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Rûm (Arabic pronunciation: ['ru:m?]; singular Rûmi), also transliterated as Roum (in Arabic ar-R?m; in Persian and Ottoman Turkish Rûm; in Turkish: Rum), is a derivative of the term ? (Rhomaioi). The latter was an endonym of the (pre-Islamic) inhabitants of Turkey, the Middle East, and the Balkans, dating to when those regions were parts of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

The term Rûm is now used to describe:

A view showing several floors of an underground Rûm city in Turkey.


Rûm is found in the pre-Islamic Namara inscription[1] and later in the Quran (7th century), where it refers to a contemporary ruler (Heraclius) of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, the Western Roman Empire having fallen two centuries earlier (5th century).[2]

A Rûm architect from Konya built the Gök Medrese (Celestial Madrasa) of Sivas, while it was a capital of the Sultanate of Rûm.

The Qur'an includes the Surat Ar-Rum (the sura dealing with "the Romans", sometimes translated as "The Byzantines"). These people, referred to as Byzantines in modern Western scholarship, were inhabitants of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire and called themselves or ? Rhomaioi Romans in their own language. (The term "Byzantine" is a modern designation to describe the Eastern Roman Empire, particularly after the major political restructuring of the seventh and eighth century.) The city of Rome was known in classical Arabic instead as R?miyah (in modern Arabic as R?m? ?), and Ancient Romans were called instead "R?m" or sometimes "Latin'yun" (Latins). The Arabs called Ancient Greece by the name "Y?n?n" (Ionia) and ancient Greeks "Y?n?n?m" (similar to Hebrew "Yavan" [?] for the country and "Yevanim" [] for the people). The Byzantine state shrank from encompassing the eastern Mediterranean in 395 AD to consisting only of what is now modern Turkey and the Balkans in 700 AD; it finally fell in 1453 AD. The Arabs, therefore, called these pre-Islamic peoples of Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East "Rûm", and called their territory "the land of the Rûm", generally referring to what is now Turkey and the Balkans, and called the Mediterranean "the Sea of the Rûm". After the fall of the Byzantine state in the 15th century, the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II declared himself Kayser-i Rum, literally "Caesar of the Romans". In the Ottoman Millet system, the Eastern Orthodox subject peoples (i.e. the conquered Byzantines) were placed into the "Rum Millet" (Millet-i Rum). In modern Turkey, Rum is still used to denote the Greek Orthodox minority population of Turkey and other pre-conquest remnants, cf. Rum Ortodoks Patrikhanesi, the Turkish designation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul.

Rûm in geography

Because Muslim contact with the Byzantine Empire most often took place in Asia Minor, which was the heartland of the Byzantine state from the seventh century onward, the term Rûm became fixed there geographically. The term remained even after the conquest of central Asia Minor by the Seljuk Turks, so their territory was called the land of the Seljuks of Rûm or the Sultanate of Rûm.

Abandoned Rûm churches carved into a solid stone cliff face, Cappadocia, Nev?ehir/Turkey.

Rûm as a name

Al-R?m? is a nisbah designating people originating in the Byzantine Roman Empire or lands that formerly belonged to Byzantine Roman Empire, especially Anatolia. Historical people so designated include the following:

The Greek surname Roumeliotis stems from the word Rûm borrowed by Ottomans.[]

Other uses

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.[3]

The term "Urums", also derived from the same origin, is still used in contemporary ethnography to denote Turkic-speaking Greek populations. "Rumeika" is a Greek dialect identified mainly with the Ottoman Greeks.[]

Chinese, during the Ming dynasty, referred to the Ottomans as Lumi (), derived from Rum or Rumi. The Chinese also referred to Rum as Wulumu during the Qing dynasty. The modern Mandarin Chinese name for the city of Rome is Luoma ().[]

Among the Muslim aristocracy of South Asia, the fez is known as the Rumi Topi (which means "hat of Rome or Byzantium").[4]

In the Sassanian period (pre-Islamic Persia) the word Hr?m?y-?g (Middle Persian) meant "Roman" or "Byzantine", which was derived from the Byzantine Greek word Rhomaioi.[]

See also


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Nadia Maria El-Cheikh, Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs, (Harvard University Press, 2004), 24.
  3. ^ Ozbaran, Salih, "Ottomans as 'Rumes' in Portuguese sources in the sixteenth century", Portuguese Studies, Annual, 2001
  4. ^ The "Rumi Topi" of Hyderabad, by Omair M. Farooqui


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainDuncan Black MacDonald (1911). "Rum, a very indefinite term in use among Mahommedans at different dates for Europeans generally and for the Byzantine empire in particular". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Further reading

  • Durak, Koray (2010). "Who are the Romans? The Definition of Bil?d al-R?m (Land of the Romans) in Medieval Islamic Geographies". Journal of Intercultural Studies. 31 (3): 285-298. doi:10.1080/07256861003724557.
  • Kafadar, Kemal (2007). "Introduction: A Rome of One's Own: Reflections on Cultural Geography and Identity in the Lands of Rum". Muqarnas. 24: 7-25. JSTOR 25482452.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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