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But that’s just the etymology, not the practical usage:
>In general, ʿAǰam was a pejorative term, used by Arabs conscious of their political and social superiority in early Islam. But by the 3rd/9th century, the non-Arabs, and above all the Persians, were asserting their social and cultural equality (taswīa) with the Arabs, if not their superiority (tafżīl) over them (a process seen in the literary movement of the Šoʿūbīya). In any case, there was always in some minds a current of admiration for the ʿAǰam as heirs of an ancient, cultured tradition of life. Even the great proponent of the Arab cause, Jāḥeẓ, wrote a Ketāb al-taswīa bayn al-ʿArab wa’l-ʿAǰam (C. Pellat, “Essai d’inventaire de l’oeuvre ğāḥiẓienne,” Arabica 3, 1956, p. 152, no. 22). After these controversies had died down, and the Persians had achieved a position of power in the Islamic world comparable to their numbers and capabilities, “ʿAǰam” became a simple ethnic and geographical designation; hence in geographical literature of the Saljuq period and after we find Mesopotamia referred to as ʿErāq ʿArabī, in contrast to northwest Persia or Jebāl, the ancient Media, called ʿErāq ʿAǰamī.