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History of the Arabs by Phillip Hitti pdf

History of the Arabs
Book Title History Of The Arabs By Phillip
Book AuthorPhilip K. Hitti
Total Pages789
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History of the Arabs by Phillip Hitti


The Arabs as Semites – Arabia the Cradle of The Semitic Race

Of all the lands comparable to Arabia in size, and of all the claims peoples approaching the Arabs in historical interest and im- on our portance, no country, and no nationality has received so little consideration and study in modern times as have Arabia and the Arabs.

Here is a country that is about one-fourth the area of Europe, one-third the size of the United States of America, yet what is known about it is out of all proportion to what is unknown.

We are beginning to know more, comparatively speaking, about the Arctic and Antarctic regions than we do about most of Arabia.

As the probable cradle of the Semitic race, the Arabian Peninsula nursed those peoples who later migrated into the Fertile Crescent and subsequently became the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Phoenicians, and the Hebrews of history.

 As the plausible fount of pure Semitism, the sandy soil of the peninsula is the place wherein the rudimentary elements of Judaism, and consequently of Christianity-together with the origin of those traits which later developed into the well-delineated Semitic character—should be sought for.

In medieval times Arabia gave birth to a people who conquered most of the then civilized world, and to a Religion-Islam–which still claims the adherence of no less than two hundred and forty-six million people, representing nearly all the races and many different climes.

Every eighth person in our world today is a follower of Muhammad, and the Moslem call to prayer rings out through most of the twenty-four hours of the day, encircling the larger portion of the globe in its warm belt. Around the name of the Arabs gleams that halo which be- longs to the world-conquerors.

Within a century after their rise, these people became the masters of an empire extending from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the confines of China, an empire greater than that of Rome at its zenith.

In this period of unprecedented expansion they “assimilated to their creed, speech, and even physical type, more aliens than any stock before or since, not excepting the Hellenic, the Roman, the Anglo-Saxon, or the Russian”.

It was not only an empire that the Arabs built but a culture as well. Heirs of the ancient civilization that flourished on the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates, in the land of the Nile and on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, they likewise absorbed and assimilated the main features of the Greco-Roman culture, and subsequently acted as a medium for transmitting to medieval Europe many of those intellectual influences which ultimately resulted in the awakening of the Western world and in setting it on the road towards its modern renaissance.

No people in the Middle Ages contributed to human progress so much as did the Arabians and the Arabic-speaking peoples.?

The religion of the Arabians, after Judaism and Christianity, is the third and latest monotheistic religion.

Historically it is an offshoot of these other two, and of all faiths, it comes nearest to being their next of kin.

All three are the product of one spiritual life, the Semitic life.

A faithful Moslem could with but few scruples subscribe to most of the tenets of Christian belief. Islam has been and still is a living force from Morocco to India, and a way of life for millions of the human race. The Arabic language today is the medium of daily expression for some forty-five million people.

For many centuries in the Middle Ages, it was the language of learning and culture and progressive thought throughout the civilized world.

Between the ninth and the twelfth centuries more works, philosophical, medical, historical, religious, astronomical, and geographical, were produced through the medium of Arabic than through any other tongue.

The languages of Western Europe still bear the impress of its influence in the form of numerous loan words. Its alphabet, next to Latin, is the most widely used system in the world.

It is the one employed by Persian, Afghan, Urdu, and a number of Turkish, Berber, and Malayan languages. The Babylonians, the Chaldaeans, the Hittites, the Phoenicians were, but are no more.

The Arabians and the Arabic-speaking peoples were and remain. They stand today as they stood in the past in a most strategic geographical position astride one of the greatest arteries of world trade.

Since World War, a number of these people have been aroused and are now bestirring themselves. Egypt has been declared a sovereign and independent state.

Al-‘Iraq has installed a king in its capital, Bagh- dad, which since the days of the ‘Abbasids has been kingless.

Ibn-Su‘iid, the strong man of modern Arabia, has carved and consolidated for himself a large kingdom, including most of central and north-western Arabia.

The people of Syria and Palestine are well on the way towards self-consciousness and self-realization. Lebanon proved the first Arabic-speaking state to declare itself a republic.

The phoenix, a bird of Araby, is rising again. Classical Europe knew southern Arabia: Herodotus, among others, mentions its western coast.

The chief interest of the Greeks and the Romans lay in the fact that the South Arabians inhabited the frankincense and spice land and acted as a connecting link with the markcis of India and Somaliland.

But late medieval and early modern Europe forgot Arabia in great part and had in recent times to discover it anew.

The pioneers were adventurers, Christian missionaries, traders, French and British officers attached to the Egyptian expeditions between 1811 and 1836, political emissaries, and scientific explorers.

The first modern scholar to describe the land was Carsten Niebuhr, a member of a scientific expedition sent by the king of Denmark in 1761.

Al-Yaman in South Arabia, the part best known to classical Europe, was the first to be rediscovered. The northern part of the peninsula, including al-Hijaz, though geographically nearer to Europe, was left to the end.

Down to the present day, no more than a dozen Europeans of those who left records have succeeded in penetrating into this northern sandy region.

In 1812 Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss, discovered Petra for the learned world, and under the name Ibrahim ibn- ‘Abdullah visited Makkah and Judah.

His description of the places visited has hardly since been improved upon. Burck- hardt’s Moslem tomb stands today in the great cemetery of Cairo, The only other European until 1925 who had a chance to

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