Thursday, October 1, 2009

Are the Arabs and Jews Really "Cousins?" - What is the Origin of the Arabs? . . .

. . . and how was the Arabs' original culture . . . destroyed and their history . . . replaced by legends [that is, by Islam. lw].

The Arabs got acquainted with the existence of Avraham and Ishmael only through the Jewish and Christian sources from which Islam drew its own scriptures. Therefore, according to overwhelming historic, archaeologic, scriptural and scientific evidence, neither Avraham nor Ishmael have ever been in Arabia from Midyan southwards

The foregoing and the following material is from THE ORIGIN AND IDENTITY OF THE ARABS by Avraham Sándor at THINK-ISRAEL

Avraham Sándor is by his biographical description a Roma (Gypsy).  Descended from a people whose origins are in the Indian subcontinent, his opinions should not be tinged by ethnic considerations.

NOTE on the Romas' (Gypsies') origins in India:
During these [Islamic] genocides [in India], a certain portion of the fleeing Hindus reached Europe. Today's Roma people of Europe (popularly called the 'gypsies', a term that they regard as a pejorative) are of Indian origin and have lived as wanderers in Europe for nearly a thousand years. It is believed that they originated in Northwest India, in a region including Gandhara, Punjab, and Rajasthan. In Europe, they survived by being musicians and performers, because European society did not assimilate them even after a thousand years. They have accepted their plight as street people without a 'home' as such. Their history in Europe is filled with attempts to eradicate them in various ways.  (There is much justified criticism of India's caste system as a way by which diverse ethnicities dealt with each other. However, [we] have yet to see a comparison with the fact that Europeans dealt with non-European ethnicities using genocide [as in America], or by attempted genocide as in the case of the Roma.) - from The Hindu-Killers of Kandahar

For how the entire topic of this post affects today's political events, see WHO--AND WHAT--ARE THE ARABS?


A great amount of historic documents concerning early Arabs have been destroyed in Islamic times in order to annihilate the memory of the original background from which Islam emerged and how did it change the cultural features of the Arabs -- so, it is not a surprising factor that they did likewise with the peoples that they subdued. Only strongly established cultures resisted and were not "arabized" (like Jews, Assyrians, Coptic Egyptians, Armenians, that never surrendered to Islam). Yet, we still have enough elements to reconstruct the facts concerning the pre-Islamic Arabian culture, and it is interesting that it was a female-centred and even a female-ruled society. This characteristic regarded primarily the Central Arabian and also the Northern tribes, not properly the Southern Arabian culture. Therefore, in order to enable a better comprehensibility, . . . we will define with the term Arabian or Arab the peoples of the Northern and Central regions, and "Yemenite" those of the Southern kingdoms (the term Yemenite indeed indicates the right hand, meaning the south).


Also the Amazigh people under their warrior queen Kahena opposed a fierce resistance to the muslim invaders. Undoubtedly, the government system of pre-Islamic Arabians was not Semitic but Hamitic.


There are conclusive evidences that Arabians had a matrilineal succession, the husband entered the wife's clan and lived in her home, and it was generally the woman who decided to divorce. Women were free to choose their partner, and often married younger men. It was also usual that clans had female names, and there are some hints that suggest that even polyandry was practised -- a custom not found among Semites but within some peoples in India and other regions of Asia. Also their religion had the same character, as the worship of the goddesses, the "daughters of Allah" (name of a pre-Islamic moon-god) prevailed over that of the male idols. It is not the purpose of this essay to show the true origin of Islam, yet it is interesting how did it manage to reverse all the Arabians' culture -- it is not the sole event of this kind in history, just consider how Communism took the power over the deeply religious Russians, overturning many of their traditional values. The Islamic doctrines altered the genuine Kushitic nature of the Arabs and imposed the male tyranny, that includes women-beating and other aberrant humiliations like clitoridectomy -- characters that do not help to qualify Islam as Semitic either. The Islamic insistence on the rules that women must obey has not any ethnic connotation but is the result of a reaction against the freedom and power that Arabian women enjoyed when this religion was founded (by someone who experimented such a female "domination" in his own family). In fact, the Kushite cultural heritage lasted much longer in Central Arabia, the cradle of Islam, rather than in the Northern and Southern regions, where the Nabatean and Himyarite civilizations were in contact with the western world and had become quite cosmopolitan.


Taking account of the Hebrew Scriptures and other ancient records, it is possible to establish that the term Arab was originally applied to the Nabateans, that inhabited the wilderness region to the east of Israel, from Edom to Syria (not properly in the mainland of Arabia). Such an identification is confirmed by historians of Roman times like Strabo and Josephus, that used the terms Arab and Nabatean as synonymous. The Nabatean sovereigns were usually called "kings of the Arabs" and their realm was known as Arabia, so that when the Nabatean Kingdom was annexed to the Roman Empire it became the province of Arabia.

The name Nabatean is referred to Ishmael's firstborn son Nebayot, founder of the tribe that prevailed over the northwestern branch of the Ishmaelites and evolved into an organized kingdom, while the southeastern ones kept their Bedouin life-style within the oases of Northern Arabia, of which the tribe of Qedar may be considered the most representative.

The region where the Nabateans settled favoured their development as a Semitic culture that progressively replaced their natural Kushitic character. Intermarriage with Arameans was common and determined the origin of the modern Syrians. In fact, there were no marriage restrictions neither for men nor for women among Nabateans to take foreign spouses, and it is likely that such a practice was even encouraged. Mutual assimilation with the local Semitic population was also decisive in the formation of the Arabic language, whose roots are clearly Aramaic. Unlike present-day Arabs, the Nabateans held women in high regard -- a characteristic common to most of the pre-Islamic Arabian peoples. Women had property and heritage rights, and the Nabatean queens were honoured even more than the kings.


The Nabateans learnt literature, sciences and arts from their neighbours and were Hellenized up to a certain degree; most of them also converted to Judaism and Christianity. It was in Roman times that they reached their splendour and expanded their influence over Central Arabia; cities like Khaybar, Yathrib and Mekka became important Nabatean centres. Most of the Jews dwelling in Arabia in those times were indeed converted Nabateans, as well as the Christians that settled as south as Najran, in the Yemenite region. Paradoxically, a large number of true Ishmaelites were murdered by the Islamic hordes in the massacres of Jews at Khaybar and Medina. The notions about Jewish and Christian traditions were actually the source from which Nabateans rediscovered their Ishmaelite origin, as the name of Ishmael was completely lost in their own tradition. The Arabic form of this name shows internal evidence that it was translated from Greek or perhaps Syriac. This remote connection with a Biblical figure was enhanced on purpose by the promoters of Islam in order to create themselves a prestigious ancestry, although without having actual proofs of the Ishmaelite descent of Nabateans.


The fact is that the name of Ishmael was unknown in Central Arabia in pre-Islamic times, and the Arabic form Isma'il, beginning with an aleph shows that it passed through the Greek and is not directly derived from the Semitic/Aramaic original name Yishmael, with an initial yod -- the change of a consonant/semivowel into a vowel is explained only if a Semitic name has been translated into a western language and then from the western form into another Semitic tongue, which is the case of Hebrew into Greek and then into Arabic. Indeed, there is no mention of Avraham or Ishmael in any ancient Arabian inscription, neither Sabean nor Minean, nor Safaitic, nor Lihyanite, nor Thamudic and not even Nabatean.

The Arabs got acquainted with the existence of Avraham and Ishmael only through the Jewish and Christian sources from which Islam drew its own scriptures. Therefore, according to overwhelming historic, archaeologic, scriptural and scientific evidence, neither Avraham nor Ishmael have ever been in Arabia from Midyan southwards.


On the other side, the Semitic empires of the Middle East, namely Assyrian and Babylonian, were not much concerned in conquering the Arabian tribes and only imposed tribute on them, eventually placed vassal kings of their choice in order to keep a sort of organized administration, but did not establish colonies. After the fall of Babylon, the Nabateans got in touch with the Persian and Greek cultures and sought to expand themselves towards the northwest. In this period, they absorbed some Semitic peoples whose kingdoms were ruined since long time like the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites and some Aramean tribes, which contributed to the formation of the Arab identity. These Arabs are those that in Roman times settled in the central region, slowly and merging with the local Kushite inhabitants.


Concerning the Yemenites, in early times they had been ruled by queens according to the Kushitic tradition. The Semitic Yoqtanites assimilated the original Hamitic tribes and adopted their female monarchy system. Since they did not leave any written account of their own history previous to the Assyrian period, the only available document regarding the Sabean monarchy before the 8th century b.c.e. is recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, that reports the journey of the Queen of Sheva to Jerusalem. The description of the Queen illustrates the daring character of a typical Arabian female ruler; she presented herself to test the mighty King Shlomoh with hard questions and spoke to him openly. The Hebrew expression "she came to Shlomoh" used in the Bible in 1Kings 10:2 and 2Chronicles 9:1 conveys an interesting implication: that she had the explicit purpose of sexual relations with the King, who was not reluctant to accomplish her wishes, as it is written in following verses that "King Shlomoh gave to the Queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked", implying that he also satisfied her sexually. This event became the source of many legends suggesting that both sovereigns had a son that founded a Solomonic dynasty that ruled in Yemen (or Ethiopia). There are not reliable proofs that may credit such a possibility, except that about two centuries later the Sabeans had a Semitic-styled male monarchy, and one of the earliest kings mentioned was Yati'amar, which is a Hebrew name (Ithamar).

Since the 3rd century c.e. the Sabean Himyarite Kingdom was enjoying a cultural revival in which the historical Israelite presence played an essential role, so much that even the king Dhu Nuwas adopted Judaism (even though the ancient Sabean religion was still practised by most Yemenites). This new feature was not appreciated by the nominally Christian Ethiopia and the Eastern Roman Empire, that agreed in joining their efforts to overthrow the Himyarite Kingdom. The Yemenite economy was weakened because of the commercial boycott promoted by the rival states that subsequently moved war against the Himyarite Kingdom. Yemen fell under the Ethiopians, that occupied the country and settled their own dynasty in 525 c.e. Yet, the Ethiopian Axumite rule did not last long, the ambitions of Byzantium and Persia to take control over the region resulted in a victory for the Persians, that subjected the whole Southern Arabia around 570 c.e. until the Islamic invasion. The end of the independent Yemen paved the way for their unification with the Nabatean Arabs advancing from the north.


After a careful and accurate research about the origin and identity of the Arabs, we can distinguish the myths from the facts:


Arabs are Ishmaelites: this is not true for the overwhelming majority of them. There are not written records by which not even a single Arab is able prove a direct descent from Ishmael. The alleged genealogies have been invented in Islamic times after some Nabateans converted to Judaism or Christianity discovered the possible link that they had with Ishmael, a name that was completely lost in Arabia and was translated from Greek sources.

Arabs are Semites: This is a relative truth -- the Arabic language is Semitic, because its sources are ancient Semitic tongues spoken by both Sabeans and Nabateans. Also Ghe'ez and Amharic, languages of the Ethiopians, are Semitic, nevertheless the Ethiopian people are Kushites, not Semites.

Arabic was spoken in ancient times: false, it is the most recent of all Semitic languages, and evolved from Nabatean, Sabean, Lihyanite, Safaitic, Thamudic and other tongues. There was not a single document written in Arabic until Roman times.


Arabs are primarily Hamitic, with a relevant Semitic contribution.

Ancient Nabateans were mainly Kushitic. Although their forefather was Ishmael, he and his offspring married within the Kushite inhabitants of Northern Arabia, and were regarded as Mušuri (Egyptians) by the Assyrians, who did not recognize Arabs as a Semitic people.

Ancient Yemenites (Sabeans, Mineans and others) were of mixed Semitic/Hamitic stock.

The pre-Islamic Arabs had a Kushitic culture; they were mainly ruled by queens like the Nubians, Ethiopians and other Hamitic nations, and had a female-centred society.

Islam has reversed the original culture into a male-ruled society, yet not adopting a Semitic style but just imposing a system based on applying the opposite patterns to the previous social rules and customs.

Ancient Arabians had a great culture, that might have evolved into a modern civilization and a developed society like other peoples of the Middle East as the Jews or the Armenians, but their original culture was destroyed and their history was replaced by legends [that is, Islam. lw].

[emphasis mine. lw]

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