Afro-Arabian Origins of the Early Yemenites and their Conquest and Settlement of Spain – Dana Marniche

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Afro-Arabian origins of the Early Yemenites and their Conquest and Settlement of Spain

‘Shem was especially blessed black and beautiful
Ham was blessed black like the raven …”

The above written between the 1st to 2nd century AD by Rabbi Eli`ezer of Israel, from the Pirqe, pereq 24 – cited by Yafeu Taom ha Levi (of the Resource Center for African Jews in America)

“The Arabs used to take pride in their darkness and blackness and they had a distaste for a light complexion and they used to say that a light complexion was the complexion of the non-Arabs” Al Mubarrad, 9th century born in Basra, Iraq.

“…these tribes – with the exception of the Harasis – have a tradition of African origin, the order of their local antiquity being Shahara, Bautahara, Mahra, Qara. “ The South Eastern Borderlands of Rub-al Khali Bertram Thomas vol. 73 (LXXIII) No. 3 March 1929. on the descendants of Kahtan (Joktan).

Yafa Tribe of Yemen
Yafa Tribe of Yemen

“The inhabitants of this part of Arabia nearly all belong to the race of Himyar. Their complexion is almost as black as the Abyssinians…”
cited in Geography of southern Arabia by Baron von Maltzan in ‘Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London”, Vol. 16, No. 2 p. 121 published between 1871-1872, on the tribes of Southwest Arabia near modern Yarim – the Aram of Genesis.

“The people of Dhufar are of the Qahtan tribe the sons of Joktan mentioned in Genesis: they are of Hamitic or African rather than Arab types…” in A Periplus of the Persian Gulf Arnold Wilson. The Geographical Journal Vol. 69l, No. 3 March 1927, pp. 235-255. See page 236.

“There is a considerable mass of evidence to show that there was a very close resemblance between the proto-Egyptians and the Arabs before either became intermingled with Armenoid racial elements.”
Written by anatomist Grafton Elliot Smith see p. 61 The Proto-Dynastic Egyptians , Gorgias Press, 2007 originally published 1923.

“In the 9th century Photus of Constantinople in his Bibliotheca quotes the Greek Nonnos of 533 AD saying ‘the Ethiopians, Himyarites and Saracens were the most powerful nations of this time’”
(Sir Richmond Palmer p. 207, Bornu Sahara and Sudan 1970, originally published 1936 by John Murray).

Terms to Know

bin or banu (beni) – son or children of

The Yemen – the name for the southern parts of Arabia including what is now the area of the modern nations of Hadramaut, Yemen, and southern parts of Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Cana’an – the name of a tribe and their land in western Arabia south of Mecca stretching from the southern Hejaz and Tehama southward into the Himyarite region of Yemen. Some emigrated north before 1200 B.C. and named the region of Canaan in Syria after themselves. Also considered cursed with blackness in later Eurasiatic tradition.

Ad or Ait– known also as Athir (Adhar) in Arabian tradition – the Gether of the Genesis book. The Adites – called “sons of the fire mist” after Adah their ancestral mother were considered by Medieval Muslim writers to be the same people as the Mahra and Shahara. The mythological “man from Ad” was “Adapa” in Babylonian texts whose name was also that of the ancient ruler Ityop of Abyssinian king lists. In Greek legend Ethiopais, ‘son of Ethiops’ is a title of Bacchus/Dionysus. (Garnier, 2006, p, 38)

Qahtan- name for the ancestor of ancient Sabeans and Himyarites. Brother of Peleg or Faligh in Arabic and Hebraic tradition. He is also known as Joktan.

Yemen as with the rest of Arabia is a rich mixture of populations including the original Arabian people, and later Iranians (Persians) as well as the Byzantines and Turks numerous slaves brought in from all over surrounding world. Turks and other subjected people of the Turks also played a part in settling the Yemen as Egypt and North Africa. Not too long ago in about the year 1900 British colonial observer of the British Yemeni Society remarked, “If Turks were thrown out of Yemen a wonderful field of commerce would be opened…” (Zwemmer, 1900, p. 62)

The descriptions of the Arabs of both the Yemen in the south and the northern part of the Arabian peninsula in early Christian and Islamic times, say the people were largely still of dark-brown or black African appearance with “kinky” hair. While people that were fair-skinned were recognized by Arabs as descendants of subject peoples and slaves. The northernwestern and north eastern part of the peninsula, in fact, remained as such until a few hundred years ago. Even the “Armenoid” elements mentioned by Elliot Smith above were actually early prominent nosed, stockier built Eurasiatics whose ancestors were also once based in Syria and Iran have also been absorbed by later European populations entering the Near East and are not as predominant as they once were.

Not to belabour the point, but the idea of blacks in Africa being the predominant slaves of the Arabs comes from not knowing the history of the peninsula or in fact not being able to read Arabic, otherwise it would have been recognized that the Arabs were usually designated as “black” and “dark brown”. It is apparent a fair-skinned person such as we find in parts of Arabia today, before a few centuries ago, would have been recognized by Arabians as a descendant of some other group of people.

The history of the modern ruling families in the Persian Gulf is a good example of how migration has changed the complexion of the peoples of the peninsula. According to their own documented history within the last four centuries the ancestors of these tribes many of whom are quite fair in color began emigrating into the Arabian peninsula from Syria and Mesopotamia. They are descendants of earlier tribesmen originally from the far south of Arabia known as Banu Tayyi and Murad (or Amurat) clans of the bin Anizza (Anazah or Anz bin Wa’il) and other Madhij who had settled in northern Arabia and further north where they mixed with Syrian and Mesopotamian people after the Islamic period. These Yemenite tribes of Tayyi and his brother Madhij were notoriously black and the early Arabic writings make clear that they also held fair-skin in derision or low regard. But , after over a thousand years of living among the non-Arab people – so called “white Syrians” – and intermixing with their women and concubines from the countries as far north as Circassia and Russia, these Arabs of what could be considered “diluted” blood made their way back to the Nejd and the Gulf. Many of course now think of them the stereotypical Arabs.

The modern Sa’ud family claim to descend from the Murad, (Murayd or Amarat), and other clans of the Ruwalla bin Anaesa (Anaeza) bin Wa’il who had come to the Nejd in late Islamic times. In the Yemen and Hadramaut these clans were known as Anz or Ans or Anazah, Ruw’ayn and Murad and were recognized clans of the ancient Maddhij or Khawlan and Himyarite tribes of Hadramaut and Yemen. Thus ibn Khaldun wrote in the 14th century : “The country of Maddhij …is inhabited by the Banu Ans, Zubayd and Murad sub-tribes of the Maddhij.” (Kay, 1892). In the North the Anaesa or Anazah had settled in Syria near Damascus and in Iraq (Hudson, 1979, p. 170) and in Central Arabia where they traded slave concubines and intermarried amongst each other. The Sa’ud family continued the tradition of legally importing “white” slave-concubines from the North (Armenia) until the 20th century (Herb, 1999, pp. 38,39 and 90). (Others say the trade has never stopped.)

However, the early Arabian ancestors of Saudis were not the complexion of Persians and Syrians. The Anaesa or Anaza bin Wa’il, who like the Ma’aza bin Wa’il, Bakr and Taghlib bin Wa’il were all of ancient Yemenite affiliation and were “Ethiopic” in appearance. (We have already discussed the appearance and origins of the Bakr and Taghlib in Part I and II of Fear of Blackness.) We know this because of the numerous writings of early Persians, Iraqis and Syrians and others who claimed these tribes, described them as being “mostly dark brown” and/or “black” in color and who asserted quite frankly that fair skin was very rare and held “in disfavor” by true Arabs. (See quotes in this article.)

We know the Arabs were so predominantly black in color that even the term “white” in earlier days, according to Arabic linguistic specialists (like Ibn Mandur) meant a black man with a clear skin and light brown cast as is characteristic of Barack Obama and so many “African Americans”, or, in fact, the present Imam of Mecca.

On the other hand many black Africans have been brought into Arabia as slaves more recently in the last several centuries. Many of the people that were taking black slaves from Africa were in fact not Arabs in the strict sense of the word but rather Muslim Iranians, Iraqis, Turkish, “white” Syrians and other “Arabized” settlers or inhabitants in the Near East, Arabia and North Africa. Even black sub-Saharan traders like the Tibbu or Teda (stretched from Sudan through Chad) were involved in the trade until the European colonial era.

Most slaves, however, before the fall of Constantinople (Istanbul) in the 15th century were “whites” coming from the north and mixing with the very dark-skinned black and near black groups of people known as “Arabs” in Spain, North Africa and the Near East. Thus, from the peoples named “Slav” north of the Arabs came the word “slave” in western parlance. And thus, many Arabic speaking historians asserted up until the 14th century that the Arabs equated slave origins with fair skin or vice versa.

One of these Arabic speakers, the Syrian , Al Dhahabi wrote in the 14th century “Red, in the speech of the people from the Hijaz, means fair-complexioned and this color is rare amongst the Arabs. This is the meaning of the saying, …a red man as if he is one of the slaves. The speaker meant that his color is like that of the slaves who were captured from the Christians of Syria, Rome and Persia.” See, Seyar al Nubala’a, Al Dhahabi of Damascus Syria, also cited on p. 55, The Unknown Arabs, 2002.

The 9th century hadith (commentary) from the Book of Oaths (Kitab al Aiman) Book 15, Number 4046 reads: “Ayyub said: We were sitting in the company of Abu Musa that he called for food and it consisted of flesh of fowl. It was then that a person from Banu Tamim visited him. His complexion was red having the resemblance of a slave.” (The Book of Oaths was written by a true Arab Imam of the Qusayr tribe). We know, therefore, that many modern ruling families of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf are not the complexion of early Arabs, but would have been considered the color of their slaves.

We also know that the tribe of Banu Tamim bin Murra just mentioned was not in general the color of Arab “slaves”, like modern fair skinned Saudi’s because of such stories as that of Abou-Miskeen ed Darimi, a 7th century poor man of the Darim clan of the Banu Tamim bin Murra. Miskeen is said to have gotten mad because a woman he sought snubbed him for a fair skinned rich man that was not purely Arab in origin. All he could do was arrogantly proclaim: “I am Miskeen to those who know me. My color is black, the color of the Arabs”!

The aggravated tensions and color consciousness between Iranians (Persians called Ebna) and Arabs in the south of the Arabian peninsula was well under way in the time of Muhammed and Miskeen , until long afterwards. Writings have evidently come down from the Tunisian linguist Ibn Mandour and al Mubarrad, a Basra born grammarian explaining why early Arabs like Fadl ibn al Abas of the Qureish tribe and the 7th century Miskeen al Darimi bragged about their blackness. Ibn Mandour, Manduri or Manzuri (also known as Ibn Mukarram, a Tunisian born linguist who died in Cairo) wrote in Lisan al Arab in the 13th century, “It is said that he (Al Fadl) meant that he is from the purest of the Arabs because most Arabs are black-skinned. Manduri also said “kinky hair was the hair Arabs had and that lank hair was the hair of the Persian”. Abdellah Ibn Berry, the 12th century grammarian explains Al Fadl ibn Al Abbas’s words by saying, ” “…He means by this that his genealogy is pure and that he is a pure Arab because the Arabs describe their color as black and they describe the color of the non-Arab Persians as red”. Cited by Tariq Berry on

Apparently al Mubarrad, grammarian of the 9th century Iraq also said, “What he (Fadl) meant by ‘I am the green one’ is the dark one, the black one. The Arabs used to take pride in their darkness and blackness and they had a distaste for a light complexion and they used to say that a light complexion was the complexion of the non-Arabs”.

Iraqi born al Jahiz 9th century and Ibn Athir (born circa 1160), a Kurd from Turkey also said similarly that the Arabians that were black or jet black such as the Sulaym and all the tribes of the Harrah and the various clans of Qureysh and Kenaaniyya (Canaan) belonged to the “pure Arabs”.

We thus know from these and many other writers that not only were the early Arabs not fair or pale, but that they were often darker than many sub-Saharan Africans and in fact saw fair-skin like many modern Arabians as a non-Arab trait acquired from slaves and other subject peoples. Arabs proudly called themselves “the blacks” to distinguish themselves from others who were just speaking Arabic.

African Origins and the Yemen

Contrary to what European historians of the past have implied many of the Arabians invading Europe did have complex civilization where the arts and sciences related to agriculture, navigation and astronomy were already fully developed. In fact, by the centuries immediately preceding the Islamic era, the Arabians (Saracens and Himyarites) and the Axumites (Agi’ezyan) are spoken of in more than one historic texts as the most powerful nations in the world in the time just previous to Mohammed. “In the 9th century Photius of Constantinople in his Bibliotheca quotes the Greek Nonnos of 533 AD saying ‘the Ethiopians, Himyarites and Saracens were the most powerful nations of this time’”. (Palmer, p. 207)

The same Saracens of the Arabian peninsula whom Marcellinus said in the 4th century were derived from the cataracts of the Nile originally and were customarily “overrunning different countries, with the aid of swift and active horses and speedy camels, alike in times of peace and war …,” are the Saracens that later overran North Africa and Spain and are then mentioned at the Battle of Tours in France with Charles Martel and in the Chanson (Song) de Rolande. It is of course, these same Saracens – often called Moors – that are mentioned mainly as jet black and “melted pitch” black in color “with nothing white except their teeth” in the European epics and “Song of Roland”. This was the kind of black in the peninsula that ancient Syrians, Iranians and Romans were familiar with, for people that were the dark brownish color of many sub-Saharans and “African Americans” were called “green” “yellow” and “white” among the Arabs – and not black.

The member of the prominent Yemeni tribe of Maddhij (said to have descended from Kahlan or Khawlan brother of Himyar) mentioned previously was stating a simple fact in his time when he said “fair-skinned Arab is something “inconceivable”. For the early Arabs had been African since the stone age, and the people and culture in these regions were essentially one and the same before the coming of the Persians (Iranians) in the centuries immediately after Christ.

It is important to understand that according to historical documentation the original populations of the Arabian peninsula were the eastern Ethiopians of the ancient world. Thus, 4th century Roman general Ammianus Marcellinus referred to the numerous Arabian bedouin tribes or “Saracens” from Palmyra in Syria to the Himyarites of the Yemen as people originated “primarily” from the country of Nubia or Ethiopia. ( See Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History, book 14, 4. )

It is these same Ethiopic “Saracens” later known as the Arabs that were famous for their expertise in the arts of falconry and poetry, horse breeding and had brought several thousand years of musical, agricultural, mathematical and astronomical knowledge with them into the rest of Asia and Europe in the centuries after Christ.

The rock art of the region of Yemen shows that populations similar to those across the Red Sea in Nubia and the Horn had been present since the Neolithic period and Paleolithic. The culture of Tehama region which was the original land of the Kenaaniyya or Canaan of the Old Testament in the southern Hejaz of western Arabia and the Central Arabian deserts was also closely linked culturally to that of Nubia and other parts of the African side of the Red Sea. And, due to the colonizations of Iranians, Syrians and Turks in the Yemen beginning after the start of Christianity nationalist feelings began to develop among the Arabs – and black nationalist ones at that. For the late Scythic Iranians had brought into the Nearer East and into India their own distorted myths which talk of fair-skinned peoples slaying black-skinned Dahae or Daasas in Iran – descendants of the Arabian ruler Al Da’a (also known as Az Dahakk, Zohak) whom they had pushed back into the sea centuries before they arrived in the Yemen. (See part IV, Fear of Blackness) Meanwhile the anti-black or anti-Arab sentiment began to take hold with the writings of the Roman Syrian, Ephraim of Nisibis (Turkey), who had evidently very little acquaintance with the people who authored the myth or their Arabian forebearers had interpreted and modified the story of Noah to say Canaanites were made black because of his being cursed.

Needless to say as far as many modern Western historians are concerned none of the above were black, neither Semites, nor Arabians nor Canaanites nor their Berber or Moorish descendants, nor their Yemenite ancestors. As we all know black people in the Near East, Moorish Spain and the Arab world and in the Bible were just Abid or slaves and related to modern Zanj from Zanzibar.

Tribes of Himyar and Kahlan, sons of Saba in Spain: Descriptions and Genealogy

The Yemen in particular had been a crossroads of civilization for thousands of years where the culture of the Levant and the Fertile Crescent had met that of the Nile. It is primarily from this region that were derive many of the early black tribesmen of Arabia that conquered Syria and Iraq and Iran both in Christian and Islamic times and in fact over a thousands years before as Akkadians and Amorites and Hyksos.

Sometime previous to the 2000 B.C. the area to the Southern Arabia began to develop into the region that was to become known as the kingdoms of Iram (Aram), Saba (Sheba) and Himyar. The genealogy of the tribes of Himyar and his brother Kahlan were that they were sons of Saba (or Seba/Sheba son of Yashjub son of Yarab/Arab or Yarub son of Qahtan (Joktan of Genesis). Another genealogy states that Saba was son of Yarab son of Yashjub son of Qahtan son of Abir or Abar (Eber of Genesis). The tribes take their names from their ancient chiefs, Saba, Qahtan, Abar or Abir (Eber) who are in fact the Biblical “children of Shem”. So it should be a surprise that the remnants of this people claimed to have colonized Arabia from Africa in a remote period. Thus, in a 1929 publication, Bertram Thomas mentions that the Shahara (Banu Shahir), Mahra or Maheyra, Bautahara and Qarra or Kara had “a tradition of African origin” see “The Southeastern Borderlands of the Rub-al Khali”in Geography Journal, Vol. 73, 3.

The major tribes of Khawlan or Kahlan brother of Himyar son of Saba include the Maddhij (otherwise known as Malik ibn Udad) originally a very large tribe in the Yemen. The appearance, history and genealogy of their clans are well documented in early sources. One source by the 14th century Syrian ibn Kathir says that, after “the torrent or flood of “al Arim” or Aram four tribes fled to Syria while 6 remained in Yemen. “ These were Maddhij, Kinda, Anmar and the Ash’aris. Anmar was the father of Khath’am, Bajila and Himyar, so these were the six tribes from Saba who remained in Yemen.” See (Gassick, 2000. p. 9).

By the time of Herodotus several centuries B.C. and later Josephus around the time of Christ, Meroe (Marwa) in Nubia and other offshoots of the Nile like the Astaboras had been settled by the Sabaeans. Strabo and Diodorus considered the inhabitants of Meroe to be Arabians, just as earlier writings refer to the Arabian peninsula as “Ethiopia”. Strabo said, “the country between the Nile and Arabian Gulf is Arabia” (Book 17.1.21),

In the 19th century it was written of the more recent descendants of Himyar, son of Saba, still living in modern Yarim (ancient Arim/Aram) in the Yemen, “The inhabitants of this part of Arabia nearly all belong to the race of Himyar. Their complexion is almost as black as the Abyssinians…” cited in “Geography of the Southern Arabia” by Baron von Maltzan in Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Vol. 16, No. 2 p. 121. This land was the area of ancient Aram or Arim whose famous dam burst sending the tribes of Azd or Asad (sometimes written Zayyed) – better known in the West as Aramaeans – fleeing to different regions of the peninsula in the time of Moses as well as to Africa.

These Ethiopic people in fact occupying the Yemen who fled to Syria were the descendants of the peoples which had become known in the early Hebrew texts as the tribes of Canaan, Esau (known as El Ais in Arabic). Many are still known under their ancient names in Yemen and Africa.

HIMYAR (Humayr) – According to Arabic texts of the early Islamic period the clans of the Himyar (which is possibly the Canaanite Hamor of the Bible book of Genesis) included the Ru’ayn (or Ruhawiyyen, Rahawain, or Rahawi), Al Kala, Bahila a clan of Al Kala, the Dhu Tarkhun, Dhu Yazan, as -Sawadah (Sauda) bin Amr, Hannah, al Sama a clan of Al Sawadah, Khaba’ir, Muqri (Machir), al-Sulaf (Sheleph was a son of Joktan brother of Peleg), Mahra, Hadramaut (Hazarmaveth was son of Joktan), Al Sadif, She’ban , Ma’afir, al Jabza (Jebuzites), a clan of the Ma’afir or Mu’afir, Juba, Awza and Yahsub or Yahshub “a large tribe’. See (Mad’aj ,1988, p. 91).

There can be little doubt that the names of these medieval Yemenites are the clans of Esau called Horites of Genesis 36, and the Canaanites called Hivites. The tribal ancestor Ru’ayn or Rahawiyyen, Bahila, Hannah, al Sama, She’ban are the names of the tribal ancestors respectively Reu’el (Rahawi), Bilhan, Anah, Shamma son of Reu’el, Eshban brother of Hamdan of the Hebrew book of Genesis 36 (El Tabari refers to Eshban or Ishban was the Yashbin or Beshman). While Awza, Job and Yashub are obviously Uz son of Aram, Job of the land of Uz who is called Jashub in Numbers 26:24.) Jasshub was the third son of Issachar son of Jacob (Yakub).

HAMDAN – Originally Hamdan was a tribe of region of Saba (Sheba) mentioned in ancient Sabaean inscriptions. The clans of Hamdan included Bakil, Fa’ish Hashid( the Biblical Chesed was brother of Uz, son of Aram), Yam (Banu Yam or Benjamin), Shibam (the Shebam or Shibmah of Numbers 32:3), and al Sabi (or Saba’i).

Hamdan in Genesis 36 of the Bible is brother of Eshban (Ishban or Eseban) and Cheran or Keran sons of Dishon, whose brother was Dayshan son of Se’ir the Horite or Hevite of Canaan. The Madhij themselves are sometimes referred to as a tribe of the Hamdan. These tribes of She’ban the Himyarite (Eshban or Ishban) and Cheran who was Qaran a tribe of Maddhij are in fact called “ black” children of Canaan in early Muslim writings of Masudi of Iraq and Ibn Qutayba of 9th century Iraq (Kitab al-Ma’arif, ed. Tharwat Ukasha, 2nd ed. (Lewis, 1992, p. 124., Goldenberg, p. 2003, p.107)

In David Goldenberg’s, the Curse of Ham, we find that, “The Akhbar al Zaman counts among the descendants of Sudan, son of Canaan …the Ishban, the Zanj, and many peoples that multiplied in the Maghrib…” (Goldenberg, 2003, p. 107). The Akhbar al Zaman is thought to have been written by the 9th century al Masudi of Baghdad.
RU”AYN – One of the larger tribes of Himyar or the Himariyyin were the Ru’ayn (also written Ruha, Rahawiyyin or Rahawain). The original sources show that the clans of Ru’ayn included the Yafi or Yafi’I (Yifi a son of Chesed), Radman, Qitaban, Jayshan (Dishan), Janad or Ganad known also in tradition as Qanadi (Akan son of Ezer a Horite Genesis 36 ) Hajr (Hagar) , Amluk (Amalek of Genesis 36, son of Eliphaz son of Esau), Dhubhan – also written Zubyan or Dhubyan (Zibeon son of Dishon 36: 20), Abal (Abel). See (Madh’aj 1988. p. 91).

As with other descendants of the Sabaeans (Sabai) the Rahawayn or Ru’ayn moved back in ancient times to Africa and most notably make up a major clan of the Somali (bin Sama’al) today in Africa. According early sources mentioned by Mad’aj (1988) from the womb or batn of the Ru’ayn came Banu Jayshan (Dishan brother of Dishon of the clan of the Hivite Horites mentioned Genesis 36) and Dhubyan or Zubyan (Zibeon son of Dishon) called a Hivite (Genesis 36:2) and Horite in Genesis 36: 20.

The tribe of Ru’ayn settled in Rayya, Spain, with the Banu Nahd bin Zayid or Nahid (Nahath was a son of Reul) and in Sidonia and on the river Guadalquivir near Seville. (see also the land of Nod Genesis 4: 16 of the Bible). (Madh’aj p. 91) Taha p. 148) The Hamdan had a whole region to the south of Granada they had settled called Hamdan or iqlam Hamdan.

KUDHA’A – Qudha’a,(Kodha’a, Qata’a or Qita’a) was a major tribe of the Himyarites. In Arabian and modern Ethiopian myth he is referred to as Kouth, Kuti or Quti child of Ham or as Qahit brother of Qahtan and Peleg. In the Bible however, he is Kohut or Kohath son of Levi, whom Josephus calls Kaath. They were later called in the European Hebraic writings Kuthi, Kuthim or Kuzi the well-known name for the Samarians (Samaritans said to be “the earliest Jewish sect”) i.e., the Samran or Banu Simran of the Yemen (Edersheim, 2002, p. 37) This word Kuthi or Kohut came also to be transcribed as Kushi and Kushan. (Goldenberg, 2003, pp. 206 and 375, fn. 32) The name was probably derived from the Kudha’a tribe of Khushayn or Qushayn. (see below)

Ibn Ishaq gave the genealogy of the Qudha’a as Qudha’a bin Malik bin Himyar bin Saba bin Yashjab bin Ya’rab bin Qahtan. Otherwise the tradition goes Qudha’a was the son of Malik bin Amr bin Murra bin Zayd bin Malik bin Hamid bin Saba. The tribes descended from the Arabian Qudha or Kuth were many and well known. Of the Yemen Al Hakami of the 12th century wrote, “Mahra, son of Haydan son of al Haf son of Kuda’ah (Kuth or Kaath) reigned over the countries of Kuda’ah.” This the land of the Yemen. Elsewhere he writes,”Ash Shahr was a country also known as Mahra. It produces frankincense bounded on the west by the Indian Ocean and on the East and south by Aden.” This is the land of the Banu Shahr or Shahara Arabs.

See photos of the Shahara and Mahra:

Mahra of Arabia practices falconry
Mahra of Arabia practices falconry
Shahara and Kathir Children
Shahara and Kathir Children

The Mahra of southern Arabia were described as tall and were of a dark brown color. The tribes of the Mahra today actually extend from Oman and Hadramaut to Somalia in the Horn of Africa. The Mahra in Arabia were considered a pure remnant of the Adites or Ad according to ibn Mudjawir who lived in the 13th century, and al-Hamdani (a 9th century Yemenite of the Hamdan tribe) who says the camels of the Mahra were called Idite (Adite) camels. (Boswell et al, 1983, p. 83). Ibn Mudjawir and other writers make it clear that the Mahra, Shahra people and the Ad were one and the same. Amlukh or Amalek and Saba are descendants of Ad who is himself said to be the child Uz son of Aram, while Amalek is the son of Aram’s brother Lud in another Arab tradition. The living tribes of Amalik and Ad are mentioned along with the Mahra in 19th century colonial writings east of Mokalla by Robert Latham in 1858. See Descriptive Ethnology Vol. II p. 83

BALIYY of the Kudha’a – They come from Imran bin al Haf (Ephah) bin Codha or Quda’a. Baliyy or Beli who had settled in Africa are the ‘black horsemen” or El Beliyyun nomadized in the Bedja country described Al Idrisi, born in Morocco in the 11th century. Idrisi said, “This country is sometimes subject to incursions of black cavaliers known as Al Beliun. It is said they are Rum who have professed the Christian religion since the time of the Kipt before the coming of Islam… They wander in the country of the Bedja and Abyssinians, and come as far as Nubia: they are nomads without settled abode, like the Lamtuna of the desert of the Maghrib-el Aksa.” They were also called Balaw or Belawi. They like other Kudha’a tribes settled in Syria and were early Jacobite Christians before they became Muslims. (The word Rum in this context refers to the Ruhm who was son of Afrik or Ibn Ifriki or Ifrikus, the Himyarite or Canaanite chief. )

According to Taha’s, The Muslim Conquest and Settlement of North Africa and Spain the tribe of Qudha’a settled west of Castellon de la Plana. The Baliyya clan were led by an al Balawi. Baliyy settled Mawru, Moron de la Frontera, al Arha near Sidonia, Seville and Elvira. The Udhra or Uzdra (Ezrah or Ezdra) a clan of the Quda’a settled Jaen and Algericas and Saragossa. They also settled in the Upper March and in Almeria. (Taha, 1989, p. 126 and 127).
The Juhayna (Guhayna, Djeheyne) clan of the Quda’a were in small numbers in Cordoba. The clan of Khushayn (Qushayn, Kushan) of the Qudha’a settled in Elvira, Jaen, Algeciras and Ubeda (Taha, p. 127).

The tribe of Yahsub settled near Almeria and Alcala Real. The Sa’d al Ashira clan of the Maddhij settled in Guadix northeast of Granada and Seville (p. 125). “Considerable numbers of Al-Kala settled in Seville and Niebla in Spain”(p. 142). They evidently made it over to Sicily as well where in Palermo there was a district known as Al-Kala. The Yashjub were numerous in the same district.

The Sadif clan are also mentioned in Saragossa, Tudila and Ecija . They settled between Seville and Cordoba in a place called el Sadif. (Taha, p. 142 ). The Hadrami tribe from Hadamaut at one time came to be too numerous in Seville to count (p. 141). The principle settlement of the tribe of Khawlan (brother of Himyar) was in Algeciras. Banu Naji of the Khawlan or Kaulan settled near Elvira( p. 124). They were also found in Seville and Cordoba. Khatham (Gatam was son of Eliphaz brother of Reu’el in Genesis 36) settled in Sidonia and Elvira (p.124). The tribe of Bajila settled al Andalus near Narbonne. 124. Bajila in Arab genealogical tradition was a sister of Khath’am and Himyar.

A few of the El Sabi or Saba’i group of Hamdan settled in Cordoba and Elvira (Taha, p. 126). Hamdan’s major place of settlement was in Elvira and in a place named iqlim Hamdan, south of Granada (p. 138).

Geneology of the MADDHIJ and their settlements in Spain –

According to tradition, Arib (Arab or Yarab) brother of Malik bin Zayd was ancestor of the Banu Tayy, Maddhi(j), Murrah and Ash’ar.

They are listed as a clan of the Hamdan tribe. Hence, the name of the clan of Saba’i among them. “Among the sub-tribes of Madhhijites” according to ibn Khaldun “are the Banu Ju’fi, Zubayd, Hakam and Simhan, derived from Sa’d al Ashira son of Madhhij, also the Banu Ans, Banu Murad, Banu Jald, Bani Hurab, Nakha or An-Nakha, Munabbih or Janb and the Banu’l Harith ibn Ka’b…” (Kay, 1892, p. 217).

Sinhan was also written Samhein. Ans bin Wa’il is sometimes said to be Anazah bin Wa’il. Hurab equals Horeb. The name Maddhij appears to be the Madiau of Josephus more famously known as Madi’an while their clan of An-Nakh or Nakha’ appears to be Anoch or Henoch son of Midi’an (Genesis 25:4). Tayyi was the brother of Maddhij, as was Ash’ar or Asha’ir (probably the same as Ashur or Ashurim grandson of Midi’ans brother Jokshan). In Genesis Madian, Madan, Jokshan Zimran are children of Keturah (Bait Kathir still live in the Yemen). See photograph in this article.

The early Islamic texts of Yemen mention the Ghutayf and their clans of ‘Abs and Zubyan or Dhubyan as batns (clans) of the Maddhij or Murad. (Mad’aj, p. 91). Other of the clans in Spain that are recognized as of the Maddhij from the Yemen included S’ad al Ashira, Nasirah, Zubayd or Zabid, Ruha (Reu), Hawt, Qaran and Raduman. The genealogy of the Qaran is, Qaran son of Raduman son of Naji son of Murad. This name Qaran is sometimes used simultaneously in Arabic writings for the Murad branch of the Maddhij.

Some of the Madhij settled in Cordoba and Algeciras, some under the name Siraj.

Taha’s sources like other sources mention the clans of Maddhij in Spain as Murad, Ans, Awd, Nakha, Zubayd and Sa’d al Ashira. (p.124) Tayyi settled south of Murcia in the region of Tudmir. They were also settled in Jaen (p. 145). Tribes of the Murad in Spain included Awd or Lud, Muzaynah and Naji or Najiyah, Abd Allah and the Janb or Munabbih . Murad were also settled in Granada, Seville, Makkada, Toledo, Saragossa, Cabra and other places (Taha, p. 125)

The clan of Awd of the Madh’ij ruled in southern Portugal during th 11th century. Muzayna a clan of Awd was found at Baena. The cousin clans of ‘Abs and Zubyan or Dhubyan of the Ghutayf (Ghatafan) lived in Ubeda in the province of Jaen and in Elvira (p. 131-132) El Nakha settled in Cordoba and Algeciras in Spain.

The Morad or Amurath clans of Syria and northern Arabia today are much paler than their kinsmen in Yemen. In Yemen as in Sudan today the modern Murad clans often tall and dark reddish brown. (The name of the Murad or Amurath appears to be related to that of the Amorites of Canaan.)

“The sources also mentioned that many people of Murad of the Maddhij lived in various places such as Granada, Seville, Makkada, …in the province of Toledo, Cabra, Huesca, Saragossa, and Alicante.” (see Taha, p. 125) The Murad with other Maddhij, Tayyi and other Yemenites moved into Syria and Iraq in both pre-Islamic times and early Islamic times. The descendants of the Murad who left during the early Islamic era the first centuries after the birth of the Muslim prophet, Muhammed and settled Syria and North Arabia came to be known as the “Amurat”, a clan of the Ruwalla bin Anaesa or El Ais (Reul son of Esau).

The clan Muzayna originally a clan of El Awd (Lud), a batn or clan of Maddhij, “settled south of present Portugal in Faro and in Baena in Spain (p. 131), while the Sa’d al Ashira clan settle about 53 km northeast of Grenada and Seville. Zubayd or Zebid, few in number, settled in Seville.

The Abs were also originally a clan of the Murad or Qaran of the Yemenite Madhij who had settled in the southern Hejaz. They were said to be “black” in color. The Abs and the Bani Ghutayf, a subdivisions or batns of the Murad, (see Lecker, 1995) and (Mad’aj, 1988). They lived in Al Juruf or Jawf in the area of Saba in Yemen. An early eyewitness upon seeing the ‘Abs tribe in Arabia describes them as “black-skinned men shaking their spears and digging in the earth with their feet.” (From Ibn Abd Rabbu of Andalusia, El Iqd El Fareed, vol. 6, cited in The Unknown Arabs, p. 78). Banu Rachid of the ‘Abs clan settled in the valley of the River Guadiana (Taha, p. 171).

Rashaida of Sudan
Rashaida of Sudan
Modern Banu Rashaid or Rachid like many clans of Arabia live in Eritrea and northern Sudan. In both Arabia and Sudan today where like many Arabs of Yemen they range from near dark brown and near black with a strong reddish caste to near white due to their numerous fair-skinned concubines.

From the Murrah came the Mu’afir or Ma’afir tribe This clan was mentioned as far back as 500 B.C. in an ancient text (Houtsma, p. 139) and was “probably the first Arab clan to settle in Spain (Taha, p. 122). They crossed with Tariq b. Ziyad led by Abdulmalik al Mu’afiri and played a great role in the occupation of Algericas and Quarajuna and Torre de Cartagena. Later some Mu’afir entered Spain again with the Syrians settling at Losha, Luja located southwest of Granada.

From Hamdan also came the tribes of Kinda and Jodham and Thawr (Shur) ibn Kalb (Caleb). Such tribes are also known as the Azdites. Azd are famous for being among those early Christian groups to settle Syria from Arabia. The notable tribes of the early Azd included the originally Christian tribes such as Tanukh, Azd Shanuah or Sanuah , Azd Uman or Oman and Ghassan or Kassan, Khazraj and Khaza’a.

The phrase “black as the Azd” or is found in certain early commentaries of the Quran as in the 9th century Ta’rikh Futuh al Sham (Conquests of the land of Sham) cited by Tariq Berry. The phrase “black as if he was from the Sanuah” is used for Ubadah bin Samit of the Khazraj clan of Salim bin Auf . One of the hadiths or commentaries cited by Tariq Berry and written by a 16th century Sufi scholar Najim al-Din (on the Quran describes the Hebrew Moses as “jet black skinned as if he were one of the Azd”.

The Banu Daus or Daws (Jeush was brother of Reu’el and son of Esau through a granddaughter of Zibeon) whose remnant are the Dawasir earlier sometimes written as Jowaser, a branch of the Azd settled in Tudmir. The largest settlement of the Daws Azdites tribes in Spain was in Tudmir in the area of Murcia (p. 119 and 120). Most famous of these were Banu Shahir bin Zur’a and Beni Harun bin Zur’a ( p. 119-120).

The Dawasir and Shehera (also written Shahara, Shehr or Shahr) tribes have already been described in Part I and II. “The Dowaser’ who lived in Central Arabia in the Nejd and around the Persian Gulf were in the last two centuries said to be “very tall men, and almost black” by John Lewis Burkhardt, Charles Forster and others.

Forster in a book first published in 1844 also described them as the most famous pirates in the Persian Gulf in that time. He calls them Jowaser. See p. 225 Part II The Historical Geography of Arabia reprint 2004 (See also photo Part II and photo of Shahara children in this article) and see references in When Arabia Was Eastern Ethiopia part II on this blog. Interestingly many aristocrats in the Gulf claim today Dawasir origin.

“Other great families of the Azd continued to live in Murcia many centuries after the Muslim conquest… Banu Wahib settled firstly in Lora, Illora, in the province of Granada and later moved to Seville.” p. 120 Taha

Of the Ghassan of the Azd, ibn al Khatib mentions a town called Ghassan near Granada ( Taha, p. 138).

The Kindites were composed of clans of Thaur and Kalb. Thaur was a son of Kalb son of Wubareh son of Taghlih son of Hulwan son of Imran son of al Haf son of Quda’ah. Kalbah settled in Walbah or Walmah near Elvira and in Niebla and Seville (Taha, p. 138 and 222).

The Yafi (Yifi was a son of Chesed) and their clan of Yahar claim descent from Quda’ah through al Haf. Like the Mahra and Ruhawayn many of them live in Somalia. Many of the Yafi in Arabia are still indistinguishable from east Africans.

Large numbers of the Banu Gudham or Judham branch of the Azd were settled in Rayya (p. 147) while others were in Algeciras, Sidonia, Tudmir, andCalatrava (p. 146) and the Banu Hud settled in an area called the Upper March or Aragon while others lived in Elvira in the 12 and 13th centuries.

Banu Ghafiq from Udthan (Ethan) bin Hazzan b. al Azd had at one time settled 35,000 strong in Egypt. Their principle settlements in Spain were in the region of Seville, Cordoba and to some extent Toledo, Elvira, Granada and Al Sharaf west of Seville and the place known as al Ghafiq. It was a Ghafiqi named Abdu’l Rahman who led the men of Andalusia in the battle against Charles Martel the Belgium born ruler the tribes of Franks at the Battle of Tours or Poitiers. Thus, the 17,000 Saracens Europeans fought and mentioned in their texts and their famous leader Abdu’l Rahman were of Azd stock.

It shows that the same Moors that Western writers are now doing intellectual somersaults to make into some a light-skinned Syrian looking people were in fact a historical Arab people that looked down on people the color of Syrians and that were described as “jet black” in both European writings and commentaries on the Quran.

For though most early Arabs were dark–brown in color like modern northern Sudanese, the Azd were an obvious exception to the rule, being usually described as people of absolute or “jet” blackness.

This ends the ethnic description of the Saracen tribes of the Arabians north and south who came to be known as the “Moors” in Spain. Their resemblance to the unmixed black populations “Mauri” of coastal North Africa who themselves claimed to have come long ago from the land of the Kana’aniyya in the Yemen and Tehama are the reason these early “Saracens” or true Arabs became known as “Moors”.

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