ARAB/ARABIC

ARAB, adj. Arab and Arabic are used to refer to everything connected to Arabia, or to the Arabs; the Arab language, or Arabic, is a dialect of Hebrew. Father Ange de S. Joseph extols the richness and variety of Arabic. He insists that there are more than a thousand words for sword in this language; five hundred for lion, two hundred ways of saying snake, & eight words meaning honey. Arabic characters, or Arabic numerals, are the numbers we use commonly in arithmetic calculations. See Figure, Number. The Arabic characters are different from those of the Romans. See Character. It is commonly believed that we took the Arabic numerals from the Saracens, who learned them from the Indians. Scaliger was so convinced that they are of recent date that he insisted a certain golden medallion must be modern because the characters 234 & 235 were engraved upon it. It is thought that Planud, living at the end of the thirteenth century was the first Christian to use these numerals. In his treatise Re diplomaticâ, Mabillon insists they were not used before the fourteenth century. Doctor Wallis claims they were used much earlier, in England at least, and dates them to the time of Hermannus – Contractus, around 1050. These numerals, he argues, were in use, if not for general counting, at least in mathematics, & particularly in astronomic charts. See Wallis, algeb. ch. iv. This same author gives proof of the antiquity of the Arabic characters in a bas-relief inscription on the mantle of the presbytery at Helindon in Northamptonshire, where the characters m°. 133 can be observed together with the date 1133. Transac. Philosoph. n°. 174. M. Tuffkin provides an even stronger proof of antiquity in the usage of these numerals. A crest between two carved lions on the window of a Roman-style house in the marketplace of Colchester, contains the mark 1090. Transact. Philosoph. n°. 255. M. Huet believes that these characters were not derived from the Arabs but from the Greeks, and that the Arabic numerals are simply Greek letters, which these peoples are known to have used for counting and numbering. See Number. It is said that Arabian horses are raised on camel’s milk, and amazing things have been reported of these animals. According to the Duke of Newcastle, an Arabian horse generally costs from 1000 or 2000 up to 3000 pounds; and the Arabs are as particular about the genealogy of their horses as princes are about their family line. Stable-masters carefully record the names of the mother and father of each animal, and there are some whose nobility can be traced back into the distant past. Indeed, it is even said that medals have been struck in honour of certain horses.

Nothing extraordinary has been observed in the Arabian horses which have been taken to England. two scimitars. See Horse. . and a horse which remains with them always.The property that the Arabs give to their children when they reach manhood consists of two suits of clothing.

but all of this seems very doubtful. and thus only entered the history of philosophy at that time. Through what strange misadventure could they have allowed these first sparks of the philosophical spirit. After the Chaldeans. choose Arabia as his place of exile in preference to all other lands when he was constrained to flee the kingdom? Who could imagine that the lawgiver of the Hebrews would take refuge amongst the Arabs if this people had been rude and ignorant? In any case. and in order to make their case. the Arabic writers themselves say that the Arabs were sunk in the most profound ignorance before the advent of Islam. None of their claims have any basis aside from their own reasoning and conjecture – and what does reasoning and conjecture prove when proof is what we need? Those who incline toward the conviction that Philosophy was cultivated by the ancient Arabs are nonetheless compelled to admit that the Greeks had no consciousness whatsoever of this. I don’t deny that since the advent of Islam erudition and the study of Philosophy have been held in the highest regard by these peoples. & as distinguished by a fineness of spirit. But it seems these reasons are not enough to change their minds about this attribution of Philosophy to the ancient Arabs. is Joseph Pierre Ludewig. which they had had inherited from Abraham their common father. The Greeks regarded the Arabs as barbaric and ignorant peoples who had not the faintest tincture of learning. Condition of Philosophy among the Ancient Arabs. proves the vanity of the Greeks and not the barbarity of the Arabs. He was said to have stayed there for some time to learn methods of divination from their Philosophers. The first figure he sets against us is Pythagoras. But in the end. And if we are to believe Abulfaraj. Once again. it was from Arabia that the Queen of Sheba came forth to admire the wisdom of this crowned Philosopher: such is the confirmed opinion of all the experts. The most signal offender in this dispute. but that was in the Middle Ages. who. Thus. according to Porphyrius. what studies can they show us. they attribute to them systems they have invented themselves. and which authors can they cite to prove the erudition and philosophy of the early Arabs? Like Abulfaraj. and the one who has the glory of the ancient Arabs most at heart. which they declare to be the fruit of Philosophy. a nation that the ancient historians considered to be deeply attached to Philosophy. a divination from the flight of birds and their song in which the Arabs excelled. This we will consider at much greater length when we come to it. a man learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.Arabs Arabs. For the moment we need only discuss the Philosophy of the ancient inhabitants of Arabia Felix. to whom the honour of a great Philosopher could hardly be refused. they say. They glory in their descent from Abraham. Did not Moses himself. The Greeks’ disdain. There are a certain number of scholars who would like to see these peoples as devoted to philosophical speculations. it is entirely gratuitously that they turn these people into learned devotees of Philosophy. honoured the Arabs with a visit to their shores during his travels to seek learning. the Persians & the Indians comes the nation of the Arabs. their origin leaves no doubt at all of the cultivation of their spirit. It . to be extinguished in the time that followed? But what seems even more telling is the fact that the holy books contrast Solomon’s wisdom with that of the Orientals in order to heighten our sense of it: and these Orientals were no other than Arabs. they admit that they have none. calling upon the religion of the Zabians.

if their religion has since degenerated into a coarse idolatry. they may have been skilful at divination and in the solving of enigmas. the cleverest women of the orient. It is a story which sees to have been born along with Mahometanism. Finally Abulfaraj is forced to admit that even before the advent of Islam. If that holy man went into Arabia. others will tell you. Even if we accept this journey. that she was among the most educated. who want at any cost to establish among themselves the origin of all the arts and sciences. what would it mean. it is far from certain that these peoples even descended from Abraham. The Arabs may have polished their language. But it can never be concluded from this that they were Philosophers. nothing could be less certain than his voyage to the orient. except that this impostor learned from the Arabs all this nonsense. Yet we may still not consider them Philosophers. knowing its value and all of its properties. in trying to give more authority to their errors. All of this. This religion is supposed to have had its birth amongst them. and excelled in arts of imagination such as poetry and eloquence. Abraham might well be a great philosopher. since all of these arts – if indeed they deserve the name – tend to nourish and foster superstition rather than uncover the truth or purge the soul of the passions which are its tyrants. excellent orators and skilful astronomers. it is no more solid than the others.could easily be shown too by simple reasoning that the Magi who came from the Orient to worship the Messiah were Arabs. and that they were fine poets. It may be insisted that this queen was born in Arabia: but is there any certainty that she belonged to the Zabian sect? It is impossible to deny. that is the picture given to us by the sacred historian. of course. we would even allow that they spoke their language well. As for the argument which has been put to us about this queen from the south who came seeking Solomon on the strength of his great reputation for wisdom. The second point that is raised in favour of the Philosophy of the ancient Arabs is the history of Zabianism. without this having the slightest consequence for their philosophy. One more thing which overturns all Ludewig’s suppositions is that the philosophy of Abraham is itself no more than a pure fantasy of the Jews. In what we know of Pythagoras. it was certainly not with the aim of studying amongst the Arabs and encouraging their enthusiasm for philosophical systems. all the work of superstition of which he was highly enamoured. why shouldn’t their philosophical knowledge too – supposing that Abraham actually taught them any – have disappeared in the march of time? Anyway. try to push their origin back to the father of believers. No more does the Philosophy of Abraham. to which this country owes the renaissance of its learning. we do not at all refuse this science completely to the Arabs. Providence only ordained this exile of Moses among the Arabs to bring them the knowledge of the true God and his religion. from whom they are so proud to be descended. and . and set himself up there by marrying one of Jethro’s daughters. If they lost the thread of the most precious truths that they learned from Abraham. and that she often troubled the minds of oriental kings with the riddles she sent. and he might be their ancestor too. they possessed a perfect command of their language. prove that they cultivated this science. The Arabs as well as the Mahometans. It is useless to cite Moses. But what connection does that have with the philosophy of the Arabs? We gladly agree that the Magi who came from the orient were Arabs. that they had some knowledge of the movements of the stars. is it not deserving enough of the name Philosophy? No. they may even have had some knowledge of the course of the stars. or that they cultivated to any great degree this area of learning.

we hardly feel called upon to take sides on a question which holds so little interest in itself. Those laws might at first glance offend our sensibilities. They cannot even agree on this. As much division arises over the name of this sect as on its age. No greater barrier could be erected between the Jews and their neighbours the Zabians. that this name has always been regarded as belonging to an individual sect. His view has been taken up by numerous scholars. it is possible to shed a few rays of light in the darkness which envelopes the whole history of the Zabians. because they were oriental. We will never be persuaded that they were given they name Zabians because they were orientals. If the name Zabians were used to refer to all those among the peoples of orient who worshipped the stars – which seems to be the tendency of certain Arab authors and several Christian authors – then this name would no longer refer to a single sect. who vaunt themselves as the followers of John the Baptist and are found in considerable numbers today in the city of Bassora.this presupposes a certain degree of philosophical knowledge. more like the extinction of all reason than a true philosophy. But Scaliger believes this was originally the name used for the Chaldeans. who was born in Persia. We cannot see at all why it should be given to all these peoples. however. we may be sure that it is not so ancient as the Arabs claim. since noone has ever called the Magi or the Mahometans by this name. but to idolatry in general. who could not trace back their origin beyond Abraham. This meaning for the name of the Zabians is much more plausible. along the banks of the Tigris and in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf. it is worth consulting Spencer’s work on the Mosaic economy. there is no clear agreement on exactly when this sect emerged: the experts who have sought to shed light on this historical question. it seems likely that the Zabian sect is simply a hybrid of Judaism and Paganism. The Arab author Eutychius. in which they thought to outdo in antiquity even the Jews. and by examining with a curious and observant eye all their extravagant and superstitious ceremonies he quite ingeniously explained many of the laws of Moses. that among the Arabs it had a particularity distinct from all other religions. no conclusion can be reached concerning the philosophy of the Arabs. Whatever the origin of the Zabians. however. But even if all that has been said on this subject is true. Moreover. considers the founder of the sect to be Zoroaster. In this regard. the founder of their sect. half Jewish and half Christian. One should not confuse this sect of Arab Zabians with the other Zabians. or even with Abraham. that to raise itself above all those flourishing at the time. though they occupy the provinces of Asia situated in the orient. Hyde. if their wisdom were not demonstrated by contrast to the laws of the Zabians. it not only claimed to be extremely ancient. Spencer among others. and particularly Dr Spencer concur that neither the Greeks nor the Romans make the slightest allusion to this sect. The famous Moses Maimonides compiled from the Arab authors everything written on this sect. others are happy to end with Noah. for which God wished to inspire in the Jews a deep aversion. on the basis of local traditions. son of Seth. because the religion of the Zabians consisted principally of star-worship. since Zabianism is a shameful idolatry and a ridiculous supersition. It seems. who combined a fire-cult with the worship of the stars. But . Pocock claims that the Zabians were named [Hebrew characters]. Ourselves. while one wants to trace back to Seth. or Chaldea if you prefer. spoken of in the annals of the ancient Eastern Church. as they themselves derive their origin from the Chaldeans. If. which in Hebrew signifies the stars or the celestial army. on the strength of conjecture. and consider Sabius. like Hottinger. son of Seth. Pocock. but even cast its origin back to Sabius.

To get a sense of the spirit of the Zabians. it did not raise its head until after the birth of Mahometanism etc. in its substance that is to say in terms of a religion with a cult of the sun and stars – should have originated from the ancient Chaldeans and Babylonians. with all his subtlety. Spencer considers it sufficient that Zabianism. According to Maimonides. This is what he proves from the testimony of the Arabs. since the Alcoran speaks of the Zabians as being already known by that name.and that the Greeks had seized upon this idea because it flattered their pride. how could it be traced back beyond Abraham. Javan being one of their kings. had to recognize that Zabianism in a formal sense – that is. Thus we see that the Zabians had theirs. these books contained the most ridiculous stories about the ancient patriarchs Adam. we cannot find in any author. but had its own particular set of ceremonies distinguishing it from all other religions. But on what is all this based? If the Zabian sect were as ancient as it claims. There is no sect without books: each has need of books to assert its own particular dogmas. they had composed several books on the science of the stars and the movement of the celestial bodies. however. we need only look . Indeed. and we have shown it ourselves in the article on the Chaldeans. We believe. whether Greek or Latin. This reason alone is enough for me to decry these books as apocryphal and unworthy of consideration. and also from the similarity of doctrine between the Zabians and the ancient Chaldeans. idols. But the question here is not whether the cult of the stars and planets is very ancient. nor of the folly of Neoplatonism. If proper attention is paid to the fact that Zabianism did not consist simply in worshipping the sun.Eutychius observed that there were certain people in his day who credited it to Juvan – no doubt he meant Javan. To try to recount here all of the fables swarming in these books would only tire the reader’s patience. because if Zabianism in a formal sense is not of great antiquity. that it is not even anterior to Mahometanism. stars and planets. The real difficulty lies in determining whether the Zabians in fact inherited the cult from the Chaldeans and the Babylonians. There are even some who claim that the Zabian sect was founded by one of those working to build the Tower of Babel. However. If you are curious to learn all these wonderful things. who all agree that the Zabian religion is very ancient. about how to cultivate vines and sow the fields. consult Maimonides. how will he prove that certain of Moses’ laws were divinely ordained only as a contrast to the superstitious ceremonies of Zabianism? Everything leads us to believe that Zabianism is quite recent. the slightest trace of this sect. as a separate religion distinguished by the form of its cult – is far more recent than the ancient Chaldeans and Babylonians. and others to Seth and Abraham. the stars and the planets. to fire and to the stars and planets. and by authors who had not yet been cured of their idolatry. This is uncontestable. and that to give more credence to this position. which some attributed to Hermes and Aristotle. Abraham: to tell the truth much like the fables of the Alcoran. Seth. it will be acknowledged that such a claim cannot be sustained. it is precisely that point which he ought to have demonstrated in his principles. Spencer himself. why did the Ancient Greek authors never speak of it? Why do we find nothing in the Scriptures which might give us the slightest clue? In his response to this problem. They talked at length about demons. and thus preceded by many years the time of Abraham. I believe they were written at about the time of Mahomet’s birth. that it may be a little older. in one word they left out nothing in regard to the cult they devoted to the sun. Noah. so that one could say definitively that Zabianism was born among these peoples.

Prideaux. through which they could travel even into the body of the planets themselves. that the stars were divinities and presided over men's destinies. that these mediators. just as our bodies are animated by a soul that drives it and governs all its reactions. and that the sun was the highest among them. invisible spirits. That astrology was doubtless the cornerstone of the religious structure . Abulfeda reports that their custom was to pray facing the north pole. that the planets should be given their days. one for day to day practice and another which took place each month. according to many experts. one for nine. they believed. They performed a double rite in honour of these gods. we discover that their whole religious system can be boiled down to a few basic principles that we will detail here: 1. They worshipped the rising sun. these simulacra were necessary in particular because they needed a permanently visible mediator which they could not find among the stars whose rising and setting regularly removed them from mortal eyes. as well as their forms.at a few of their dogmas. could not communicate with men unless one suppose the existence of other visible mediators between them and men. that they abstained from eating beans and garlic. that these simulacra stood in place of the celestial gods. that the rising and setting of the planets and their various conjunctions. They worshipped demons in the form of goats. three times a day – before sunrise. and most importantly that careful attention should be paid to the days. drinking the blood of their victims while holding it in abomination: in this way. and in the evening – and that they observed three fasts. enchantments and talismans favorable to the planet. that by means of such observations it would be possible to produce infallible talismans. and were mediators between heaven and earth. If we read Pocock. and the other for seven. and to make use of invocations. must be observed. their character and the areas in which they travelled. Hyde. nights and hours to divide up the periods of their revolution. and thence to the spirits animating the planets. minutes and other circumstances that might bring benign influences. that these mediators were pure substance. as they formed more or less regular positions. That is all that the Arabs have taught us regarding the religious system of the Zabians. since God. and thus it was necessary to substitute their simulacra. that is. There were two sects of Zabians: the fundamental belief of both was that men need mediators placed between themselves and the Divine. and onward to the supreme God. They believed that the stars were gods. each of which was animated by a spirit that governed its movements. and the Arab authors. they would bring themselves closer to the demons. that the simulacrum of each planet should be made from its sacred metal. hours. Their practices were no less ridiculous than their beliefs. these mediators were in the form of chapels and for others simulacra – the chapels were for those who worshipped the seven planets. enchantments and invocations: that for those who worshipped simulacra. A few elements of Chaldaic astrology – which we discuss in the article Chaldeans – still carry its traces. that they burned sacrifices entirely. for some. chose to give to the Jews laws opposite in nature to those of the Zabians for no other reason than to turn the former away from the excessive superstition of the latter. and practiced all the ceremonies whose striking contrast with the Mosaic laws we can readily observe. given that they were completely invisible. leaving nothing at all to be eaten. at noon. one for thirty days. in the form given to the star they represented. degrees. but were themselves subject to the will of the Supreme Being.

and passed from thence to the cabalists and philosophers of Alexander. Albategnius etc.) pays considérable de l'Asie. Zibet. L'Arabie deserte ainsi nommée de son terrein. ARABIE (Page 1:570) * ARABIE. there is a little of every religion. The most distinguished among the Zabians were Thebet Ibn Korra. ils sont gouvernés par des émirs ou cheics. & mod. which took the opportunity to imagine various orders of aeons. On divise l'Arabie en pétrée. We can see other elements of similarity. there is no continuity or connection at all in the various elements that make up Zabianism. and an embarrassing hybrid of everything that idolatry. la plus petite des trois. Ana en est la capitale. est entrecoupée de montagnes & de sables stériles. credulity and pride. Ziden sur la mer . est montagneuse & peu habitée dans sa partie septentrionale: mais elle est peuplée & assez fertile dans sa partie méridionale. It promised to penetrate the mysteries of his future. which had so much influence across the Orient. au midi par le détroit de Babel Mandel. La pétrée. l'isthme du Suez. 52. Long. which they revealed either to the Jews or to the Christians. mais tributaires du Grand . (Géog. 12. superstition and heresy could dream up in the most ridiculous and extravagant times. such as the world-soul divided into many different parts and animating the celestial bodies. the doctine of mediating spirits. as Spencer has so pertinently remarked. indépendans les uns des autres. en arabe Yemen. doit cette épithete à sa fertilité. whose influence on terrestrial events is an incontestable mark of all the ancient systems of oriental religion. l'Arabie heureuse est presque la seule où il y en ait. From that is easy to see that Zabianism is nothing but a monstrous composite. Elle a été appellée pétrée de Petra son ancienne capitale. Quant au commerce. The Zabians' cult of the stars led them. while telling him that his destiny was written in the skies. and how mistaken are those who give the name to that universal idolatry of the earliest centuries which worshipped the sun and stars. This observation alone is enough to make it clear that Zabianism is not as ancient as some people believe. Les villes de cette contrée où il s'en fait le plus. toward astrology. 34. through the inevitable chain of errors. Hidedan. au nord par l'Euphrate & le golfe Persique. This is why. Les Arabes sont voleurs & belliqueux. presqu'île bornée à l'occident par la mer Rouge. sont Mocha.sainte. But the most dominant element of this religion was the doctrine of the mediator. Instead. a vain and ridiculous science. Les Arabes sont Mahométans. la Terre . particularly the planets. Herac l'est aujourd'hui. despite the differences that separate them. to be revived later by certain Christian heresies. anc. Chichiri. à l'orient par l'Océan. &heureuse. L'heureuse.erected by the Zabians. & la Syrie. deserte. Sanaa en est la capitale. lat. 77.Seigneur. but one that flatters the two greatest weaknesses of man.

catif dans le golfe de Bassora. du safran. on y voit arriver des vaisseaux de l'Europe. Aden joüissoit autrefois de tout le commerce qui se fait à Mocha. Les vaisseaux des Indes. Mocha est à l'entrée de la mer Rouge. de la canelle. & par Mocha. de Perse. Next article . partie des ouvrages des manufactures. de l'aloès. de l'encens. de l'Afrique & de l'Europe. des îles de Comorre. des satins. des pierreries. le pays produit des parfums. Barrhem. de la gomme arabique. d'Ethiopie. Bahr. On en remporte partie des productions naturelles du pays. Fartack sur l'Océan arabique. & El . Aden. de la casse. qui en est comme l'entrepôt. Les manufactures donnent quelques toiles de coton. des merceries. outre le commerce maritime. de l'Asie. du sang de dragon.Rouge. il s'en fait encore un par terre par le moyen des caravanes d'Alep & de Suez. de l'ambre . On peut ajoûter la Meque & Médine. & sur . du mercure. qui est proprement le port de la Meque. de Madagascar & de Mélinde sont ceux dont on voit le plus à Chichiri. & l'intérêt tant de marchands. du baume. des armoisins. qui y apportent des velours. enfin Bassora. partie des marchandises étrangeres qui ont été apportées des Indes. &c. de la myrrhe. Le commerce s'entretient dans ces deux villes par Ziden. du corail. toutes sortes d'étoffes riches.tout du caffé. & de l'Afrique. du vermillon. où la dévotion amene tant de pélerins.gris.

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