The Origins of the Present Arab Countries

The history of the present Arab countries is more recent than imagined. Although the region was inhabited since millennia before Christ, only after the 1st. World War is that the Arab countries began to gain the contours that they possess today, as well as their sovereignty like a nation.

The beginnings, yes, are very old. The book of Genesis, from the Old Testament, tells that Noah (of the ark) had several children, among them “Sem”. The descendants of “Sem” came to be called “Semites”, with Abraham being one of them, who was supposed to have lived between 2000 and 1500 BC in Ur, in Chaldea, a region now located in southern Iraq, on the banks of the Euphrates River. To the Jews and Christians, Abraham is their patriarch, from whom all his people descended through his son with Sarah, Isaac. But for the Arabs, Abraham is also his patriarch, through his son Ishmael, born of his second wife, Hagar.

For centuries, the Arabs lived as nomadic tribes in the desert region of the Arabian Peninsula (the Bedouins), until in the 6th century a process of unification began. Inspired by Muhammad (570-632), the Muslim religion emerges. For the Muslims, Muhammad was the last prophet of a lineage containing Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, David and Jesus. Arab expansion in the seventh century was so intense that it quickly occupied the entire Middle East to Persia (now Iran), North Africa and part of Portugal and Spain. Some historians claim that it was Arab expansion that prevented the reorganization of the Roman Empire from the Byzantines.

The apogee of the Arabs was in Century XII, when Saladino defeated the crusaders, unifying Egypt, Syria and Iraq, having Damascus as its capital. In its golden phase, as Europe chafed in the darkness of its Middle Ages, the Arabs reached advanced stages in mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. They even came to translate the works of the Greek philosophers into Arabic, and it was through these translations that the Europeans rediscovered the philosophers of antiquity, since the originals were inaccessible, locked up by the Medieval Church ( see another post on this blog ).

From the 13th century, however, the Arab Empire began to decline and its frontiers began to recede. They were expelled from Europe in 1492, with the fall of Granada, and at their other end, they were attacked by the Ottoman Turks. In Century XVI, the Arab Empire was already totally dismantled and its African and Asian territories happened to be Ottoman provinces.

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