Essay: Muslims and Arabs

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¶ … Muslims and Arabs has remained a source of confusion as well as discrimination. In this paper we explore the difference between Muslim and Arabs with a special focus on Pan-Arabism. Saddam Hussein and Nasser's roles in Pan-Arabism are also explored. The differences between Muslims and Arabs are illustrated by means of elaborate examples and scenarios.

The term Arab is defined by the Oxford Dictionaries (2011) as a member of the Semitic people who originated from the Arab Peninsula as well as the neighboring territories in the Middle East as well as North America. The term could also be used to refer to an Arabian horse.

According to Ibn Taymiyyah (2004) the term 'Arab' was used for individuals of three main groups. The first group of individuals who are referred to as 'Arabs' are those whose local language is Arabic. The second group of people who are called 'Arabs' are those whose ancestors were Arabs. The third are those who lived in the Arabic regions which lies in the Arabian peninsula that stretches form the Qulzum sea, (Ibn Taymiyyah,2004),the sea of Basra as well as the inner regions of Yemen up to the region where Shaam starts.

The term "Arab" was originally used to refer individuals who hailed from the Semitic race of persons of the Arabian Peninsula located east of Palestine (Detroit Free Press,2001;Hooker,1999). They were mostly the nomadic Bedouins of the Arabian Desert. Arabs are noted by Willis (2003,p.42) to live allover the world. Some of the countries in which they live are Algeria, Somalia, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Djibouti, Sudan, Egypt, Bahrain, Iraq, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria and Jordan. It is noted by Willis (2003,p.42) that some Arabs are citizens of Israel. It is also worth noting that Iran as a country is not Arabic. This is because its root can be traced in the ancient Persia and therefore has a totally different cultural history (Willis,2003).It is worth noting that not all Arabs are Arabic speakers but the language acts as one of the unifying as well as differentiating characteristics of the individuals.

The other misconception which we will demystify and clarify shortly is that of Islam as a unifying factor in the Arab world (Willis,2003). Willis (2003) exemplified by use of an utterance made my Muhammad who said that "The desert Arabians are most confirmed in unbelief and hypocrisy." (p.42) as indicated in the judgment of the Qur'an (9:98).

The number of Muslims in Indonesia is indicated to be more than the ones in all of the Arab countries when combined. Close to 30 Million Chinese subscribe to the Muslim religion (Willis, 2003, p.42).

Goldschmidt and Davidson (2009) in an effort to trace how the Arabs came into being indicated that they were the very first people to domesticate camel between 3000- 1000 BCE. They were however categorical to mention that no one is very sure of the origin of Arabs. They however mentioned that scholars believe that they are kin to predecessors of individuals who communicate in Semitic languages like Hebrews, Arameans and Assyrians.

The difference between Arabs and Muslims

Vincente et al. (2011) indicated that there is confusion in differentiating Arabs from Muslims, terrorists from Islamist as well as Islamists from Muslims. In this section however, we are going to clearly indicate the differences that exists between Arabs and Muslims in the global contexts as well as in the American context.

McClain (2009) pointed out that Arabs and Muslims are two totally different terms. He pointed out that Islam as a religion originated from Mecca and Medina in the current Saudi Arabia. This therefore means that the earliest followers of Islam as a religion were the Arabs. Is lam is noted to be the religion with the fastest growth and comes second after Christianity in regard to population / adherents. The holy book for the Muslims is the Quran and is written in Arabic. This is indicated by McClain to be one of the sources of confusion. All Muslims are not Arabs while at the same time all Arabs are not Muslims.

As indicated earlier on, Arabs form a very small part of the global and American Muslim society.

Most of the Muslims are based in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Albania, India, Bangladesh, Africa, North America, Eastern Europe, Russia, Eastern Europe as well as Central Asia. A Muslim can therefore be regarded a s a part of the Islamic religion to which they devote their lives. Anyone who subscribes to the Islam religion is a Muslim regardless of their race or ethnicity.

The difference between an Arab and a Muslim can be pointed out using various perspectives. The very first difference between Arabs and Muslims is in the very definition of the terms. The term 'Muslim' is used to refer to individuals who subscribe to the Islamic faith. This therefore means that Muslim makes part of a religious grouping. Arabs on the other hand are never members of a particular faith both explicitly and implicitly. The term is however used to refer to the people who live in Arab countries. Arabs are the individuals who speak Arabic as their mother-tongue and they total more than 200 million globally (ADC,2011). The 'Arab World' comprises of twenty two nations in the Middle East as well as North Africa and Arabic forms their principal language of communication (Hendi,2003,p.23). Arabs are individuals who are united by their language, history and culture. They are however from a diverse religious background. Most Arabs are noted to be Muslims but Millions of Arabs are Christians while thousand are noted to be Jewish Arabs (ADC,2011).

Muslims and Arabs are noted to be different in regards to their definition, religious aspects as well as population size.

In a nutshell, Muslims refers to individuals who subscribe to the Islamic faith, originate from different countries, speak any language, majority live in the Asian continent and greatly outnumber the Arab population.

Arabs on the other hand refer to individuals of a particular ethnicity, mainly speak Arabic language, originated mainly from Middle Eastern countries and are from various religious outfits including Islam.

As pointed out by Skoch (2007) an Arab is an individual from an ethnic group that shares a cultural history and a language while a Muslim is an individual who subscribes to the Islam religious teachings. It is a fact that most Arabs are Muslims. It is equally true that most of them are Christians and Jews.

Pan-Arabism

Pan-Arabism is defined by Farrokh (2008) as strong desire to form a single, strong and formidable Arab super state. The Pan-Arabism movement has its roots deep in the Arab revolt that took place against the Ottoman Turkish regime in World War I. Pan-Arabism is a distinct ideology that espouses the unification as well of nations as well as people in the Arab world.The ideology is closely related to Arab nationalism which maintains the idea that Arabs make up a single nation. The popularity of the ideology was in the 1960s. The advocates of the ideology encourage socialist principles with a strong opposition for Western political interference/involvement in matters of the Arab states (Sela,2002).

Through the years, there have been several Pan-Arab nationalists. Some of the less known ones who harbored both anti-Western as well as anti-Persian sentiments are Satia Al-Husri, Khairallah Tulfah as well as Sami Shawkat. The philosophies of the above mentioned pan-Arab nationalists inspires a generation of Arab leaders such as Saddam Husseinb, whose definition of Arabism was marked with the level of brutality against Iranians (Persians, Kurds among others) as well as Gamal Abdel Nasser, who advocated for the transformation of the Persian Gulf to become Arab Gulf (Farrokh,2008).

Pan-Arabism has been marked with incidents of Terrorism and violence. Some of the latest example of Pan-Arab nationalism… [END OF PREVIEW]

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