(Arabic: بنو قحطان)
|Qahtanite, Children of Eber|
|Location||The southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, eg. Yemen.|
|Descended from||Qahtan or Joktan (the son of Eber)|
|Branches||(See § Qahtani origins, below.)|
|Religion||Arabian mythology, Nestorian Christianity, Judaism, later mostly Islam|
According to Islamic tradition, the Qahtanites are pure Arabs, unlike the Adnanites who are "Arabized Arabs", descended from Adnan. The Qahtani people are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar (Himyartes) and Kahlan (Kahlanis).
Traditional Arab genealogy
Among the sons of Qahtan are noteworthy figures like A'zaal (believed by Arabs to have been the original name of Sana'a, although its current name has been attested since the Iron Age) and Hadhramaut. Another son is Ya'rub, and his son Yashjub is the father of 'Abd Shams, who is also called Saba. All Yemeni tribes trace their ancestry back to this "Saba", either through Himyar or Kahlan, his two sons.
The Qahtani people are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar and Kahlan, who represent the settled Arabs of the south and their nomadic kinsmen (nomads). The Kahlan division of Qahtan consists of 4 subgroups: the Ta' or Tayy, the Azd group which invaded Oman, the 'Amila-Judham group of Palestine, and the Hamdan-Madhhij group who mostly remain in Yemen.
Early linguistic connection
The first groups of Semites that moved northward already developed the early Semitic names derived from triliteral and sometimes a quadriliteral verb root that first appeared in early (now extinct) East Semitic languages, especially Akkadian, Assyrian, and Old Babylonian. A closer examination reveals connections with the Central Semitic language family including: Aramaic, Phoenician, Hebrew, and Nabatean, which is closely related to the Southern Semitic languages Minaean, Sabaean, Qatabanian, Awsanian, Hadhrami, and Himyarite.
Ancient Semitic villages
- Adeem, Yadoom, Damt (from the verb D/a/m meaning "to last")
- Aram, Arm, Yareem, Maryama (from the verb A/r/m meaning "to stand above")
- Yafe'e, Mayfa'a, Ayfo'o (from the verb Y/f/a "to grow")
- Aden "settled", Yahosn "lost"
- Thobhan, Mathbah "slaughtered"
- Yomin "south", Yamant "blessed"
- Yahir "to destroy"
- Yaghshom, Ghashm "to rain"
- Yaslih "to fix"
- Marbad, Arbad (from the verb R/b/d meaning "to spread")
Pre-Islamic Qahtani migration out of Arabia
Early Semites who developed civilizations throughout the Ancient Near East gradually relinquished their geopolitical superiority to surrounding cultures and neighboring imperial powers, usually due to either internal turmoil or outside conflict. This climaxed with the arrival of the Chaldeans, and subsequently the rivaling Medes and Persians, during the 7th and 6th centuries BCE respectively. Though the Semites lost geopolitical influence, the Aramaic language emerged as the lingua franca of much of the Near East. However, Aramaic usage declined after the defeat of the Persians and the arrival of the Hellenic armies around 330 BCE.
The Ghassanids (ca. 250 CE) were the last major non-Islamic Semitic migration northward out of Yemen. They revived the Semitic presence in the then Roman-controlled Syria. They initially settled in the Hauran region, eventually spreading to modern Lebanon, Israel & the Palestinian Territories and Jordan, briefly securing governorship of Syria away from the Nabataeans.
According to modern historians, the traditional distinction between Adnanites and Qahtanites lacks evidence and may have developed out of the later faction-fighting during the Umayyad period. Genetic distinctions between the historically nomadic people of the Northern/Central Arabian peninsula and the sedentary people of the South are attributed to the early Islamic conquests.
Between the 7th and the 14th centuries, the Arabs had forged an empire that extended their rule from most of Spain and southern France in the west, to western China in the east. During this period of expansionism, the Arabs, including Qahtanite tribes, overspread these lands, intermingling with local native populations while yet maintaining their cultural identity. It is not unlikely to find Arabs of Qahtanite descent as far away as Morocco or Iran, and many can trace their heritage with profound accuracy. Among the most famous examples of Qahtanite Arabs are the social scholar Ibn Khaldun who was born in Tunisia to a family that immigrated from Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus), Al Kindi, Ibn al-Baitar.
- Qahtan, Britannica Online Encyclopedia, 2009, webpage: .
- De Lacy O'Leary (2001). Arabia Before Muhammad. p. 18. notes "Qahtan are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar and Kahlan".
- Parolin, Gianluca P. (2009). Citizenship in the Arab World: Kin, Religion and Nation-State. p. 30. ISBN 978-9089640451. "The ‘arabicised or arabicising Arabs’, on the contrary, are believed to be the descendants of Ishmael through Adnan, but in this case the genealogy does not match the Biblical line exactly. The label ‘arabicised’ is due to the belief that Ishmael spoke Hebrew until he got to Mecca, where he married a Yemeni woman and learnt Arabic. Both genealogical lines go back to Sem, son of Noah, but only Adnanites can claim Abraham as their ascendant, and the lineage of Mohammed, the Seal of Prophets (khatim al-anbiya'), can therefore be traced back to Abraham. Contemporary historiography unveiled the lack of inner coherence of this genealogical system and demonstrated that it finds insufficient matching evidence; the distinction between Qahtanites and Adnanites is even believed to be a product of the Umayyad Age, when the war of factions (al-niza al-hizbi) was raging in the young Islamic Empire."
- Maalouf, Tony. Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God's Prophetic Plan for Ishmael's Line. Kregel Academic. p. 45.
- Maqsood, Ruqaiyyah Waris. "Adam to the Banu Khuza'ah".
- Jirjī Zaydān, David Samuel Margoliouth, Umayyads and ʻAbbásids: Being the Fourth Part of Jurjí Zaydán, (about Islamic Empire), 1907, p.45.
- John Simpson, Treasures from Ancient Yemen
- Qahtan in the Arab History