Banu Umayya

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The Banu Umayya (Arabic: بنو أمية‎), also known as the Umayyads (Arabic: الأمويون / بنو أميةal-Umawiyyun), were a clan of the Quraysh tribe descended from Umayya ibn Abd Shams. The clan staunchly opposed the Islamic prophet Muhammad, but eventually embraced Islam before the latter's death in 632. A member of the clan, Uthman, went on to become the third Rashidun caliph in 644-656, while other members held various governorships. One of these governors, Mu'awiyah I, became caliph in 661 and established the Umayyad Caliphate. The dynasty ruled and expanded the Caliphate until their overthrow by another Qurayshi clan, the Abbasids, in 750.


Hashim ibn 'Abd Manaf (the paternal great-grandfather of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) and 'Abd Shams ibn Abd Manaf were conjoined twins - born with Hashim's leg attached to Abd Shams' head. It was said that they had struggled in the womb, each seeking to be firstborn. Their birth was remembered for Hashim being born with one of his toes pressed into the younger twin-brother, Abd Shams's, forehead. Legend says that their father, 'Abd Manaf ibn Qusai, separated his conjoined sons with a sword and that some priests believed that the blood that had flown between them signified wars between their progeny (rivalry between the Hashemite Abbasid Caliphate and the Umayyad Caliphate would indeed reach a bloody climax in the Abbasid Revolution, culminating in 750 CE).[1] The astrologers of Arabia opined that Abd Munaaf had committed a grave error when he separated his sons by means of a sword; they did not regard his deed as a good omen.[2]

The Banu Umayya clan took its name from Abd Shams ibn Abd Manaf's son Umayya ibn Abd Shams.[3][4] Bani Umayyah became enemies of the Bani Hashim when Hashim banished his brother, 'Abd Shams ibn Abd Manaf, from Mecca.[5]

The enmity and opposition between Bani Umayya and Bani Hashim began before the struggle for rulership and authority had occurred between them and before Islam had gained predominance in the 7th century CE. The reasons for this included tribal party spirit, superiority complex, old grudges, desire for vengeance of the murder of kinsmen, political views, personal sentiments, and differences in ways of life and manner of thinking. Bani Umayya and Bani Hashim were the chiefs of Mecca and held high offices even during the Age of ignorance. The chieftainship of Bani Hashim was spiritual, whereas that enjoyed by Bani Umayya was political and they were also tradesmen and possessed enormous wealth.[6]

Notable individuals of the Banu Umayya clan[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ibn Kathir; Le Gassick, Trevor; Fareed, Muneer. The Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya. p. 132. 
  2. ^ Razvi, Haafiz Mohammed Idrees (2009). Manifestations of the Moon Of Prophethood (PDF). Imam Mustafa Raza Research Centre Overport. p. 18. 
  3. ^ "Banu Hashim - Before the Birth of Islam". Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Muslim Congress". Muslim Congress. Archived from the original on 22 June 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "The Bani Umayyah". Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Bani Umayyah". Retrieved 1 August 2013.