Moors (meaning)

From Academic Kids

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Juba II king of Mauretania

The name "Moors" derives from the ancient Berber tribe of the Mauri and their kingdom, Mauretania (Northern parts of modern Algeria and Morocco), The name of Mauri was applied by the Romans to all non-romanized natives of North Africa still ruled by their own chiefs, until the 3rd century AD.

The soldiery of the first wave of islamic invasions of Spain was derived predominantly from Coastal Berber peoples of North Africa. Later, the term was extended to All muslims including Sub-Saharan slaves.

St. Isidore de Seville, who was born in 560 AD and died in April 636 AD, wrote that Maurus means "Black" in Greek. In the late 1400s, the Italian Roberto di San Severino in his writings clearly distinguishes between Moors and Arabs. In describing his journey to Mount Sinai, san Severino writes on the observance of the Muslim month of Ramadan, stating "Their 'Ramatana' lasts a month, and every day they fast. They neither eat nor drink until the evening, that is until the hour of the stars; and this custom is followed by the Moors as well as the Arabs."

In the 18th century English usage of the term Moor began to refer specifically to African Muslims, but especially to any person who speaks one of the Hassaniya dialects. This language, in its purest form, draws heavily from the original Yemeni Arabic spoken by the Bani Hassan tribe, which invaded northwest Africa during the 16th and 17th centuries.


In Spanish usage, "Moro" (Moor) came to have an even broader usage, to mean "Muslims" in general (just as "Rumi", "from the Eastern Roman Empire", came to mean "Christian" in many Arabic dialects); thus the Moros of Mindanao in the Philippines, and the Moriscos of Granada. Moro is also used to describe all things dark as in "Moor", "moreno" and it has led to many European sir names such as "Moore", "De Muaro", and so on.

Until the early twentieth century, "Moor" was often used by Western geographers to refer to "mixed" Arab-Berber North Africans, especially of the towns, as distinct from supposedly more pure-blooded Arabs and Berbers; thus the 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica defines "Moor" as "the name which, as at present used, is loosely applied to any native of Morocco, but in its stricter sense only to the townsmen of mixed descent. In this sense it is also used of the Mahommedan townsmen in the other Barbary states." But even then, it recognized that "the term Moors has no real ethnological value."

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