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There are three factors which play varying degrees in determining whether someone is considered Arab or not:

The relative importance of these factors is estimated differently by different groups. Most people who consider themselves Arabs do so on the basis of the overlap of the political and linguistic definitions, but some members of groups which fulfill both criteria reject the identity on the basis of the genealogical definition. Not many people consider themselves Arab on the basis of the political definition without the linguistic one - thus, Kurds or Berbers usually identify themselves as non-Arab - but some do (for instance, some Berbers do consider themselves Arab.)

The genealogical definition was widely used in medieval times (Ibn Khaldun, for instance, does not use the word "Arab" to refer to "Arabized" peoples, but only to those of originally Arabian descent), but is usually no longer considered to be particularly significant.

Most, but not all, Arabs are Muslims. Most American Arabs (about two-thirds) are Christian Arabs, particularly from Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon. Between the 8th and the 14th century, the Arabs had forged an empire that extended their rule from Spain and southern France in the west, to China in the east. From Asia Minor in the north to the Sudan in the south. This is arguably the largest land empire in history rivaled only by the short lived Mongol Empire. During their rule, the Arabs spread their religion of Islam and their language of Arabic (the language of the Qur'an) through conversion. Soon many came to be known as "Arabs" when they were truly only arabised. However, over time the term Arab came to carry a more broader meaning than the original ethnicity term.

Table of contents
1 Traditional genealogy
2 The term "Arab" in history
3 External links

Traditional genealogy

In Islamic and Jewish tradition, Arabs are a Semitic people who trace their ancestry from Ismael (Isma3il), a son of the ancient patriarch Abraham and Hagar. Medieval Arab genealogists divided the Arabs into two groups: the "original Arabs" of South Arabia, descending from Qahtan (identified with the biblical Joktan). The Qahtanites are said to have migrated the land of Yemen following the destruction of the Dam of Ma'rib (Sad Ma'rib). The Qahtanite arabs were responsible for the ancient civilizations of Yemen including the biblically renowned Sheba (a descendent of Qahtan). The "Arabized Arabs" (musta`ribah) of North Arabia, descending from Adnan, supposed to be a son of Ishmael. The Arabic language as it is spoken today in its classical Quranic form was the result of a mix between the original Arabic tongue of Qahtan and the northern Arabic which borrowed from other northern semitic languages from the levant. See Qahtanite.

The term "Arab" in history

Arabs are first mentioned in writing in an Assyrian inscription of 853 BC, where Shalmaneser III lists a King Gindibu of matu arbaai (Arab land) as among the people he defeated at the Battle of Karkar.

See also: Semitic, Ababda, Pan-Arabism, Arab League, Palestinian, Bedouin, Arabic language, Arabic alphabet, Arabia, Arab World, Nabataeans, Lakhmids, Ghassanids

External links