Arabs are a population inhabiting the Arab world. They primarily live in the Arab statesin Western Asia, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. They also form a significant diaspora, with Arab communities established around the world.
According to tradition, Arabs are descended from a southern Arabian ancestor, Qaḥṭan, forebear of the “pure” or “genuine” Arabs (known as al-Arab al-Aribah), and a northern Arabian ancestor, Adnan, forebear of the “Arabicized” Arabs (al-Arab al-Mustaribah).
The Arab League
Today, Arabs primarily inhabit the 22 Arab states within the Arab League: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emiratesand Yemen. The Arab world stretches around 13 million km2, from the Atlantic Oceanin the west to the Arabian Seain the east, and from the Mediterranean Seain the north to the Horn of Africaand the Indian Oceanin the southeast. Beyond the boundaries of the League of Arab States, Arabs can also be found in the global diaspora.
The earliest documented use of the word “Arab” to refer to a people appears in the Kurkh Monoliths, an Akkadian language record of the ninth century BC Assyrian conquest of Aram, which referred to Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula under King Gindibu, who fought as part of a coalition opposed to Assyria. Listed among the booty captured by the army of king Shalmaneser III of Assyria in the Battle of Qarqar are 1000 camels. The related word ʾaʿrāb is still used to refer to Bedouins today, in contrast to ʿarab which refers to Arabs in general.
The oldest surviving indication of an Arab national identity is an inscription made in an archaic form of Arabic in 328 using the Nabataean alphabet, which refers to Imru’ al-Qays ibn ‘Amr as “King of all the Arabs”. Herodotus refers to the Arabs in the Sinai, southern Palestine, and the frankincense region (Southern Arabia). Other ancient Greek historians like Agatharchides, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo mention Arabs living in Mesopotamia (along the Euphrates), in Egypt (the Sinai and the Red Sea), southern Jordan (the Nabataeans), the Syrian steppe and in eastern Arabia (the people of Gerrha). Inscriptions dating to the 6th century BCE in Yemen include the term “Arab”.
The most popular Arab account holds that the word “Arab” came from an eponymous father called Ya’rub who was supposedly the first to speak Arabic.
Origins and early history
According to Arab-Islamic-Jewish traditions, Ishmael was father of the Arabs, to be the ancestor of the Ishmaelites.
Medieval Arab genealogists divided Arabs into three groups:
“Ancient Arabs”, tribes that had vanished or been destroyed, such as ʿĀd and Thamud, often mentioned in the Qur’an as examples of God’s power to vanquish those who fought his prophets.
“Pure Arabs” of South Arabia, descending from Qahtan. The Qahtanites are said to have migrated from the land of Yemen following the destruction of the Ma’rib Dam.
The “Arabized Arabs” (mustaʿribah) of Central Arabia (Najd) and North Arabia, descending from Ishmael the elder son of Abraham, through Adnan (hence, Adnanites). The Book of Genesis narrates that God promised Hagar to beget from Ishmael twelve princes and turn him to a great nation.(Genesis 17:20) The Book of Jubilees claims that the sons of Ishmael intermingled with the 6 sons of Keturah, from Abraham, and their descendants were called Arabs and Ishmaelites:
In early Islamic terminology, ʿarabiy referred to the language, and ʾaʿrāb to the Arab Bedouins, carrying a negative connotation due to the Qur’anic verdict just cited. But after the Islamic conquest of the eighth century, the language of the nomadic Arabs became regarded as the most pure by the grammarians following Abi Ishaq, and the term kalam al-ʿArab, “language of the Arabs”, denoted the uncontaminated language of the Bedouins.
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.