A civilization in Civilization Revolution 2
|Begin the game with||Religion|
Before the spread of Islam and the Arabic language, the term "Arab" referred to the nomadic residents of the Arabian Peninsula. When used in a modern context, "Arab" refers to any of the Arabic-speaking peoples who reside on the Atlantic Coast of Africa, Southwestern Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iraq. The earliest nomadic inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula herded their sheep, goats, and camels through an unforgiving desert environment; while those Arabs who settled in the oases provided date and cereal agriculture as trade staples for Arab caravans that transported spices, ivory, and gold from southern Arabia and the Horn of Africa to the civilizations farther north.
During the seventh century AD, Muhammad emerged as the Prophet for the new religion of Islam, which was widely adopted by the Arab community. Islam unified the Bedouins and the town-dwellers of the oases, and within a century, spread throughout most of the present day Arab-speaking world. The newfound social organization that followed Islam offered new possibilities for the Arabs as agricultural production and intercity trading, particularly in luxury goods, saw significant increases. Gradually, the triad of temple, court, and market formed, as well as a standardized style of writing for laws and other texts. New institutions also emerged, including coinage, territorial deities, royal priesthoods, and standing armies, which further enhanced Arab power.
After the Prophet's death, the succeeding caliphs continued to spread the faith of Islam far beyond the religion's birthplace in Mecca. In addition to initial advances in Iraq and Syria, the Arab conquests penetrated regions including Anatolia, Northern Africa, and Iran. The Arabs created an empire stretching from Spain to the borders of India in barely more than a hundred years.
The Arab empire of the medieval period was far more advanced than contemporary Europeans; Harun al-Rashid's Baghdad may have held a million people at the same time that Charlemagne's Aachen was a "capital" of ten thousand. Centers of learning attracted scholars from across the Muslim world to great cities such as Baghdad, Damascus, and Cordoba.
During the period of the Crusades, the Arabic world came under assault from Christian Europe. The greatest of Muslim generals from this period was Salah al-Din, better known in the West as "Saladin," who successfully defeated the Third Crusade and recaptured Jerusalem for the Arabs.
For most of the past five centuries, much of the Arab world has been ruled by foreigners: first by the Ottoman Turks, then by the Western colonial powers. Since the onset of de-colonization in the 1950s, traditional Arab values have been modified through the combined pressures of urbanization, industrialization, and Western influence. While urban Arabs still tend to identify themselves more by nationality than by tribe, village farmers revere the pastoral nomad's romantic way of life and claim a kinship with the great desert tribes of the past.
Around the year 1000 AD, Arab scholars were the most advanced in the world. Building upon the discoveries of the Greeks and Romans, Arab scientists were responsible for much of the early research in the fields of medicine and mathematics that would guide Western Renaissance and Enlightenment researchers.
The Arab Empire, founded in 622 AD, was, unlike many other empires at the time, surprisingly tolerant of religions other than its own state religion, Islam. Christians and Jews were given a special political status known as dhimmi, which granted them the right to worship their own gods, so long as they followed the laws of the Arab Empire.