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Arabization or Arabisation (Arabic: تعريب taʻrīb) describes a growing cultural influence on a non-Arab area that gradually changes into one that speaks Arabic and/or incorporates Arab culture and Arab identity. It was most prominently achieved during the 7th century Arabian Muslim conquests which spread the Arabic language, culture, and—having been carried out by Arabian Muslims as opposed to Arab Christians or Arabic speaking Jews—the religion of Islam to the lands they conquered. The result: some elements of Arabian origin combined in various forms and degrees with elements taken from conquered civilizations and ultimately denominated "Arab", as opposed to "Arabian".
After the rise of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, Arab culture and language spread through trade with African states, conquest, and intermarriage of the non-Arab local population with the Arabs, in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq and the Sudan. The peninsular Arabic language became common among these areas; dialects also formed. Also, though Yemen is traditionally held to be the homeland of Arabs, most of the population did not speak Arabic (but instead South Semitic languages) prior to the spread of Islam.
The influence of Arabic has also been profound in many other countries whose cultures have been influenced by Islam. Arabic was a major source of vocabulary for languages as diverse as Berber, spoken Indonesian, Tagalog, Malay, Maltese, Portuguese, Sindhi, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu, as well as other languages in countries where these languages are spoken; a process that reached its high point in the 10th to the 14th centuries, the high point of Arabic culture, and although many of these words have fallen out of use since then, many remain. For example the Arabic word for book /kita:b/ is used in all the languages listed, apart from Malay and Indonesian (where it specifically means "religious book") and Portuguese and Spanish (which use the Latin-derived "livro" and "libro", respectively).
After Alexander the Great, the Nabataean kingdom emerged and ruled a region extending from north of Arabia to the south of Syria. It was created by Arabian tribes originated from the Arabian peninsula and developed the Nabataean alphabet which became the basis of modern Arabic script. The Nabataean language, under heavy Arab influence, amalgamated into the Arabic language.
The Arab Ghassanids (ca. 250 CE) were the last major non-Islamic Semitic migration northward out of Yemen. They were Greek Orthodox Christian, and clients of the Byzantine Empire. They revived the Semitic presence in the then-Roman Syria. They initially settled in the Hauran region, eventually spreading to modern Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan, briefly securing governorship of Syria away from the Nabataeans.
The Arab Lakhmid Kingdom was founded by the Lakhum tribe that emigrated from Yemen in the 2nd century and ruled by the Banu Lakhm, hence the name given it. They were Nestorian Christians, opposed to the Ghassanids Greek Orthodox Christianity, and were clients of the Sassanid Empire.
The Byzantines and Sassanids used the Ghassanids and Lakhmids to fight proxy wars in Arabia against each other.
The earliest and most significant instance of "Arabization" was the first Muslim conquests of Muhammad and the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates. They built a Muslim Empire that grew well beyond the Arabian Peninsula, eventually reaching as far as Spain in the West and Central Asia to the East.
Old South Arabian was driven to extinction by the Islamic expansion, being replaced by Classical Arabic which is written with the Arabic script. The South Arabian alphabet which was used to write it also fell out of use. A separate branch of south semitic, the Modern South Arabian languages still survive today as spoken languages.
After the rise of Islam, the Arab tribes unified under the banner of Islam and Arabs invaded modern Jordan, Palestine/Israel, Syria, and Iraq. However, even before the emerge of Islam, the Levant was already a home for several pre-Islam Arabian kingdoms, including the however, non-Arab Arabian tribes were present in the parts of the Fertile Crescent before the emerge of Islam. The Nabateans kingdom of Petra which was based in Jordan, the Ghassanids kingdom which was based in Syria, and the Lakhmids kingdom which was based in Iraq are all pre-Islam Arabian kingdoms. Some of these kingdoms were under the indirect influence of the Romans, Byzantines, and the Persian Sassanids. The Nabateans transcript developed in Petra was the base for the current Arabic transcript while the Arab heritage is full of poetry recording the wars between the Ghassanids and Lakhmids Arabian tribes in Syria and Iraq. In the 7th century, and after the dominance of Arab Muslims within a few years, the major garrison towns developed into the major cities. The local Arabic and Aramaic speaking population, which shared a very close Semitic linguistic/genetic ancestry with the Qahtani and Adnani Arabs, was somewhat Arabized, although Neo-Aramaic speaking minorities persist to the present day.
Since the foundation of the Ptolemaic kingdom in Alexandria, Egypt existed for centuries, eventually it came under the influence of Greek culture, and later under the control of the Roman Empire. Eventually it was conquered from the Eastern Romans by the Arab Muslims in the 7th century CE. The Coptic language, which used to be written using the Greek alphabet, was spoken in Egypt before the Arabic Islamic conquest. As a result of Egypt's Arabization, the native language of all Egyptians including the Copts is now Arabic with the Egyptian Arabic dialect. Currently the Coptic language only survives as a liturgical language of the Coptic Church.
Neither North Africa nor the Iberian Peninsula were strangers to Semitic culture: the Phoenicians and later the Carthaginians dominated the North African and Iberian shores for more than eight centuries until they were suppressed by the Romans and by the following Vandal and Visigothic invasions. In the Inland, the Berbers allied themselves with the Arab Muslims and joined them in invading Spain. During this period the Arab tribes mainly settled the old Phoenician and Carthaginian towns while the Berbers remained the dominant group inland. The Inland North Africa remained partly Arabized until the 11th century; the Iberian Peninsula, on the other hand, remained Arabized, particularly in the south, until the 16th century.
Famous scholar Ibn Khaldun described how Banu Hilal and other Arab tribes helped spread the Arab language in areas that had been Berber speaking. The Banu Hilal, a Bedouin Arabian tribal confederation immigrated first to Libya reducing the percentage of Zenata Berbers and Sanhaja Berber population in North Africa into a minority of its current Arab dominated population. The Banu Hilal, as well as the Banu Muqal, Jashm and others, eventually settled in parts of modern Morocco and Algeria.
The Banu Sulaym another Bedouin tribal confederation from Hejaz followed through the trials of Banu Hilal and helped them defeat the Zirids in the Battle of Gabis 1052 AD, and finally taking Kairuan in 1057 AD. The Banu Sulaym mainly settled and Arabized Libya, however, Berber minorities still live in Libya.
The Banu Ma'qil is a Yemeni nomadic tribe that settled in Tunisia in the 13th century. The Banu Hassan a Maqil branch moved into the Sanhaja region in what's today the Western Sahara and Mauritania, they fought a thirty years war on the side of the Lamtuna Arabized Berbers who claimed Himyarite ancestry (from the early Islamic invasions) defeating the Sanhaja berbers and Arabizing Mauritania.
After the Umayyad conquest of Hispania, under Muslim rule Iberia (al-Andalus) incorporated elements of Arabic language and culture. The Mozarabs were Iberian Christians who lived under Islamic rule in Al-Andalus. Their descendants remained unconverted to Islam, but did however adopt elements of Arabic language and culture and dress. They were mostly Roman Catholics of the Visigothic or Mozarabic Rite. Most of the Mozarabs were descendants of Hispano–Gothic Christians and were primarily speakers of the Mozarabic language under Islamic rule. Many were also what the Arabist Mikel de Epalza calls "Neo-Mozarabs", that is Northern Europeans who had come to the Iberian Peninsula and picked up Arabic, thereby entering the Mozarabic community.
Besides Mozarabs, another group of people in Iberia eventually came to surpass the Mozarabs both in terms of population and Arabization. These were the Muladi or Muwalladun, most of whom were descendants of local Hispano-Basques and Visigoths who converted to Islam and adopted Arabic culture, dress, and language. By the 11th century, most of the population of al-Andalus was Muladi, with large minorities of other Muslims, Mozarabs, and Sephardic Jews. It was the Muladi, together with the Berber, Arab, and other (Saqaliba and Zanj) Muslims who became collectively termed in Christian Europe as "Moors".
The Andalusian Arabic language was spoken in Iberia during Islamic rule, it is now extinct, except in Andalusi music.
A similar process of Arabization and Islamization occurred in the Emirate of Sicily (as-Siqilliyyah), Emirate of Crete (al-Iqritish), and Malta (al-Malta), albeit for a much shorter time span than al-Andalus. However, this resulted in the now defunct Sicilian Arabic language to develop, from which the modern Maltese language derives.
The Arab Ja'alin tribe migrated into the Sudan, and formerly occupied the country on both banks of the Nile from Khartoum to Abu Hamad. They trace their lineage to Abbas, uncle of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. They are of Arab origin, but now of mixed blood mostly with upper Egyptians and nubians. They emigrated to Nubia in the 12th century. They were at one time subject to the Funj kings, but their position was in a measure independent. Johann Ludwig Burckhardt said that the true Ja'alin from the eastern desert of Sudan are exactly like the Bedouin of eastern Arabia. The Jaaliyin claim to be direct descendants of Abbas,uncle to prophet Mohammed, the messenger of the Islamic faith.
In 1888 the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain claimed that the Arabic spoken in Sudan was "a pure but archaic Arabic". The pronunciation of certain letters was like Syrian, and not Egyptian, such as g being the pronunciation for Kaph and J being the pronunciation for Jim.
In 1846, many Arab Rashaida migrated from Hejaz in present day Saudi Arabia into what is now Eritrea and north-east Sudan after tribal warfare had broken out in their homeland. The Rashaida of Sudan and Eritrea live in close proximity with the Beja people. Large numbers of Bani Rasheed are also found on the Arabian Peninsula. They are related to the Banu Abs tribe. The Rashaida speak Hejazi Arabic.
Arabization means introduction of Arabic education and an increased usage of Arabic where French was used before. Governments in Maghreb (western Arab) countries have long promoted Arabization as a nationalist platform. Both Literary Arabic and Dārija are on the rise.
In Algeria, there is some tension between the Berber groups (such as the Kabyle people) and the central Arab government which is encouraged by France and some other European countries which feed the Berbers feelings that their culture and language are threatened by Arabization.
Mauritania is an ethnically-mixed country that is economically and politically dominated by those who identify as Arabs and/or Arab-speaking Berbers. About 30% of the population is considered "Black African", and they suffer high levels of discrimination. Recent Black Mauritanian protesters have complained of "comprehensive Arabization" of the country.
Sudan is an ethnically-mixed country that is economically and politically dominated by the northern Sudanese who identify as Arabs and Muslims. The southern Sudanese are largely a Christian and Animist Nilotic people. The Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005) is typically characterized as a conflict between these two peoples. In 2011 South Sudan voted for secession and became independent.
Some scholars, such as Bat Ye'or sometimes refer to modern Europe as "Eurabia", because of increased Muslim, not necessarily Arab, immigrants settling down and spreading out. This term has been discouraged by many scholars as it is largely believed to be a conspiracy theory.
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