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Arabs (Arabic: الشَّعْبَ الْعَرَبِيُ) are an ethnic group originating from and inhabiting the Arabian Peninsula. They are a SemiticWikipedia culture, much like Jews, and speak Arabic,Wikipedia which is a Semitic language.[1] In the 6th century CE, Islam originated and rose among Arabs in the Arabian peninsula, and spread worldwide from there.[2]

Arabs also spread across North Africa and the Levant, setting up various empires referred to as caliphates. The Arabs who migrated there supplanted or intermingled with the native populations, such as in Egypt. They also brought their culture and religion (in this case, Islam), and made their culture the dominant culture in these regions.[3]


Arabs originated in the Levant and the Northern Arabian Peninsula during the 9th century BCE, descended from nomads who inhabited the Arabian Desert for several thousand years prior. The Arabic language also appeared during roughly the same timeframe, and its spread southward coincided with the spread of Islam.[4] The native religions at the time were various different kinds of pagan faiths, which were eventually superseded by Christianity and Islam.[5]

There is a widespread myth that the pre-Islamic Arabs were illiterate, but this is simply not true. In fact, ancient graffiti indicates that literacy was nearly universal at certain points of the pre-Islamic period.[4] However, the Arabic script itself was only invented a few short centuries before the advent of Islam, so the early Arabs weren't necessarily writing in scripts we would recognize as Arabic today.[4]

Pre-Islamic Arabs also formed significant civilizations of their own, notably including the NabateansWikipedia who controlled the trade of frankincense and myrrh, both very important incenses to civilizations of the ancient world, as their aromas blocked out the smells of disease and decay that were so common to the cities of the ancient world.[6] The Nabateans ended up being conquered by the Romans, and eventually fully converted to Christianity.[6] Some have speculated that the ThamudWikipedia referred to in the Qur'an were actually the Nabateans.[7]:252-254[note 1] The Arabic script is also thought to be derived from the Nabatean script.Wikipedia[8]

Arabs spread their culture and religion across West Asia (aka the Middle East) and the wider word through trading or conquest of various regions. Islamic identity eventually became absorbed as part of Arab identity (though Arab Christians do continue to exist as part of Arab culture albeit with a separate and unique identity).[9]


Arabs have faced persecution at various points throughout history. The first recorded instances of anti-Arab discrimination was during the Spanish Inquisition, where Spanish Muslims, many of whom were of Arab descent, were murdered, expelled, or forcefully converted (along with Spanish Jews) by Spanish Christians.[10]

Over the last couple centuries, the Arab world has increasingly suffered from colonialism and general Western intervention. Present bigotry mostly occurs in the Christian majority Western world, after the tragedy of 9/11 that shocked the United States and several other terrorist attacks that occurred afterwards in other parts of the west, such as in several European countries (such as the July 7th bombing in London). Due to the perpetrators being Arab Muslims, this led to mass persecution of both Arabs and Muslims from association out of paranoia from Islamist terror attacks.[11]

Many other ethnic groups have been confused with Arabs, especially within the Western world. These include, (but are not limited to) Iranians, Indians, Armenians, and Turks, among other groups. As a result of racial profiling, these groups are often seen as Arabs in addition to cultural ignorance.[12]

In most European countries, Arabs are usually persecuted by white Christians as they view Arabs and Muslims as foreigners and others. In recent decades, attacks from Christian fundamentalist and white supremacist groups against Arab Muslims have increased at alarming rates.[13] Ironically, there are Arab Christians, but these groups are mostly ignored by Christian fundamentalists and white supremacists.

Other countries where Arabs face persecution are Israel, Iran, India, Turkey, and various other countries beyond the Arab League. Ethnic tensions and waning Muslim populations from rejection of Islam as well as past bigotry and forced conversion from the Arab Muslim empire against these groups have led to bigotry against Arabs. Interpersonal conflict also occurred from religious tension amongst Christians and Muslims.[14]

An often underreported situation is that of the Black Arabs, who face significant oppression in the Arab world.[15]


  1. Like the Nabateans the Thamud were a powerful polity who underwent collapse, although the reason for the Thamudic collapse according to the Qur'an was because of hubris.


  1. Schafer, Dan (May 10, 2019). "Semites not necessarily Jews". Spokesman. 
  2. Microsoft word document on the history of Arab civilization
  3. Bruning, Jelle (April 3, 2014). "How the Arabs gained control of Egypt". Leiden University. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Origins of Arabic - Let's Talk Religion
  5. "Pre-Islamic Arabia and Pagan Foundations of Islam" - Chris Krause
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The Nabateans" - Fall of Civilizations podcast hosted by Dr. Paul Cooper.
  7. Firestone, Reuven (2006), "Thamūd", in McAuliffe, Jane Dammen (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān, Volume Five, Brill, ISBN 978-9004123564
  8. Gruendler, Beatrice (1993). The Development of the Arabic Scripts: From the Nabatean Era to the First Islamic Century According to Dated Texts. Scholars Press. p. 1. ISBN 9781555407100.
  9. Webb, Peter (July 20, 2015). "Arab Origins: Identity, History and Islam". The British Academy. 
  10. Edwards, John (November 11, 2017). "‘Blood and Faith’ by Matthew Carr review". History Today. 
  11. "Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11: From Invisible Citizens to Visible Subjects" - Center for Immigration Studies
  12. "Racial profiling and Islamophobia"
  13. "There's a social pandemic poisoning Europe: hatred of Muslims" - The Guardian. Patrycja Sasnal and Yasemin El Menouar (September 28, 2020).
  14. Šerić, Matija (March 16, 2023). "Christians In The Middle East: A Persecuted And Forgotten People – Analysis". Eurasia Review. 
  15. Al-Azraki, Amir (June 9, 2021). "Uncovering anti-Blackness in the Arab world". The Conversation.