The Banu Harith (Arabic: بَنُو الْحَارِث Banū al-Ḥārith or Arabic: بَنُو الْحُرَيْث Banū al-Ḥurayth) is one of the Jewish tribes of Arabia which once governed the city of Najran, now located in southern Saudi Arabia.
Origins and early history
The Banu Harith descend from the Qahtanite people, one of the most prominent Arab tribes originating from Yemen. The earliest recorded ancestor of the Qahtanites is Joktan, one of the two sons of Eber. The Qahtanite people are divided into the two factions, the Himyarite and Kahlani tribes. The Kahlani tribe can be further broken into smaller sub-groups which include the Banu Harith which was established by Harith bin Ka'b. The Banu Harith converted to Judaism during pre-Islamic times. They wore a jambiya on their belt and worked primarily in goldsmithing and repairing arms.
The Banu Harith allied with Banu Madh'hij in order to launch an attack on Najran and they were able to successfully conquer the city. Banu Harith lived peacefully beside Banu Hamdan and they were the most powerful house which ruled Najran for many centuries. This was brought to an end during the Christian invasion. After the Christian acquisition of Najran, a sub-clan of the tribe emigrated to the Dhank region of Oman while another emigrated south and founded the district of Bani Al Harith in Sana'a.
After the rise of Islam
They were included in Point 31 of the Constitution of Medina and honored as allies to the Muslims, being as "one nation", but retaining their Jewish religion. They were given the same rights as Banu Awf and entered into mutual protection pacts with the Muslim tribes.
The small remnants of Banu Harith continued to live semi-autonomously in the border city of Najran until the 1930s. As a result of the Saudi–Yemeni War the Saudis had conquered Najran in 1934. Persecution increased and the governor, Amir Turki bin Mahdi, allowed the Najrani Jews a single day to either evacuate or to convert to Islam. The Banu Harith fled south to Sana'a and Aden. Their descendents currently make up a component of the Yemenite Jewish population which now mostly reside in Israel.
- Harith bin Ka'b, a warrior and the founder of the Banu Harith.
- Dus ibn Milhan, a man who appealed to Dhu Nuwas after two of his sons were brutally murdered by the Christians who had captured Najran. After hearing of his plight, Dhu Nuwas swore to avenge the deaths and to liberate Jews of Najran.
- Samaw'al ibn 'Adiya, an Arabian poet and warrior, esteemed by the Arabs for his loyalty, which was commemorated by an Arabic idiom: "awfá min as-Samaw’al" (أوفى من السموأل / more loyal than al-Samaw'al).
- Barra bint Samaw'al, the daughter of Samaw'al ibn 'Adiya and a woman from the Qurayza tribe and mother of Safiyya bint Huyayy.
- Shuraih ibn Samaw'al, one of the sons of Samaw'al ibn 'Adiya and a warrior-poet.
- Safiyya bint Huyayy, her mother belonged to the Banu Harith while her father belonged to the Banu Nadir tribe. She was captured at age 17 and became Muhammad's wife. She was, along with all other wives of Muhammad, titled Umm-ul-Mo'minin the "Mother of Believers".
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- The last Himyarite king
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