When did Arabic become language of majority in Syria, Iraq , Egypt and Maghreb?

Jun 2014
4,516
India
#1
Do we have any reasonably accurate data on number of Arabic speakers in nations which today speak Arabic as first language in history? When did Arabic become language of majority of people in this region, it was certainly quicker in Libya than in Morocco and quicker in Iraq than in Egypt but would welcome some more specific information.
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,052
Canary Islands-Spain
#2
I'm not sure about the first question, when was available the first accurate numbers on the number of Arabic speakers?


In any case, for the Maghreb, the full Islamization precedes the Arabization in centuries. There were two waves of Arabization: one, minor, started with the first Umayad invasion in the 7-8th century. I'm not sure about Tunis, more closely related to the East, but in Algeria and Morocco, this first wave was limited to urban centres, the lower classes and the rural areas being totally Berber still in the 13th century. The Arabization of these areas took place during the second wave: started by the bedouin Banu Hilal in the 11th century, they moved with 250,000 people from north Arabia and instead of staying in urban centres, spreaded all across the agricultural fields and stepparian areas. The nomad Berbers were subjugated and integrated, the sedentary populations were well annihilated, to the point of reverting to nomadism ancient agrarian areas, or subjugated as well. In Morocco and Algeria, this happened after the collapse of the Almohad Empire in mid 13th century, they were settling there for some time before, with no consequences because to that point they had been checked by the Almohads.

In Morocco, today the Arabic spoken there is very mixed, but traditionally there were two dialects. One was predominant in the north, Fez, Rabat, Tetouan, Tanger... This dialect was considered to belong to the first wave. In the rest of the country, in the centre and the south, the dialect was a form of Bedouin, coming from the second wave.

After the Banu Hilall, other Bedouin tribes crossed to Maghreb. In the Sahara, as late as 17th century the Beni Hassan were responsable of the Arabization of Berber tribes in what is today Western Sahara, Mauretania and part of Algeria.
 
Nov 2014
261
US
#3
Syria and Iraq had large Semite populations, so after the conquest of the region by Arab hordes around 7th century the Arabization started with ease. For Egypt it took a while when Arab tribes moved in and started increasing with a high pace. I assume it took at least two centuries so the majority speak Arabic. Maghreb (Morocco) were Berber so it took many years to transform them to Arabic nation. Nowadays the majority may speak an special Arabic dialect with heavy doses of berber in Morocco but around 50% of Moroccans are still Berber racially.
 
Last edited:
Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#4
I thought Abd Al Malik forcibly changed the language of Damascus and Syria from Bizantine Greek to arabic in around 685 (???), and across the Empire?

Before that there was a government speaking Arabic over a people speaking Greek, with official translators from the local population.

The details are all in Ferrin's

HISTORIA GENERAL DE AL ANDALUS - EMILIO GONZALEZ FERRIN, comprar el libro

a very enlightening book on the history of Islam, with particular refernce to the westward expansion. Sadly not all retained in my mind!
 
Jun 2014
4,516
India
#5
I'm not sure about the first question, when was available the first accurate numbers on the number of Arabic speakers?


In any case, for the Maghreb, the full Islamization precedes the Arabization in centuries. There were two waves of Arabization: one, minor, started with the first Umayad invasion in the 7-8th century. I'm not sure about Tunis, more closely related to the East, but in Algeria and Morocco, this first wave was limited to urban centres, the lower classes and the rural areas being totally Berber still in the 13th century. The Arabization of these areas took place during the second wave: started by the bedouin Banu Hilal in the 11th century, they moved with 250,000 people from north Arabia and instead of staying in urban centres, spreaded all across the agricultural fields and stepparian areas. The nomad Berbers were subjugated and integrated, the sedentary populations were well annihilated, to the point of reverting to nomadism ancient agrarian areas, or subjugated as well. In Morocco and Algeria, this happened after the collapse of the Almohad Empire in mid 13th century, they were settling there for some time before, with no consequences because to that point they had been checked by the Almohads.

In Morocco, today the Arabic spoken there is very mixed, but traditionally there were two dialects. One was predominant in the north, Fez, Rabat, Tetouan, Tanger... This dialect was considered to belong to the first wave. In the rest of the country, in the centre and the south, the dialect was a form of Bedouin, coming from the second wave.

After the Banu Hilall, other Bedouin tribes crossed to Maghreb. In the Sahara, as late as 17th century the Beni Hassan were responsable of the Arabization of Berber tribes in what is today Western Sahara, Mauretania and part of Algeria.
Thank you very much for this very good reply, I was aware of role played by Banu Hilal there . It seems that we can say that by 1500s, arabs had become majority in these areas as also in Egypt and Iraq.
 
Jun 2014
4,516
India
#6
Syria and Iraq had large Semite populations, so after the conquest of the region by Arab hordes around 7th century the Arabization started with ease. For Egypt it took a while when Arab tribes moved in and started increasing with a high pace. I assume it took at least two centuries so the majority speak Arabic. Maghreb (Morocco) were Berber so it took many years to transform them to Arabic nation. Nowadays the majority may speak an special Arabic dialect with heavy doses of berber in Morocco but around 50% of Moroccans are still Berber racially.
So this process was fastest in Iraq and Syria as per your reply. I also think same way.
 
Jun 2014
4,516
India
#7
I have also read that Colonial French government also played a role in Arabization of still remaining Berber speakers by integrating them with majority in Algeria. Is it correct?
 
Feb 2014
1,429
Asia
#8
Arabic was already present in some parts of Mesopotamia and Levant, even before the rise of Islam.

Central Mesopotamia (West of Euphrates) and Arabia Petrea (Sinai-Negeb-Jordan) were Arabic speaking regions by 5th cen AD.

Under Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphate, after large scale migration of Arab tribes from peninsula, Central and Southern Mesopotamia became Arabic speaking regions.

Under Abbassids, spread of Arabic followed Islamization, hence North Mesopotamia, Khuzestan, Lower Egypt and Levant (excluding Lebanon) became Arabic speaking regions.

Under Mamluks, Upper Egypt and Lebanon finally became Arabic speaking regions.
 
Last edited:
Nov 2014
21
Mersey
#9
Arabic became the ruling tongue of these regions in the last 1000+ or so years. However, according to biblical scripts etc, Arabic has been either present or atleast known about in almost all the ancient cultures.
 

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