Classical uses of the term "Arab" and the shu'ubiyya
(an ideology denying the privileged status of Arabs) of the classical era aside, the term was used similarly by the earliest Nahda intellectuals including al-Tahtawi, Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, and al-Bustani.
45) Re-valorization of the Arab pre-Islamic past also occurred to some degree as a countervailing, defensive response to a pro-Persian movement known as the Shu'ubiyya
beginning in the eighth century, which pitted Arab (but not Islamic) culture unfavorably against the Persian.
The problem, according to Duri, starts with the movement known as Shu'ubiyya who began by disparaging Arabs, then Arabic, then Islam.
Although the Shu'ubiyya movement was not fled specifically to al-Mahdi's reign, reaching its height during the first half of the Third Century A.
The relationship between Shu'ubiyya and zandaqa is not as starkly emphasized by Western authors who see the former primarily as a literary movement with little, if any, "nationalist" aspirations.
Hence, the fact that the Shu'ubiyya and the Zanadiqa were considered disguised Persian attacks on Arabs and Islam does not explain much.
This aspect was noted by Amin Banani for whom "the Shu'ubiyya debate can be viewed in terms of cultural ethnocentricity.
We have stated earlier that the Shu'ubiyya debate was largely court-centered and devoted to the managerial aspects of government on the model of the Sasanids.
Given the content of those deemed fabricated hadiths, the attempt seems to have been the legitimation of the position of a group within the Umma,(67) very much like the Shu'ubiyya was described by von Grunebaum above.
The Shu'ubiyya debate and the Zanadiqa were two different movements, despite the fact that both relied on Sasanid precedents.