The Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia and Egypt. Saudi Arabia is geographically the largest Middle Eastern nation; the corresponding adjective is Middle Eastern and the derived noun is Middle Easterner. The term has come into wider usage as a replacement of the term Near East beginning in the early 20th century. Arabs, Persians and Azeris constitute the largest ethnic groups in the region by population. Arabs constitute the largest ethnic group in the region by a clear margin. Indigenous minorities of the Middle East include Jews, Assyrians, Copts, Lurs, Samaritans, Shabaks and Zazas. European ethnic groups that form a diaspora in the region include Albanians, Circassians, Crimean Tatars, Franco-Levantines, Italo-Levantines. Among other migrant populations are Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Pashtuns and sub-Saharan Africans; the history of the Middle East dates back to ancient times, with the importance of the region being recognized for millennia. Several major religions have their origins in the Middle East, including Judaism and Islam.
The Middle East has a hot, arid climate, with several major rivers providing irrigation to support agriculture in limited areas such as the Nile Delta in Egypt, the Tigris and Euphrates watersheds of Mesopotamia, most of what is known as the Fertile Crescent. Most of the countries that border the Persian Gulf have vast reserves of crude oil, with monarchs of the Arabian Peninsula in particular benefiting economically from petroleum exports; the term "Middle East" may have originated in the 1850s in the British India Office. However, it became more known when American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan used the term in 1902 to "designate the area between Arabia and India". During this time the British and Russian Empires were vying for influence in Central Asia, a rivalry which would become known as The Great Game. Mahan realized not only the strategic importance of the region, but of its center, the Persian Gulf, he labeled the area surrounding the Persian Gulf as the Middle East, said that after Egypt's Suez Canal, it was the most important passage for Britain to control in order to keep the Russians from advancing towards British India.
Mahan first used the term in his article "The Persian Gulf and International Relations", published in September 1902 in the National Review, a British journal. The Middle East, if I may adopt a term which I have not seen, will some day need its Malta, as well as its Gibraltar. Naval force has the quality of mobility; the British Navy should have the facility to concentrate in force if occasion arise, about Aden and the Persian Gulf. Mahan's article was reprinted in The Times and followed in October by a 20-article series entitled "The Middle Eastern Question," written by Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol. During this series, Sir Ignatius expanded the definition of Middle East to include "those regions of Asia which extend to the borders of India or command the approaches to India." After the series ended in 1903, The Times removed quotation marks from subsequent uses of the term. Until World War II, it was customary to refer to areas centered around Turkey and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean as the "Near East", while the "Far East" centered on China, the Middle East meant the area from Mesopotamia to Burma, namely the area between the Near East and the Far East.
In the late 1930s, the British established the Middle East Command, based in Cairo, for its military forces in the region. After that time, the term "Middle East" gained broader usage in Europe and the United States, with the Middle East Institute founded in Washington, D. C. in 1946, among other usage. The description Middle has led to some confusion over changing definitions. Before the First World War, "Near East" was used in English to refer to the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire, while "Middle East" referred to Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Turkestan. In contrast, "Far East" referred to the countries of East Asia With the disappearance of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, "Near East" fell out of common use in English, while "Middle East" came to be applied to the re-emerging countries of the Islamic world. However, the usage "Near East" was retained by a variety of academic disciplines, including archaeology and ancient history, where it describes an area identical to the term Middle East, not used by these disciplines.
The first official use of the term "Middle East" by the United States government was in the 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine, which pertained to the Suez Crisis. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles defined the Middle East as "the area lying between and including Libya on the west and Pakistan on the east and Iraq on the North and the Arabian peninsula to the south, plus the Sudan and Ethiopia." In 1958, the State Department explained that the terms "Near East" and "Middle East" were interchangeable, defined the region as including only Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. The Associated Press Styleboo
The Bedouin or Bedu are a grouping of nomadic Arab people who have inhabited the desert regions in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant. The English word bedouin comes from the Arabic badawī, which means "desert dweller", is traditionally contrasted with ḥāḍir, the term for sedentary people. Bedouin territory stretches from the vast deserts of North Africa to the rocky sands of the Middle East, they are traditionally divided into tribes, or clans, share a common culture of herding camels and goats. The vast majority of Bedouin adhere to Islam. Bedouins have been referred to by various names throughout history, including Qedarites in the Old Testament and Arabaa by the Assyrians, they are referred to as the ʾAʿrāb in the Quran. While many Bedouins have abandoned their nomadic and tribal traditions for a modern urban lifestyle, many retain traditional Bedouin culture such as retaining the traditional ʿašāʾir clan structure, traditional music, poetry and many other cultural practices and concepts.
Urbanised Bedouins organise cultural festivals held several times a year, in which they gather with other Bedouins to partake in and learn about various Bedouin traditions—from poetry recitation and traditional sword dances to playing traditional instruments and classes teaching traditional tent knitting. Traditions like camel riding and camping in the deserts are still popular leisure activities for urbanised Bedouins who live within close proximity to deserts or other wilderness areas; the English word bedouin comes from the Arabic badawī, which means "desert dweller", is traditionally contrasted with ḥāḍir, the term for sedentary people. The word bādiyah means visible land, in the sense of "plain" or "desert"; the term "Bedouin" therefore means "those in bādiyah" or "those in the desert". In English usage, the form "Bedouin" is used for the singular term, the plural being "Bedouins", as indicated by the Oxford English Dictionary, second edition; the term "Bedouin" uses the same root word as the Arabic noun for "the beginning".
Most Arabs believe the Bedouins to be the predecessors to settled Arabs, including the Nabataeans Arabs of the more westerly Levant region. According to a hadith, Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab said of the Bedouin, "hey are the origin of the Arabs and the substance of Islam." and the word for the ethnicity itself may be influenced by that. A quoted Bedouin apothegm is "I am against my brother, my brother and I are against my cousin, my cousin and I are against the stranger" sometimes quoted as "I and my brother are against my cousin, I and my cousin are against the stranger." This saying signifies a hierarchy of loyalties based on the proximity of male kinship, beginning with the nuclear family through the lineage and the paternal tribe, and, in principle at least, to an entire genetic or linguistic group. Disputes are settled, interests are pursued, justice and order are dispensed and maintained by means of this framework, organized according to an ethic of self-help and collective responsibility.
The individual family unit consisted traditionally of three or four adults and any number of children. When resources were plentiful, several tents would travel together as a goum. While these groups were sometimes linked by patriarchal lineage, others were just as linked by marriage alliances. Sometimes, the association was based on acquaintance and familiarity, or no defined relation except for simple shared membership within a tribe; the next scale of interaction within groups was the ibn ʿamm or descent group of three to five generations. These were linked to goums, but where a goum would consist of people all with the same herd type, descent groups were split up over several economic activities, thus allowing a degree of'risk management'. Whilst the phrase "descent group" suggests purely a lineage-based arrangement, in reality these groups were fluid and adapted their genealogies to take in new members; the largest scale of tribal interactions is the tribe as a whole, led by a Sheikh, though the title refers to leaders in varying contexts.
The tribe claims descent from one common ancestor—as mentioned above. The tribal level is the level that mediated between the Bedouin and the outside governments and organizations. Distinct structure of the Bedouin society leads to long lasting rivalries between different clans. Bedouin traditionally had strong honor codes, traditional systems of justice dispensation in Bedouin society revolved around such codes; the bisha'a, or ordeal by fire, is a well-known Bedouin practice of lie detection. See also: Honor codes of the Bedouin, Bedouin systems of justice. Urbanized Bedouin are less to continue such traditions, instead opting for the codes of behavior that govern the wider settled community to which they belong. Livestock and herding, principally of goats and dromedary camels comprised the traditional livelihoods of Bedouins; these two animals were used for meat, dairy products, wool. Most of the staple foods that made up th
Arabic is a Central Semitic language that first emerged in Iron Age northwestern Arabia and is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term used to describe peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, in the Sinai Peninsula. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic, derived from Classical Arabic; as the modern written language, Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools and universities, is used to varying degrees in workplaces and the media. The two formal varieties are grouped together as Literary Arabic, the official language of 26 states, the liturgical language of the religion of Islam, since the Quran and Hadith were written in Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic follows the grammatical standards of Classical Arabic, uses much of the same vocabulary. However, it has discarded some grammatical constructions and vocabulary that no longer have any counterpart in the spoken varieties, has adopted certain new constructions and vocabulary from the spoken varieties.
Much of the new vocabulary is used to denote concepts that have arisen in the post-classical era in modern times. Due to its grounding in Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic is removed over a millennium from everyday speech, construed as a multitude of dialects of this language; these dialects and Modern Standard Arabic are described by some scholars as not mutually comprehensible. The former are acquired in families, while the latter is taught in formal education settings. However, there have been studies reporting some degree of comprehension of stories told in the standard variety among preschool-aged children; the relation between Modern Standard Arabic and these dialects is sometimes compared to that of Latin and vernaculars in medieval and early modern Europe. This view though does not take into account the widespread use of Modern Standard Arabic as a medium of audiovisual communication in today's mass media—a function Latin has never performed. During the Middle Ages, Literary Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in Europe in science and philosophy.
As a result, many European languages have borrowed many words from it. Arabic influence in vocabulary, is seen in European languages Spanish and to a lesser extent Portuguese, Catalan, owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arab civilizations and 800 years of Arabic culture and language in the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in Arabic as al-Andalus. Sicilian has about 500 Arabic words as result of Sicily being progressively conquered by Arabs from North Africa, from the mid-9th to mid-10th centuries. Many of these words relate to related activities; the Balkan languages, including Greek and Bulgarian, have acquired a significant number of Arabic words through contact with Ottoman Turkish. Arabic has influenced many languages around the globe throughout its history; some of the most influenced languages are Persian, Spanish, Kashmiri, Bosnian, Bengali, Malay, Indonesian, Punjabi, Assamese, Sindhi and Hausa, some languages in parts of Africa. Conversely, Arabic has borrowed words from other languages, including Greek and Persian in medieval times, contemporary European languages such as English and French in modern times.
Classical Arabic is the liturgical language of 1.8 billion Muslims, Modern Standard Arabic is one of six official languages of the United Nations. All varieties of Arabic combined are spoken by as many as 422 million speakers in the Arab world, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world. Arabic is written with the Arabic alphabet, an abjad script and is written from right to left, although the spoken varieties are sometimes written in ASCII Latin from left to right with no standardized orthography. Arabic is a Central Semitic language related to the Northwest Semitic languages, the Ancient South Arabian languages, various other Semitic languages of Arabia such as Dadanitic; the Semitic languages changed a great deal between Proto-Semitic and the establishment of the Central Semitic languages in grammar. Innovations of the Central Semitic languages—all maintained in Arabic—include: The conversion of the suffix-conjugated stative formation into a past tense; the conversion of the prefix-conjugated preterite-tense formation into a present tense.
The elimination of other prefix-conjugated mood/aspect forms in favor of new moods formed by endings attached to the prefix-conjugation forms. The development of an internal passive. There are several features which Classical Arabic, the modern Arabic varieties, as well as the Safaitic and Hismaic inscriptions share which are unattested in any other Central Semitic language variety, including the Dadanitic and Taymanitic languages of the northern Hejaz; these features are evidence of common descent from Proto-Arabic. The following features can be reconstructed with confidence for Proto-Arabic: negative particles m *mā.
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in Northeast Africa. It extends hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden; the area is the easternmost projection of the African continent. Referred to in ancient and medieval times as the land of the Barbara and Habesha, the Horn of Africa denotes the region containing the countries of Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia, it covers 2 million km2 and is inhabited by 115 million people. Regional studies on the Horn of Africa are carried out, among others, in the fields of Ethiopian Studies as well as Somali Studies; this peninsula is known by various names. In ancient and medieval times, the Horn of Africa was referred to as the Bilad al Barbar, it is known as the Somali peninsula, or in the Somali language, Geeska Afrika, Jasiiradda Soomaali or Gacandhulka Soomaali. In other languages that are local or adjacent to the Horn of Africa, it is known as የአፍሪካ ቀንድ yäafrika qänd in Amharic, القرن الأفريقي al-qarn al-'afrīqī in Arabic, Gaaffaa Afriikaa in Oromo and ቀርኒ ኣፍሪቃ in Tigrinya.
The Horn of Africa is sometimes shortened to HOA. The Horn of Africa is quite designated the "Horn", while inhabitants are sometimes colloquially referred to as Horn Africans. Sometimes the term Greater Horn of Africa is used, either to be inclusive of neighbouring northeast African countries, or to distinguish the broader geopolitical definition of the Horn of Africa from narrower peninsular definitions. Ancient Greeks and Romans referred to the Somali peninsula as Regio Aromatica or Regio Cinnamonifora due to the aromatic plants, or Regio Incognita owing to its unchartered territory. Shell middens 125,000 years old have been found in Eritrea, indicating the diet of early humans included seafood obtained by beachcombing. According to both genetic and fossil evidence, archaic Homo sapiens evolved into anatomically modern humans in the Horn of Africa between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago and have dispersed from the Horn of Africa; the recognition of Homo sapien idaltu and Omo Kibish as anatomically modern humans would justify the description of contemporary humans with the subspecies name Homo sapiens sapiens.
Because of their early dating and unique physical characteristics idaltu and kibish represent the immediate ancestors of anatomically modern humans as suggested by the Out-of-Africa theory. Today at the Bab-el-Mandeb straits, the Red Sea is about 12 miles wide, but 50,000 years ago it was much narrower and sea levels were 70 meters lower. Though the straits were never closed, there may have been islands in between which could be reached using simple rafts. According to linguists, the Horn of Africa is the original homeland of the proto-Afroasiatic language as it is considered the region the Afroasiatic language family displays the greatest diversity, a sign viewed to represent a geographic origin; the Horn of Africa is the place where the haplogroup E1b1b originated from, Christopher Ehret and Shomarka Keita have suggested that the geography of the E1b1b lineage coincides with the distribution of the Afroasiatic languages. Genetic analysis done on the Afroasiatic speaking population further found that a pre-agricultural back-to-Africa migration into the Horn of Africa occurred through Egypt 23,000 years ago and it brought a non-African ancestry dubbed Ethio-Somali in the region.
Together with northern Somalia, the Red Sea coast of Sudan and Eritrea is considered the most location of the land known to the ancient Egyptians as Punt, whose first mention dates to the 25th century BCE. Dʿmt was a kingdom located in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, which existed during the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. With its capital at Yeha, the kingdom developed irrigation schemes, used plows, grew millet, made iron tools and weapons. After the fall of Dʿmt in the 5th century BCE, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms, until the rise of one of these kingdoms during the 1st century, the Aksumite Kingdom, able to reunite the area; the Kingdom of Aksum was an ancient state located in the Eritrean highlands and Ethiopian highlands, which thrived between the 1st and 7th centuries CE. A major player in the commerce between the Roman Empire and Ancient India, Aksum's rulers facilitated trade by minting their own currency; the state established its hegemony over the declining Kingdom of Kush and entered the politics of the kingdoms on the Arabian peninsula extending its rule over the region with the conquest of the Himyarite Kingdom.
Under Ezana, the kingdom of Aksum became the first major empire to adopt Christianity, was named by Mani as one of the four great powers of his time, along with Persia and China. Northern Somalia was an important link in the Horn, connecting the region's commerce with the rest of the ancient world. Somali sailors and merchants were the main suppliers of frankincense and spices, all of which were valuable luxuries to the Ancient Egyptians, Mycenaeans and Romans; the Romans began to refer to the region as Regio Aromatica. In the classical era, several flourishing Somali city-states such as Opone and Malao competed with the Sabaeans and Axumites for the rich Indo-Greco-Roman trade; the birth of Islam opposite the Horn's Red Sea co
The Abbasid Caliphate was the third of the Islamic caliphates to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib, from whom the dynasty takes its name, they ruled as caliphs for most of the caliphate from their capital in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, after having overthrown the Umayyad Caliphate in the Abbasid Revolution of 750 CE. The Abbasid Caliphate first centred its government in Kufa, modern-day Iraq, but in 762 the caliph Al-Mansur founded the city of Baghdad, near the ancient Sasanian capital city of Ctesiphon; the Abbasid period was marked by reliance on Persian bureaucrats for governing the territories as well as an increasing inclusion of non-Arab Muslims in the ummah. Persianate customs were broadly adopted by the ruling elite, they began patronage of artists and scholars. Baghdad became a centre of science, culture and invention in what became known as the Golden Age of Islam. Despite this initial cooperation, the Abbasids of the late 8th century had alienated both non-Arab mawali and Iranian bureaucrats.
They were forced to cede authority over al-Andalus to the Umayyads in 756, Morocco to the Idrisid dynasty in 788, Ifriqiya to the Aghlabids in 800 and Egypt to the Isma'ili-Shia caliphate of the Fatimids in 969. The political power of the caliphs ended with the rise of the Iranian Buyids and the Seljuq Turks, who captured Baghdad in 945 and 1055, respectively. Although Abbasid leadership over the vast Islamic empire was reduced to a ceremonial religious function, the dynasty retained control over its Mesopotamian domain; the Abbasids' period of cultural fruition ended in 1258 with the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols under Hulagu Khan. The Abbasid line of rulers, Muslim culture in general, re-centred themselves in the Mamluk capital of Cairo in 1261. Though lacking in political power, the dynasty continued to claim religious authority until after the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517; the Abbasid caliphs were Arabs descended from Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, one of the youngest uncles of Muhammad and of the same Banu Hashim clan.
The Abbasids claimed to be the true successors of Prophet Muhammad in replacing the Umayyad descendants of Banu Umayya by virtue of their closer bloodline to Muhammad. The Abbasids distinguished themselves from the Umayyads by attacking their moral character and administration in general. According to Ira Lapidus, "The Abbasid revolt was supported by Arabs the aggrieved settlers of Merv with the addition of the Yemeni faction and their Mawali"; the Abbasids appealed to non-Arab Muslims, known as mawali, who remained outside the kinship-based society of the Arabs and were perceived as a lower class within the Umayyad empire. Muhammad ibn'Ali, a great-grandson of Abbas, began to campaign in Persia for the return of power to the family of Prophet Muhammad, the Hashimites, during the reign of Umar II. During the reign of Marwan II, this opposition culminated in the rebellion of Ibrahim the Imam, the fourth in descent from Abbas. Supported by the province of Khorasan though the governor opposed them, the Shia Arabs, he achieved considerable success, but was captured in the year 747 and died assassinated, in prison.
On 9 June 747, Abu Muslim, rising from Khorasan initiated an open revolt against Umayyad rule, carried out under the sign of the Black Standard. Close to 10,000 soldiers were under Abu Muslim's command when the hostilities began in Merv. General Qahtaba followed the fleeing governor Nasr ibn Sayyar west defeating the Umayyads at the Battle of Gorgan, the Battle of Nahāvand and in the Battle of Karbala, all in the year 748; the quarrel was taken up by Ibrahim's brother Abdallah, known by the name of Abu al-'Abbas as-Saffah, who defeated the Umayyads in 750 in the battle near the Great Zab and was subsequently proclaimed caliph. After this loss, Marwan fled to Egypt; the remainder of his family, barring one male, were eliminated. After their victory, As-Saffah sent his forces to Central Asia, where his forces fought against Tang expansion during the Battle of Talas; the noble Iranian family Barmakids, who were instrumental in building Baghdad, introduced the world's first recorded paper mill in the city, thus beginning a new era of intellectual rebirth in the Abbasid domain.
As-Saffah focused on putting down numerous rebellions in Mesopotamia. The Byzantines conducted raids during these early distractions; the first change the Abbasids, under Al-Mansur, made was to move the empire's capital from Damascus, in Syria, to Baghdad in Iraq. This was to both appease as well to be closer to the Persian mawali support base that existed in this region more influenced by Persian history and culture, part of the Persian mawali demand for less Arab dominance in the empire. Baghdad was established on the Tigris River in 762. A new position, that of the vizier, was established to delegate central authority, greater authority was delegated to local emirs; this meant that many Abbasid caliphs were relegated to a more ceremonial role than under the Umayyads, as the viziers began to exert greater influence, the role of the old Arab aristocracy was replaced by a Persian bureaucracy. During Al-Mansur's time control of Al-Andalus was lost, the Shia revolted and were defeated a year at the Battle of Bakhamra.
The Abbasids had depended on the support of Persians in their overthrow of the Umayyads. Abu al-'Abbas' successor, Al-Mansur welcomed non-Arab Musli
The Quran is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God. It is regarded as the finest work in classical Arabic literature; the Quran is divided into chapters. Muslims believe that the Quran was orally revealed by God to the final Prophet, through the archangel Gabriel, incrementally over a period of some 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, concluding in 632, the year of his death. Muslims regard the Quran as Muhammad's most important miracle, a proof of his prophethood, the culmination of a series of divine messages starting with those revealed to Adam and ending with Muhammad; the word "Quran" occurs some 70 times in the Quran's text, other names and words are said to refer to the Quran. According to tradition, several of Muhammad's companions served as scribes and recorded the revelations. Shortly after his death, the Quran was compiled by the companions, who had written down or memorized parts of it; the codices showed differences that motivated Caliph Uthman to establish a standard version, now known as Uthman's codex, considered the archetype of the Quran known today.
There are, variant readings, with minor differences in meaning. The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in the Biblical scriptures, it summarizes some, dwells at length on others and, in some cases, presents alternative accounts and interpretations of events. The Quran describes itself as a book of guidance for mankind 2:185, it sometimes offers detailed accounts of specific historical events, it emphasizes the moral significance of an event over its narrative sequence. Hadith are additional written traditions supplementing the Quran. In most denominations of Islam, the Quran is used together with hadith to interpret sharia law. During prayers, the Quran is recited only in Arabic. Someone who has memorized the entire Quran is called a hafiz. Quranic verse is sometimes recited with a special kind of elocution reserved for this purpose, called tajwid. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims complete the recitation of the whole Quran during tarawih prayers. In order to extrapolate the meaning of a particular Quranic verse, most Muslims rely on exegesis, or tafsir.
The word qurʼān appears assuming various meanings. It is a verbal noun of the Arabic verb qaraʼa, meaning "he read" or "he recited"; the Syriac equivalent is qeryānā, which refers to "scripture reading" or "lesson". While some Western scholars consider the word to be derived from the Syriac, the majority of Muslim authorities hold the origin of the word is qaraʼa itself. Regardless, it had become an Arabic term by Muhammad's lifetime. An important meaning of the word is the "act of reciting", as reflected in an early Quranic passage: "It is for Us to collect it and to recite it."In other verses, the word refers to "an individual passage recited ". Its liturgical context is seen in a number of passages, for example: "So when al-qurʼān is recited, listen to it and keep silent." The word may assume the meaning of a codified scripture when mentioned with other scriptures such as the Torah and Gospel. The term has related synonyms that are employed throughout the Quran; each synonym possesses its own distinct meaning, but its use may converge with that of qurʼān in certain contexts.
Such terms include kitāb. The latter two terms denote units of revelation. In the large majority of contexts with a definite article, the word is referred to as the "revelation", that, "sent down" at intervals. Other related words are: dhikr, used to refer to the Quran in the sense of a reminder and warning, ḥikmah, sometimes referring to the revelation or part of it; the Quran describes itself as "the discernment", "the mother book", "the guide", "the wisdom", "the remembrance" and "the revelation". Another term is al-kitāb, though it is used in the Arabic language for other scriptures, such as the Torah and the Gospels; the term mus'haf is used to refer to particular Quranic manuscripts but is used in the Quran to identify earlier revealed books. Islamic tradition relates that Muhammad received his first revelation in the Cave of Hira during one of his isolated retreats to the mountains. Thereafter, he received revelations over a period of 23 years. According to hadith and Muslim history, after Muhammad immigrated to Medina and formed an independent Muslim community, he ordered many of his companions to recite the Quran and to learn and teach the laws, which were revealed daily.
It is related that some of the Quraysh who were taken prisoners at the Battle of Badr regained their freedom after they had taught some of the Muslims the simple writing of the time. Thus a group of Muslims became literate; as it was spoken, the Quran was recorded on tablets and the wide, flat ends of date palm fronds. Most suras were in use amongst early Mu
North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Morocco in the west, to Egypt's Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the east. Others have limited it to top North-Western countries like Algeria and Tunisia, a region, known by the French during colonial times as "Afrique du Nord" and is known by all Arabs as the Maghreb; the most accepted definition includes Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, the 6 countries that shape the top North of the African continent. Meanwhile, "North Africa" when used in the term North Africa and the Middle East refers only to the countries of the Maghreb and Libya. Egypt, being part of the Middle East, is considered separately, due to being both North African and Middle Eastern at the same time. North Africa includes a number of Spanish and Portuguese possessions, Plazas de soberanía, Ceuta and Melilla and the Canary Islands and Madeira.
The countries of North Africa share a common ethnic and linguistic identity, unique to this region. Northwest Africa has been inhabited by Berbers since the beginning of recorded history, while the eastern part of North Africa has been home to the Egyptians. Between the A. D. 600s and 1000s, Arabs from the Middle East swept across the region in a wave of Muslim conquest. These peoples, physically quite similar, formed a single population in many areas, as Berbers and Egyptians merged into Arabic and Muslim culture; this process of Arabization and Islamization has defined the cultural landscape of North Africa since. The distinction between North Africa, the Sahel and the rest of the continent is as follows: Nineteenth century European explorers, attracted by the accounts of Ancient geographers or Arab geographers of the classical period, followed the routes by the nomadic people of the vast "empty" space, they documented the names of the stopping places they discovered or rediscovered, described landscapes, took a few climate measurements and gathered rock samples.
A map began to fill in the white blotch. The Sahara and the Sahel entered the geographic corpus by way of naturalist explorers because aridity is the feature that circumscribes the boundaries of the ecumene; the map details included topographical relief and location of watering holes crucial to long crossings. The Arabic word "Sahel" and "Sahara" made its entry into the vocabulary of geography. Latitudinally, the "slopes" of the arid desert, devoid of continuous human habitation, descend in step-like fashion toward the northern and southern edges of the Mediterranean that opens to Europe and the Sahel that opens to "Trab al Sudan." Longitudinally, a uniform grid divides the central desert shrinks back toward the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. The Sahara-Sahel is further divided into a total of twenty sub-areas: central, southern, eastern, etc. In this way, "standard" geography has determined aridity to be the boundary of the ecumene, it identifies settlements based on visible activity without regard for social or political organizations of space in vast, purportedly “empty” areas.
It gives only cursory acknowledgement to what makes Saharan geography, for that matter, world geography unique: mobility and the routes by which it flows. The Sahel or "African Transition Zone" has been affected by many formative epochs in North African history ranging from Ottoman occupation to the Arab-Berber control of the Andalus; as a result, many modern African nation-states that are included in the Sahel evidence cultural similarities and historical overlap with their North African neighbours. In the present day, North Africa is associated with West Asia in the realm of geopolitics to form a Middle East-North Africa region; the Islamic influence in the area is significant and North Africa is a major part of the Muslim world. Some researchers have postulated that North Africa rather than East Africa served as the exit point for the modern humans who first trekked out of the continent in the Out of Africa migration. North Africa has three main geographic features: the Sahara desert in the south, the Atlas Mountains in the west, the Nile River and delta in the east.
The Atlas Mountains extend across much of northern Algeria and Tunisia. These mountains are part of the fold mountain system that runs through much of Southern Europe, they recede to the south and east, becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert, which covers more than 75 percent of the region. The tallest peaks are in the High Atlas range in south-central Morocco, which has many snow-capped peaks. South of the Atlas Mountains is the dry and barren expanse of the Sahara desert, the largest sand desert in the world. In places the desert is cut by irregular watercourses called wadis—streams that flow only after rainfalls but are dry; the Sahara's major landforms include large seas of sand that sometimes form into huge dunes. The Sahara covers the southern part of Algeria and Tunisia, most of Libya. Only two regions of Libya are outside the desert: Tripolitania in the northwest and Cyrenaica in the northeast. Most of Egypt is desert, with the exception of the Nile River and the irrigated land along its banks.
The Nile Valley forms a narrow fertile thread. Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains, the Nile Valley and Delta, the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of fertile farming land. A wide variety of valuable crops including ce