Key ways in which the Arab world changed from pre Islamic times

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I have written and submitted an initial draft of the paper answering the following question:

"What were some of the key ways in which the “Arab world” changed from pre-Islamic times to when Islam was first introduced and began to spread (up to the end of the 8th century CE)? Pick two major socio-economic, political, religious, or cultural institutions or values to focus on in your exploration of how and why these values and institutions changed. Consider both the societies in which these institutions and values were originally present, and the societies into which Islam spread."

And have received the following feedback for my revision:

"No points to support thesis and conclusion. Essay describes how the Arab World changed and expanded in the pat but does the points to not lead to showing how those changes have an effect today as the thesis stated. Please revise and add points by connecting the initial statements of your essay to how the points are still prevalent in the Arab World."

Using the feedback, please revise my Essay's initial draft. You may restructure the Essay and add points from articles found online. However, make sure to utilize the MLA format. This revision is for an intermediate English class so make sure the writing is well thought out and clear. Please revise the paper properly, using points which help add to my argument.

Also attached are the excerpts I used as sources for my paper. They should give you some reference.


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There are over three hundred million Arabs in the world today. Originating from a region of sparsely populated settlers and nomads, the vibrant and diverse Arab World has expanded greatly through the course of history. The Arab World constitutes of several states which are bound together by shared cultural and social characteristics, all the while consisting of their own unique traits. Amongst the many countries, much of their inner dynamics are preexisting, evolving and accumulating over time to create the cluster of nations we see today. Several prominent events have left a mark on the Arab region. However, the institution of Islam as a religion has served to create the most change. By studying early Arab history we can understand why and how the many changes its regions went through in regard to their cultures, values, socio-economic structures and, of course, religion. To better understand the permanent effect of the Islamic religion in the Arab World, it would help to look at a few of its pre-Islamic characteristics. Learning from Weiss’ and Green’s publishing, “A Survey of Arab History,” we can see that the people of ancient Arab were primarily nomads (Bedouins), divided into various tribes which were then subdivided into clans. “Individual(s) acquired and maintained an identity through his membership to a tribe, which protected him against hostile outsiders as well as the harsh elements.” (Weiss & Green 18) Their shared Bedouin ideals promoted unity amongst their own tribesman which helped sustain their lives in the harsh desert where there are limited resources such as water which also in effect made it hard to maintain a large number of people in a single tribe, therefore forcing subdivision. The Bedouins survived collectively and relied on the economic activity of “breeding and herding certain kinds of animals…that could be exploited for food, clothing shelter, fuel, and transportation.” (Weiss & Green 19) Their geographical environment therefore forced a purposeful nomadic lifestyle and a strong adherence to useful resources. This, however, led to a strong rivalry between the many Arab Bedouin tribes. “According to the lead ideal that we may call “tribal authority” (if not “sovereignty”), in theory the tribe neither acknowledge nor obeyed any political authority above or beyond itself.” (Weiss & Green 21) The autonomy the tribes had was prioritized as an important Bedouin value. Due to this and the tribes’ general rivalry amongst one another, there were frequent battles and raids between them as they looked after only themselves. Following the advent of Islam in Mecca, through the prophet Muhammad, several preexisting values, especially ones that of the Bedouins were contradicted by the religion’s teachings. The Qur’an (which contains what was conveyed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel on the Night of Power) teaches Muslim converts about the ways of Islam. It “reflected changing circumstances by offering instructions on how the expanded functions of the state were to be organized and how human beings should conduct their relations with one another.” (Cleveland & Bunton 10) Teachings such as “pay(ing) more attention to the less fortunate in society” (Cleveland & Bunton 10) and that those who would only favor their own wealth would be punished by God in the afterlife went against the values of the Bedouins and as well as the sprawling merchant capitalists of the time as the teachings did not mix with the preceding Bedouin ideals about looking after only the ones belonging to the tribe and, the general selfish and capitalistic values the merchants comprised of. Promoting a sense of unity amongst all converts regardless of what tribe or ethnic background they belonged to further contradicted Bedouin ideals, specifically the one about being loyal and adhering to only one’s own tribe. Before Islam was introduced, Mecca was still known for being a religious hub in the Arabian Peninsula. “Most Arabs were pagans who worshipped multiple divinities often in the form of idols...Muhammad’s call to monotheism in the form of Islam in the early seventh century set in motion great societal changes that over a period of a century or two, led to the creation of a new Islamic community, the umma.” (Reynolds 4) Muhammad, however, did not find it easy being the prophet of Islam, especially considering the location he was in, where there remained a lot of opposition to the religion he was teaching from the followers of several other established religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and paganism. Followers of other monotheistic religions found it hard to believe that what Muhammad was teaching was the word of God and along with much of the inhabitants (who were either pagan or against the values Muhammad was trying to teach) of Mecca, met Muhammad with a lot of opposition. Being driven out of Mecca, Muhammad gained a lot of clout from his successes in Medina. He was later able to amass enough power to claim Mecca off of the hands of the Bedouin Quraysh tribe (a clan of which he himself was a part of). After gaining control of Medina, “Muhammad went to the Ka’ba and had the idols destroyed, proclaiming the shrine to God. Mecca would remain a pilgrimage center, and the Ka’ba would become the focal point of the new faith.” (Cleveland & Bunton 12) The Ka’ba had previously been of serious religious significance to the pagan worshippers, with the coming of Islam into Mecca, it was followed by great religious change in the area as evidenced above. We will see how such change was replicated elsewhere afterwards. Having established a significant following, Muhammad’s “umma” were devoted to carry on the prophet’s mission of spreading the religion of Islam. Soon after the prophet’s death, the Islamic caliphate was established. Several controversies surround the Islamic caliphate, specifically regarding the choosing of the Caliph, which still affects and divides the followers of Islam to this day. However, there is no doubt about the fact that the Rashidun caliphs helped initiate a great expansion of the Islamic community, creating an Empire, due to which we have the Arab World we see today. “The second caliph, Umar recognized the need to direct the raiding instincts of the tribes away from intercommunal conflict and authorized attacks against the southern flanks of Byzantium and Sasanian Iran.” (Cleveland & Bunton 13) In effect, Umar began the conquests by the Arabs we know today to have helped them capture “Damascus in 635, and in 641 they occupied parts of the rich agricultural province of Egypt…By 670 reached present-day Tunisia, and in 680..through Algeria and Morocco to the Atlantic Ocean” (Cleveland & Bunton 13) The Islamic expansion conducted by the Arabs Muslims continued to the Indian subcontinent and, to as far west as France. By looking at the history of the affected areas, we can see that the conquests were not only successful but durable as well (at least in the most part). We can see why, by taking a look at William L. Cleveland and Martin Bunton’s work, in their book, “A History of the Modern Middle east.” Generally, the local populations’ acceptance of their new Islamic rulers were helped by their already established monotheistic beliefs. This made it easier to conform to the Arab ideals due to the shared similarities. Peace was maintained amongst the locals due to the practice of tolerance towards non-Muslims, letting them practice their own respective religions without consequence (besides a simple additional tax). The Islamic religion really suited expansion because, “in Islam a Muslim man may lawfully marry a woman who is Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, and in addition she is not required to give up her religion.” (Reynolds 5) This made it easier for the diverse people affected by the Arab occupation to adjust to their new Arab identity. After the reign of the Rashidun as the Islamic caliph came to an end, the Umayyad dynasty (661-750) followed and took helm of the Islamic Empire. “The Umayyad Empire was troubled by internal dissention. Part of the dissent was caused by the policy of Arab exclusivism…favor the Arabs and to discriminate against the growing number of non-Arab converts to Islam.” (Cleveland & Bunton 16) This led to a revolution, which resulted with the Abbasids coming to power. The Islamic Empire under the Abbasids prospered as it promoted equal treating of all Muslims no matter what ethnicity they had and, the “development of administrative institutions, commercial enterprises, and a legal system.” (Cleveland & Bunton 16) Thus came a prosperous Islamic Empire which started to share a general Arab identity across the vast region it consisted of. The Arabic language gained a lot of prominence due to the creation and expansion of Islam. Having roots in early poetic koine, (Reynolds 1) the language earned its popularity due to its use in the Qur’an. The language in the Qur’an remained (and remains) unchanged as the followers of Islam believe the words were constructed by God himself and therefore could not be made any better via human alterations. This led to the spread of the Arabic language throughout the rapidly expanding Islamic Empire as Muslim converts were required to understand it in order read the Qur’an. In effect, Islam not only changed previous, ideals structures and beliefs of the people it affected, but also (in many cases) the language. The expansion of Islam made a lot of people convert to the religion. Due to the many newly created converts, a new general sense of unity arose amongst the people in an otherwise large and diverse geographical area. The religion made them share several new values and beliefs and changed a lot of the preexisting socio-economic factors, along with the way the countries were previously governed. From a sparsely populated region in the Arab Peninsula, the expansion of Islam greatly enlarged the “Arab” identity. Helped by the added suitability of Islam with non-Muslims, the Arab identity was promoted even further, with a larger population being ready to accept the changes Islam brought forth. Key factors, such as the prominence of the Arab language and several important Islamic values were therefore comfortably shared amongst the people of the Arab World, unified even today because of their many similar characteristics. Works Cited Cleveland, William L and Martin Bunton. A History of the Modern Middle East. Westview Press, 2009, pp. 8-18. Reynolds, Dwight F. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Arab Culture. Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 1-18. Weiss Bernard G. and Arnold H. Green. A Survey of Arab History. American University in Cairo Press, 1987, pp. 18-25. r I A Survey of Arab History Revised Edition Bernard G. Weiss ~ and · Arnold H. Green THE AMERICAN UNIVERSriY IN CAIRO PRESS C,.\._ ..., . . . ...,.>~"" >..::)~ ..... Lf- s I !) f"} ) ~ n.. ...~ · ~\. ( Contenta Copyright © 1~, 1987 by The American Un.ivasity in Cairo Pre. 113 Sharia Kasr el Ain.i Cairo, Egypt This edition ftr1t published in 1987 by The American Univenity in Cairo Prea Second printing 1988 All ripll reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduad, oton:d in a retrieval oynem, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic; mechan~~ photocopying, rerording, or otherwise, without the prior permisoion of the copyript holder. Dar el Kutub No. 4631/87 ISBN 977 424 1111 0 Printed in Egypt by The American University in Cairo Preu lllWitn.tions Preface ·.!A} ntroduction: What is History? ri>'\. . The Arabs before Islam 2. The Rise of Islam and the Alcendancy of the Arabs, · A.D. 600-750 . 3. The Cosmopolitan Empire of the Abbasids, 750-945 4. The Islamic World in an Age of Internationalism, 945-1250 5. Society and Institutions: The Medieval Order 6. The Islamic Cultural Synthesis 7. The Arab Lands in the Age of the Mamlub, 1250-1517 8. The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule, 1517-1600 9. The Arab Lands in the Age oC Ottoman Decline, 1600-1850: Semi-Autonomous States and Revivalist Movements 10. European Imperialism in the Arab .Lands, 1830-1914 II. The Rise of National Consciousneu and NationaliSt Movements in Arab Lands vii ix l 17 47 79 109 B5 169 195 217 237 269 · 293 19 helplessness In the face of sudden catastrophes--floods, draughts, or invasions. Thus tribesmen survived Individually and collectively by adhering to the ldelll of "all for one and one for all." Certainly the ancient bedouin didn't practice socialism in the modern sense of the word, but the cornerstone of their "code of the desert" was the principle of group solidarity (caaabi~a), which tended to foster a certain degree of material equalltf .rlbal solidarity, along with the other bedo~ ideals--such ss generosity (karam), hospitality ~%eyp and honor ( ird)--obliged the comparatively Mc'fi&nd strong indl ua s within a trib-e-To feel a sense of responsibility toward the comp.sratlvely poor and weak. · The ecology of pastoral nomadism In a desert environment dictated that tribes functioned most efficiently at the optimum size of about 600 individuals. Notwithstanding the powerful sense of tribal solidarity, when bedouin tribes became too large they therefore tended to fragment Into their component parts--the clans. The old tribe would dissolve at the top, and each major clan (or group of clans) would become a separate, new tribe. Inasmuch as genealogy represented the main form of history--and an important genre of poetry--among the bedouins, each tribe remembered the Identity of its "brother tribes" and "cousin tribes." In this regard, the bedouin concerned themselves a great deal with the nobility of their descent. The custom was thus for marriage to be endogamous (I.e., to occur within the tribe or at least within a group of cloeely related tribes) In order to maintain the purity of the tribal bloodlines, In accordance with the Ideals of hospitality and generosity, outsiders sometimes were accorded refuge and p_~tectlon from a tribe other than their own. But these "clients" (mawall), who . were ordinarily treated as second-class citizens, were often barred from marrying Into the tribe itself. Values and Institutions of the Ancient Arabs Socio-economic Institutions No doubt the most Important social unit of bedouin aoclety was the tribe (qablla), which was customarily subdivided Into clans (qjnhhl). The clan consisted in turn of a number of nuclear families eacti a tlng a aepar11te tent. While many basic human needs . were satiaf!ed at the level of the nuclear family, the tribe was the main focus of the bedouin's ultimate loylllty. The Individual acquired and maintained an Identity through his membership In a tribe, which protected him against hostile outsiders 88 well as against the harsh elements. Although the Arab nomads' standard of Hving waa very modest, they were vulnerable less because of their Incessant poverty than because of their The principal economic activity of the Arab bedouin, like other pastoral nomads, consisted of breeding and herding certain kinds of animals--mainly sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, and camels--that could be exploited for food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and transportation. In herding their flocks the bedouin did not wander about aimlessly; rather, their movements were characterized by a high degree of regularity and purposiveness. In Ml'ly or June of each year the tribe would habitually return to Us summer quarters, Invariably located near a well or a spring, where It .would remain throughout the hot, summer months. If a particular tribe was not fortunate enough to possess a well of Ita own, necessity and custom obliged it to become the client of a stronger tribe that controlled a year-round water supply. Water was scarce and therefore precious In the Arabian peninsula, an area which received very Uttle annual rainfall. Mountainous Yemen and Oman received generous amounts of monsoon rains from the climatological system of the Indian Ocean, but flat North-central Arabia had to depend on the Mediterranean system which brought only scattered showers in the Winter and Spring. So in September or October of each year the bedouin tribe would leave Us summer quarters, taking Its flocks in March of the pasturage brought forth by the first of the seasonal .ihowers. Depending on the amounts and sites of the rainfall, the tribe might change locations several times during the Winter and Spring. However, it usually remained within s general ares, considered Its own 21 20 pasturing territory, and almost Slwaya returned by mid-June to ita tribal well. It was because of this annual pattern that bedouins were called "prisoners of the seasonal cycle." Among the animals herded by the bedouins, the camel deserves special mention. It is likely that, in remote antiquity, paatorallats in the Arabian peninsula relied for transportation mainly on the donkey and therefore restricted their movements to the fringes of the· steppes, avoiding the hitherto impassable desert. ·The domestication or introduction of the dromedary or one-humped camel, in about 1000 B.C., led to a socio-economic revolution of sorts. The camel proved to be a superb riding animal; its speed over long distances was three times as fast 88 a horae. It thus greatly increased the bedouin's mobiHty, enabling them to traverse the deserts at will and to raid anywhere in the peninsula. A splendid beast of burden, the camel alao facilitated the rise of long-distance trade. Carrying up to 160 kilograms, a camel could travel 40 kilometers daily for eight days without water in temperatures of 57 degrees centigrade. Tribesmen obtained other beneftts from the camel: they drank its milk and ate its flesh; · they used ita hair for tent-cloth and its dung for fuel. In the centuries just prior to the rise of Islam, Arab nomads became increasingly devoted to camel-, breeding, and .they have consequently been described as "parasites of the camel." . Since wealth and power were measured among the bedouin In terms of · numbers of animals, possession of summer wells, and a~aa to winter pasturage, there occurred intense and almost constant rivalry among tribes for control of the Arabian peninsula's limited resources. One consequence of this rivalry, particularly during cycles of draught and famine or of overpopulation, was the tende_n cy for certain tribes to emigrate outside the nomadic zone to such regions as South Arabia or the Fertile Crescent where sedentary agriculture was possible. Another consequence was endemic warfare among those tribes remaining In the central peninsula. This Intertribal conflict over livestock and naturlll resources expressed itself not so much in all-out warfare · as in raiding (ghazw/razzia), which aimed Pt carrying off animals, goods, or prison-· era. In this regard, because each tribe waa a more or leas self- contained social unit, raiding was not ·considered "lllegal" or even immoral; rather, raiding for booty and for the capture foUowed by the ransom of prisoners was a legitimate form of economic enterprise.. Indeed, to exhibit daring and bravery when conducting a raid or when engaging In a skirmish was anot}ler Important bedouin idelll, part of the "code of the desert." Raids were carried out not only against rival tribes but also against sedentary villagers or against the camel caravans which transported goods from South Arabia to the Fertile Crescent. Indeed, some of the stronger tribes were able to levy tolla on the South Arabian merchants; In return for payments· In kind, a tribe would guarantee the caravan's safe pasBage through their territory. Although self- sufficiency was an ideal and raiding a common practice among bedouin, they ·did not abstain from peaceful economie intercourse with persons outside-their own tr!_be. Indeed,· the custom was for each tribe to hold a weekly market (~), to which membera of other tribes could come and exchange goods. usually by barter lllthough money was not unknown in certain areaa. Market days -were customarily designated as truce periods, so that exchange between tribes could take place without danger of conffict and bloodshed. During the winter, the aarket would be held wherever the tribe's camp happened to be ~ted; during the summer, it would occur at the tribal well, where a fraction of the dibe would sometimes remain behind even during the ,..turage season In order to engage in commerce year-round. In this way a summer tribal weekly market could evolve into a permanent YWage market. Occasionally, village markets lllso served as aites for annual trade fairs, which were attended by all the tribes within a given l"eeion and for w_hlch longer truce periods were declared in order to r.dlltate the gathering. It was thus not unuaulll for the economic patterns of Arab nomads to Include regular and peaceful Intercourse with quasi-sedentary merchants. In this regard, the Arab bedouin also live
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There are over three hundred million Arabs in the world today. Originating from a region
of sparsely populated settlers and nomads, the vibrant and diverse Arab World has expanded
greatly through the course of history. The Arab World constitutes of several states which are
bound together by shared cultural and social characteristics, all the while consisting of their own
unique traits.

Amongst

the many countries,

much of their

inner dynamics

are

preexisting,evolving and accumulating over time to create the cluster of nations we see
today.Several prominent events have left a mark on the Arab region. However, the institution of
Islam as a religion has served to create the most change. By studying early Arab history we can
understand why and how the many changes its regions went through in regard to their cultures,
values, socio-economic structures and, of course, religion.
To better understand the permanent effect of the Islamic religion in the Arab World, it
would help to look at a few of its pre-Islamiccharacteristics. Learning from Weiss’ and Green’s
publishing, “A Survey of Arab History,” we can see that the people of ancient Arab were
primarily nomads (Bedouins), divided into various tribes which were then subdivided into clans.
“Individual(s) acquired and maintained an identity through his membership to a tribe, which
protected him against hostile outsiders as well as the harsh elements.” (Weiss & Green 18) Their
shared Bedouin ideals promoted unity amongst their own tribesman which helped sustain their
lives in the harsh desert where there are limited resources such as water which also in effect

Surname

2

made it hard to maintain a large number of people in a single tribe, therefore forcing subdivision.
The Bedouins survived collectively and relied on the economic activity of “breeding and herding
certain kinds of animals…that could be exploited for food, clothing shelter, fuel, and
transportation.” (Weiss & Green19) Their geographical environment therefore forced a
purposeful nomadic lifestyle and a strong adherence to useful resources. This, however, led to a
strong rivalry between the many Arab Bedouin tribes. “According to the lead ideal that we may
call “tribal authority” (if not “sovereignty”), in theory the tribe neither acknowledge nor obeyed
any political authority above or beyond itself.” (Weiss & Green 21) The autonomy the tribes had
was prioritized as an important Bedouin valu...


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