
    thanks
    Salam

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by andersxman View Post
    Iran is not an Arab country? How would that be explained? They speak arabic? Up until now I wouldn't have hesitated a second in saying that Iran is an arab country.
    Hi there,

    Iran is not an Arab country at all.We have are own language which is Farsi (Persian). We don't speak Arabic. We have our own culture and hisroty which is different from Arabic countries.
    If you look in history you can see that our country was occupied by Arabs many many years ago. Then they left our country, but of course they had some influence on our people and culture.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    I would say that the Arab countries are those that share the Arabian Peninsula.
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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by min300 View Post
    Hi there,

    Iran is not an Arab country at all.We have are own language which is Farsi (Persian). We don't speak Arabic. We have our own culture and hisroty which is different from Arabic countries.
    If you look in history you can see that our country was occupied by Arabs many many years ago. Then they left our country, but of course they had some influence on our people and culture.
    And what about the people who speak Arabic in Iran?
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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by panjabigator View Post
    And what about the people who speak Arabic in Iran?
    Hi pajabigator,
    Believe me we our Iranian not Arabs.
    I myself don't know any persons who can speak Arabic in Iran.
    But I guess people in south Iran know Arabic, because their neighbors are Arabs( Iraq, Emirate, Oman...). Like some people in north Iran who speak Turkish. But I know they all consider themselves Iranian. Actually one of the oldest Iranian city (Shiraz) is located in south Iran and it belongs to 3000 thousand years ago and to the ancient Iranian kings. I don't know why some people try to ignore our Iranian culture, language, identity and ancestors.
    Arabs used to call us 'Ajam' which means "one who is illiterate in a language", " silent" , and can refer to non-Arabs in general. Am I right?

    Edit: I like all the people from all over the words and also Arabs and I appreciate their music very much, for example. They have a strong language. But I can't ignore the reality about my country.

    Hope this is clear now.
    Last edited by min300; 29th June 2007 at 12:21 PM.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    I know this is different, but why in today's world are people confusing Arab and Muslin ? The explanation of this confusion can't only be terrorism.
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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by panjabigator View Post
    And what about the people who speak Arabic in Iran?
    Iranians are definitely NOT Arab, under any definition of the term. They don't come from the Arabian Peninsula, they generally don't speak Arabic as a mother tongue. There are many smaller ethnicities in Iran, but they all identify as Iranian first.

    However, there is a small minority of Arabic-speakers in Iran who are Iranian citizens too and mostly live near the border with Iraq and along the Persian Gulf. Many have relatives that live across the borders in Iraq and Bahrain etc (which all used to be part of Iran) These people are one of the many minority groups that exist in Iran. Just like many European countries, Iran has speakers of smaller local languages, some of which are very ancient (iran even influenced European gypsies!)

    About 51 percent of Iranians are Persians - people who speak Farsi as a mother tongue and are said to be of Aryan decent (though in Iran's 10,000 year history of civilzation, which includes 3 or 4 major Persian empires as well as invasions by Greeks, Mongols, Turks, Arabs, etc. there has been a lot of mixture of people! The Aryans came from Central Asia thousands of years ago, moved in two branches to Europe and Iran. The ones who came to Iran continued to northern India - which is why Sanskrit is much like ancient Persian languages.)

    About 25% of Iranians also speak a form of Turkish language (and the current leader of Iran is himself a member of this minority language speakers.)

    There are also speakers of Kurdish (2 different dialects) and Luri and Baluchi and Gilaki etc.

    However the official language of Iran is Farsi (Persian) and all people of Iran are Iranian citizens regardless of their languages. Farsi is also spoken in countries like Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Historically, Farsi was once the language of the high culture and royalty in Turkey and India too.

    Farsi is an Indo-European tongue distantly related to English and Danish. It is not a Semitic tongue like Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic. Farsi is written in the Arabic script (though Farsi has some extra sounds, like "P" that doesn't exist in Arabic) but otherwise Farsi is relatively easy for Europeans to learn (no gender) and many English words actually come from Farsi ("Paradise")

    Iranians are almost all Muslims - though there is a small minority of Christians and Jews (there is a very long and interesting history of Persian Jews in Iran; Persian religions such as Zoroastrianism greatly influenced Judaism, and later Christianity too. The Christians in Iran are mostly Armenian Orthodox which have existed in Iran for many centuries, as Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan were historically part of Iran for centuries.)

    However, even though Iranians are almost all Muslims, they almost all belong exclusively to the Shi'ite branch of Islam. Shi'ites constitute only 10% of Muslims worldwide, though some Shi'ites exist in Arab countries such as Iraq and Lebanon too. So even religiously, Iranians have differences with Arabs.

    Iranians have always referred to their country as Iran = "Land of the Aryans" (the real Aryans had nothing to do with Hitler) for more than 2000 years. The Greeks and later the Europeans in general referred to Iran as Persia because the capital of Iran was located in a district called Pars (modern-day Fars). However, in 1935 the King of Persia requested that Europeans also use the term Iran, not Persia. (Some Iranians who live in the West have prefer to call themelves Persian because they think it has a better connotation than Iranian, but the country of Iran has always been called "Iran" by her people for many centuries.)

    There are other differences: for example If you go to an Iranian household as a guest, you are very likely to be offered tea, not coffee (though coffee drinking has become quite popular in Iran nowdays) whilst in Arabic households you'll probably be offered coffee.

    The Arab invasion of Iran around 7th century brought many influences, as did the Greek and Mongol and Turkish invasions. However, Persian culture also greatly influenced the invaders too! So many Persian influences were carried by the Arabs all the way to Europe, including many musical and mathematical concepts. In Spain, you;ll see classical Persian gardens.

    Realistically speaking, Iran should perhaps be classified as a Central Asian country not a Middle Eastern country though all of these classifications are all entirely arbitrary.
    Last edited by hassani1387; 9th July 2007 at 7:30 AM.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jocaste View Post
    I know this is different, but why in today's world are people confusing Arab and Muslin ? The explanation of this confusion can't only be terrorism.

    This is an aspect of something called "Orientalism" = the belief that "those people" in the East are fundamentally different from "us people" in the West, and are also somehow inherently inferior to "us".

    When you view the world in such terms, you fail to see the individual differences in "those people" and so you assume that "they" are all alike. And because you see them as all alike, you tend not to see them as humans just like you. So, Muslim becomes the same as Arab which becomes the same as Middle Eastern, etc.

    So really Orientalism is a form of racism, and it was common in the European view of the world during the 18th and 19th centuries when it was used to justify British/French political dominance and Empire-building in the East.

    Of course, this view of the world is false! but unfortunately Orientalism is still with us and some people still promote it.
    Last edited by hassani1387; 9th July 2007 at 7:27 AM.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    I am Lebanese I am Christian I am surely not a Phoenician but that doesnt make me an arab either, for me arabs are those who live in the Gulf
    I believe that an ethnicity cannot be imposed on someone, an ethnicity has to be accepted before anything else
    Even though i speak arabic I am not arabic, because for me arabic refers 1st to the Gulf and in a second place to Islam and i dont belong to both ( even though i respect them )
    " People are always blaming their circumstance for what they are. I don't beleive in circumstances.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    I've just been reading back through this thread and there are some interesting questions raised.

    Yes, Arabic is a language, an ethnicity and a culture. But I think that to determine a country's being Arab or not we can rule out the ethnicity criteria, otherwise many countries won't be considered Arab -as I said before.
    And what is wrong with that? Using criteria laid down here (and in much of the media I suppose) one could say that the U.S., Canada, Australia etc. are "English", or Latin America (excluding Brazil) is "Spanish", both of which seem to me to be a highly unsatisfactory ways of grouping the said countries together.

    Egyptians are not Arabs though they do speak Arabic. Americans are not English though they do speak English. Indeed, there would be more of a justification for calling Americans "English" than Egyptians "Arab". The English colonized America, Arabs never "colonized" Egypt, though they did conquer it.

    I'm often confused by the definition of Arab given in most dictionaries as it seems to be radically different to how we label other population groupings (though there are perhaps historical reasons for the current appellation, as was mentioned before).
    For me, an Arab is someone from the Arabian peninsula - that's it. Calling the Sudanese "Arab" is really a stretch of logic as I see it.

    If X country adopts Arabic as an official language tomorrow do they then become "Arab"?
    Last edited by Pedro y La Torre; 26th January 2010 at 8:44 PM.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post
    And what is wrong with that? Using criteria laid down here (and in much of the media I suppose) one could say that the U.S., Canada, Australia etc. are "English", or Latin America (excluding Brazil) is "Spanish", both of which seem to me to be a highly unsatisfactory ways of grouping the said countries together.
    Well first of all, I think that, at the time, Cherine must have been unaware of the distinction between "ethnic group" and "race," or between "ethnicity" and "genealogy." An ethnic group is basically a group of people who share a common culture and identity, usually, but not necessarily based on language. For example, "Hispanics" or "Latinos" in the U.S. are an ethnic group, even though they come from many different races, and even though, genealogically there is very little that is either "Hispanic" or "Latin" about their origins.

    In the modern world, Arabs are very much an ethnic group in a very similar sense. Arabs are basically a group of people who share in common a certain body of values, historical experiences, and traditions -- in short, a common heritage. Because this heritage is carried in the vessel of the Arabic language (or "languages" if you prefer, it doesn't really make a difference), and because the owners of this heritage adopt Arab history and Arab historical figures as their own, the owners of this heritage are called "Arabs ". Now this doesn't mean that this shared heritage is ALL that they have -- I don't share ALL of my heritage, or even most of it, with someone from Libya or Yemen. But the part of my heritage that I DO share with them, is what makes me Arab. The cultural sphere of the Arabs is called the "Arab World" because that is where this Arab culture predominates, even though many non-Arabs live there.

    So, the word "Arab" is just a shorthand for all of the above. It is not meant to imply that someone has a pure and unadulterated Arabian genealogy. Now, in English people have come up with nice distinctions like "Arabian," meaning "of the Arabian Peninsula," "Arabic" meaning of the Arabic language, and "Arab" meaning of the "Arab race," and so we could use something like "Arabic" or "Arabic-speaking" instead of "Arab." But in Arabic, there is no corresponding distinction. The only word we have is Arabiyy عربيّ (many don't realize that, in Arabic, there is no word equivalent to "Arabia!"). Moreover, this ignores what really is behind this Arab identity -- the language is the most salient feature but it is not sufficient by itself to create this cultural sphere that we call the "Arab World."

    And really, genealogy is a very tricky thing, and with Arabs in particular, it is a topic incredibly rife with myths and misconceptions. One of which is that the "Gulf" is supposedly "more (racially) Arab" than everywhere else. Now, when I think of the Gulf I think of the coastal area, but I'm guessing the previous posters were referring the entire Peninsula. Well, one should know that Arabia has always been a very diverse place, even before Islam. Centuries of slavery, both white and black, along with centuries of immigration to the coastal areas have made Arabia as racially diverse as any other country you can think of. There are many people in the Gulf or Arabia who have more Iranian, Turkic, East Asian, and (mainly) African blood than Arab, not to mention those who originate from places like Egypt, Syria, or North Africa. By contrast, Arabian tribes have been migrating continuously into the other countries from before Islam up til about a 100 years ago. In a place like Egypt, you'll occasionally see people who "look like the Pharoes in the museums," but you also see people who like Arabs from the Peninsula or like Europeans from Greece or like Syrians from Damascus, so I think relying on "looks" is not very helpful. And anyway, many have pointed out already that you can't identify solely on genetics. If I discover tomorrow that I had an ancestor who came from Iran or Turkey 500 years ago, it won't make me any less Arab or any more Turkish or Iranian, even if I wanted it to. And honestly, most citizens of Arab countries have a much more intimate connection with the Arab aspects of their heritage than with ancient cultures that once lived in their land, and which they only know about from archeological digs.

    By the way, I want to address the idea that the Arab identity was until recently restricted to "bedouins in the desert." What needs to be understood here, is that different words can mean different things in different contexts. Yes, "Arab" often or mostly meant "bedouin" a couple of hundred yeras ago, but that doesn't mean that the other meanings were unknown. Even in the Arabian Peninsula itself, a group of bedouins on the edge of town would be referred to as "Arabs" (in the sense of "bedouin") but that doesn't mean the townsmen didn't consider themselves to be Arabs in the ethnic sense. The Quran itself refers to bedouins as A'rab (plural of 'Arab), but it also refers to itself as "an Arabic Quran" in a "clear Arabic tongue." Even the idea of Arabism being defined by the Arabic language is not new, but appears in a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, which means the idea dates from at least the 9th century when the hadiths were recorded. Now, Arab NATIONALISM may be a recent idea, but nationalism is not the same as ethnicity or culture.

    Finally, I want to point out that ethnicity, nationality, race, identity, etc. -- these are all fluid and ever-changing. Just as there was no such thing as an "Arab World" 1500 years ago, there may cease to be one 50 years in the future, even if its inhabitants still speak Arabic.

    Egyptians are not Arabs though they do speak Arabic. Americans are not English though they do speak English. Indeed, there would be more of a justification for calling Americans "English" than Egyptians "Arab".
    You're comparing apples and oranges. Just because one ethnicity cannot be defined by language, doesn't mean others cannot either. Some ethnicities or nations are defined by common geography, others by common religion, and still others by a common language (which is really, as I said, a short-hand for a common cultural expression, because language is not sufficient). In any case, it is common for the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to be seen as closely-affiliated nations. Sometimes they're even called the "Anglo-sphere." Even politically and militarily, they nearly always align with each other. But if you look at it genealogically, only a minority of Americans (even white Americans probably) are of English ancestry.

    The English colonized America, Arabs never "colonized" Egypt, though they did conquer it.
    I don't know what you mean by "colonized," but the Arabs certainly settled in Egypt in large numbers with the Islamic conquests and continued to do so until relatively recently. How else do you think Arabic became so deeply-rooted there?

    For me, an Arab is someone from the Arabian peninsula - that's it. Calling the Sudanese "Arab" is really a stretch of logic as I see it.
    Well, many Sudanese are not Arab by any definition of the word. But for the northern Sudanese who live in Khartoum, etc., I find it almost ludicrous to insist that they are NOT Arab. Not only is there significant Arabic ancestry there (again that's why they speak Arabic, and that's why they can usually be told apart from non-Arab Sudanese), but they are definitely part of the Arab cultural sphere. That should not let us ignore other aspects of their identity of course. By the way, there are Arab bedouin tribes still roaming as far deep in Africa as Niger. They are as dark-skinned as anyone in Africa, and they are Arabs (albeit with significant native African ancestry).

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wadi Hanifa View Post
    Now, in English people have come up with nice distinctions like "Arabian," meaning "of the Arabian Peninsula," "Arabic" meaning of the Arabic language, and "Arab" meaning of the "Arab race," and so we could use something like "Arabic" or "Arabic-speaking" instead of "Arab."
    That's just the problem though. Can we say that Egyptians or Moroccans are "of the Arab race"? I don't think we can. Hence the enveloping term "Arab" to refer to them becomes problematic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wadi Hanifa View Post
    You're comparing apples and oranges. Just because one ethnicity cannot be defined by language, doesn't mean others cannot either. Some ethnicities or nations are defined by common geography, others by common religion, and still others by a common language (which is really, as I said, a short-hand for a common cultural expression, because language is not sufficient). In any case, it is common for the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to be seen as closely-affiliated nations. Sometimes they're even called the "Anglo-sphere." Even politically and militarily, they nearly always align with each other. But if you look at it genealogically, only a minority of Americans (even white Americans probably) are of English ancestry.
    I see no problem with saying that Arabic-speaking nations have closley defined links, similar influences on their culture etc., however that is not the same, in my mind, as saying they're "Arabs".

    Saying a particular country is part of the Anglosphere is not the same as saying they're English.

    In my understanding, an Arab is someone from the Arabian penninsula i.e. Arabia.
    Egypt is not part of Arabia and Egyptians are not ethnically Arab, indeed according to this, the number of Arabs (i.e. those from Arabia) who settled in Egypt, aside from the ruling classes, would appear to be relatively small.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wadi Hanifa View Post
    I don't know what you mean by "colonized," but the Arabs certainly settled in Egypt in large numbers with the Islamic conquests and continued to do so until relatively recently. How else do you think Arabic became so deeply-rooted there?
    See above. Suffice to say it took many centuries for the Arabic language to become the native language of all Egyptians. Coptic, the last stage of Ancient Egyptian, was still spoken until the 17th century. There appears to have been a very gradual movement towards Arabic and Islam rather than a wholesale adoption. And, of course, Egypt still maintains close links to its ancient cultural achievements.

    I don't dispute that the current trend is to label any country with Arabic as one of their major languages "Arab". However as I've said, it doesn't really strike me as being correct. As has already been mentioned here, countries like Morocco are mostly ethnically Berber and indeed have a substantial minority, if not majority, of Berber-speakers.

    It seems to me that it's often easier for English speakers to label anything from Morocco up to and including Iran "Arab" than actually taking the time to learn about the different countries and cultures, and the large differences, contained therein.

    A similar trend is found in Canada where the Québécois, being French-speakers, often get labelled "French", or in the United States where Mexicans get labelled "Spanish". There are of course cultural links but in all these cases, the particular appellations used strike me as misnomers.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post
    That's just the problem though. Can we say that Egyptians or Moroccans are "of the Arab race"? I don't think we can. Hence the enveloping term "Arab" to refer to them becomes problematic.
    I don't think it's possible to conider Arabs a race; I don't believe that you can even say that there is a Semetic race. Up to my knowledge, they are part of the Caucasianiod race together with North Africa, Northern Sudan and many other peoples. Maybe we should avoid the term "race" altogether because racially, all those peoples we are talking about (whether you consider them Arabs or not) are actually of the same race or mixture of races. Lets just use ethnicity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post
    I see no problem with saying that Arabic-speaking nations have closley defined links, similar influences on their culture etc., however that is not the same, in my mind, as saying they're "Arabs".

    Saying a particular country is part of the Anglosphere is not the same as saying they're English.
    I wouldn't equate the situation with "English" or "Anglosphere", it's closer to "Hispanic" in my opinion although each has it's particular situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post
    In my understanding, an Arab is someone from the Arabian penninsula i.e. Arabia.
    Egypt is not part of Arabia and Egyptians are not ethnically Arab, indeed according to this, the number of Arabs (i.e. those from Arabia) who settled in Egypt, aside from the ruling classes, would appear to be relatively small.
    Egypt aside, limiting the Arabs to the Arabian penninsula is not accurate Historically. Arabs have been recorded in ancient texts in Northwestern Syria as early as 850BCE; the earliest Arabian Kingdom registered outside of the Penninsula dates back to the 1st Century CE and spread in the Levant and Northern Iraq, I'm not talking about the Lakhmids and the Ghassanids that immigrated 4 or 5 hundered years before Islam.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post
    See above. Suffice to say it took many centuries for the Arabic language to become the native language of all Egyptians. Coptic, the last stage of Ancient Egyptian, was still spoken until the 17th century. There appears to have been a very gradual movement towards Arabic and Islam rather than a wholesale adoption. And, of course, Egypt still maintains close links to its ancient cultural achievements.
    Yes it did, but how common was it? If in the tenth Century, Severus ibn el-Muqaffa', a Coptic bishop of Upper Egypt, wrote History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria in Arabic!

    I'm not disputing that Egyptians may have a different genology, but that is totally irrelevent to the fact that they are Arab ethnically. As Wadi mentioned earlier, ethnicity does not depend on geneology nor on race.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post
    I don't dispute that the current trend is to label any country with Arabic as one of their major languages "Arab". However as I've said, it doesn't really strike me as being correct.
    Well, one of the definitions of an Arab is "the one that speaks Arabic". This definition is not new, it quite old - about 1400 years old.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post
    It seems to me that it's often easier for English speakers to label anything from Morocco up to and including Iran "Arab" than actually taking the time to learn about the different countries and cultures, and the large differences, contained therein.
    But couldn't it not be that they in fact consider themselves Arabs, hence came the idea in the first place? As Wadi mentioned earlier, while there are local differences, the major parts of the culture (not limited to language) are the same accorss the Arab World. Claiming that they merely identify with each other through language is an unfair simplification of the common culture.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahaodeh View Post
    I don't think it's possible to conider Arabs a race; I don't believe that you can even say that there is a Semetic race. Up to my knowledge, they are part of the Caucasianiod race together with North Africa, Northern Sudan and many other peoples. Maybe we should avoid the term "race" altogether because racially, all those peoples we are talking about (whether you consider them Arabs or not) are actually of the same race or mixture of races. Lets just use ethnicity.
    Agreed. There is no such thing as an Arab race per se, however there are (seemingly) two definitions of what constitutes an "Arab":

    a) Those originating in Arabia
    b) Those who have Arabic as their first language

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahaodeh View Post
    I wouldn't equate the situation with "English" or "Anglosphere", it's closer to "Hispanic" in my opinion although each has it's particular situation.
    Hispanic is another term with a confused history, and often mistakenly applied. But that's an issue for another thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahaodeh View Post
    Egypt aside, limiting the Arabs to the Arabian penninsula is not accurate Historically. Arabs have been recorded in ancient texts in Northwestern Syria as early as 850BCE; the earliest Arabian Kingdom registered outside of the Penninsula dates back to the 1st Century CE and spread in the Levant and Northern Iraq, I'm not talking about the Lakhmids and the Ghassanids that immigrated 4 or 5 hundered years before Islam.
    This is where our opinions start to diverge.

    If we ignore racial definitions, an Arab is someone from Arabia. This is the primary meaning given in most dictionaries, and seemingly was the primordial meaning in English until relatively recently. An Arabophone is someone who speaks Arabic. The situation in Arabic itself is apparently different as there is only one word used to describe all these cases, but as regards English, the term Arab is now used both to describe people from Arabia and those who speak Arabic as a first language. This often leads to the mistaken identification of Moroccans, for example, as ethnic Arabs. This is my problem with the term.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahaodeh View Post
    Yes it did, but how common was it? If in the tenth Century, Severus ibn el-Muqaffa', a Coptic bishop of Upper Egypt, wrote History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria in Arabic!
    Arabic was (and still is) the dominant legal and cultural language in the region, a position akin to Latin in the West in former times. It therefore unsurprising that he would write in Arabic. The shift as regards the common people however, looks to have been much slower.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahaodeh View Post
    Well, one of the definitions of an Arab is "the one that speaks Arabic". This definition is not new, it quite old - about 1400 years old.
    What has been remarked in this thread is that the equation of Arabic-speaking with "Arab", in English, seems to be relatively new, not earlier than the 19th century.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahaodeh View Post
    Claiming that they merely identify with each other through language is an unfair simplification of the common culture.
    I don't deny that there is more than language binding the Arabic-speaking world. However, as I've said, the all enveloping term "Arab" seems to me to be open to misunderstanding and confusion.
    Last edited by Pedro y La Torre; 27th January 2010 at 12:35 PM.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Pedro,
    We can argue as much as we want about what "should" be called what, but that's neither here or there. In the real world, "Arab" (or at least the most common usage of it) means anyone whose cultural heritage is in the Arabic language and who regards Arab history as his/her own. Doesn't matter where their genetic material comes from because as I said, Arabia has always been home to many diverse peoples, and is a very racially diverse region. Even 1500 hundred years ago, the creation myth of the Arab people held that the Arabs were composed of two separate nations, one of which (the one Muhammad belonged to) was referred to as the "Arabized Arabs." I also disagree that this usage of Arab is recent in European languages such as English -- Europeans have always referred to such people as "Arabs." Even during the Crusades, they called the native peoples of the Levant "Saracens," which is just an old Greek word for "Arab." By the way, I don't believe that the existence of an Arab ethnic group is set in stone (it can easily disintegrate), or that it necessitates that the Arabs are one nation or should join into one political entity (an ideology known as "Pan-Arabism").

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post
    I see no problem with saying that Arabic-speaking nations have closley defined links, similar influences on their culture etc., however that is not the same, in my mind, as saying they're "Arabs".
    The difference that makes no difference is no difference. If you're Arab culturally and you have no concrete way of tracing your ancestry to show genetically where you come from, then you are essentially Arab. In fact, you are Arab. Identity issues are very personal in meaning. There are people that claim that they are Egyptian and not Arab - and we should allow them to do so. If they have traced their genetic ancestry and shown only 0.01% of them may be Arab, then bless their hearts. It still doesn't change the fact that many people throughout the Arabic speaking world consider themselves Arabs, no matter where their genes came from.


    In my understanding, an Arab is someone from the Arabian penninsula i.e. Arabia.
    Egypt is not part of Arabia and Egyptians are not ethnically Arab, indeed according to this,
    Well, you bring up someone's personal blog, however the blog is referencing this paper.

    First of all, the data in that study is based on a Y-chromosomal genetic marker. This is only part of your genome. Also, it is only inherited from one parent. The data show that a haplogroup E-M78 on the Y-chromosome has a northeast African origin. The marker can be found in people as far and wide as Portugal through southern Asia, however it is most frequent in the population of the Sa'id (Upper Egypt). This leads to the postulation that it is of Upper Egyptian origin.

    The blogger in your link, makes the claim that

    Southern Egyptians Y Chromomses are mainly native to Africa, both sub and supra Saharan. This makes a grand total of 80.3% definitively African non-Arab ancestry in the upper Egypt region.
    Although the blogger does not quote papers discussing other Y-chromosomal markers, the blogger's bolded sentence is very misleading.

    What is meant is that data from Y-chromosomal markers point to African origin in Upper Egypt of those genetic markers. This means with regard to specific loci (such as E-M78) in Egypt, they are probably ancestral. Those loci are ancestral, not all loci. What about mtDNA data? You cannot make such claims based on Y-chromosomal data alone.

    In fact, if you look at mtDNA data, as in this paper, what you find is that there is a large amount of Eurasian mtDNA markers in Egypt.

    It seems to me that it's often easier for English speakers to label anything from Morocco up to and including Iran "Arab" than actually taking the time to learn about the different countries and cultures, and the large differences, contained therein.
    I agree and this is unfortunate. However, part of their learning should not be "Who is Arab and who is not Arab?" in my opinion. They should learn about what Arab identity means and how this is often a tenuous issue in some largely Arabic-speaking nations. Splitting hairs over ethnicity and genetics to me can often obscure the sociological reality. There are people in Egypt who will claim they are not Arab but Egyptian, but they may be 100% Arab in ancestry, just as there are people who claim to be Arab in Lebanon but may have Phoenician ancestry, or vice versa. Understanding the scope of what identity means is more important, in my opinion.

    A similar trend is found in Canada where the Québécois, being French-speakers, often get labelled "French", or in the United States where Mexicans get labelled "Spanish". There are of course cultural links but in all these cases, the particular appellations used strike me as misnomers.
    These misnomers do occur, but it's not because some Quebecois are not actually French ancestry and some Mexicans are not actually Spanish ancestry and they've just been mislabeled. Inaccurate description of biological ancestry is not the issue - personal and cultural politics are the real issues.
    Last edited by clevermizo; 3rd February 2010 at 12:15 AM.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by andersxman View Post
    Iran is not an Arab country? How would that be explained? They speak arabic? Up until now I wouldn't have hesitated a second in saying that Iran is an arab country.

    Iran is not an Arab country. No. It ain't. It just ain't.

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    Re: Which are the Arab countries?

    To make this clear: Farsi is not related to Arabic, it's part of the Indo-European language group. Of course, if andersxman thought Farsi was a dialect of Arabic he might be forgiven for considering Iran an Arab country.
    Another thing to remember is that the Arabic alphabet, like the Latin alphabet, is used for a large number of unrelated languages (Urdu, for example). If you didn't know this, then seeing Arabic and Farsi written you might think they were the same language... just as an Arab unacquainted with the Latin alphabet could not tell the difference between German, Turkish and Vietnamese.

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    رد: Which are the Arab countries?

    It is important to consider not only each country but each region and city. I do not have time to do this here, but if there is enough demand maybe we should try to do that collectively.
    For example:
    Starting from the extreme east, Iran is definitely not Arab, never was and has for as long as anyone knows been at the epitomy of persian-ness. However, Culturally & Ethnically & Linguistically it isn't all persian; in addition to turkic (azeri) north-westerners and balochi south-easterners, the southwest contains a good number of towns and cities which are traditionally Arab (Ahwaz and further east too I think) and continue to be to this day - judging by any standard except government lingo.
    Ending in the west, the berbers are generally bilingual in their native tongue - berber being a western term for a whole group of languages - as well as Arabic, but couldn't be considered Arab by any other measure.
    Southern Sudan and Chad have almost creole-like languages where a rudimentary dialect serves as a lingua franca - but consider any other Arabic dialect outside the gulf and it's usually 'rudimentary' too.

    And in the far north it's interesting to hear talk of Malta wondering whether it wants to call itself Arab - legitimate since it really doesn't seem far off Tunisian to me.

    So let's not try to find Saudi-style Arabs in Mauritania; this isn't what we're talking about.

    When one mentions 'Arab Countries', the 'Arab World' or other such Arab things, he speaks of - in my opinion - something completely untangible and which extends beyond the Arab League. Politics is not a good way to approach this region at all; most countries don't have representative governments.

    There are two ways to consider this sphere of Arab bieng:

    one is language; if I learn proper Arabic to a good standard, how many dialects can I 'cheat' my way into understanding? Note that Proper Arabic extends way beyond what 'the west' calls 'Modern Standard Arabic'; real Arabic penetrates every dialect to its core. Whether a dialect spoken contains enough Arabic to easily pick up - as I did with Moroccan from Egyptian for example - is a good way to determine whether an area would call itself Arab, since it would understand 'arabs' back. And in countries with large non-first-language populations, let's not forget that there are still fluent and influential Arab speakers in Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia - related to tribes in Yemen - though these countries' poverty and recent wars have made them less influential they still exist.

    the second is even less tangible; it's about where the 'people's media' sees its cultural sphere. News from Eritrea would be dealt with in a different section of an Egyptian Newspaper to news from Sweden or Kenya. Compare with a Spanish paper reporting news from Latin America separately to Kenya too.

    The 'big umbrella term' encompasses many smaller more realistic and more traditional cultural spheres which I would suggest as being - based primarily on similarity of dialects:

    Fertile Crescent: Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Ahwaz
    PetroGulf: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait ... Oman
    Bab-El-Mandab: Yemen, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia
    Nile & SubSahara: Egypt, Sudan, Chad
    Greater Maghreb: Mauritania, WestSahara, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya

    Hopefully I got some kind of point across? Maybe a map would help though...
    Last edited by إسكندراني; 13th December 2010 at 8:23 AM.
    اذكر الله

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