20. The Arabs, of all people, are least familiar with crafts.
The 97 reason for this is that the Arabs are more firmly rooted in desert life and more remote from sedentary civilization, the crafts, and the other things which sedentary civilization calls for, (than anybody else). (On the other hand,) the non-Arabs in the East and the Christian nations along the shores of the Mediterranean are very well versed in (the crafts), because they are more deeply rooted in sedentary civilization and more remote from the desert and desert civilization (than others). They do not even have camels, which make it possible for the Arabs to retreat far into the wilderness of the desert, nor do they have pastures for (camels) or sand suitable for their breeding.98
Therefore, we find that the homelands of the Arabs and the places they took possession of in Islam had few crafts altogether, so that (crafts) had to be imported from other regions. One may observe the great number of crafts in nonArab countries such as China, India, the lands of the Turks, and the Christian nations, and the fact that other nations imported (their own crafts) from them.
The non-Arabs in the West, the Berbers, are like the Arabs in this respect, because for a very long period they remained firmly rooted in desert life. This is attested by the small number of cities in the (Berber) region, as we have stated before.99 The crafts in the Maghrib, therefore, are few in number and are not well established. Exceptions are the weaving of wool and the tanning and stitching of leather. For, when they settled down, they developed these (crafts) greatly, because they were matters of general concern and (the wool and leather) needed for them were the most common raw materials in their region, on account of the Bedouin conditions prevailing among them.
On the other hand, the crafts had been firmly rooted in the East for a very long period, ever since the rule of the ancient nations, the Persians, the Nabataeans, the Copts, the Israelites, the Greeks, and the Romans (Rum). Thus, the conditions of sedentary culture became firmly rooted among them. It included the crafts, as we have stated before. Their traces have not been wiped out.
The Yemen, al-Bahrayn, Oman, and the Jazirah have long been in Arab possession, but for thousands of years, the rule of these areas has belonged to different (Arab) nations in succession. They also founded cities and towns (there) and promoted the development of sedentary culture and luxury to the highest degree. Among such nations were the 'Ad and the Thamud, the Amalekites and the Himyar after them, the Tubbas, and the other South Arabian rulers (Adhwa) . There was a long period of royal authority and sedentary culture. The coloring of (sedentary culture) established itself firmly. The crafts became abundant and firmly rooted. They were not wiped out simultaneously with (each ruling) dynasty, as we have stated. They have remained and have always renewed themselves down to this time, and they have become the specialty of that area. Such (special Yemenite) crafts are embroidered fabrics, striped cloth, and finely woven garments and silks.100
God inherits the earth and whomever is upon it.