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Rûm (pronounced ˈrüm or ˈru̇m), also transliterated as Roum or Rhum (in Koine Greek "Ρωμιοί" or "Romans", in Arabic الرُّومُ ar-Rūm, Persian/Turkish Rum, from Middle Persian Rhōm) is a generic term used at different times in Muslim world to refer to:
- ethnocultural minorities such as the various formerly Koine-Greek-speaking Christian diasporas and Greeks living in the Middle East and their descendants - notably members of the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities of Syria, Lebanon, Northern Israel and the Hatay Province in Southern Turkey whose liturgy is still based on Koine Greek and Ancient Synagogal priestly rites (called "Al-Rûm");
- and, more generally, to non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire or citizens of Turkey ("Rûmi" or "Rûm" in the broader sense, but that use is disappearing due to the quasi-extinction of Greek communities in Izmir and Istanbul).
- geographic areas such as the Balkans and Anatolia generally, to the Eastern Roman Empire in particular, or to the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm in Medieval Turkey
The name derives from the Greek word Ρωμιοί (meaning "Romans"); it refers to the Byzantine Empire which at the time was simply known as the "Roman Empire" and hadn't acquired the designation "Byzantine," which was only applied to the Empire after its dissolution. The city of Rome itself is known in Arabic as روما Rūmā. The Arabic term Rûm is found in the pre-Islamic Namara inscription and later in the Quran.
The Qur'an includes Surat Ar-Rum (i.e., the Sura dealing with "The Romans", sometimes translated as "The Byzantines"). The people known as Byzantine Greeks, were the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, called themselves Ρωμιοί or Ρωμαίοι Rhomaioi, Romans- the term "Byzantine" is a modern designation, used to describe the Eastern Roman Empire, particularly after the major political restructuring of the seventh and eighth century. The Arabs, therefore naturally called them "the Rûm", their territory "the land of the Rûm", and the Mediterranean "the Sea of the Rûm." They called ancient Greece by the name "Yūnān" (Ionia) and ancient Greeks "Yūnānī" (similar with Hebrew "Yavan" [יוון] for the country and "Yevanim" [יוונים] for the people). The ancient Romans were called either "Rūm" or sometimes "Latin'yun" (Latins).
Rûm as a name
Al-Rūmī is a nisbah designating people originating in the Byzantine Empire, or lands formerly belonged to Byzantine Roman Empire, especially Anatolia. Historical people so designated include:
- Suhayb ar-Rumi, a companion of Muhammad
- Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (Rumi), the 13th century Persian poet
- Qāḍī Zāda al-Rūmī, 14th century mathematician
- Tadj ol-Molouk Ayrumlu, Former Queen of Iran (This may be incorrect. The Wikipedia article Ayrums claims Tadj ol-Molouk Ayromlou (sic) as an Ayrum, and defines Ayrums as an Azeri subgroup which it says is unrelated to the Urums. This implies her name may not be derived from Al-Rūmī. Reviewing the history of the Ayrum article shows that at one point a different origin related to Rûm, Hayhurum, was proposed for the Ayrum people; but if Ayrum is derived from Hayhurum, then it is still not a form of Al-Rūmī.)
Rûm in geography
Later, because Muslim contact with the Byzantine Empire most often took place in Asia Minor (the heartland of the state from the seventh century onward), the term Rûm 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 Rûm, or the Sultanate of Rûm. But as the Mediterranean was "the Sea of the Rûm", so all peoples on its north coast were called sweepingly "the Rûm".
After the Fall of Constantinople, Mehmed II declared himself Kayser-i Rum, literally "Caesar of the Romans". However, later Ottoman Sultans abandoned this title and did not persist in claiming it. During the 16th century the Portuguese used "rume" and "rumes" (plural) as a generic term to refer to the Mamluk-Ottoman forces they faced then in the Indian Ocean.
Under the Ottoman Empire's Millet system, Greeks were in the "Rum Millet" (Millet-i Rum), and also in today's Turkey Rum are the Turkish citizens of Greek ethnicity. The term "Urums", also derived from the same origin, is still used in contemporary ethnography to denote Turkic-speaking Greek populations. "Rumaiic" is a Greek dialect identified mainly with the Ottoman Greeks.
Modern usage in Southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and the Holy Land
Some historians believe that a sizable proportion of the Hellenized Jewish communities and most Greco-Macedonian settlers in Southern Turkey (Antioch, Alexandretta and neighboring cities) and Syria/Lebanon both converted progressively to the Greco-Roman branch of Christianity that eventually constituted the “Melkite” Churches of the MENA area:
As Jewish Christianity originated at Jerusalem, so Gentile Christianity started at Antioch, then the leading center of the Hellenistic East, with Peter and Paul as its apostles. From Antioch it spread to the various cities and provinces of Syria, among the Hellenistic Syrians as well as among the Hellenistic Jews who, as a result of the great rebellions against the Romans in A.D. 70 and 130, were driven out from Jerusalem and Palestine into Syria.
Some typically Grecian "Ancient Synagogal" priestly rites and hymns have survived partially to the present in the distinct church services of the Melkite and Greek Orthodox communities of the Hatay Province of Southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and the Holy Land.
Members of theses ethnocultural communities still call themselves Rûm which means "Eastern Roman" or "Asian Greek", and thus, by extension, "Melkite Christian" i.e. Antiochite and Jerusalemite Greek Orthodox or Greek Catholic Christian in modern Levantine Arabic — a regional dialect spoken in Syria, Lebanon, Northern Israel, the West Bank and the Adana and Hatay provinces of Turkey.
In that particular context, the term "Rûm" is used in preference to Ionani or Yāvāni which means ethnic Greek or "Ionian" in Classical Arabic and Biblical Hebrew.
In Islamic Iberia
In Al-Andalus any Christian slave girl who had embraced Islam was named Roumiya. Also the legendary lover of King Roderic and daughter of Count Julian is named La Cava Rumía  – her affair being the putative cause of the Moorish invasion of Hispania in AD 711. The crusades introduced the Franks (Ifranja), and later Arabic writers recognize them and their civilization on the north shore of the Mediterranean west from Rome; so Ibn Khaldun wrote in the latter part of the 14th century.
- Rûm Province, Ottoman Empire.
- Rumelia, from Turkish Rum eli meaning 'country of the Romans'.
- Erzurum, from the Turkish pronunciation of Arabic أرض روم arḍ Rūm, 'Land of the Romans'.
- Edirne Ciğeri, a Turkish meat dish also referred to as "Rumeli Ciğeri".
- Rumi calendar, a calendar based on the Julian Calendar, used by the Ottoman Empire after Tanzimat.
- Mawlānā, great Persian poet who is sometimes referred to as Rumi.
- Rumiye-i Suğra, the name of the region in Ottoman Empire which included Tokat, Amasya, and Sivas.
- Rumçi, another term used to refer to the Greeks during the Ottoman times.
Note: the following entries are arranged in an etymological tree.
- Roma (disambiguation)
- Rome (disambiguation)
- Romanus (disambiguation)
- Romain (disambiguation)
- Romaine (disambiguation)
- Roman (disambiguation)
- Romana (disambiguation)
- Romania (disambiguation)
- Romanization (disambiguation)
- Romano (disambiguation)
- Romansh language
- Rûm, Nadia El Cheikh, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. VIII, ed. C.E. Bosworth, E. Van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs and G. Lecomte, (Brill, 1995), 601.
- Nadia Maria El-Cheikh, Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs, (Harvard University Press, 2004), 24.
- Ozbaran, Salih, "Ottomans as 'Rumes' in Portuguese sources in the sixteenth century", Portuguese Studies, Annual, 2001
- The “Rumi Topi” of Hyderabad, by Omair M. Farooqui, Esq.
- "History of Christianity in Syria", Catholic Encyclopedia
- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part I, Chapter 41 (Spanish text, English text).