The Arabs (Arabic: العرب ʻarab) are an ethnic group widespread in the Middle East and North Africa. Arabic is one of the Semitic languages, which is also the name of the ethnic family which they belong to.
|approx. 450 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Iran||700,000 - 2,000,000|
|Predominantly Islam; largest minority: Christianity; other religions|
Who is an ArabEdit
There are three points which decide whether someone is considered Arab or not:
- Political: whether they live in a country which is a member of the Arab League (or the Arab World); this definition covers more than 450 million people.
- Linguistic: whether their main language is Arabic; this definition covers more than 423 million people.
- Genealogical: whether they can trace their ancestry back to the people who first lived on the Arabian Peninsula.
There are many people who can be called Arabs by these points, but who do not think of themselves as Arab. Examples include modern Egyptians (Coptics) and the Syriacs (Aramaics/Assyrians). Although they live in countries like Syria or Egypt which is part of the Arab League and speak the official language-Arabic, they are different cultural groups. They have their own languages, culture, identity and churches, such as the Coptic Church and the Syriac Catholic and Orthodox churches. Even though many have assimilated to Arab society, they have their own heritage that spans 3,000 years.
In Islamic and Jewish tradition, Arabs are a Semitic people who trace their ancestry from Ishmael, a son of the ancient patriarch Abraham and Hagar. Medieval Arab genealogists separate the Arabs into two groups: the "original Arabs" of South Arabia, descending from Qahtan (identified with the biblical Joktan) and the "Arabized Arabs" (musta`ribah) of North Arabia, descending from Adnan who is descended from Ishmael.
Most Arabs today follow the religion of Islam, whose greatest prophet is Muhammad. Christianity makes up the largest religious minority - most of the Christians that do consider themselves Arabs belong to the Greek Orthodox Church with smaller numbers of Roman Catholics.
While Coptic and Maronite Catholic Christians are native Arabic-speakers, many reject the Arab pan-ethnicity, but are still considered Arab by outsider sources.
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