Ancient Arabia and its People

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Ancient Arabia and its People

A discussion of Arabia is important to the history of Islam because Prophet (pbuh) was born in one of its cities, Makkah and migrated to the second important city Madina making it the first capital of the Islamic Sultanate.  Arabia is the place where within the life of The Prophet (pbuh) almost all of the population converted to Islam.  It is this country’s language (Arabic) in which the revelations (Wahy – وحي‎‎) and Quran were both delivered.  This is the country from where the light of Islam was spread to all corners of the world.  This is the country where millions of people from all corners of the world go every year go to the great Kaaba for Pilgrimage (Hajj) and Umrah where all people rich or pool stand together should-to-shoulder in the grounds of Arafat for united prayers.

Geography and People

The country of Arabs is bounded in the east by Persian Gulf and by Red Sea on the West.  The extensive coastlines on the Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping.  Saudi Arabia is also the largest country in the world without a river.  Total land area is 2,149,690 sq km.  Most of the country is harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes.  Although some places near to the coast do host some greenery and population.  There are a serious of mountainous regions but none of these host any greenery.  The sound side including the (current) country of Yemen do host greenery and relatively better temperatures.  A large population of this area are Bedouin people.  They are mostly animal herders who migrate into the desert during the rainy winter season and move back toward the cultivated land in the dry summer months.  Bedouin society is tribal and patriarchal, typically composed of extended families that are patrilineal.  The Bedouins mostly rely on camel’s milk and dates as major source of nutrition.

Important Groups and Families in Old Arab

From the olden times the blood lines of Saam-bin-Noah.  Based on specific peirod the historians have split the population into three specific groups:

  • Arab Bayeeda
  • Arab Araba
  • Arab Mustarba

Some though have classified Araba and Mustarba to the same group.  The group of Arab Bayeeda are the people who lived in the ancient times and have considered to have either died or migrated away.  Some of them may have inter-mixed with other groups leaving no trace of them.

Arab Baidah

From within this oldest group there were multiple important clan such as those of Aad, Samood, Abil, Amaliqa, Tasm, Jadees, Ameem, Jirham, Hazr-Mout,  Abd-Sakham.  These were all all the children of La za bin Saam bin Noah.  Some of the kings within these clans captured areas as far as Egypt.  Not a lot of written history is available about them.  Most of what is known about them came from various archeological expeditions.  Information from the found artifacts suggest these these were powerful people living a good life.

The most important clan in Baidah is The Clan of Aad.  They lived in the area of Ahqaaf.  Aad bin Aus bin Irsam bin Samam was the first king of this clan through which this clan was named.  Masoodi has written that before Aad his father was also a king.  Aad had three sons:

  • Shadad
  • Shadeld
  • Irm

Allah sent Hazrat Hud (هود‎‎) to the clan of Aad as his prophet.  d for a long time. The majority of them, however, refused to pay any notice to his teachings and they kept ignoring and mocking all he said. As their aggression, arrogance and idolatry deepened, God, after plenty of warning, sent a thunderous storm to finish the wicked people of Aad once and for all. The destruction of the Aad is described in the Qur’an:

 Surah Al-Kaaf Ayah 24-25
Then when they beheld it as an overpeering cloud tending toward their valleys they said: yonder is an overpeering cloud bringing us rain. Nay it is that which ye sought to be hastened: a wind wherein is a torment afflictive. فَلَمَّا رَأَوْهُ عَارِضًا مُسْتَقْبِلَ أَوْدِيَتِهِمْ قَالُوا هَٰذَا عَارِضٌ مُمْطِرُنَا ۚ بَلْ هُوَ مَا اسْتَعْجَلْتُمْ بِهِ ۖ رِيحٌ فِيهَا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
It shall annihilate everything by the command of its Lord. Wherefore they became such that naught could be seen save their dwellings Thus We requite a nation of the culprits. تُدَمِّرُ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ بِأَمْرِ رَبِّهَا فَأَصْبَحُوا لَا يُرَىٰ إِلَّا مَسَاكِنُهُمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْقَوْمَ الْمُجْرِمِينَ

After clan of Aad there were various others such as Abil, Amaliqa, Samoood and others.  But there were slowly killed by Yaarab bin Qahtaan starting the next period.

Arab Aribah

This group was consider to be the descendants of Qahtan.  Before Qahtan to Noah there was no group whose language was Arabic.  Areya people were considered the first to use Arabic and they got this from the Baidah people.  Aribah were further divided into Yamenia and Sabaiyah.

Aribah (or Qahtan) tribes have produced some famouse kings who had the whole of Arabia under their control. Yarub bin Qahtan did away with all the races and traces of Arab Baidah. Yemen is supposed to be the origin and the ancient land of the Qahtan tribes.

Arab Mustaribah

Muqam (station) of IbrahimThey are refered to as Banu Adnan or the descendants of Prophet Ismail. They came to Arabia from outside and thus called mixed Arabs. Prophet Ibrahim’s mother tongue was Ajami (or Persian). When Ibrahim left Prophet Ismail in Makkah along with his mother Hajira (Hagar), they learned Arabic from the Qahtani tribe Jurhum, who were already settled in Makkah.

Prophet Ismail married to Amarah bint Saeed bin Usamah belonging to a Amaliqah family. Although after a short time they divorced his wife and married Syedah bint Mudad bin Amr of the Jurhum tribe. During this time they started building the Kaaba on the old foundations made by Prophet Adam. During construction when the wall of Kaaba was raised to an extent that construction was impeded, Prophet Ibrahim stood up on a piece of stone to resume his work.  This place is call Muaqam-e-Ibrahim.

Prophet Ismail settled in Makkah for the rest of his life.  At time of his passing away, he was survived by twelve sons. Among his children was Adnan, the descendants of whom included all of Banu Ismail.

Tribes of Adnan

Amon Banu Ismail, the tribes of Iyyad, Rabiah and Mudar achieved prominence. To the well known tribe of Mudar, belonged the Kinanah tribe which had a person named Fihr bin Malik who was also called Quraish. From the descendants of Quraish came Banu Sahm, Banu Makhzum Banu Jumh and Banu Abd Manaf.  Abd Manaf had four sons nakely Abd Shams, Naufal, Abdul Muttalib and Hashim. Among the children of Hashim was born Prophet Muhammad bin Abdullah bin ABdul-Muttalib bin Hashim (PBUH), who is the last Prophet and to whom belongs the entire Muslim Ummah.

Although most of the Banu Ismaili tribes moved away to other lands, the Quraishi tribe remained living in Makkah.