The origins of the Quda'a are obscure, with the claims of medieval Arab genealogists being contradictory. Some claimed that Quda'a, the tribe's progenitor, was a son of Ma'add, thus making the tribe northern Arabians, or a descendant of Himyar (south Arabians), basing their claims on traditions and quotes attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Among these alleged utterances of Muhammad were that Ma'add's kunya was Abū Quḍāʿa ("Father of Quda'a") or that he explicitly stated Quda'a was a descendant of Himyar. Some medieval traditions harmonized these seemingly contradictory claims by holding that Quda'a's mother was the wife of Malik ibn 'Amr ibn Murra ibn Malik ibn Himyar, and that she later wed Ma'add, bringing Quda'a with her; thus Quda'a became known as a son of Ma'add, albeit not a biological one. This tradition is espoused by Ibn Abd Rabbih, who further notes that "Quda'a" was an epithet meaning "leopard" and the progenitor's actual name was 'Amr. Other traditions hold that at the dawn of the Umayyad era, the tribes of Quda'a embraced their descent from Ma'add, but under political pressure and bribes from the Umayyad caliph Mu'awiyah, switched their traditional line of descent to Himyar; by doing so, they embraced a Southern Arabian identity in the historical division of Arab tribes along southern and northern lines.
The major sub-tribes of the Quda'a were the Juhaynah, Banu Kalb, Bali, Bahra', Khushayn, Jarm, Udhrah, Banu al-Qayn and Salih. The tribes of Tanukh, Khawlan and Mahra are sometimes recorded as part of Quda'a, but some genealogists dispute their association with the tribe. Over time, some tribes of Quda'a joined other confederations, took on a different pedigree and changed their tribal identity.
- Kister, p. 315.
- Ibn Abd Rabbih, p. 275.
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