In "History of Western Philosophy" Bertrand Russell wrote
"The Arabs, although they conquered a great part of the world in the name of a new religion, were not a very religious race; the motive of their conquests was plunder and wealth rather than religion. It was only in virtue of their lack of fanaticism that a handful of warriors were able to govern, without much difficulty, vast populations of higher civilization and alien religion."
Probably because there are no strict parallelisms between the English and the Italian language, I'm having some doubts about the correct interpretation of this piece.
In fact I'm not able to understand whether Bertrand Russell uses "a handful of warriors" to refer to "The Arabs" as a whole, almost as if it were a "kind" of synonymous used to not repeat the same word two times, or not.
Strictly speaking, I am aware that in the above piece "The Arabs" and "a handful of warriors" are not exactly the same thing, but at the same time I'm under the impression that if Bertrand Russell had written the second sentence in this way
It was only in virtue of their lack of fanaticism that the Arabs were able to govern, without much difficulty, vast populations of higher civilization and alien religion.
the meaning and interpretation of the entire piece would not have changed.
Can anybody explain how that piece should be interpreted in reference to the correlation between "The Arab" and "a handful of warriors"?