Muslims are a religious group; Arabs are an ethnic
group. Only one in five Muslims is an Arab.
Arabs are Semites. Typically they have curly hair, big
noses and olive skin. They are descendants of tribesmen who lived
on the Arabian Peninsula which lies between Egypt on the west and
India on the east. Arabs have been around for thousands of years
(like their cousins, the Jews). Many Arabs practice Islam, but
many others practice Christianity or Judaism. There are 100,000
Arabs in America with about two-thirds of them from Lebanon (George
Mitchell), Syria (Steve Jobs) or Palestine (John Sununu).
Muslims are followers of the religion of Mohammad, an
Arab who promoted submission to God, called Islam in Arabic. He
introduced his religion in the seventh century, in the time of
Xuanzang and Saint Benedict. Ethnically, Muslims may be Javanese,
Caucasian, Chinese, African or Semitic. Thirty-five nations are
Muslim-majority, whereas only thirteen are Arab majority.
Khalil Gibran and Muhammad Ali, respectively
The two men shown above are evidence of the fact that Arab and Muslim are not synonymous terms. Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, is a Muslim but not Arabic. Khalil Gibran, on the other hand, is Arabic but does not practice the Muslim religion.