All those are Arabs for whom the central fact of history is the mission of Muhammad and the memory of the Arab Empire and who in addition cherish the Arabic tongue and its cultural heritage as their common possession.
Both must be interpreted historically, for it is only through the history of the peoples called Arab that we can hope to understand the meaning of the term from its primitive restricted use in ancient times to its vast but vaguely delimited extent of meaning today.
The great waves of conquest that followed the death of Muhammad and the establishment of the Caliphate by his successors in the headship of the new Islamic community wrote the name Arab large across the three continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and placed it in the heading of a vital chapter in the history of human thought and endeavor.
The ethnic distinctions between tribe and tribe and the social distinctions between townsfolk and desert folk became for a while less significant than the difference between the masters of the new empire and the diverse peoples they had conquered. During this first period in Islamic history, when Islam was an Arab religion and the
The recorded history of the Arabs begins in the mid-ninth century BC, which is the earliest known attestation of the Old Arabic language. Tradition holds that Arabs descend from Ishmael, the son of Abraham. The Syrian Desert is the home of the first attested "Arab" groups, as well other Arab groups that spread in the land and existed for millennia.
Ancient North Arabian texts give a clearer picture of Arabic's developmental history and emergence. Ancient North Arabian is a collection of texts from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria which not only recorded ancient forms of Arabic, such as Safaitic and Hismaic, but also of pre-Arabic languages previously spoken in the Arabian peninsula, such as Dadanitic, Hasaitic and Taymanitic.The texts are either written in variants or closely related sister scripts of epigraphic south Arabian musnad.
Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires is a 2019 non-fiction book by British author and Arabist Tim Mackintosh-Smith. The book was written over 9 years in Sanaa, Yemen, and during the last 4 years, the author was confined in his neighbourhood due to the eruption of the Yemeni Civil War. Covering the history of Arabs from their first known mention in 853 BCE up to the present, the book uses Arabic language as a unifying factor to tell the story. Arabs was met with dozens of reviews and mentions, the vast majority of them favorable.
In addition to the foreword, introduction and afterword, the book is divided into six main parts that cover the three main "waves of unity" of recorded Arab history with each taking about the same number of pages. The first wave (900 BC to AD 630) contains parts on "Emergence" and "Revolution", the second (630 to 1350) contains "Dominance" and "Decline", and the third (1350 to now) covers "Eclipse" and "Re-emergence".
The books opens in the foreword by asking a central question that would form the main theme of its thesis, namely about the causes of Arab unity and disunity. The author highlights the ambiguity associated with defining the meaning of the term "Arab" and notes the importance of Classical Arabic language in uniting this ethnic group, and thus the need to study its history. He considers language to be the "defining feature" of Arabs, calling them "arabophones" and referring to the Arab world as the "Arabic world". He emphasizes the importance of studying Arab history from the beginning, with the first mention of them in 853 BC, rather than from the rise of Islam as Albert Hourani did. At the time of writing this section in 2017, the time between then and the year 582 when, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad, still a boy, was first recognized as prophet is exactly the same as between that and 853 BC (1435 years), meaning the rise of Islam lies in the middle rather than beginning of Arab history. Starting from the beginning is necessary in order to "de-islamize" and "re-arabize" the history of Arabs.
The first definitely known mention of Arabs in history dates to 853 BC in an Assyrian text which mentions a man named Gindibu who is an Arab chieftain that owned 1,000 camles and helped King Shalmaneser III defeat his enemies. Arabs were marginal compared to Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians and Romans in the north and Sabaeans in the south. The Sabaeans and other South Arabian people did not speak Arabic, rather their language group is Old South Arabian, which is as different from Arabic as German is from Italian. The abundance of Arabic dialects suggests the language was not unified at the time, and that Arabs were a mixed group genetically and linguistically which is one possible etymology for the word Arab.
In a review published in The Guardian, Ian Black spoke favorably of the book, citing different passages that span the centuries of Arab history. He was particularly fascinated by the author's ability to combine "deep learning with penetrating insights delivered with dazzling turns of phrase and illuminating comparisons". He praised Mackintosh-Smith's use of analogies between past and present, which in addition to the attention paid to details helped to forge a "richly detailed chronicle of Arab language and culture". Steve Donoghue of The National reviewed it favorably, describing it as "a thoroughly remarkable achievement". While he found the first part of the book "haphazard" due to the gaps in documentation of early Arab history, the subsequent parts starting from the rise of Islam were "more readable". "[T]he bulk of this astounding book portrays grand personalities, national journeys and thrilling adventures, all seen through the prism of Arabic language," he added. Donoghue also wrote for Open Letters Review where he listed Arabs as one of the best 2019 history books and described it as "immersive".
In the New Statesman, Shiraz Maher called the book "extraordinary", noting its "original and interesting" use of the Arabic Language to chronicle the history of Arabs. He also praised it for avoiding Islamo-centrism in that it gave equal coverage to Arab history before, during and after the advent of Islam. Of particular interest to Maher was the author's direct addressing of modern controversial topics. The book was hailed as an excellent source for experts and non-experts alike. In The Spectator, Anthony Sattin referred to the book as "magisterial", "brilliant" and "important", emphasizing many of the same highlights as Maher. He added that Mackintosh-Smith is a "worthy successor" to historians Philip Hitti, Albert Hourani and Eugene Rogan who wrote influential works about Arab history. Sattin added:
Robert Irwin also wrote for The Times Literary Supplement where he listed the book as his favorite for 2019 and described it as "exhilarating" despite its melancholic conclusions. The Penang Institute, which hosted an event for the author, said the book was "widely acknowledged to be the best single-volume history of the Arabs in the English language". During the event, Gareth Richards described the book as a "really superlative book". "It's really a book that betrays tremendous knowledge, mastering a huge range of sources. It's written very compellingly, beautifully erudite, and [...] it's also very very witty [...] it's really history at its best," he added. Noting that it took the author 9 years to write, he called it his magnum opus. In a brief review, Kirkus Reviews described the book as "[a] marvelous journey brimming with adventure and poetry and narrated by a keen, compassionate observer". Another short review was written by Jon Grand for The Book Stall Newsletter where he described the book as essential for understanding Arabs.
Justin Marozzi reviewed the book favorably in The Sunday Times. He said Arabs was a rare "combination of commanding erudition and swashbuckling prose". "[Mackintosh-Smith] writes with wonderful verve. Idioms and irreverence abound," he added. Marozzi nevertheless was mildy critical of the editing, "[u]ndoubtedly brilliant, his book might have benefited from a sharper editorial knife," he explained. He encouraged readers to buy the book to support the author as he, according to his website, was "impecunious". Arabs was listed in The Sunday Times best history books for 2019 where it was described as "sumptuous" and written with "infectious enthusiasm". Writing for The Times (sister paper of The Sunday Times), Richard Spencer made a similar note to Marozzi regarding the book's need for more editing. Nevertheless, his review was also favorable, describing Arabs as a "sweeping book" that employs "meticulous scholarship" and " addresses vital questions of Arab identity and nationhood". He also praised the author, attributing to him "nearmythical status among western observers of the Middle East".
In the Financial Times, Malise Ruthven said the book was "an entertaining and absorbing history that manages to be far-reaching and erudite yet conversational in style". He noted the author's focus on Arabic language and military strategy as a unique combination that helped Arab expansion during the early era of Islam. Eric Ormsby reviewed the book favorably for The Wall Street Journal, praising it for extending coverage of Arab history to pre-Islamic era, which he found original. Ormsby went on to praise the style of the author, noting his ability to make sense of otherwise complex and confusing events through the use of dramatic anecdotes and concepts such as asabiyyah and wheel of fire. Although the book received only praise, Ormsby found "occational lapses", citing the book's omission of the Saqifah, which he argued deserved more attention even though the book was not about history of Islam. Writing for The Times Literary Supplement, Christian Sahner favorably reviewed the book, describing it as "excellent". He noted that the greatest strength of the book was its focus on Arabic language. Like Sherif and Richards, he found the humour appealing, he said: 2b1af7f3a8