27. The Arabs are of all nations the one most remote
from royal leadership.
The 146 reason for this is that the Arabs are more rooted in desert life and penetrate deeper into the desert than any other nation. They have less need of the products and grain of the hills, because they are used to a tough and hard life. Therefore, they can dispense with other people. It is difficult for them to subordinate themselves to each other, because they are used to (no control) and because they are in a state of savagery. Their leader needs them mostly for the group spirit that is necessary for purposes of defense. He is, therefore, forced to rule them kindly and to avoid antagonizing them. Otherwise, he would have trouble with the group spirit, and (such trouble) would be his undoing and theirs. Royal leadership and government, on the other hand, require the leader to exercise a restraining influence by force. If not, his leadership would not last.
Furthermore, as we have stated before,147 it is the nature of (the Arabs) not only to appropriate the possessions of other people but, beyond that, to refrain from exercising any (power of) arbitration among them and to fail to keep them from (fighting) each other. When they have taken possession of a nation, they make it the goal of their rule to profit (from their position) by taking away the property of the members of that nation. Beyond that, they do not care to exercise any (power of) arbitration among them. They often punish crimes by fines on property, in their desire to increase the tax revenues and to obtain some (pecuniary) advantage. That is no deterrent (to crime). (Rather,) it is often an incentive (to crime), in view of the fact that incentives to commit misdeeds (may be very strong) and that, in the opinion of (the criminal), payment of a fine is insignificant, weighed against getting what he wants. Thus, misdeeds increase, and civilization is ruined. A nation dominated by the Arabs is in a state no different from anarchy, where everybody is set against the others. Such a civilization cannot last and goes quickly to ruins, as would be the case in a state of anarchy, as we have mentioned before.
For all these (reasons), the Arabs are by nature remote from royal leadership. They attain it (only) once their nature has undergone a complete transformation under the influence of some religious coloring that wipes out all such (qualities) and causes the Arabs to have a restraining influence on themselves and to keep people apart from each other, as we have mentioned.148
This is illustrated by the Arab dynasty in Islam. Religion cemented their leadership with the religious law and its ordinances, which, explicitly and implicitly, are concerned with what is good for civilization. The caliphs followed one after another. As a result, the royal authority and government of the Arabs became great and strong. When Rustum saw the Muslims assemble for prayer, he said: " 'Umar eats my liver. He teaches the dogs how to behave." 149
Later on, the Arabs were cut off from the dynasty for generations. They neglected the religion. Thus, they forgot political leadership and returned to their desert. They were ignorant of the connection of their group feeling with the people of the ruling dynasty, because subservience and lawful (government) had (now) become strange to them. They became once again as savage as they had been before. The epithet "royal" was no longer applicable to them, except in so far as it (continued to) apply to the caliphs who were (Arabs) by race. When the caliphate disappeared and was wiped out, governmental power passed altogether out of their hands. Non-Arabs took over the power in their stead. They remained as Bedouins in the desert, ignorant of royal authority and political leadership. Most Arabs do not even know that they possessed royal authority in the past, or that no nation had ever exercised such (sweeping) royal authority as had their race. The dynasties of 'Ad and Thamild, the Amalekites, the Himyar, and the Tubba's testify to that statement, and then, there was the Mudar dynasty in Islam, the Umayyads and the 'Abbasids. But when the Arabs forgot the religion, they no longer had any connection with political leadership, and they returned to their desert origins. At times, they achieve superiority over weak dynasties, as is the case in the contemporary Maghrib. But their domination leads only to the ruin of the civilization they conquer, as we have stated before.