League of History

Ancient Peoples of Arabia

Since very early times the progeny of Sam (Shem), the son of Nuh (Noah), has inhabited Arabia. As regards designating eras, the historians have put the inhabitants of Arabia into three categories namely, Arab Ba’idah, Arab Musta’ribah, and Arab ‘Aribah. Some of them have held both ‘Aribah and Musta’ribah as the same and designated them in two categories only Arab Ba’idah and Arab Baqiyah. Arab Bai’dah refers to only those peoples who had inhabited Arabia from the earliest age and they have all perished without leaving any trace behind. Arab Baqiyah means those people who are still found in Arabia. They also form two categories namely, ‘Aribah and Musta’ribah. Other historians have designated the Arabs into four categories – Arab Ba’idah or Arab ‘Aribah, Arab Musta ‘Ribah, Arab Tabi’ah, and Arab Musta’jimah.

Arab Ba’idah

Some of the earliest tribes were called Ad, Thamud, Abil, Amaliqah, Tasm, Jadais, Umaim, Jurhum, Hadramout, Hadur and Abd Dakhm, etc. These all were the progeny of Laudh bin Sam (Shem) bin Nuh (Noah). They dominated the whole of the Arabian Peninsula and some of their kings expanded their military conquests up to Egypt. Books of history do not give any account about them and their conditions. Ruins of their buildings, archaeological finds, some pillars of stone, ornaments, and sculptures have been found in Najd, Ahqaf, and Hadramout, which tell us that they were the strongest civilization of their time with much grandeur and awe. Among these tribes, Ad was the most renowned. These people lived in Ahqaf. Ad bin Aus bin Iram bin Sam by whose name this tribe became famous, was the first and foremost king of Arabia. He had three sons, named Shaddad, Shadid, and Iram. They ruled one after another.

About the same Shaddad bin Ad, Allamah Zamakhshari has written that he built the city of Iram in the desert of Aden but it is now traceless. The Noble Qur’an has also made mention of Iram but it refers to the Iram tribe, not the city of I ram nor the garden of Iram. The Iram tribe was perhaps, another name for the Ad tribe or perhaps it was a branch of Ad tribe or the Ad tribe was itself a branch of the lram tribe, Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an: “Did you not see how did your Lord treat the Ad of Iram who were of so commanding stature that no creature of such a physical strength was ever born in the cities (of the world)?” (89:6-8) Mas’udi has written that, before Ad, his father As was also a king. A king named Jairun bin Sa’d bin Ad bin Aus of this very dynasty had rampaged Syria and built a house of marble and precious stone, and he had named it Iram. lbn Asakir has also mentioned the name of Jairun in his history of Damascus. The Prophet Hud was sent to the Ad tribe or the people who were raised from the same people. But his people disobeyed him and were sent to their doom. The Glorious Qur’an has detailed this event. Ad was followed by Abil, Amaliqah, Thamud, and Abd Dakhm, who ruled the country one after another until Ya’rub bin Qahtan brought about their end and set the beginning of a new era. Prophet Saleh was sent to the Thamud tribe or the people of Thamud. Thamud lived in Hijr while Yamamah was the place where Tasm and Jadais lived; Amaliqah lived in Tihamah and Jurhum in Yemen. As mentioned above, all the tribes of Arabia were the progeny of Sam, the son of Nuh (Noah), which are shown in the genealogical table.


This category of Arabs is the progeny of Qahtan. Prior to Qahtan from Nuh. none of these ancestors had Arabic as their language. The progeny of Qahtan used Arabic for the first time, which they amalgamated from the Arab Bd’idah. The Qahtan tribes are divided into two types, Yemeniah and Sabaiyah. Scholars are widely divided over the genealogical issue of Qahtan. Some of them say that he was the son of Aber bin Shalikh (Shelah) bin Arfakhshand bin Sam bin Nfih, and the brother of Qane and Yaqtan. Torah doesn’t mention it, but Qane and Yaqtan are mentioned therein. According to others, Yaqtan is derived from Qahtan, in other words, what has been called Yaqtan is actually Qahtan. lbn Hisham says that Ya’rub bin Qahtan is also called Yemen and the country of Yemen was named after him. Now, if Qahtan belonged to the progeny of Ismail (Ishmael), the whole of Arabia would be descending from Ismail for only two persons, Qahtan and Adnan are the remote ancestors of all the tribes of Arabia. But the most confirmed and acceptable understanding is that Qahtan and Yaqtan are the same people and the Qahtan tribe does not precede Banu Ismail.

Arab ‘Aribah or Qahtan tribes have produced some famous kings who had the whole of Arabia under their control. Ya’rub bin Qahtan did away with all the races and traces of the Arab Ba’idah.

Yemen is supposed to be the origin and the ancient land of the Qahtan tribes. Among them, Himyari and Azdi tribes are most renowned. Azdi tribes ruled over the city of Saba and southern Arabia. They paid special attention to the progress and prosperity of the Yemenite population. Queen Bilqis was from them and she was a contemporary of Sulaiman (Solomon). The Tabi’iyah kings ‘who reigned over Yemen and Hadramout also belonged to them. One of the tribes of Azdi shifted to Al-Madinah, settled, and ruled there. Khuza’ah turned towards Makkah and defeated the Jurhum tribe who was then in control of the affairs there. Nasr, the son of Azd settled in Tihamah; and Imran, a son of Khuza’ah settled in Oman, and their children came to be known as Azd Oman, while another one named Ghassan settled in the frontier area of Syria and ruled over the frontier tribes. In Yemen, the rule of Qahtani sultans extended up to 7 CE. Ghassan bordered on the Roman Empire, while the Qahtani state of Hirah was near the Persian Empire. At the time of the advent of Islam, the Qahtan tribes were very strong and in a commanding position in the whole of Arabia


This category of the Arabs refers to Banu Adnan or the progeny of Ismail (Ishmael). They came to Arabia from the outside, therefore they are called Arab Musta ‘ribah or the mixed Arabs. Ibrahim’s mother tongue was · ‘Aja mi or Persian. When Ibrahim (Abraham) left Ismail (Ishmael) In Makkah along with his mother Hajira (Hagar), they learned Arabic from the Qahtani tribe Jurhum, which was already settled in Makkah, and later Arabic became the mother tongue of the progeny of Ismail. Ismail’s mother passed away when he was only 15 years old. After the demise of his mother, Ismail made up his mind to leave Makkah and settle somewhere in Syria. But the people of the Jurhum tribe in unison requested him to change his mind.

He was then married to Amarah bint Saeed bin Usamah belonging to Amaliqah family. After a short time, Ibrahim came and Ismail divorced his wife according to the instructions of his father and then married Syedah bint Mudad bin Amr of the Jurhum tribe. Following these events, both Ibrahim and Ismail started building the Kaaba on the old foundations made by Adam. Ibrahim would lay the bricks while Ismail would hand him the kneaded clay and the stones while both of them were supplicating:  “Our Lord! Accept this from us. Verily, you are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” (2:127)

When the wall of the Kaaba was raised to such an extent that the work of construction was impeded, Ibrahim stood up on a piece of stone to resume his work. This place is called the ‘Station of Ibrahim’. When the Kaaba was near completion, Ibrahim asked Ismail to bring a special stone to be put at the base as a cornerstone so that place could be distinguished. Ismail led by Jibril brought Hajar Aswad (the Black Stone) from Boqabis mountain and Ibrahim put it in the selected spot. This is the same stone that is kissed during the circumambulation (Tawaf) of the Ka’bah. After rebuilding the Kaaba, Ibrahim and Ismail took their followers to Mina and Arafat, sacrificed their animals, and circumambulated the Kaaba. Ibrahim later departed to Syria and continued to visit the Kaaba every year performing Hajj until the end of his life.

Ismail settled in Makkah for the rest of his life. The tribe Banu Jurhum (Jurhum the second) had already settled in Makkah and the Amaliqah tribe settled in the suburbs of Makkah. (This was not the Amaliqah tribe of Arab Ba’idah.) Some people from these tribes believed in Ismail while others kept to their old faith. Ismail died, according to the Torah, at the age of 137 years. He was survived by twelve sons whose descendants multiplied so much that the land of Makkah could not contain them, and so they spread all over the Hijaz. The trusteeship of Kaaba and the leadership of Makkah remained continuously with the descendants of Ismail. Among his children was Adnan, the son of Kedar. The progeny of Adnan includes all the renowned tribes of Banu Ismail, and so the Arab Musta ‘ribah of Banu Ismail are called the people of Adnan. The son of Adnan was called Ma’d and his grandson was called Nizar. Nizar had four sons from whom all the Adnan tribes branched out. As a result of this, all the Adnan tribes are called Ma’di or Nizari.


Among the Adil in tribes Iyyad, Rabi’ah and Mudar achieved fame. To the well-known tribe of Mudar, belonged the Kinanah tribe which had an eminent person named Fihr bin Malik who was also called Quraish. The progeny of Quraish gave birth to many tribes, among them Banu Sahm, Banu Makhzum, Banu Jumh, Banu Taim, Banu Adi, Banu Abdud-Dar, Banu Zuhrah, and Banu Abd Mana£ gained much fame. Abd Manaf had four sons namely Abd Shams, Naufal, Abdul-Muttalib, and Hashim. Among the children of Hashim was born Muhammad ~ bin Abdullah bin Abdul-Muttalib bin Hashim who is the last Prophet and to whom belongs the entire Muslim Ummah (community). The aim of this book is to clarify the state and condition of his Ummah (community) alone.

Abd Shams’ son was Umayyah whose offspring are called Banu Umayyah. When the Adnan tribes, defeated by Khuza’ah left Makkah, they spread over different parts of Arabia. Banu Bakr settled in Bahrain, Banu Hanifah in Yamamah, Banu Taghlib on the banks:· the Euphrates, Banu Tamim in Algiers, Banu Sulaim in the suburbs of AlMadina, Banu Thaqif in Ta’if, Banu Asad in the west of Kufah and Banu Kinanah in Tihamah. Only the Quraish tribes from among the Adnan remained living in Makkah and its suburbs and they were in disarray. Qusai bin Kilab (who was in the 5th century Christian Era) united them. By uniting various Quraish tribes, he brought not only Makkah but also the entire Hijaz under his control. Thus, the trusteeship of the House of Kaaba once again came to the Adnan tribe. Qusai did some repair work on the Kaaba and constructed for himself a big palace of which a spacious hall was set aside for the people to assemble for consultations and serious discussions. It was named Dar-un-Nadwah. It also served as the seat of power from where Qusai performed official business. Qusai had also advanced a proposal that during the Hajj days the pilgrims should be served food for three days and all the Quraish should make contributions for that. In short, Qusai had achieved both religious and temporal power in Makkah and the Hijaz. Qusai died in 480 CE and his son Abdud-Dar became his successor.

After the death of Abdud-Dar, his grandsons and the sons of his brother Abd Manaf fell out with one another. Mediation by the influential people of Makkah brought the situation back to normal by defining each group’s responsibilities such as providing water, collecting contributions and taxes, and acting as host to the pilgrims. Abdud-Dar’s grandsons were entrusted with the task of military arrangements providing security for the Kaaba and looking after Dar-un-Nadwah. After a short time Abd Manaf’s son Abd Shams. handed over his right to rule to his younger brother Hashim. Hashim was very popular among the Makkans for his trading ability, wealth, and generosity. He benefited the Quraish immensely, he persuaded the Quraish to widen the scope of their trading activities, which was very profitable for them.


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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