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Origin of Arab Tribes

The inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula who were generally called Arabs, were in two groups: Qahtani Arabs' and 'Adnani Arabs.' Qahtani Arabs were those whose original abode was Yemen. The Yeminis and Yemen of that time included the present Aden, the Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf littoral and the Sea of Oman.

The Adnani Arabs were centered around Najd and Hejaz that is to say around Mecca stretching as far as the Hejaz Desert. Both the Qahtani and Adnani Arabs share a common historical root, originating from the same ancestors. You can imagine an Arab family of three thousand years ago steadily multiplying in numbers, then branching into two sections The descendants of Ya'rib Ibn Qahtan went to Yemen. Others who went to Mecca - and founded Mecca - the descendants of Ismail, because they had an ancestor named Adnan, came to be called Adnani.

Arabs who went to Yemen, the Qahtani Arab, had come to the land of good fortune, because Yemen was a better land compared with Mecca, Najd and the Arabian Desert from the viewpoint of natural potential climate and water. Accordingly in the lands of Yemen, civilisation and industry and urban development began much sooner. The history of urban development and civilisation in Yemen, the home of the Qahtani Arabs, dates several centuries before Hejaz and Najd, the home of the 'Adnani Arabs. It would be pertinent at this stage to consider how the factor of environment influenced the development of two branches of a common stock who shared common language as well as many other characteristics. According to historians, not only from the viewpoint of urbanisation and development, but also from the viewpoint of political organisations and government, Yemen and Qahtani Arabs were centuries ahead of Najd and Hejaz and the Adnani Arabs. Further explanations will follow about this aspect.

In Yemen the Hemyari Kings ruled as the crowned monarchs at the time when in Hejaz social organisations had not developed beyond tribal ways. Ya'qubi, the great Islamic historian narrates that the crown worn by Hemyar, founder of the Hemyari dynasty was made of silver with a large ruby set in the middle and such was the situation prevailing in Yemen several centuries before the establishment of a government in Hejaz, Najd and Arabia. From the viewpoint of technology and civilisation, long before the appearance of such developments over the ordinary tribal life in Najd and Hejaz, the historical 'Mareb Dam' had been constructed. In this regard a historian narrates that this dam was six kilometers in length situated between two mountains so that the winter rains and torrents would collect in the form of a lake. It had a number of sluice gates through which passed seventy irrigation channels passed for irrigating seventy agricultural sectors. Mareb Dam had been built eight centuries before Islam and as it happened two centuries before Christ, the object is to show the background of the birth place of Islam, as also to compare Yemen with Hejaz which was the location of the advent of Islam.

Adapted from the book: "Background of the Birth of Islam" by: "S. T. H. Khwarazmi"

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