Rum, also Roum or Rhum (in Arabic ar-Rum), is a very indefinite term used at different times in the Islamic world for Europeans generally and for the Byzantine Empire in particular, for the Seljuk empire in Asia Minor, and for Greeks inhabiting Ottoman territory.
When the Arabs met the Byzantine Greeks, these called themselves Rhomaioi, or Romans, a reminiscence of the Roman conquest and of the founding of the new Rome at Byzantium. The Arabs, therefore, called them "the Rum" as a race-name (already in Kor. xxx. I), their territory "the land of the Rum," and the Mediterranean "the Sea of the Rum." The original ancient Greeks they called "Yünãn" (Ionians), the ancient Romans, "Rum" and sometimes "Latin'yun" (Latins). Later, inasmuch as Muslim contact with the Byzantine Greeks was in Asia Minor, the term Rum became fixed there geographically and remained even after the conquest by the Seljuk Turks, so that their territory was called the land of the Seljuks of Rum. But as the Mediterranean was "the Sea of the Rum," so all peoples on its north coast were called sweepingly, "the Rum." In Spain any Christian slave-girl who had embraced Islam was named Rumiya, and we find the crew of a Genoese vessel being called Romans by a Muslim traveller. The crusades introduced the Franks (Ifranja), and later Arabic writers recognize them and their civilization on the north shore of the Mediterranean west from Rome; so Ibn Khaldun wrote in the latter part of the 14th century. But Rümi is still used in Morocco for a Christian or European in general, instead of the elsewhere more common Ifranji. (D. B. MA.)
Originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia. Please edit as needed.