Rum - Encyclopedia


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RUM, or RouM (Arab. ar-Rum), a very indefinite term in use among Mahommedans at different dates for Europeans generally and for the Byzantine empire in particular; at one time even for the Seljuk empire in Asia Minor, and now for Greeks inhabiting Ottoman territory. When the Arabs met the Byzantine Greeks, these called themselves `Pwgaioc, or Romans, a reminiscence of the Roman conquest and of the founding of the new Rome at Byzantium. The Arabs, therefore, called them "the Ram" as a race-name (already in Kor. xxx. 1), their territory "the land of the Ram," and the Mediterranean "the Sea of the Ram." The original ancient Greeks they called "Yunan" (Ionians), the ancient Romans, "Ram" and sometimes "Latiniyun" (Latins). Later, inasmuch as Muslim contact with the Byzantine Greeks was in Asia Minor, the term Ram became fixed there geographically and remained even after the conquest by the Seljuk Turks, so that their territory was called the land of the Seljuks of Ram. But as the Mediterranean was "the Sea of the Ram," so all peoples on its N. coast were called sweepingly, "the Ram." In Spain any Christian slave-girl who had embraced Islam was named Rumiya, and we find the crew of a Genoese vessel being called Romans by a Muslim traveller. The crusades introduced the Franks (Ifranja), and later Arabic writers recognize them and their civilization on the N. shore of the Mediterranean W. from Rome; so Ibn Khaldun in the latter part of the 14th century. But Rumi is still used in Morocco for. a Christian or European in general, instead of the now elsewhere commoner Ifranji. (D. B. MA.)

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