Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

The Language of the Bedouins: A Social-Ethnic Arab Structure

Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

The Language of the Bedouins: A Social-Ethnic Arab Structure

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted.)


Before the advent of Islam, the Arabs were nomads who were organized into tribes and families headed by a sheikh or an emir. This position was passed on from one generation to another, but the option of the tribe was highly considered. Bedouin Arab tribes were considered as part of two major groups: those belonging to the Northern Arabia and those belonging to Southern Arabia.

2.Bedouin's Family and Behavior

Nadia Anghelescu is making an observation concerning the Bedouin's family: "The family, the clan and the tribe are the ones who protect the Bedouin, and the ones whom he owes faith to. The clan especially, the extended family is where the Bedouin lives his life." (Anghelescu, 2009: 121)

Blachere Régis defined Bedouin's place in his environment as: "The place of the individual in his group, the sense of honor that he has, the participation of each of them in common battles, it incites the most eloquent or those who have received the poetic gift to cultivate their talent to praise their origin and those of their kind, to depict their bravery in combat, to revive them after a defeat, and to always glorify the people's values." (Anghelescu, 2009: 34)

The word Bedouin is the equivalent of the Arabic word badawiya (...) (derived from the collective name bad'u j4?), which underlines the Romanian term beduin, in the dictionary it is equated with nomad and defined as man of the desert. "Bedouins were conceived as transhumant par excellence, breeders that traveled through the desert in search of more fertile lands. They did it with the help of the camel, an animal perfectly adapted to the desert; it is said that the Bedouin is the camel's parasite, meaning that it's the animal who gives him food, clothes, provides shelter (with its hair) and means of transport." (Anghelescu, 2009: 120)

Nadia Anghelescu defines the century after the emergence of Islam as being the witness of a myth. Myth that lasted until the present, named by Blachere "the myth of the great Bedouin" that embodied the most defining qualities that Arabic people had. Not only in the pre-Islamic era, but also long after that, the term "Arab" meant primarily "Bedouin."

"The term takes on a negative connotation in Muhammad's preach, for all the evils that embodies heresy are primarily made on the account of these Bedouins with superficial religious concerns." (Anghelescu, 2009: 135) In addition, for the fact that the Bedouin illustrated heresy there is an explanation, namely that the Bedouin, whom was considered to be only superficially converted, was a second degree Muslim, because he could not meet a number of ritual obligations. For example, common prayer, especially on Fridays, which implied the existence of a mosque, the failure in fasting, because the Bedouin often ate only whatever, was easier to reach. Not only in the time of Muhammad, but long after that too, the Bedouins were not respected or admired. They were caravans' guides along the centuries - and still are - a suitable work to their skills, and one of the most important sources of income.

As for the term Bedouin badawiya (...) in its literary form, "man of the desert, it begins to be used once the sedentary population of the Arabian Peninsula is willing to be called Arabian, so once the term takes on a positive connotation." (Anghelescu, 2009: 135) This way was removed the previous connotation, the negative, religious one, which was mentioned earlier.

The Bedouin is a very complex and extremely interesting character in our era, maybe also because of his contradictory spirit. Skillful versifier and good speaker, the Bedouin did not have a very intense religious life, perhaps due to the lack of a suitable place for prayer. It may be added that he worshiped the invisible spirits that were often sheltered in sacred stones or in the house of God, and astral deities like Venus and Manat, the goddess of fate, and not least Allah (^1), "God," considered by them the creator and supreme god. …

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