Racism in the Arab world
overview about racism in the Arab world
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Racism in the Arab world covers an array of forms of intolerance against non-Arabs and the expat majority of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf coming from (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) groups as well as Black and Asian groups that are Muslim; minorities such as Armenians, Africans, Latin Americans, Southeast Asians, Jews, Kurds, and Coptic Christians, Persians and other Iranic peoples, Turks, and South Asians in Arab countries of the Middle East.
Quotes
A man of discernment said: The people of Iraq have sound minds, commendable passions, balanced natures, and high proficiency in every art, together with well-proportioned limbs, well-compounded humors, and a pale brown color, which is the most apt and proper color. They are not the ones who are done to a turn in the womb. They do not come out with something between blonde, buff and blanched, and leprous coloring, such as the infants dropped from the wombs of the women of the Slavs and others of similar light complexion; nor are they overdone in the womb until they are burned, so that the child comes out something between black, murky, malodorous, stinking, and crinkly-haired, with uneven limbs, deficient minds, and depraved passions, such as the Zanj, the Somali, and other blacks who resemble them. The Iraqis are neither half-baked dough nor burned crust but between the two.
Ibn al-Faqih al-Hamadani, Mukhtasar Kitab al-Buldan, 903 AD, quoted in Lewis, B. (1992). Race and slavery in the Middle East: An historical enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 45-6
Therefore, the Negro nation are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because [Negroes] have little [that is essentially] human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals, as we have stated.
Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, 14th century, quoted in Lewis, B. (1992). Race and slavery in the Middle East: An historical enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 53
Beyond them [known peoples of black West Africa] to the south there is no civilization in the proper sense. There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals than to rational beings. They live in thickets and caves, and eat herbs and unprepared grain. They frequently eat each other. They cannot be considered human beings.
Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, in **Lewis, B. (1992). Race and slavery in the Middle East: An historical enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press. p 122
The attitude to black Africans remains on the whole negative. Some Muslim authors give balanced and factual accounts, based on personal knowledge, of the black kingdoms; a few even write pious treatises to defend the dark peoples against their detractors. Such defense was clearly felt to be necessary, because of the survival of old prejudices. Even the great geographer Idrisi, in concluding his account of the first climate (geographical zone) with some general remarks on its inhabitants, repeats the old cliches about furrowed feet and stinking sweat and ascribes "lack of knowledge and defective minds" to the black peoples. Their ignorance, he says, is notorious; men of learning and distinction are almost unknown among them, and their kings only acquire what they know about government and justice from the instruction of learned visitors from farther north. The thirteenth-century Persian writer Nasir al-Din Tusi remarks that the Zanj differ from animals only in that "their two hands are lifted above the ground" and continues, "Many have observed that the ape is more teachable and more intelligent than the Zanji."
Lewis, B. (1992). Race and slavery in the Middle East: An historical enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapter 7.
The evidence for the growth of anti-black prejudice comes in the main from two groups of sources. The first of these is literary, especially poetry and anecdote. Several Arabic poets, of the pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods, are described as "black" and are known collectively, to the literary tradition, as aghribat al-'Arab-"the crows of the Arabs."' Some of them-mostly preIslamic-were Arabs of swarthy complexion; others were of mixed Arab and African parentage. For the latter, and still more for the pure Africans, blackness was an affliction. In many verses and narratives, they are quoted as suffering from insult and discrimination, as showing resentment at this, and yet in some way as accepting the inferior status resulting from their African ancestry. One such was the poet Suhaym (d. 660), born a slave and of African origin. His name, obviously a nickname, might be translated as "little black man." In one poem he laments: 'If my color were pink, women would love me. But the lord has marred me with blackness.'
Lewis, B. (1992). Race and slavery in the Middle East: An historical enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapter 4
The whole question of blackness was discussed in a special essay by Jahiz of Basra (ca. 776-869), one of the greatest prose writers in classical Arabic literature and said by some of his biographers to be of partly African descent. Entitled "The Boast of the Blacks against the Whites,"" the essay purports to be a defense of the dark-skinned peoples-and especially of the Zanj, the blacks of East Africa-against their detractors, refuting the accusations commonly brought against them and setting forth their qualities and achievements, with a wealth of poetic illustration... To those who ask, "How is it that we have never seen a Zanji who had the intelligence even of a woman or of a child?" the answer, says Jahiz, is that the only Zanj they knew were slaves of low origin and from outlying and backward areas. If they judged by their experience of Indian slaves, would they have any notion of Indian science, philosophy, and art? Obviously not-and the same is true of the black lands. Jahiz also defends the equality of blacks as marriage partners and notes the paradox that discrimination against them first arose after the advent of Islam: At is part of your ignorance," he makes the blacks say, "that in the time of heathendom [i.e., in pre-Islamic Arabia] you regarded us as good enough to marry your women, yet when the justice of Islam came, you considered this wrong."
Lewis, B. (1992). Race and slavery in the Middle East: An historical enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapter 4
Galen says that merriment dominates the black man because of his defective brain, whence also the weakness of his intelligence.
Al-Masudi, Muruj al-dhahab, in **Lewis, B. (1992). Race and slavery in the Middle East: An historical enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 52
There is no marriage among them; the child does not know his father, and they eat people-but God knows best. As for the Zanj, they are people of black color, flat noses, kinky hair, and little understanding or intelligence.
Mutahhar ibn Tahir-al-Maqdisi, Al-Muqaddasi (fl. 966), Kitab al-Bad' wah-tarikh, vol.4 (on the neighbors of the Bujja), quoted in Lewis, B. (1992). Race and slavery in the Middle East: An historical enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapter 7.
They [blacks] are ugly and misshapen, because they live in a hot country. The heat overcooks them in the womb, and curls their hair. The merit of the people of Babylon is due to their temperate climate.
Ibn Qutaybah (828-889), in Lewis, B. (1992). Race and slavery in the Middle East: An historical enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 46
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Last edited on 17 July 2021, at 07:48
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