Arabic culture  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Arab culture refers to the culture in the countries in which the official language is Arabic (although the Arabic language in some of them is the language of minority), and the west officials and scholars used to call them "Arab countries" of Western Asia and North Africa, from Morocco to the Arabian Sea. Language, literature, gastronomy, art, architecture, music, spirituality, philosophy, mysticism (etc.) are all part of the cultural heritage of the pan-Arab world.

The Arab world is sometimes divided into separate regions including Nile Valley (consisting of Egypt and Sudan), Al-Maghrib Al-Arabi (consisting of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania), Fertile Crescent (consisting of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan) and the Arabian Peninsula (consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE) and Al-Janoub Al-Arabi (consisting of Yemen and Oman).

The Arab Culture is divided into three main parts, the Urban Culture (Al-Hadar), the Rural Culture (Al-Reef), and the Nomad Culture (Al-Badow). Typically, countries like Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, and Morocco are considered Rural Cultures, while Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Libya, Mauritania and Jordan are considered Badow (Bedouins), while finally the Lebanon, Palestine, Tunisia, Algeria are considered Urban, yet most of the Arab Major Cities are recognized with Urban Cultures, like Cairo, Rabat, Baghdad, Alexandria, Damascus, Marrakech, etc.

Literature

Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by speakers of the Arabic language. It does not usually include works written using the Arabic alphabet but not in the Arabic language such as Persian literature and Urdu literature. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a word meaning "to invite someone for a meal" and implies politeness, culture and enrichment.

Arabic literature emerged in the 6th century with only fragments of the written language appearing before then. It was the Qur'an in the 7th century which would have the greatest lasting effect on Arabic culture and its literature.

The stories of the Thousand and One Nights

The Book of One Thousand and One Nights , Template:Lang-ar Kitāb 'Alf Layla wa-Layla; also known as The Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night, One Thousand and One Nights, 1001 Arabian Nights, Arabian Nights, The Nightly Entertainments or simply The Nights) is a medieval Middle-Eastern literary epic which tells the story of Scheherazade, a Sassanid Queen, who must relate a series of stories to her malevolent husband, King Shahryar, to delay her execution. The stories are told over a period of one thousand and one nights, and every night she ends the story with a suspenseful situation, forcing the King to keep her alive for another day. The individual stories were created over many centuries, by many people and in many styles, and they have become famous in their own right. Notable examples include Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.

Qur'an and Islam

The Qur'an had a significant influence of the Arabic language. The language used in the Qur'an is called classical Arabic and while modern Arabic has diverged slightly, the classical is still the style to be admired. Not only is the Qur'an the first work of any significant length written in the language it also has a far more complicated structure than the earlier literary works with its 114 suras (chapters) which contain 6,236 ayat (verses). It contains injunctions, narratives, homilies, parables, direct addresses from God, instructions and even comments on itself on how it will be received and understood. It is also admired for its layers of metaphor as well as its clarity, a feature it mentions itself in sura 16:103.

Although it contains elements of both prose and poetry, and therefore is closest to saj' or rhymed prose, the Qur'an is regarded as entirely apart from these classifications. The text is believed to be divine revelation and is seen as being eternal or 'uncreated'. This leads to the doctrine of i'jaz or inimitability of the Qur'an which implies that nobody can copy the work's style nor should anybody try.

This doctrine of i'jaz possibly had a slight limiting effect on Arabic literature; proscribing exactly what could be written. The Qur'an itself criticises poets in the 26th sura, actually called Ash-Shu'ara or The Poets:

And as to the poets, those who go astray follow them.
16:224

This may have exerted dominance over the pre-Islamic poets of the 6th century whose popularity may have vied with the Qur'an amongst the people. There were a marked lack of significant poets until the 8th century. One notable exception was Hassan ibn Thabit who wrote poems in praise of Muhammad and was known as the "prophet's poet". Just as the Bible has held an important place in the literature of other languages, The Qur'an is important to Arabic. It is the source of many ideas, allusions and quotes and its moral message informs many works.

Aside from the Qur'an the hadith or tradition of what Muhammad is supposed to have said and done are important literature. The entire body of these acts and words are called sunnah or way and the ones regarded as sahih or genuine of them are collected into hadith. Some of the most significant collections of hadith include those by Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj and Muhammad ibn Isma'il al-Bukhari.

The other important genre of work in Qur'anic study is the tafsir or commentaries on the Qur'an. Arab writings relating to religion also includes many sermons and devotional pieces as well as the sayings of Ali which were collected in the 10th century as Nahj al-Balaghah or The Road to Eloquence.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Arabic culture" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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