Quraysh (Arabic: قریش) is one of the best-known and the most important Arabian tribes in Hijaz in which the Prophet Muhammad (s) was born. Most genealogists maintain that Quraysh was the title of Nadr b. Kinana, the twelfth ancestor of the Prophet (s). Thus every tribe that traces back to Nadr b. Kinana is called "Qurashi" (attributed to Quraysh).
|Era||Before and after Islam|
|Lineage||Nadr b. Kinana, the twelfth ancestor of the Prophet (s)|
|Figures||Banu Hashim (Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah, Ali b. Abi Talib, the Twelve Imams (a), lady Fatima (a), Abu Talib, Ja'far b. Abi Talib, Abdullah ibn Abbas) and Abu Bakr, 'Umar b. Al-Khattab, 'Uthman b. Affan, Umayyads|
|Features||Qurashis were mostly businessmen. People of Quraysh launched many battles against Prophet (s), including Battle of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq. People of the Quraysh took special care of the Ka'ba.|
Other genealogists take "Quraysh" to be the title of Fahr b. Malik, the tenth ancestor of the Prophet (s). They take his progeny to be properly called "Qurashi". There is a sura of the Qur'an called "Sura Quraysh" (Qur'an 106).
Reason for appellation
Different reasons have been suggested for why the tribe is called Quraysh; here are some:
- Quraysh was the title of Fahr, one of the Prophet (s)'s ancestors, and his progeny is called Qurashi.
- Quraysh was the title of Nadr b. Kinana, and his progeny is called Qurashi. Nadr was called Quraysh because he tried to detect the poor and help them. The word "Quraysh" is a cognate of "Taqrish" (Arabic: تقریش) which means detection.
- On some accounts, "qarsh" (Arabic: قَرش) means the business. Since the Quraysh were engaged in business, rather than agriculture, they were called so.
Quraysh was an enormous tribe in Mecca that had been divided into many clans when Islam emerged; clans such as Banu Hashim (in which the Prophet (s) was born), Banu Muttalib, Banu Harith, Banu Umayya, Banu Nawfal, Banu Harith b. Fahr, Banu Asad, Banu 'Abd al-Dar, Banu Zuhra, Banu Taym b. Murra, Banu Makhzum, Banu Yaqza, Banu Murra, Banu 'Udayy b. Ka'b, Banu Sahm, Banu Jumah, Banu Malik, Banu Mu'it, Banu Nazar, Banu Sama, Banu Adram, Banu Muharib, Banu Harith b. Abd Allah, Banu Khuzayma, and Banu Babana.
Of the 25 clans of Quraysh, some inhabited Batha' (the flat territories of Mecca) and were known as "Quraysh Battah" or "Quraysh Batha'", and some clans inhabited the mountains outside of Mecca and they were known as "Quraysh Zawahir".
|Family tree of the Prophet (s)|
Beginning of Leadership in Mecca
Before Quraysh, the Khuza'a tribe was in charge of the Ka'ba. In those days, Quraysh inhabited places around Mecca and never intervened the affairs of the Ka'ba. After a while, Qusayy b. Kilab went to Mecca and married the daughter of the head of the Khuza'a tribe. Qusayy came to undertake the administration of the affairs of the Ka'ba, with the help of Banu Kinana and Quraysh.
Qurashis were mostly businessmen and they frequently travelled to Yemen, Syria and Iran. They had famous markets such as 'Akkaz and Dhu l-Majaz. They went on business travels twice a year—one in the winter and the other in the summer—which is also mentioned in the Quran.
Positions Regarding the Ka'ba
People of the Quraysh took special care of the Ka'ba and its problems. Their economics and politics rested upon the positions regarding the Ka'ba. Each institution affiliated with the Ka'ba was undertaken by a senior of a clan of Quraysh, and at the time of the emergence of Islam, such positions were undertaken by 10 important clans of Quraysh: Banu Hashim, Banu Umayya, Banu 'Abd al-Dar, Banu Asad, Banu Makhzum, Banu Sahm, Banu Taym, Banu 'Udayy, Banu Nawfal, and Banu Jumah.
The positions regarding the Ka'ba undertaken by the Quraysh included:
- Siqaya: Providing water for the pilgrims of the Ka'ba,
- Rifada: Receiving and hosting the pilgrims of the Ka'ba,
- Hijaba: Protecting the Ka'ba and keeping its key,
- Qadawa: Adjudicating the disputes among people,
- Qiyada: supervising and chairing business and military caravans,
- 'Imara: protecting al-Masjid al-Haram,
- Collecting and keeping the property of the Ka'ba,
- Paying blood money, compensations and the like.
Ibrahim (a)'s religion
According to some sources of the Islamic history, the Quraysh primarily adhered to the religion of Ibrahim (a) which was known as the Hanif Religion, but they gradually abandoned the religion. However, some customs and laws of this religion remained among them, though they were sometimes distorted.
Such distortions and heresies increased, especially when the Abraha army was defeated, since Arabs more highly regarded of the position of the Ka'ba and the Quraysh after the event. They thought that the Quraysh were people of Allah since He defended them and destroyed their enemies.
People of Mecca were committed to the religion of Isma'il (a) until their religion was changed by 'Amr b. Luhayy al-Khuza'i. When he travelled to al-Balqa' in Syria, he took with him some idols and promoted idolatry in Mecca. 'Uzayy, Hubal, Asaf, Na'ila, and Manat were well-known idols of the Quraysh.
However, there were still some people of Quraysh who refused to worship the idols; they either remained on the Hanif Religion or converted to the Nazarite. Moreover, there were many followers of the Hanif Religion among the Quraysh and especially the Banu Hashim clan. Waraqa b. Nawfal was among those who refused to worship the idols and converted to the Nazarite. And Zayd b. Nufayl also refused to worship the idols and was looking for a religion, until he was killed by Christians in Syria.
Treaties of the Quraysh
The Treaty of Mutayyibin
- Main article: Hilf al-Mutayyabin
When Abd Manaf and Abd al-Dar, sons of Qusay b. Kilab, passed away, there were disputes among their children over undertaking the affairs of Mecca. They divided into two groups and each clan of the Quraysh joined one of these. The first group was headed by 'Abd al-Shams b. 'Abd Manaf and the second was headed by 'Abd al-Dar 'Amir b. Hashim b. 'Abd Manaf. Either group took an oath not to surrender until it wins over the other group.Eventually, they had to compromise and divide the positions of Mecca among them.
- Main article: Hilf al-Fudul
A merchant from Banu Zubayd in Yemen had gone to Mecca and sold some goods to al-'As b. Wa'il, but al-'As delayed the payment of the man's money, until the man was disappointed and went to the Mount Abu Qubays and expressed his complaints in terms of some poems. Some people of the Quraysh were ashamed of what happened and tried to find a solution for it. al-Zubayr b. 'Abd al-Muttalib gathered the clans of the Quraysh in Dar al-Nadwa and then they went to the house of 'Abd Allah b. Jud'an. They made a treaty to the effect that they should all be allied for the assistance of the oppressed people and that they should not let anyone be oppressed in Mecca. The treaty was called "hilf al-Fudul".
People of Quraysh launched many battles with other tribes, the best known of which are the battles of Fujar and Yawm al-Ghanb.
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