Quraysh tribe

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Quraysh is also the name of a surah in the Quran.

The Quraysh or Quréish or Quraish (Arabic: قريش‎, Qurayš; other transliterations include "Quresh", "Qurrish", "Qurish", "Qirsh", "Quréishi" "Qureshi", "Kuraish", "Koraish", "Koreish" and "Coreish") were a powerful merchant tribe that controlled Mecca and its Ka'aba and that according to tradition descended from Ishmael.

Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe.[1]


The tribe traditionally traces a genealogical history backwards from their eponymous ancestor Mudhar to Adam, Abraham and Ishmael:

According to this tradition, Quraysh is Nadhr ibn ("son of") Kinanah ibn Khuzaimah ibn Madrakah ibn Ilyas (Elijah) ibn Mudhar ibn Nazar ibn Ma'ad ibn Adnan ibn Add ibn Sind ibn Qedar[2] ibn Ishmael[3][3][4] ibn Abraham[5] ibn Azar[6][7] (Terah) ibn Nahoor[8] ibn Serug[9] ibn Reu[10] ibn Peleg[11] ibn Eber ibn Salah[12][13][14] ibn Arpachshad[15] ibn Shem ibn Noah ibn Lamech[16] ibn Methuselah ibn Idris (Enoch) ibn Jared ibn Mahalalel ibn Kenan ibn Enos ibn Seth ibn Adam.

Early history[edit]

According to Arabic history books, the Quraysh tribe was a branch of the Banu Kinanah tribe, which descended from the Mudhar. For several generations they were spread about among other tribal groupings. About five generations before Muhammad the situation was changed by Qusai ibn Kilab. By war and diplomacy he assembled an alliance that delivered to him the keys of the Kaaba, an important pagan shrine which brought revenues to Mecca because of the multitude of pilgrims that it attracted. He then gathered his fellow tribesmen to settle at Mecca, where he enjoyed such adulation from his kin that they adjudged him their de facto king, a position that was enjoyed by no other descendant of his. Different responsibilities were apportioned between different clans. There were some rivalries among the clans, and these became especially pronounced during Muhammad's lifetime.

The Quaraysh's main god was Hubal. According to The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, "The Qurayshite pantheon was composed principally of idols that were in the Haram of Makka, that is, Hubal (the most important and oldest deity), Manaf, Isaf, and Na'ila."[17]

Opposition to Muhammad[edit]

Some clan leaders did not appreciate Muhammad's claim of prophethood and tried to silence him by putting pressure on his uncle, Abu Talib. They rejected Islam's conception of monotheism; while they agreed that there was a single higher God, they also worshipped many lesser Gods they believed were intermediaries between mankind and the one higher God.[18] Many of the clans also began to oppose the followers of Muhammad, for example by boycotting them. A number of early Muslims took refuge with the Christian king of Abyssinia,[19] while Muhammad himself would later emigrate to Yathrib, now Medina. The Quraysh fought many battles against Muhammad. One major clash, the Battle of Badr in 624 C.E., where the Quraysh were defeated, was later seen as a turning point for Muslims.[20] After Muhammad died, clan rivalries reignited, playing central roles in the conflicts over the caliphate and contributing to the Shia-Sunni divide.

Clans and the Caliphate[edit]

After the introduction of Islam by Muḥammad, the Quraysh gained supremacy and produced the three dynasties of the Ummayad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate and the Fatimid Caliphate.[citation needed] The split between the Shi'a and Sunni branches of Islam centers over the succession to Muhammad.[21] The Sunnis believe Abu Bakr was elected as Muhammad's successor while the Shi'a (literally "supporters [of Ali]") believe Muhammad appointed `Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor.[citation needed]

`Ali was a member of Muhammad's clan, the Banu Hashim. Abu Bakr, while a close companion of Muhammad, came from the Banu Taym clan.[21]

The second caliph, `Umar ibn al-Khattab, was from the Banu Adi clan.[21]

The third caliph, `Uthman ibn `Affan, was from the Banu Umayyah clan.[21]

When `Ali was made caliph after the death of `Uthman, the Caliphate was in the hands of the Banu Hashim, but he was almost immediately challenged by Muawiyah, who was a member of the Umayyad clan.[21] After `Ali's assassination at the hands of the Kharajites, the Shi'a hoped his son Hasan would become Caliph, but he deferred the position to Mu`awiyah, in hoping to quell the long-lasting civil war between the Muslims at that time. Mu`awiyah, in turn, violated the treaty signed with Hasan bin Ali, established the Umayyad line of Caliphs.[21]

After the death of Mu`awiyah, his son Yazid became caliph but was almost immediately challenged by `Ali's younger son, Hussayn. Hussayn would not swear allegiance to Yazid when he received letters from the people of Al-Kufah that speak of Yazid's wrongdoing against Islam, and Hussayn's acknowledgment of the caliphate's non-hereditary lineage, which Yazid had breached. Hussayn was martyred by the stronger forces of Yazid at the Battle of Karbala. This event would ultimately lead to a full schism between Shi'a Islam and Sunni Islam.

In the Shi'a view, Muhammad's descendants through Ali were persecuted by Umayyad Caliphs.


Quraysh branched out into various sub-clans, who in turn branched out into yet further sub-clans. Roughly the division corresponded to the family lines of the current chieftain of that clan having sons.

  • Banu Quraysh — Quraysh was divided into several sub-clans.


The leaders of the Quraysh (Arabic: Sadat Quraysh), who formed Mecca's aristocracy upon the appearance of Muhammad, included:

Related tribes[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Al-Mubarakpuri, Safi-ur-Rahman (2002). The Sealed Nectar (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum). Darussalam. p. 30. ISBN 1591440718. 
  2. ^ Book of Genesis 25:12-16
  3. ^ a b Ishmael, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an
  4. ^ Azraqi, Akhbar Makkah, vol. 1, pp. 58-66
  5. ^ Qur'an 2:127 to 136
  6. ^ Qur'an 6:74
  7. ^ Qur'an 37:99–111
  8. ^ Luke 3:35
  9. ^ Book of Genesis11:20-23
  10. ^ Genesis 11:20
  11. ^ Genesis 10:25
  12. ^ Genesis 10:24
  13. ^ Genesis 11:12-13
  14. ^ Luke 3:36
  15. ^ Book of Genesis 10:22, 24; 11:10-13; 1 Chron. 1:17-18
  16. ^ Luke 3:37
  17. ^ Johnson, Scott (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195336931. 
  18. ^ Abdullah Saeed, The Qur'an: An Introduction, pg. 62. London: Routledge, 2008. ISBN 9781134102945
  19. ^ Donner, Fred M. (2010). Muhammad and the Believers. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-674-05097-6. 
  20. ^ "Witness-pioneer.org". Witness-pioneer.org. 2002-09-16. Retrieved 2010-03-19. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f "Early Muslim Leaders from the Tribe of Quraysh" (PNG). Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  22. ^ GLUBB, John Bagot, The Life and Times of Mohammed, in A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims, chapter "Muhammad's Visit to Ta'if", Al-islam.org.
  23. ^ a b Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:286
  24. ^ a b M Pacuk.

External links[edit]