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Chapter Summary

The beginnings of British interests in Persia and Turkish Arabia (the modern Iraq) can be traced back to the days of the merchant adventurers of the Muscovy and Levant Companies. This introductory chapter of the book presents the historical background, religion and language of Persia and Iraq. Very soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (A.D. 632) the world of Islam split into the two principal functions which still divide it today: the Sunni, the 'People of the Tradition', and the Shiʼa, the Legitimist Party. The first Imam Ali had indeed been generally recognized by the whole community as the Fourth Caliph after three elected 'usurpers'. Of the languages spoken in this part of Asia Persian belongs to the Aryan family. Standard written Arabic is much the same throughout the Arab world from Oman to Morocco, but everywhere the spoken language has its local peculiarities of pronunciation and dialect.

Keywords: Persian Gulf; Turkish Arabia



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