By Dana Reynolds - January 17, 2015
Guide to the Ethnic Origins of the "Infernally" "Black Saracen” of Medieval European Manuscripts and Iconography
Agoulant, "Sultan of Sicily" and his Moors attack a Castle in the "Grandes Chroniques de France" Most of its illustrations were thought to have been made for King Charles the 5th of the 14th century.
"The giantess, blackness, and bestiality are typical medieval attributes of the Saracens. 'Saracens are often portrayed in the epics and in later romances', we are told by Lasater, ‘as tall, hideous, huge, often misshapen, frequently as black moors or Negroes, and usually with eyes as red as glowing coals associated with ferocity’" (Nizar F. Hermes, King Arthur in the Lands of the Saracens Nebula, Dec. 2007).
“...it is perhaps not so generally known that a tribe of Bedaweens, called the Dowaser Arabs found in the land of Omar, are also black. Their gigantic forms and sable features distinguish them from their Shemite neighbors and point them out as most likely the Sabeans, men of stature…” (Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, 1884, The Christian Lady's Magazine, p. 136).
The documented ethnic and historical background of Europe's first "black peril" - the “monstrous race” of the Saracens encountered by Christian crusaders - will be discussed in this posting. In the forthcoming posting (Part II) we will again have a chance to address the part of the black Berber settlements in Europe. Most people have little acquaintance with the theme of the black bedouin first called Saracens, let alone the ethnic groups both living and extinct, once comprising the men (and apparently women at times) the European armies fought in Palestine and Europe. Yet, these interactions both good and bad assisted in crystallizing views of black-skinned peoples, and Muslims and Jews in general in Europe.
Just as the Saracens mentioned above are described as black and giantesque and red-eyed, in many narratives and poems in the Middle East of several hundred years ago, similar people are described by writers. Among the giant black men of the ancient world were certain tribes of the Arab peninsula known as Kayla or al-Ansar, the latter being the majority of “the companions” of the Prophet. Thus, in the 14th century Syrian Ibn Kathir’s Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, we find the description of Nabtal-el Harith of the Aus tribe as “a very tall black man with a mass of hair red eyes and flushed cheeks” (Le Gassick, Trevor, 1998, p. 229) The Aus (or Aws) tribe then based in the region of Hijaz along with the Khazraj (Ghazaraj or Khazaras) were called al-Ansar, or “the companions”.
In other proper translations Nabtal is simply described as a huge man of “deep black” complexion with a mass of unkempt hair (though some have attempted to translate it as "flowing hair"). The description of Nabtal is relevant as it supports the numerous other assertions made in the commentaries about the Banu Khazraj and Aus, that the tribal members were often unusually tall or huge in stature and of an extremely black in color. These tribes are relevant to the discussion of Saracenic conflicts in Spain especially, where early epics describe the Saracens similarly as huge, black men.
But, before we get started, I must confess, this posting, one of several I have written on the early Berbers and Arabs, was inspired by a youtube video I first saw a few years ago with men of the Adrar area of Algeria.
The men in the video were very dark, near black in color, singing a simple melody accompanied by canastas they were playing. The melody of the song was familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on where I had heard something similar before. Then while listening to the television one day perhaps some few months afterwards I heard a song that I knew I’d remembered from childhood on one of my mother’s favorite albums. It was similar to the one I’d heard in the youtube video. I looked for and found the old album discovering the name of the recording had been appropriately entitled, “Andalucia,” today better known as, “The Breeze and I”. The orchestra was Mantovani.
Since childhood I had looked at this song as quintessentially Spanish and presumed the Cuban big band that had playing the song must have adapted it from an older Spanish tune. It had been written by a man born in Cuba, whose father was from the Canary Islands. This same man had incidently also written a song called “Malaguena”, another popular favorite on the album.
A few years ago when I saw the youtube video I was still not truly aware of the connection of the group of men featured therein with other still present very dark-skinned Berbers of oases throughout Algeria and Tunisia called Zanata who’d once been a considerable portion of the Moors of ancient North Afric (Byzacium, Tripolitania, Carthage, Zeugitana, Mauritania), and Iberia. But, discovering the influence on music now viewed as Spanish I almost grew physically sick at the thought that once again something that Africa had given to humanity had been so thoroughly extracted from its roots. As with the music of the Tihama region of Arabia and Khaleegy, the background harmonics and tune shared so much fundamentally in common with music from other parts of Africa of the Sahel and Sudan.
I thought to myself upon this discovery, “this was the last straw” (as I had probably said to myself many times before). I was absolutely done with the historical hogwash so prevalent in the books I’d been reading that have attempted to dismiss the influence of these men in the invasion of Spain and southern Europe - solely on the basis of their complexions.
|MEN OF ADRAR, AN ALGERIAN TOWN|
Spanish rendition of the 1237 Battle of Puig - Valencia (Balensiya) Spain (Period of the Almohad "Moors" and Spaniards). Painted by Marsal/Marcelo de Sajonia (Saxon) between 1393 and 1410 AD. The Masmuda Berbers ruled Andalusia during this period. They shared Valencia with the Arab Hawazin bin Mansur. Judging from the photos below we can say the dress of "the Moors" hasn't changed much. Immediately below is a photograph of men from the Bechar district of Algeria.
|Men of the Algerian desert, Timimoun - "an old Berber center". In the 6th century AD Isidore of Seville described the "Mauri" further north as "black as night", while Corippus also mentioned some as being "the color of crows".|
As you can see from this blog I have also come to discover that it was these exceedingly dark and often quite literally black kind of “Moors” that once populated and influenced North Africa, Portugal, Spain, and in fact, much of the Sudan even before the coming of Islam to that region. Berbers (or Baribari) were at one time by far the vast majority of the Muslims in Spain, far outnumbering even the “Moorish Arabs” or black bedouin called “Saracens”, as well as the Syrians, Turks, Slavs and Persians that also came to dwell there with them in “Moorish Spain.” And as we have seen, in that era Berbers were in fact primarily “black Africans” in almost every sense of the phrase.
I can no longer find that video anymore, although I see these same men of the Adrar region in other videos. I believe the person that posted it was North African and may have taken it off for whatever reason. But, today the simple tune of those men of Adrar oasis still rings in my head and I know just by the fact that the musical contribution of these Saharans has not been acknowledged to this day that music must have been just a minute part of their contribution to the “Moorish” world of Spain and that Islamic civilization and culture there that sparked the European “renaissance”.
It was probably also due to some of J.A. Rogers books I had perused in the 1970s that I first started really looking into the documented history of North Africa and perceptions of the early “Moors” in European and Near Eastern texts and contexts. I was rather amazed as well as baffled to find that the number of ancient writers referring to Moors and Saracens as Ethiopians or blacks was about equal to the number of modern historians proclaiming early Moors and early Berbers were in fact “not really black in an African sense”. And the “Moors” when considered black in these books even today are somehow turned into slaves (especially in books of English-speakers), or their descendants.
Back in the 1980s I had begun researching my article on the Berbers and Moors, which was afterwards published in 1991 in Dr. Van Sertima’s, Golden Age of the Moors. Since that time and up until now one can still see downright silly statements – not infrequently diametrically opposite of the historical documentation - made with regard to the early Moors - aimed at denying their blackness. This can be seen in passages such as the following I recently read in a travel guide:
“Incidentally, the word Moor derives originally from the Greek for ‘black’, but the Berbers (unlike Othello) are white when not descended from black concubines”(Lowe, A. and Seymour-Davies, 2009, p. xiv).
Also, common among European scholars is the inclination to rationalize away the predominance of blackness in conventional artistic and literary depictions of the Moors and Saracens. Thus, the art historian and author of a book called, Christians, Blasphemers and Witches cites a paragraph of an 11th century Christian that speaks of how " the whole black Ishmaelite people followed their whole accursed and senseless religion" then proceeds to make the highly improbable assertion that, “Christian Iberians would have known that Iberian Muslims were not ‘black’ in the manner of sub-Saharan Africans…” (Bristol, Joan Cameron, 2007, pp. 28 and 29). ( One must wonder if the author is referring to culture when she says “’black’ in the manner of sub-Saharan Africans".)
Men of the Yemen, modern Arabia. Even the knots tied on the head bands remain the same. Some things never change I guess.: )
Ironically, while the author may have had good intentions in trying to dissociate blackness with evil and show the folly of early European thinking, his own perhaps romantic and unrealistic notions of whom the early North African were and what they looked like appear to have gotten in the way of his-story.
The fact remains (and as we have seen) there are many eyewitness accounts of what the Mauritanians looked like, and “Moors” were most for the most part in these accounts first, a black people in the literal sense for most eyewitnesses of various nations throughout history up until about the beginning of the 14th century. Judging from some of their present descendants and colonial descriptions there is little reason to doubt the depictions of near and absolutely black and even bluish-black men were in part inspired by living Saracens of that age – however “hellish” their color may have seemed then and now.
Saracen Giants: The Historical Banu Azd in early Muslim Armies
"Issoire" or "Ysore" was Black Saracen Giant dated to around 1250, He is a semi -legendary Saracen, "ruler of Portugal", said to have terrorized Paris, who was fought and slain by the 9th century monk and former prince William of Orange.
Geraldine Heng in her article “Jews Saracens, Black Men and Tartars” states “In cultural depictions of Saracens as black (not only giants, but sultans, warriors and other Saracens are singled out for identification in various contexts of medieval English culture as black or bluish-black, in skin colour) we see how an important discourse on colour, at work in the description of the races of the world is in the process of stabilizing in England and Europe in the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries” (Geraldine Heng, (2009), p. 260).
Many have written about the representation of black Saracens and Muslims in the medieval period of Europe suggesting the Saracen in particular became black or blue-black and an iconic representation of evil during this time when enemies of European Christians viewed Muslims and Jews as diabolical. That blacks came to epitomize evil in Europe can not be questioned, hence such phrases as “black as the devil” or “diabolical blackness” are frequently used in the medieval texts as in relatively modern Western parlance.
Apparently black demons are said by the 6th century Pope Gregory to have carried off wicked souls to hell (Arjana, Sophia Rose, 2014, p. 49), just as “black Peter” of the Germanic countries was traditionally believed to have been originally a Moor of Spain who used to kidnap European children. Peter, who had apparently converted to Christianity and became Saint Nicholas’ helper in his early folkloric depictions “frequently held a sack which was supposed to be used to carry bad children off to Spain, once a stronghold of the ‘Moors’” (Sexton, 1999). The custom of blackening the face at festivals to represent Peter is found not only in Europe, but in Dutch and German communities in America as well.
The use of Moorish heads in heraldry developed in Germany through the direct contact of the Germanic rulers of Italy with the Saracens. Says the website of the Victoria and Albert museum in London, “The king of Sicily Frederick II born in 1194 in fact took a keen interest in the black Muslim population that had remained in Sicily after the island's return to Christian rule in 1061. He established an enclave for these Muslims near his palace in Lucera in southern Italy, and recruited his musicians and elite bodyguard from the community.” It is the Hohenstaufan dynasty to which he belonged that actually used the Moors or Saracen head as a symbol of their dynasty. Hohenstaufen or Stauf Castle of southern Germany was built by these “Saracens” under Frederick I.
Omar Agoulant "Sultan of Sicily" and ruler of all North Africa, defends his castle from the Europeans. From the Grandes Chroniques de France 13th -14th centuries
|Stauf castle built by the Moors under the Hohenstaufen ruler Frederick II|
According to the museum, “The moor's head device was also used in Italian heraldry, especially by families in the north and centre of the peninsula. The earliest known example appears in the 11th century.” It was used by the Saraceni family of Siena, the Morandi of Genoa, the Morese of Bologna, the Negri of Vicenza and the Pagani of Saluzzo” to name a few. The museum suggests that it may have been used as a pun and that the families were founded by crusaders. It may be also that the Saracens who fought with the Christians and/or Muslims that served Frederick who was Holy Roman Emperor founded such families as well. It is of course well- known that some of the earliest black Saints in European history were Muslim Moors that had turned Christian.
|Sir Morien or Moriaan, black knight of the King Arthur romance was supposed to represent one of the Saracens turned Christian. His mother was a "Moorish princess", whom one of King Arthur's knights had fallen for in his travels.|
|Painting of St. Moritz (Maurice) "the Moor" Painted mid-1300s by Meister Theodoric of Prague.)|
The Saracen colony at Lucera was “composed of rebellious Musulmans of Sicily” who “became, soon after their settlement, the most faithful subjects of Frederick and the chief support of the imperial throne” (Scott, Samuel Parsons, p. 52; Kaplan, Paul H. D., p. 21). Moors had rebelled against Christian rule there.
According to a recent book about 15 to 20,000 Muslims arrived in Lucera when Frederick was the Holy Roman Emperor. Paul Kaplan in his article "The Calanberg Alterpiece" calls them "black Africans” which would make it likely they were Berbers, but it is far from certain if they were African at all. The idea that the Saracens at Lucera were of mainly black African descent would be just be speculation on Kaplan’s part, as Saracen had been commonly used for early Arabs in that era though it also came to be used for both Mauri, i.e. Berbers and for "Turks". Charles II of Naples in 1300 expelled the black Saracens from Lucera. Most were slaughtered or sold into slavery, some escaped to Albania (Hunt, Janin and Carson, Ursula, 2013, pp. 54-55).
In any case the fact that the usage of the Moorish or Saracen head dates back to the exact time the Moors were in Italy and Corsica, rules out the idea that the first Germanic peoples who used them just imagined Moors and Saracens were jet black.
Writes Sophia Arjana,
“Dark-skinned Muslims found in medieval psalters, paintings, poetry and romances are not always monstrous, but their blackness indicates that they are evil…The monster that encapsulated all three of these entities – Saracen, Jew, and black African – is the Black Saracen. This is a hybrid monster, an African (implicated as Satan by his dark skin), Jewish (depicted executing a saint), and Muslim (by the monker “Saracen” as well as by the turban he often wears)”(Arjana, 2014, p. 49).From the above passage and others, it is probably safe to say many of those studying early texts dealing with Saracens have never suspected that blackness was in reality, and not just in imagination, a dominant characteristic of many of the people the early Muslims crusaders encountered. Literary criticism of medieval texts regarding Saracens in recent times has tried to deal with how blackness of the devil came to be associated with Saracens due to imagination and religiousity, rather than vice versa. What the author might also consider is that the Saracen blackness was also indicative of the fact that the Saracens the crusaders often encountered were black – if not always directly out of Africa.
In a poem called Coeur de Lyon dealing with the Third Crusade of Richard “the Lionheart” against Saladin’s forces in the late 12th century Levant the king is fed the head of a fat “Saracen”. According to Geraldine Chen author of “Empire of Magic” at one point in the first chapter of “the Coeur”, while the king is being fed the narrative “zeroes in on the black face and black beard of the detached head set off against white teeth that are bared by widely grinning lips…” .
The “romance” of Richard, the Lion-Heart (or “Coeur de Lyon”) is thought to date from between 1250 to before 1300. One of the historical sources for the romance is the narrative entitled, Itinerarium Peregrinorum, which speaks in its 18th chapter in detail of the battle against the Kurd Saladin and his forces comprised of Turks, Berbers (“Mauri”) and Arab bedouin near Aker (or Acre) in Palestine.
The name of the chapter starts with the words How Our Armies were Harassed much by the Turks….
Part of it has been translated as follows:
“It was now nearly nine o'clock, when there appeared a large body of the Turks, 10,000 strong, coming down upon us at full charge, and throwing darts and arrows, as fast as they could, while they mingled their voices in one horrible yell. There followed after them an infernal race of men, of black colour, and bearing a suitable appellation, expressive of their blackness. With them also were the Saracens, who live in the desert, called Bedouins: they are a savage race of men, blacker than soot; they fight on foot, and carry a bow, quiver, and round shield, and are a light and active race. These men dauntlessly attacked our army.” From the Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi) (a Latin narrative of the historical events in Palestine during the Third Crusade,1189-1192)The historical events here narrated of a battle against Saladin’s army takes place in the Levant of northern Palestine (now Israel) near Acre. The chapters are thought to have been compiled between 1217 and 1222, which is not long after the battle was chronicled in the 1190s by a soldier or crusader (it is believed) in King Richard’s forces. The “infernal” black men named after their color or whose name was “expressive of their blackness” are of course the Moors whose name is related to the word “maurus”, meaning “black” in the Latin dialects. These Moors are the same as the Berbers who along with other “black Africans” made up “the backbone” of the Fatimid army under Saladin (Lev, Yaacov, 1999, ). They are men of Masmuda (whom are called black Africans by Nasir Khusrau) and of Kutama stock (the once Christian ancient Mucateni or Ucutamani Mauri) now known as Imakitan Tuareg.
The other group, however, are black bedouins originating in the Arabian peninsula better known as the Saracens. In this early period Berbers and Arabs are distinguishable and therefore distinguished in name from each other.
Members of the once powerful "blacker than soot" Tarabin (or Terabeen) tribe still roam the desert of Negev and Sinai, their ancient homeland.
Members of the Hanajira bedouin clan of Beersheba (Israel/Palestine) pose with a Palestinian leader in European attire. Circa 1920.
Photo of an Arab man of "Old Iraq" - The Arab Press service in 2008 posted an article entitled "Iraq's Blacks", which says, "There are two main categories of blacks in Iraq, mostly in the south, who total about 300,000: those of whom are East African in origin and number about 100,000 and those of whom are Arab and originate from the Hijaz... The latter are mostly from the Muntafek tribe... Many of them having inter-married with the locals and thus the colour of their skin has been changed..." APS DIPLOMAT Redrawing the Islamic Map, 2008.
Several centuries ago the lead Arab grammarian wrote “…the Arabs describe their color as black and they describe the color of the non-Arab Persians as red.” Assertion of 13th c. grammarian Ibn Manzur (or Mandhur), in Lisaan al Arab, Vol. 4.
The Arabs and Berbers when they weren’t in conflicts amongst themselves were often in power struggles in various places with Kurds from Iraq, the Seljuks, Turks, Tartars and other Central Asians who in fact also held the reigns of power in places often thought of as Persian and Middle Eastern at various periods. Certainly most of the paintings depicting so-called Arabs were actually of these non-Arab people who for good reason bear resemblance both physically, but culturally not only to Central Asians, but sometimes populations of Far Eastern extraction.
|Some modern bedouin boys of Israel/Palestine, probably remnants of the original bedouin Arab peoples|
The Arab tribes in Palestine for example the Kilab of the Beni Amer bin Zsa Zsa were often the sheiks or chiefs from the bedouin tribes that were vassals of the Turks carving out their own principalities. They had taken over Aleppo in 1060, but lost it to the Turks in 1079 for example. The Turks however were coming from another part of the world, and certainly not from the deserts. They are also evidently not characterized as either Moors and Saracens in this period as were Muslims in general in a later period.
Until the 13th century not all but numerous texts speak of Saracens as black, and they are depicted as such in paintings. And, these portrayals can’t be simply regarded as the result of the widespread belief that blackness was the equivalent of evil. Geraldine Heng presumes, “Saracens are depicted as black because of their infernal religion…” (Heng, 2009, p. 260). But this obviously is only partially true.
Debra Strickland writes of certain Saracen depictions “if the implications of the argument for a Saracen/Ethiopian hybrid are carried to their extreme given the general prevalence of dark skin and distorted features in pejorative representation, there must also be many Jew /Ethiopian and Tartar/Ethiopian hybrids (figs. 39, 41/plate 10, 43, 16, 1100). So unless we are to consider all of these portraits as representatives of persons who are ‘‘part Ethiopian’, which would be unjustifiable on contextual grounds, then this concept must be abondoned…. I suggest that what representations of Saracen/Ethiopian “ hybrids” actually reveal is the extent to which a common pejorative visual vocabulary is applied across different enemy types: this is why demons, Jews, Ethiopians, Saracens, and other negative figures are all at various times portrayed with dark skin as well as with a number of other physiognomical features which are the ongoing concern of this study.” (p. 173)
Though it is not certain that an Ethiopian, Saracen or even most Jews in the earliest period could have logically been portrayed other than dark, at the same time it can be understood why the enemies of Christianity and their color could have come to conceive such people as “negative”, demonic or monstrous.
In any case it is clear seemingly elaborate depictions were in fact just a reflection in many cases of the enemy people as they were - black in color and frequently “giants” in stature. The literary trope, or motif of gigantic black Saracens and even Jewish black Saracen giants is doubtless based largely on fact, on empirical or eyewitness observation that began early, even before the period of the neo-Roman or Byzantines like Corippus who in the 6th century spoke of Antalas, leader of the Mauri or “Berbers”of Tunisia (Byzacena) “and his gathered warriors in similarly infernal terms: 'black faces filled up the tents –just as they say Dis, provoking a battle with the gods …” (Conant, S. 2012, p. 271).
This “Dis” was Dis Pater a Roman God deity associated with the underworld. As Encyclopedia Britannica on-line puts it, a God of the “infernal regions”, similar to Hades.
Another author has commented on old texts. In The Old English "Lives of St Margaret" we read “vidit alium diabolum sedentem ut homo niger habens manus suas ad genua conligatus.: … Although Seynt Mergrete itself does not explicitly state that Sarracens are black, black skin is an attribute of Saracens in texts surrounding the saint’s legend. Thus, a readerly context of black Saracens has been established by the manuscript. Imaginary devils and racial characteristics are thus separated out from each other in Auchinleck, and skin color marks human rather than supernatural enmity to Christianity”(Calkin, Siobhain bly, 2013, p. 141).
Calkin in fact asserts that a number of texts regarding the Saracens clearly point out the fact that the Saracens as not just monstrous demons, but human enemies with black skin.
"Four Auchinleck texts, Pe King of Tars, Seynt Katerine, Guy of Warwick (Couplet Version) and Guy of Warwick (stanzaic continuation) explicitly identify Saracens as black-skinned people. Thus, in Auchinleck, an association of Saracenness with black skin color is found at a number of points. These identifications help to show how the Saracen persecutors in Seynt Mergrete rewrite other tales of the saint that link black skin to the supernatural and the fantastic. …What we see in Auchinleck, then is a movement away from a depiction of black men as supernatural, hellish persecutors of Christians and towards a depiction of black men as human, earthly persecutors of Christians. This is completely understandable in a post-Crusade western manuscript. As narratives of the crusade had made clear in the centuries preceding Auchinleck’s compilation, earthly, black-skinned enemies of Christians did exist. Accordingly, the rewriting of the devil found in the Auchinleck Seynt Mergrete asserts that black-skinned opponents of Christianity are not fantastical imaginings on the level of dragons, but rather historical facts... Geographic locations also link the Saracen persecutors in these hagiographic legends to historical Muslim-Christian conflict. The two saints in these Auchinleck tales are persecuted in Alexandria and Antioch, places that evoke crusading events and contexts” (Calkin, Siobhain Bly, 2013, p. 151).In Sicily an army of “Saracens” had arrived directly from the Iberian peninsula in the year 831 capturing various locations including Palermo. By the 860s they were ravaging other towns in southern Italy. The 9th century Celtic monk Sedulius Scotus penned a letter to an early southern Italian ruler speaking of how in their battle against the "black" faced Saracens that “in their black mouths”, their tongues were "stuck" in their throats out of fear. Clearly the black–skinned Saracens of this period were a historical people, and not looking very much like southern Italians or other modern Mediterraneans either. : )
It is perhaps the ignorance of the historical and empirical bases of such depictions of Saracens, like the narratives surrounding the curse of Ham and Canaan, that appears to have blemished the study of iconic images of the Saracen. As we have seen and shall see again it is very likely the outward physical appearance of the early Berber and Arab tribes that fought against the Franks or Normans in Spain and Italy, the Levant and North Africa, which played the primary role or influence in this portrayal of the Saracen.
We can end this portion here with a reference to the writer of a book quite appropriately and ironically entitled, European History “for Dummies” a book apparently that is part of the "For Dummies" series commercially promoted in the United States and Britain. It has the name Dr. and Ph.D. as part of author’s name on the front cover. In it a passage explains Who were the Moors? typed in bold. Below this bolded question is the following.
“ The Romans called the sallow-skinned people of North Africa Mauri and named their homeland ‘Mauretania’. The Mauri were conquered by the Arabs in the seventh century, became Muslim, invaded Spain and turned it into an Islamic caliphate. .. The Europeans called all these people ‘Moors’, just as the Arabs called all Crusaders ‘Franks’, whatever their nationality. Some of these ‘Moors’ had black skin, and soon the Europeans began to connect all “Moors’ with black skin. Shakespeare’s Othello, the Moor of Venice, is constantly described as a black man, even though that meant he probably wasn’t actually of Mauri ‘Moorish’ stock at all.”The passage above speaks for itself. Usually, one can find European with “Ph.Ds” in literature just trying to suggest that Othello in Shakespeare’s mind wasn’t really dark in the “black African” sense of the word at all, but sallow i.e. pale tan or yellowish. But in this case the author is supposed to be a historian and is saying Othello is definitely black, and thus probably wasn’t a Moor after all!? And one definitely has to be a dummy to believe that. : (
At times such statements from established scholarship in the West make me ponder a character in an old popular fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson (b. 1805) called the Emperor’s New Clothes. In the tale an emperor didn’t want to believe he wasn’t wearing clothes and sometimes strode pompously through his kingdom in front of his subjects thinking he was in his finest habits. Nobody wanted to tell the emperor that he wasn’t wearing any clothes and was in fact completely naked. The emperor however was just so certain he was looking wonderful, only to find out he’d only been living a lie he’d accepted to make himself look better than everyone else in his kingdom. : (
Saracens and Black Giants: Banu Tayye and the people of Azd in Muslim Armies
The European perception of black and monstrous giants may partly be a reflection of their history long before the Muslim prophet Muhammed arrived on the historical scene. They figure in the the texts previous to the birth of Islam of Middle and Near Eastern and Persian authors, which speak of Philistines, Emim, Amalekites and the Anakim of Canaan as giant ancestors of accursed blacks.
In this blogspot we have spoken over and over again of the historical Arabian Azd clans of the Tihama, Asir and Wadi Kanawna or Qanawna (valley or lowland of the Kana’ani) and about the documented appearance of their later descendants further north in the Tihama Hijaz (or region of Mecca and Medina) who figure as black people, huge in stature.
This Kanawna area was as shown in this blogpost and as first pointed out by Kamal Salibi in his Bible Came from Arabia, the probable region referred to in the Torah or Pentateuch as “Canaan”, a land that was next door to “Kush”. It has been shown that both of these regions were historical places in the southwest of the Arabian peninsula, which like much of the rest of peninsula, was still considered by some writers part of “Bilad es-Sudan” in the Middle Ages due to the complexion of its people.*
In fact in an earlier part of the blog at the beginning of 2012, I mentioned that according to Jan Retso, Ibn Mudjawir of the 13th centry claimed part of this same southwest region was called Kush. Retso in footnotes to a chapter entitled, The Old Testament noted “the southern Tihama (from Mecca southwards) was called Kus (Ibn Mugawir, Tarikh, 83) by some (the inhabitants of Amran =Jews?). It is likely that Kush, Ham, Lud and other names were originally names of rather small areas…” (Retso, J., 2013, p. 231). (The parentheses are the author Retso’s, not mine)
Since that blogposting I’ve discovered this name Kush has in fact remained the name of the area. We may note here that the al-‘Amran tribe in the region apparently still “gives the name of Cush to the region of Zebid” (Schoors, Anton, 1973, p. 73, fn. 1) and “thus it would be preferable to understand Cush as the territory on both sides of the southern part of the Red Sea." Charles Forster also once suggested the Zebida of Stephanus known anciently as Sabota or Sabatha was the biblical Sabtah, son of Kush (Forster, Charles, 1844, p. 57).
Young girls with skin of "black gold" of Zebid (Sabtah) a land of Kush, Ghassan or Kushan, i.e. "Jokshan", brother of Midian
According to al-Hariri after the death of Amr Muzaikiya, the husband of Zerifah, “the emigrant families who went with him divided and settled in various countries. The family of his son Jafneh established itself in Syria. Ows and Khazraj, sons of Tha’labeh, fixed themselves at Yathrib, afterwards called Medina. Malik settled in Irak. The tribe of Tay went to the Nejd. The history of these emigrations is very obscure; but it is sufficiently established that many of the most powerful tribes of Arabia and the northern country, including the royal race of Ghassan and the Khoza’ah at Mecca, came from Yemen” (Chenery, Thomas, 1867, p. 426).
Furthermore, tradition has it that the followers of Musaikiya and Amran ended up in the plain of Ash’ar or "the Esh’arites", who must be the Ashhurites of the Song of Deborah of Judges 5 in the Taanakh or Hebrew Bible with the Ghasan and Barik or "Cushan" and "Barak". It says -
“At the sword of Jerahmeel and the Ashhurites.
King and princes shuddered
At the host of Jerahmeel and the Arabians.
11. Loudly praise ye the righteous acts of Yahwè,
His righteous, gracious acts in Israel.
12. March on, march on Daberath;
March on, march on into Asshur.
Arise, Barak, and take captives,
Subdue the sons of Arabia…
“19 The host of Cushan and Jerahmeel,
20. Ishmael and the folk of Asshur;
22. The Asshurites were panic-stricken, they perished.
21 In the stream of Cushan were their corpses”
The Ash’ar or Ash’ariyyin tribe is said to descend from Ash’ar, son or brother of Madhhij, lived south of the Akk between Zebid and Mokha (Donner, Fred M., 1993, p. 20, fn. 120). In the time of Muhammad the Prophet they were based in Zebid. They were also one of “the very oldest inhabitants of Yemen” (Khazraji, Ali ibn Al-Hasan Redhouse, James, William and Rogers, Alexander, 1908, p. 189).
According to Hamdani, the Ash’ar had been associates of Banu Akk (whose name is that of Akk son of Adnan) and lived just north of Ash'ar and Zebid and Ash'ar lived between Zebid and Mokha (Bosworth, 1987 p. 131, ff. 387)
Unfortunately, most historians have yet to realize that this Arabian story of Amr Muzakaiya Ma’a Sama and his wife Zarifah, and the people of Aus, Jafna, Khaza’a, Bariq, Akk and Gassan is also the story of biblical personnages Moses and Zipphorah "the Kushite (Gassan/Cushan/Jokshan)" of the Exodus, and Uz, Jephuneh, Hazo, Barak, Og and “Jokshan” all people that figure as Israelite and Midianite personnages of the Old Testament or Hebrew bible. The brook of “Zerid” or Zebid (Sabta) near the Ghassan is at the same time the “brook of Kishon” where Barak belonging to the tribe of Naphtali (Bilha's/Bahila's son) fought Sisera. Yet, historians have tried to relate the Arab veersion of these stories to historical happenings centered around the first few centuries before Christ. But, if Moses and descendants Jephunneh and Aaron ever lived at all, this region of the Yemen is where they once lived, and it couldn’t have been in the first few centuries before the birth of Christ.
As mentioned previously in this blog saying “son of” or “father of” in the ancient tradition of the semitic i.e. Afroasiatic- speakers, could signify a number of generations between parent and child. Abraham is said to be the father of David and Jesus is son of David - a king that lived a thousand years previously - only because it was symbolic of their tribal lineage, not necessarily the literal genealogy.
When the Ghassan ( Kushan of Habbakuk) whom moved to Syria from the region of Marib in the few centuries before Christ spoke of Jafna b. Amr Muzaikiyya or Jephunneh being their ancestor (Ball, Warwick, 2002, p. 101), they were obviously speaking of a chief who lived many centuries before that time in the region of Yemen. If Jafna was the biblical Jephunneh it refers to an ancestor living at least 10 centuries before they left Yemen.
Thus again, unless the whole of Israelite and Biblical chronology is profoundly off course (and I wouldn’t be too surprised if it was discovered to be partly so in the coming years), and unless the Arabian peoples all decided to name themselves after dozens of ancient peoples living 1,000 years earlier in Syria, we are led to believe the figures of Muzaiqiya or Ma’as-Sama and Zarifah were identifiable as the two semi-legendary figures of the Exodus - Moses and Zipphorah. The tribal confederation of Azd among whom were Gassan or Ghassan, Mayda’an, Lakhim were understandably called “cousins of Keturah” in later Medieval texts because they are in fact Yokshan or Kushan, Madan and Lehumim, children of the biblical Keturah from the mountains the Bayt Kathir people of Hadramaut in the southern part of al-Yaman.
Josephus replaces the word Yokshan or Jokshan with Jazar that is to say “Gezer” or “Ghazraj” and makes Keturah’s children the peoples who crossed over to settle in the trogodyte part of “Ethiopia”. Thus trying to pretend the Azd and other such Arabian people were somehow different then the Kushites of Africa is again probably wishful thinking on the part of modern scholarship.
Sa’id of Andalusia was probably close to the truth in saying the age of “glory of the Kahtan’s” kings (Kahtan = biblical Joktan, son of Shem) ancestors of the Azd, was the time of the third dynasty of the semi-legendary rulers of Persia (like Kay-Kaus) and to David, son of Solomon. Alternative theorists like Imanuel Velikovsky considered this to be after the start of the 1st millenium B.C., but certainly not a few centuries before Christ.
The suggestion that the Arabian fable refers to rulers that emerged in the period just before Christ is likely in part due to the semimythical Arabian figure Dhu-al Qarnein who is often mistakenly believed to be Alexander the Great. Dhu’l Qarnein according to some traditions was one of the titles of Alexander. In any case, if Amir Muzaykiyya only lived a few centuries before Christ we can rest assured the biblical Moses never existed.
In "Constructing of the Azd Identity", Brian Ulrich mentions the documented clans of Banu Masikha, Daus, Lihb, Shanu’a, Bariq, Ma’add, Buqayla and Hanaish (Ulrich, p. 71 and 87) pinpointed by various Arabic sources in locations throughout the Asir Tihama and Shahra or Shawarat region,. Some of the names are those mentioned by John Gordon Lorimer and others colonial period geographers as tribes of modern Dawasir confederation.
Sa’id of Andalusia, Ibn Rabbihu and other Arab historians in fact mention the Azd as comprised of Masihah or Masikha ibn abd-Allah, Daws ibn Udthan, brother of ‘Akk, Khuza’a and Myda’an (Mayda’an or Meda’an). Sa’id speaks of Lahaba or Lihb which was a celebrated tribe of astronomers (Sprenger, p. 151 fn. 1), and Bariq another direct descendant of Amran ibn Amr or "Muzaikiya".
As for the historical Buqayla mentioned by Ulrich, one author says, “It is not entirely ruled out that behind the term Buqayla may stand the name Banu Qayla, that is ‘the sons of Qayla,’ the mother of the two famous Azd tribes of Medina, al Aws and al-Khazraj, who were related as Azdites to the Ghassanids” ( Shahid, Irfan, 1989, p.. 63, fn 21).
As mentioned previously in this blog, Kayla or Kaila is an old name for the Azd clans that moved to the region of Mecca and Medina – the Khazraj, Khuza’a, and Aus - descendants of Amr Muzaikiyya (the legendary Moses of Marib) amd his father - and remained so for the Jews of Ethiopia called Beta Israel (formerly known as Falasha). By tradition, the Khazraj were from the ancestor Tha’laba ibn Amr Muzaikiyya. That is to say, from Dthu’laba son of “Moses”.
Among the written testimonies of the early Islamic era regarding the Azd tribes are those which speak of the Ansar or companions of the Prophet - Khazraj and Aus, Khuza’a and Gassan. In Futuh es-Sham “Conquest of Syria” in Part I entitled Damascus, the author writes “Next came an enormous contingent of the tribe of Azd under the command of Jundub bin 'Amr ad-Dawsi. Amongst them was Abu Hurayrah and carrying a bow and quiver.”
A little further down the author writes “the children of Katura are their cousins”, a reference to Keturah of the Midianites (Jokshan).
The Ad-Daws or Daus are a tribe presently among the Dawasir traditionally descended from a tribe called the Sanua (or Azd Sanua). In another text incidentally, the complexion Abu Hurayrah of the Daws is described as black or very dark (adam) as is still common to his Dawasir people.
As noted by Tariq Berry and explained by Wesley Muhammad, the early Arab definitions of words are dissimilar to those used by many modern Arabic speakers in the Middle East. Al-Thalabi speaks on the meaning of Adham being darker than Samar or as-Sumra. Fiqh al-lugha [82-82] and so does al-Asyuti in his Jawāhir al-‘uqud wa-mu’īn al-qudāt wal-muwaqqi’īn wal-shuhūd [II: 574].
While in bedouin dialects or Negev Arabic the variants the word asmar, samar or sumra still connotes a complexion nearly black. As some observers of Sinai bedouin dialects note, “In NA the terms azrag and asmar can be used interchangeably with asmar in general contexts, but as in other Arabic vernaculars asmar is the usual designation for dark skin short of black. A black person of African ancestry is ordinarily Azrag” (Hare, Paul and Kressel, Gideon M., 2009, p. 98).
Whoever saw Abu Huraira also took the time to describe as wide-shouldered, wearing his hair in two braids, and possessing a beard hennaed red. As mentioned in previous blogposts, a notable group of Arabians probably best representative of these early Azd are the modern Dawasir, still noted for being very tall and very black (although many in the Persian Gulf especially like so many tribes are of mixed Persian and Turkish and other ancestry).
The term giant is still in use for the pure Dawasir well into relatively recent times. Victorian author Charlotte Elizabeth Tanna speaking on their “giant forms” also wrote “It is perhaps not so generally known that a tribe of Bedaweens, called the Dowaser Arabs found in the land of Omar, are also black” (Tonna, Charlotte E., 1848, p. 136).
|Dawasir peoples of Yemamah, still black as their Azd ancestors ( Nejd, Central Arabia)|
In the time of the Prophet among the first tribes to arrive in Hijaz was that of Ubada bin al-Samit, a man of the Auf clan of Banu Khazraj, traditionally descended from Tha’laba the brother of Jafna. The Khazraj were one of the first of Arabia’s clans to rule Palestine after the birth of Muhammed and this Ubada was the first Muslim qadi or “judge” of Palestine.
There is still every reason to believe that many of these black men of the “Banu Qayla” were of giant stature or “huge” in build.
According to Moshe Gil, Ubada was historically described as “very tall, ten spans in height (2.40) meters”. This is well over 7 ½ feet tall, and closer to 8 feet in height (pp. 117-118). He is also documented as looking ‘shadeed al-udma” (or extremely black) and “as if he is from the tribe of Sanua” the latter being a major portion of the people called Banu Azd.* The author of Al-Israa Wa Al- Mi'raaj, a Quranic commentary or ahadith is said to have used the phrase “very black-skinned as if from the tribe of Sanua”.
Ubada also led a conquest of Alexandria in Egypt. As mentioned previously, more than one early historian has asserted that when a Byzantine (Greco-Roman) ruler in Egypt saw Ubada, he cried out “take this black man away” as “I am in dread of your blackness”!
"When Ubada b. al Samit got on the ship to speak with Muqawqas and approached him the Muqwaqas felt dread for his blackness […He] said to ‘Ubada, “Advance, black man and speak to me gently to m for I am in dread of your blackness.” (Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam, Futuh Misr, 66, cited in Daniel Pipes, "Black Soldiers in Muslim Armies", International of African Historical Studies, 1980)After this Ubada supposedly threatened to bring to his aid one thousand of his troops, which he claimed were every bit as black and even blacker than himself.
ScholarThomas Szigorich has said the Byzantine ruler “screeched ‘Save me from this black!’”. He adds:
"It is difficult to discern whether Muqawqis's reaction to 'Ubada's black skin reflects some early Muslim knowledge about late Roman and/or Christian attitudes to skin color, or whether it simply reflects certain attitudes toward black-skinned persons common among Abbasid-era Arabs (Szigorich, T., p. 1007, p. 56).And in fact it must be that Ibn Abd al-Hakam who was born in Egypt and lived near Fustat where thousands of Khazraj were settled was well aware of what Byzantines felt about black skin, and of what the Khazraj and Azd, Quraysh and in fact Arabian tribes in general looked like in that period. Al-Hakam was after all a Qurayshi by lineage himself.
As well the Abbasid era non-Arab Middle Easterner did have certain prejudice against a black skin common to the indigenous inhabitants of the peninsula of Arabia, as much as they did to inhabitants of the blacker parts of Africa.
According to Timothy Powers in his The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate, the Khazraji leader Ubada responded to the Byzantine ruler saying “I have heard your speech. Among those I command are a thousand men, all of them black, every one blacker than I and yet more hideous to look at.” (Powers, T., ). But, Powers, like Pipe’s tries to make Ubada’s people into non-Arabs and in fact some sort of mixed people claiming that the bulk of these troops were partially interbred with Africans. Pipes asserts “while 'Ubaba b. as-Samit [sic] is quite clearly an Arabian, the thousand blacks he commands must be African.” Pipes article on Blacks in Muslim Armies
Powers writes, "According to al-Quda'i, Ethiopian soldiers were involved in the conquest and settled in Fustat" (Powers, 2012 ).(Pages are unnumbered in Power's book) Further down he adds these "blacks" were likely "subject to all of the prejudice visited upon Antara ibn Shadad al-Absi", the said half-Ethiopian slave of the Banu Abs. And then we read "The social context of the black troops implies that they were slaves or mercenaries..." and so on.
But, in fact, the word that 11th century Al-Quda’i (whose name means the man of the Quda’a) used was “Ahabish”, which according to Arab scholars is different then the name of the Abyssinians or modern Ethiopians. Another historical observer was forced to address the issue. Even Pipes contradicting himself added in a footnote - “Ahabish derives not from the Arabic for Ethiopian (Habashi), as Lammens thought, but from the word "ally" (uhbush). The most complete discussion of this is found in M. Hamidullah, "Les 'Ahabish' de la Mecque," Studi orientalistici in onore di Giorgio Levi della Vida (Rome, 1956), I,434-437” (Pipes, D., 1980)
More accurately, the word seems to have been specifically used originally for four perfectly or purely Arab tribes of Kina’ana affiliation. We are told it in fact referred to tribes of the Banu Mustalik, al-Harith bin Abd Manat b. Kinana, al-Hayya and al-Hawn ibn Khuzaima including the Qara and Adal from the valley and mountainous region called “Hubshiyy” southward of Mecca (Ibrahim, Mahmood, 1990; Jwaideh, Wadie, 1959, p. 9, fn. 1).
Ironically all of the tribes just listed have been shown in this blog to have been described in Middle Eastern sources as "blacks" at one point, which illustrates how deep the level of misunderstanding has been, entrained or brought about by the West's misinterpretations of Arabic terms for ethnic groups and skin color.
Kara Arapi - the Black Arab or “Moor” in Eastern Europe
In Europe although blackness had long been associated with evil, it is the true original Saracen or unmodified Arab bedouin that came to epitomize or be characterized, for reasons that may have been at least partly warranted, by a diabolical, lascivious and ravenous nature.
"The Black Arab is a figure frequently represented in the heroic songs of the South Slavs. He is an antihero, an evil Muslim opponent of the Christian hero, primarily of the ideal hero Marko Kraljević, and also of the ill but honourable Dojčin (Bolen Dojčin, Bolan Dojčin). His most prominent marker is that he is a sexual monster and rapist. He requires a pretty girl for every night and even presumes to appear before the Sultan demanding that he bestow his daughter in marriage to him … A comparative analysis shows the historical, mythical and legendary roots of the figure of the Black Arab and of the epic song dealing with Marko Kraljević and the Black Arab. In some respects it follows the fairy-tale of the Dragon-Slayer, in others the legend of St. George. The Black Arab is a substitution for the Dragon. He represents the principles of earthly power and sexual desire. His unusual physical strength breeds fear. Marko Kraljević, on the other hand, substitutes for St. George. He is shaped in the same way as St. George: He fights for Good against Bad in this world, i.e. the violation and degradation of the Sultan’s daughter by the Black Arab. His fight bears a Christian meaning."
The figure of Marko of the Serbian ballads is in fact based on a historical ruler of a principality in Slavic Macedonia that lived in the 14th century. He fought against and with the Ottomans and their Arab armies. He is credited with preventing the movement of Muslims further into the Europe’s Balkan region.
Ballads concerning him are filled with phrases “black Arab” (crni arapina) and “black Moor” which are used interchangeably. One tale speaks of how a black Moor came to Kossovo and installed himself as a tyrannical ruler, perpetuating “shameful outrage on maid and wife” and imposing marriage taxes until Marco smites him.(See p. xxxii).
The tale entitled Marko and the Moor starts with, “A Black Moor builded him a manor, He builded a manor of twenty storyes, By the wide blue sea. And when the Moor had finished his manor, He set glass in the windows thereof, And spread therein silk and velvet …”
The Moorish “henchmen” and their ruler are said to live in tents and in a white manors or towers by the sea. In another tale, Marco, in order to achieve one of his heroic deeds at one point when he is in the accursed dungeon of “Azak”, takes black dye “and dyed black his white face, he made of himself a black Arab, and let out his good brown steed”. (p. 111).
One passage in a story published reads, “A greater shame the Moor hath put upon us, For each night he will have a young wife, and a maiden also, And the Moor embraceth the maiden, And his servants take the young wife. And all Kossovo must send him in appointed turn, Their young wives and their maidens also, And behold, wretched that I am, mine own turn is come, And this night I must thither to the Moor, That he may lie with me this night.”
The maid had complained to Marko that her family had nothing to pay the Moor who had 9 years previously come “from across the sea”. She asked him if she should jump in a river or hang herself, and Marco convinces her not to and vows to seek him out in his manor and take care of things.
In still another ballad, "Marko Kraljevic and the daughter of the Moorish king", Marko tells his mother that he was once in the land of the Moors where he smote many of them, but at one point he was cast into a dungeon where he was desired by the daughter of the Moorish king. He says he was tormented by the daughter of the king who would come to him morning and night calling through the dungeon window, telling him not to cry, but begging and bribing him to give her his solemn word that he will marry her and she would see that he go free from his prison. Then Marko agreed and she let him out giving him back his sword, and they went away “through the land of the Moors on horseback.”
Marko then tells his mother that when one day at dawn “the Moorish maiden took me, Encircling me with her black arms”, and when he looked upon her -“On her black face and white teeth” a “loathing” took hold over him and and he “drew the rich-sabre and smote her on the silken girdle.” After this the severed head of the Moorish woman had the audacity to call out to him in desperation "‘Brother in God Kraljevic Marko! Leave me not ! Leave me not!" (p. 106)
So as we can see it is not only the Moorish or Arab men that lust for white bodies, in the east European traditions, but Moorish womanfolk, too.: )
In Bulgaria, as among the Roma, black face is often used for the Arapi, i.e. Arabs, in mumming or mummers parades. In certain villages “entire faces are blackened, and not just with soot but with a dark-black greasepaint or polish” (Creed, Gerald, 2011, p. 190). And as pointed out previously in this blog the word variants of the word Arab such as 'arapi' or 'arapina' is virtually a synonym for black man in such places. “This view of the Arab as dark-skinned is also found among other peoples, as is indicated by the term arap (i.e., Arab) meaning 'black African' in modern Turkish, Greek, and Russian, as well as in Yiddish” (Goldenberg, 2009, p. 124).
The idea of the early semitic bedouin of Arabia and Palestine as fair-skinned is a product of the viewing modern media and scholarship which has conceived of populations of the Levant and the Near East as unmodified through time, and all dark-skinned Arabs or semites as the product of slavery. Various nationalisms have also contributed to this distorted conception of the early Arab. Such a thought as shown by some early statements would probably have been considered ridiculous in the earliest period of Islam, not only by Arabs, but by the Europeans and Syrians who before the Abbasid power and well afterwards were intimately familiar with the appearance of Arabians. Arabs of the past could hardly have been the half-imaginary and half-white men they’ve come to be looked upon by modern historians and glamorized in film industry as, nor do they appear to have been a "race" separate from the earliest Jews, Hebrews and Israelites.
Though after centuries the word Saracen came to refer to any Muslim tribe that appeared in the early Crusader narratives they are originally almost exclusively Arabians and mainly those in desert encampments. They included such peoples as the Himyarites (Homeritae), Gassan or Kassanitae (Kassandreis or Gasandioi), Kinda, Maddeni or Ma’addei, Tayy’ or Tayyaye, Palmyreni and Scenitae, whom when they are described at all are in fact described as black or near black “akhdar” and as “kusim” the latter word being derived from the indigenous name of the black Gassan/Kushan.
Even Zainab or Zenobia, the Saracen queen who claimed descent from the Greek Cleopatra (or mostly Greek) is said to have been very dark in color. She had “black eyes and dark skin and teeth so white that many believed she wore pearls in her mouth”.
A book called Conquest of Syria or “Futuh es-Sham” famed in the Muslim world attributed to an al-Waqidi, but thought to have been written or copied in the later Mamluk period (Rihan, Mohamed, p. 176) states that Ubada was called in to lead troops by a “cousin” who was a King of the Gassan tribe. His name was Jabla or Jabala.
“ 'Ubada ibn Al-Saamit set out towards him on his horse until he stopped in front of Jabla ibn Al-Ayham. Jabla looked at a tall, very black complexioned as if he was from the tribe of Shanua. Jabla stood in awe of him because of the grandeur of his appearance. 'Ubaada ibn Al-Saamit was one of those who was so tall that when he sat on his horse, his feet could touch the ground."Another translation by a Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi says that the Gassanite king Jabalah with the complexion of the Azd Shanuah. The Islamic Conquest of Syria translated by Mawlana al-Kindi
“Jabalah saw this tall man, deep-brown in complexion as if he was of the Yamani tribe of Shanuah. 'Ubadah was extremely tall and his enormous physique frightened Jabalah.
Jabalah : Boy, from which nation are you?
'Ubadah : I am of the descendants of 'Amr bin 'Amir.
Jabalah : That is good. What is your name?
'Ubadah? 'Ubadah bin al-Samit, Sahabi of Rasulullah S. What do you want?
Jabalah : O my cousin, I came because I know most of you to be my relations.”
The 9th century Baladhuri makes the point that Jabalah from the Gassan tribe of the Azd who had been a former Christian working with the Byzantines against the Sassanid Persians had come to side with the Azd of the Ansar (“companions”) from Medina saying, "You are our brethren and the sons of our fathers".
But the later translator of al-Waqidi’s account in the Mamluk period appeared to think the complexion of Ubada’s was something different then Jabalah of the Ghassan.
Although we can assume not all tribes of the Azd were the same height as the Khazraj, it is fairly certain that like nearly ALL of the Arab tribes of that period, including the complexion of Banu Gassan, and in particular their nobles, was black - “khudar” until a fairly late period. Al-Jahiz spoke of the khudr or nobles of the Gasan and of the Muharib. He says they were called Khudr because of their blackness. One specialist on Arab myth has expounded on this in the past khudar/khidr/akhdar signified someone of noble and especially "pure Arab" status with the connotation of blackness (Stetkevych, Jaroslav, 1996, p. 73). Stetkevych cites the remarks of early Arabs like the poet al Lahabi al Fadl a relative of the Prophet who said “I am the black skinned one”and "from the noble house of the Arabs" making use of the word akhdar (Stetkevich, p. 73).
He also writes, “From the Arabic side within this etymological expansion of Qedar/khidr, we shall, for the sake of further illustration, attend especially to the Arabic root kh-d-r, as in akhdar (‘of a dark, ashy, [dar] dusty color’ as well as ‘of a blackish hue inclining to green’ and ‘black, black –complexioned’, for these meanings of akhdar shall guide us back most directly to the phrasing of the topos in Song of Songs 1:5."( p. 73)
In other words dark and "dusty” or like soot as in the “blacker than soot” skins of the Saracens in the crusader narrative Itinerarium Peregrinorum.
According again to Harold MacMichael a “medley of tribes” had sojourned in Egypt, “Among the former group the greatest tribal names were , perhaps those of the Beni Quda’a, who included, theoretically, the Beli, the Beni Kelb, and the Guhayna and Tai who included theoretically, Gudham and Lakhm, el Azd, ‘Aus and Khazrag ( the Ansar” or Helpers” of the Prophet)’. …(Norris, H. T., 1996, p. 95).
Many Azd people were present in Egypt when European crusaders arrived. Banu Ghafiq from Udthan bin Hazzan b. al Azd had at one time settled “35,000 strong” in Egypt. Fustat for example which was invaded by Amalric, the European Count of Anjou (in France) in the 12th century in the time of the crusades was occupied by settlers of the Azd tribe from the clans of Ghafiq and 'Akk. There were four thousand of their clans, along with the Baliyy (Beliyya) from the Himyarite tribe of Quda’a (Athamina, Khalil, 1997, p. 108).
Most had entered into their principle settlements in Spain early on and were in the region of Seville, Cordoba, and to some extent Toledo, Elvira, Granada and Al Sharaf west of Seville before the 10th century.
The tribe of 'Akk from Azd had been located in Yemen in the Tihama area. Abd al-Hakam had recorded that the troops of Amr al-As, the Qurayshi in charge of the conquest of Palestine consisted of several thousand members of the tribe of Akk in Tihama part of Yemen. “The Banu 'Akk were an old-established South Arabian tribe, dwelling to the north of Zabid, according to Hamdani”. Ghafiq was mentioned as a batn or sub-clan of Banu ‘Akk of the Yemen in early sources. And we have seen previously in this blog the name of ‘Akk is almost certainly the same as the semilegendary ruler Og mentioned in Deutoronomy 3:11, "a remnant" of the giant “Rephaim” who fought against Moses’ in Canaan.
" The Ghafiq clan of the Azd living in ‘Asir contributed a unit to Musa ibn Nusayr’s army, which had invaded the Iberian peninsula by the year 712 AD. Many of the same people then settled in al-Andalus (the Islamic region of the Iberian peninsula)…” (Nicolle, D. p. 12). The appearance of these people who were pure Arabians and thus black, as well as the unusual stature or height of many of these Muslim tribes could easily have given rise to the depictions of the black and giant Saracens.
Musa ibn Nusayr himself belonged to the Azd tribe of Lakhym. The Azd clans were thus in the front lines of the early battles fought against the Franks both in Spain and Palestine and these “Saracens” described in the Middle Eastern sources as "khudar" and “shadeed al udmah” (signifying extreme or jet blackness) are undoubtedly among those memorialized in passages of the “Chanson de Rolande” like the often cited one below.
“When Rolande sees that race of infidels, Each one of them blacker far than ink. Their teeth the only feature that shows white, The count concludes, “now do I know in truth, That we shall die today; I know it well.” Chanson de Rolande, 12th century (cited in Barthelemy, 1999, p. 11)
The Bedouins encountered by Richard “the Lion- Heart”
As Moshe Gil has pointed out that “….most of the Umayyad army in al-Sham (and one should bear in mind that army meant tribes) were the Yamaniyya, the southerners.” This includes the tribes who occupied Palestine by the 9th century. He writes, “The following are the ‘southern’ tribes whose offspring we find among the inhabitants of Palestine during this period: Khath’am; Judham (I have already elaborated on this tribe); Amila; Ghassan; Khawlan; Madhhij, and the clan within it, Zubayd; Himyar… and the Sayban clan; Kinda, and the clan of Banu Amr. Khuza’a; Azd; Quda’a and the clan of Juhayna within it; Ash’ar’ according to Ya’qubi, writing in 892, this southern tribe were the majority (evidently among the Bedouin) in Tiberias (probably meaning the Tiberias region); Lakhm, as the Judham, was to be found on the Palestinian border before the advent of Islam.” ( Gil, 1977, p. 132-133)
A few centuries before the early Christian era a new wave of Arabian peoples from Yemen had brought into Syria and Iraq the Tayy - Madhij people. The Tayyi or Taiy were a typical Arab bedouin population of that time, with some tribesmen being pagan, others Jewish and still others Christian. One early writer asserted the people who invented the characters or Arab script were three persons from the tribe of Bulan "from the race of the Banu Taiy" (Hughes, Thomas Patrick, 1895, p. 270).
The Tayyi were from the Kahlan and thus of Himyarite affiliation, thus MacMichael writes that “The Kahlan branch also contained several famous tribes. The best known of these were Tai, including Gudham and Lakhm, el Azd, ‘Aus and Khazrag ( the Ansar” or Helpers” of the Prophet)’ …”(MacMichael, Harold, 2011, 131).
They were considered to have encompassed a large part of the Syrian desert. The Taiy had also traditionally been settled in Djebel Tayyi or the mountains of Tayy called Ashja’a and Salma in the Nejd of Central Arabia. There they venerated a deity or idol named al-Fulus worshipped in the guise of one of the cliffs of Ashja’a. They had also been situated north of Khaibar oasis and east of Teima, and extended to the upper Euphrates in the early Islamic period.
By the time the prophet of Islam was born they “roamed the large expanses between Egypt, Palestine and southern Syria.” Supposedly when Ali, a relative of Muhammed came to destroy its temple the tribe converted to Islam.
According to Retso the entire region of Singar in Mesopotamia once “ was considered to have been inhabited by the Yamanites called Tayyi or Taieni. The presence of people with that name in Mesopotamian Arabia would explain why the word in Syriac became the general term for inhabitants in the Syrian desert. There is an isolated saying going back to al-Qatada describing the situation of ‘this tribe of al-Yarab’ before Islam when they were ‘confined on a top of a rock between Faris (=Iran) and Rum …. According to Pliny, Mount Singar was a centre for the Praetavi Arabs, i.e. Mesopotamian Arabia, which was a border country between Iran and Rome for several centuries. The saying would thus have preserved a memory of the situation of the Taieni/Tayyi? During a long period of their history. The Tayy? later had a traditional centre around the two mountains Salma and ‘Aga…” (Retso, p. 521, fn. 4)
Tayy were found in various parts of the Syro-Palestinian region. “In the half-deserted area between Gaza and Hebron were branches of the Banu-Taiy, namely the Jarm Quda’ah and, on the coast to the south of Gaza and Darum, the Banu-Ghaur (suggesting the valley of the Jordan) and Banu-Buhaid. Other clans of Tayyi were found between Transjordan and Sinai and in the Hauran or Hawran….”
It was these “Yemenites” called Tayyi who led by their chief Mufarrij bin Daghfal in the 10th century A.D. had come to control Central Palestine (with Ramla as capital) under the name Banu Jarrah. Due to the presence of this group in the Syrian steppe the terms Saracen and Tayyaye (Shahid Irfan, 1989, p. 117) had already become synonymous and words commonly used for Arabian bedouins (Hoyland, Robert G., p. 220 and 226).
It has been noted more that more one commentator spoke disparagingly of these Tayyi or Banu Jarrah bedouin who committed atrocities on non-Muslim Syrians, especially its Jewish or Judaized inhabitants. (There were already many Jews from other countries and nationalities calling themselves Jews in Syria by this time.)
In certain Jewish literature thus the Tayyi are chastized or maligned as “black slaves”.
A Spanish Rabbi Ibn Abitur wrote a poem called, “A Lament for the Jews of Palestine During the Bedouin Rampages of 1024” one translation reads:
“Weep, my brothers, and mourn
Over Zion, all of us together,
Like the mourning of Hadadrimmon
And Josiah the son of Amon.
Weep for those tender, genteel ones
Who barefoot tread on thorns.
They draw water for Black slaves,
And they hew wood for them.
Weep for the man who was forced into slavery,
But was not prepared for it.
They told him “Suffer and bear it!”
But he could not shoulder the burden.
Weep for men who must see
Their praiseworthy sons
Who are like fine gold
Desecrated at the hands of Black slaves…”
Cited in Norman Stillman’s The Jews of Arab Lands (1979) p. 205.
According to Stillman, such atrocities “did occur during the Bedouin uprisings 'which began in 1024 under the leadership of the Banu Jarrah…”
David Goldenberg also speaks of other Jewish poems regarding the Tayy:
“A Hebrew poem found in the Cairo Genizah records the Fatimid campaign against the Banu Jarrah in the early eleventh century. Written by Meham be Tabbi Yom Tav [sic] he-Hazzan shortly after the event, it refers to the Banu Jarrah, who were from southern Arabia and had very dark skin, as kushim. According to Ezra Fleischer who published the poem, a contemporaneous source, the poem Bekhu Ahay Vegam Sifdu by Joseph ibn Abitur, also refers to the Banu Jarrah in this way, calling them kushim, while a letter from Sadoq Halevi ben Levi in Israel calls them shehorim 'blacks'. “ (Goldenberg, 2009, p. 124).In fact the Taiyy or Tayyaye though originally a clan had among the "white Syrians" (a Greek phrase) had become a generic name for Arab bedouins of the Syrian desert and Arabs in general, who had before the rise of Muhammed been vassals and clients of the Persians, which may or may not partially account for the use of the word "slaves" for these bedouin. The Tayyi were from the Kahlan and thus of Himyarite affiliation perhaps among the best known of these in Northern Arabia were the Quda’a (of whom the Mahra of Hadramaut are among the best living representatives.)
A group of Mahra in southeastern Arabia. Mahra, Shahra and Bahra were said to be related clans of Quda'a Himyarites. "MAHRA, or Ahl al Hadara Mahra is the Arab name for those Bedouin tribes who are different in appearance to other Aarabs, having almost beardless faces, fuzzy hair and dark pigmentation, - such as the Qarra, Mahra and Harasis, along with parts of other tribes." (David Phillipson (2001) Peoples on the Move, p. 250.)
The name of Tayyaye had thus become the generic name for Arabs because of the widespread expansion of the Tayy, Lakhm and other Azd into and across Syria, Iraq and Iran or Persia in general. In Persia and Central Asia, the term was Tazi or Tazik (related to the name of the modern Tadjikistan).
Thus, the Chinese word for Arab, Ta-shih or Dashi (Da-shi), was in turn derived from the Persian word for 'Arab', Tazih. Chinese texts record the Tazih or Ta-Shih as people the Persians had used as slaves after which time they became the rulers of all of the territory of Persia. This is a reference to the pre-Islamic period when Arabs were largely subjects to the Sassanid Persians.
“Starting in 705, the great Arab general Qutaiba ibn Muslim marched east from Khorasan into Central Asia and in the next 10 years, in a series of brilliant campaigns, conquered Tukharistan, Bukhara, Khwarizm, Samarkand, and finally, reached Fergana in today's Soviet Central Asia.” (Paul Lunde, July/August 1985 issue of Aramco World Magazine)
A text known as the Wang wu Tianzhuguo zhuan (Notes of the Road to Five India Regions) was written by Hui Chao, a Korean Buddhist monk around 726 or 727 CE. It is translated as follows,
“The King of Persia previously ruled the Dashi, who had previously been slaves tending to the King‘s camels. After the betrayal and murder of the King, the Dashi took the throne and ruled Persia. The men in the area at the time had long, large noses; they were thin, dark-skinned, and wore full beards. They looked Poluomen (Indian)( 2010, p. 314).Here we should keep in mind the word Indian was used for Arabians and Abyssinians and sometimes Africans in general at this period, as much as for the inhabitants of India.
According to the Xin Tang Shu supposedly written in the Song dynasty the territory taken over by black men or Arabs called Ta-shih (or Dashi, originally belonged to the Pos-shi (Bosi) or Persians : Of the Dashi it is said “the men have long noses, they are black and have beards” (Schottenhammer, Angela p. 124).
Another manuscript also described the Tayy or Tazi and their land.
“Later, during the second year of Yonghui (651 CE), the Dashi began to send envoys to pay tributes. The King, Mimo Muni. 19 Dashi had ordered these envoys out, after the establishment of the Kingdom by roughly thirty four years (during which time the crown had been passed down to three Kings). The people of the land religiously worshipped the God of heaven, but the men were dark-skinned and bushy-bearded, with big, long noses lending them the appearance of Poluomen (Indians) while the women were fair. The Dashi had their own scripts. The land held an abundance of camels and horses, bigger than those of other countries; their weapons were sharp, their warriors brave. From the (2012) p. 317
Many legends and manuscripts claim that it was a Quraysh delegation that first brought Islam and that relatives and companions of the Prophet came several times during the Sui dynasty. Traditions based on old manuscripts say that the delegations bearded black men to China were coming directly from Mecca. More than one manuscript mentions a Quraysh general named Sa’d ibn Waqqas, a grandson of the uncle of the Prophet’s mother Amina. His clan was called Banu Zuhra. Syrian al-Dhahabi apparently records that he was a kinky haired man with a very dark skin and flat nose. Seyar al Nubala’a Vol. 1.
It was under Sa’d ibn Waqqas that "the Tazi" or early Arabs defeated the Sassanid Persians in a battle at Al-Qadisiyya (or Al-Ghadesiyya). This conquest led them to move on to capture Ctesiphon the Persian capital, after which time there was a massive movement of Arabs into Persia. This part of Persia was a province called Khvarvaran (also comprising eastern Iraq.)
As we have seen a few of the stories bring up the fact that these “black” men brought with them white or fair-skinned women, which would not be astonishing. The Arabians had already brought many of the captured Byzantines (Greco-Romans) into Mecca, Thaqif (a Hawazin town) and other towns as slaves and concubines even before that period. One of the concubines of the Prophet, was said to be a Byzantine named Maria, a former Christian (Byzantine) from Egypt. According to one tradition she was given as a gift by Muqawqis (the Byzantine ruler I mentioned above.)
Interestingly in a letter that sounds straight out of a news report in our present times the Sassanid ruler of Ctesiphon, a Shah named Yazdegird III wrote a probably well- deserved, angry, insulting and sarcastic letter describing the atrocities to the Ummayad Khalif Omar (Umar) ibn Khattab “the Tazi”. The letter was sent after the Khalif warned that the Persians or “Ajam” must convert to Islam, or else, face the consequences.
The Khalif Umar’s huge son is said to have said “we inherit our black complexions from our maternal uncles” (From El-Tabaqaat el Kubra’ of Ibn Saad.) Khalif Umar was of Quraysh lineage on both paternal and maternal sides.
Yazdegird wrote to Umar a passionate letter in which Umar’s Arab people are described as lizard-eating merciless, desert savages, who had committed many horrendous atrocities, including mass murder, beheading of people, and raping of women. He also said he prayed to God not to let these Tazi capture the daughters (of Persians) and take them back to Mecca, as they had done to daughters of the Byzantines.
Wesley Muhammad quotes from an article called Muslims in China,” Paul Lunde published with Saudi Aramco World 36, July/August: 12-19, 1985. The article recalls a legend among the Muslims of China that they use to explain the coming to Islam to China.
A Chinese Emperor once had a dream of a holy man. “The man was pursuing monsters To look on, he [had] indeed a strange countenance, totally unlike ordinary men; his face was the color of black gold…his clothes were white and powdered… he wore a cloth turban like a coiled dragon…His presence was awe-inspiring…. When he entered he knelt towards the West, reading the book he held in his hand. When the demons saw him they were at once changed into their proper forms, and in distressful voices pleaded for forgiveness. But the turbaned man read on for a little, till the demons turned to blood and at last to dust, and at the sound of a voice the turbaned man disappeared. Now,” the Emperor continued, “whether this be a good or an ill omen I’m sure I don’t know. (Lunde, P. ). The legends say the emperor was then told by a dream interpreter this man was an Arabian who was a great ruler and Prophet that was capable of ridding the world of evil.
(In some legends the turbaned man is purported to be tall and graceful as well.)
It is possible that these early Arabs had some connection to the tribal dynasty that became known as Kara Khitai or “the black Cathay”, as their founder was known as Yeh Lu Ta-Shih (Dashi). Ta-Shih as mentioned above, was the name of the black “Ta-Zih” i.e. Taziks, the Tayy’ or Arabs that had settled in, ravaged and ruled Persia (including Central Asia). Kara means “black” in the Turkic and Tartar dialects.
One British author cited from the compilation of a Turkish Khan named Abu al-Ghazi living in the 17th century who had gathered together documents of his family on the genealogy of the Turkic Khans and information on the various regions of the Mongols and Turks extending to China. The author writes about the Khan:
“His father’s people and other neighboring tribes were now converted to his own faith. He then proceeded to attack the Tatars, who lived near Jurjid (i.e. Manchuria). He defeated them and captured great quantities of booty. ‘For sixty-two years he fought against the Tatars, and subjected,’ says Abulghazi, ‘Khitai (i.e. China), Jurjid (i.e. Manchuria), Tangut (which, he adds, the Tajiks call Tibet), and Kara Khitai, a vast country extending from Hindostan to China, whose inhabitants were black.”To the south of that country was another land of “black barbarians” called Kara Jang with its capitol of Yach’i. Kara Jang came to be called Gandhara and Kandahar. But that is history which is the subject of a later post.: )
“Saracen Bedouin” of the Crusades in Palestine
“With them also were the Saracens, who live in the desert, called Bedouins: they are a savage race of men, blacker than soot; they fight on foot, and carry a bow, quiver, and round shield, and are a light and active race…” narrative account of the Saracens in Palestine (Third Crusade) Itinererarium Perigrinorum
As to be expected little is known about the movement of Arab bedouin tribes in the Crusader period of the Levant. At that period there was fighting between the Qays Arabs or Arabs of Kedar descent and the Arabs of Yamaniyya descent or (southerners), both of whom have been spoken of more than few times in this blog. At the time the Crusaders from Europe attacked the eastern Mediterranean the Tayyi had already become the most powerful confederation in southern Palestine (Van der Steen, Eveline, 2013) under clans like the Banu Jarrah mentioned previously.
In Transjordan the Rabi’a clan of the Tayy were in control as well. (Van der Steen) An Ibn Qalanis of 12th century Syria mentions the Taiy in league with the northern Arab Kilab and Khafajah, clans of Hawazin, invading Tiberius next to the sea of Galilee in the 12th century. This is also the century that the Kurdish leader Saladin destroyed the Crusader army there.
During the 11th century the Banu Numayr of the Hawazin (from the Mudar) took control of northern Mesopotamia extending into Turkey assuming power in the Diyar Mudar (western Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia) during the 11th century.
Al-Baladhuri, said the Hawazin clans of Bakr, Mudar, and Rabi’ah had been settled in the region of Upper Mesopotamia (Jazira) since the time of the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. The Hamdanid dynasty was founded by the Taghlib tribe from south Central Arabia.
Beginning in 1090 and for most of the 12th century the Muslims and Crusaders whom were called al-Ifranj or Ifrangi (“Franks”) and Turks had frequent skirmishes with the Muslims. The Fatimids dynasty held the Palestinian town of Ascalon, while the Frankish Crusaders had already taken control of Jaffa and Jerusalem in Palestine after a certain point. Around 482/1089 the Fatimids under Saladin had repossessed the towns of Acre, Tyre, Sidon and Jubayl from the Seljuk Turks.
The Banu Uqayl bin Ka’b from the Hawazin branch of the Qays or Qays ibn Ailan (Mudar) had been battling with the Tayy since the 10th century, when the leader of the Banu Jarrah led an ally of the Uqaylid chief through the streets of Ramla tied to a camel before beheading him. The Uqaylids are among the Arabs that ruled the region of Mosul further north in Syria.
The Fatimids of North Africa with the help of the Qays rousted the Tayy from their seats of power in southern Palestine before the entry of the Crusaders. By the time of Nasir Khusrau Persians, Kurds and Turks were present but are said to make up a smaller part of the army than the Berbers and other Africans. Thousands of Persians were already present in Palestine that had come to Palestine as Daylami and with the Qarmatians some had been transferred from the Yemen. The Turks and Kutama (Tuareg) were considered higher status than the rest of the groups. The offspring of Egyptians with the Persians and Turks settled in Egypt Nasir refers to as muwalladin (mulattos) or “half-breeds”. Khusrau reports the bedouins Arabs to have been 50,000 strong.
The latter had been mainly sent westward from Egypt before the year 1050AD, long before the coming of the “Ifrangi” or Franks whose crusaders arrived approximately 50 years later.
We are told that a Saracen Prince named “Caysac” had urged Saladin to send scouts to the plain of “Ramula” (Ramlah or modern Ramallah). The name Caysac may betray his affiliation with the Qays confederation, then again Qays appears in the names of many Palestinian leaders of that era. In any case the Qays were most likely the Saracen bedouin among the Fatimids.
In Syria in this period the Mamluk Sultans were paying a kind of protection money to the most powerful bedouins like the Tayy, who were in actuality in control of not only Transjordania but the entire area extending between Hama (in Syria) and the Euphrates. The al-Fadl clan of the Rabi’a Tayy was especially powerful in Transjordania.
Along with the Tayy, there were a number of other Saracen and bedouin people that this blog has already shown were documented in texts as black or “the complexion of Abyssinians” even in recent times. They were from the Qays, Hawazin, Kinanah and Ghatafan and had come to administer Palestine in the early period after Islam.
Gil expounds on the various Qays and Kinanah related tribes from North and Central Arabia in Palestine. They had once been called the confederation of Kedar or Qidar, but were generally called “Mudar” or “Muzir” in the Islamic period. Gil says “Thaqif” a Hawazin tribe “ whose centre was Ta’if in the Hijaz, was certainly represented in the administration of Palestine during the time…; but we know that members of this tribe also lived in Trans-Jordan, in the Balqa; Banu Ghatafan and the clan of Murra within it; Kilab, and Banu Uqayl within it from the federation of tribes Amir b. Sa’sa’a, Tamim, Taghlib…Hudhayl…..”
For those unfamiliar with this blogspot, the Hudhayl bin Mudrika were people near Mecca akin to Kinana about whom explorer Charles Dougherty said “their skins were black and shining” (Doughty, Charles, 1988, p. 535). The Kilab and Uqayl were Hawazin belonging to the Ka’ab or Cha’ab branch of Beni Amer bin Za’a Za’a. They are the people George Rawlinson in his 1865 book, Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World described as “nearly black” and having complexions similar to “Abyssinians” (Rawlinson, George, 1865, p. )And more recently they are noted as today making up the majority or 2/3rd of Iraq’s “blacks”.
Black Saracens as Jews: Never Lost but Forgotten Full-Blooded Tribes of IsraelThe Saracen is often portayed as Jewish, or the murderer of Christ, which is something that is also partially explainable by the Judaean ethnicity of certain bedouin groups coming from the Hijaz that were part of the Ansar and Tayye. Many of the Saracens - the Kayla or Ansar in particular were still Jewish at the time Muhammad the Prophet was born. The Kayla included the Khazraj, Aus and Khuza’a or Khaza’a. Nabtal of the clan of Aus spoken of above as “tall huge and black” mentioned above was known to have been Jewish. How the Khazraj and brethern Aus came to be called the companions or Ansar is described here: His mother Salma was said to be a Khazraji from the clan of Najjar Ibn Rabbih as others mentions that of the clans of al-Khazraj are the al-Najjar ibn Th’laba bin Amr ibn Khazraj. It is said that when “the prophets father died she took him with her to Medinah to take refuge with his maternal uncles. Later the Prophet’s mother took him on a journey to Meccah where he proclaimed his message and was persecuted by his uncles. He fled back to Medinah where his Khazraj uncles protected him and became known as his companions or el Ansar”, (Gibb, E. W. 1907,p. 7 -8.)
It is also interesting that according to certain sources. “The Bani Najjar were followers of Judaism” (See the Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, 2009, p. 99) and the first Caliph of the Umayyads wrote that while the Quraish had become patriarchal, the Khazraj or Ansar were still under the control of women. In truth texts are often in conflict with the history of Jewish origins, because “Jew” in the West has come to stand only for set of religious practices, while in the early pre-Islamic world before the time of Christ it referred to the people from the habitat of Judaea, i.e. the Yehud. Thus, before Christ and up until the middle of the 1st century s all of the Greek authors who spoke of the Yehudi or Ioudaioi referred to an ethnic group or “the ethnic inhabitants of Judaea”, the Solymi-Minaeans (Salma and sons). After the birth of the man thought to have embodied the Christos, the man that was called Jesus “the Nazarene”, people like Strabo began to apply the name Yehudi or Judaean not only to a priestly section of Judaea worshipping Yahwe/Yahu Nissi with a set of rites practices, but the people they had converted in the Roman world (Cohen, Shaye J. D., p. 93-94).
It has been said at least 10 percent of the people of Rome had been converted to Judaism. The early Judaioi or Minaeans belonging largely to the Kenites or al-Ka’in of the Quda’a and Jodham and Lakhm branch of the Azd were the vehicle by which Christianity, Islam and Judaism spread to Europe. And this religion had deep theological roots in the monotheistic beliefs and astronomical knowledge of the Sabaeans of Yemen who had derived largely from the African Nile valley.
A European Christian missionary named Dr. Joseph Wolff met people from tribes claiming to be descendants Hobab and of Rechab through “Jonadab” (that is to say Banu Jundub) in Arabia. He claimed they were the descendants of those who are called Yehood Khaibar by the Mohammedans’ and who at last were defeated by Mohammed; and that in their company there were “Children of Israel, of the tribe of Dan, who reside in Hatramawt.”
Ibn Rabbih and other early Arab historical commentarists spoke, “Of the Yemeni clans of Tayyi are Jadila, who are the Banu Jundub and Banu Hur.” We have already discussed already the name “Jundub” or “Gundub” is none other than Jonadab, the Israelite son of Rechab, son of Hammath “the Kenite”. The name Gindibu incidently is the name of an Arab chief mentioned by the Assyrian king Shalmanezzar in the 11th century B.C..
Several early European visitors to Arabia aside from Wolff have spoken of the true tribes of Khaibar (Heber) – the “Kenites” or “Rechabites” of Arabia. Another individual wrote that there were also Rechab living near the Dead Sea and deep in the desert who had never come anywhere near Palestine (Bowden, Ernest M., p. 179) and on the shores of the Arabian sea some of the Yehud Chaibr or Arab Sabth (who kept the Sabbath) “were to be found labouring at smith’s work, which is, perhaps, slightly significant, if the ancient Kenites were a guild of wandering ironsmiths” (Bowden, p. 178). ). The word Qa’in or Qayin means smith.
Banu Laith were still found in the colonial period in large numbers around Mecca and Medina apparently wearing their hair in side ringlets of the Habbaniyya and Hasidic Jews of Europe. Speaking of the tribe of Laith of Petra in addition the author says “These Rechabites, if such they are rightly called, were possibly connected with the fellahin of Petra, of whom Professor Palmer saw something in 1870.” The clan of Laith was originated from the Abd Manat tribe of Tabikha or Tabaykh, a well-known clan of Banu Kinana. They are those whom Al-Tabari had equated with “Tahba (who is Tahab who is al-'Ayqan) bin Jamah” and the biblical Tebah, brother of Gaham (and Tahash) of Genesis 22: 24.
We know that like Tabikha or Tabakh, the name of the Jamah or Jaham is also the equivalent of the Kinanah clan of Juhma. Just as Dahash and Qainan remain the name of the Dawasir clans of the Nejd (Lorimer, G., 1908, p. 393-394).
In addition the perennial enemies and neighbors of the Dawasir are known as the Tebah or Ateiybah. Dhu al-Rumma the Ummayad poet was among the notable members of the Abd Manat clan of Tabikha. Ibn Rabbih. 2014, 255). According to Al Esfehani of Persia (Central Asia) he was “black-skinned” and “unattractive”. As for the Ateybah (or Uteibah) of more recent times in the Holy Land “they wore their hair in long curly plaits” and their skin was still “a dark brown”. (Bentley, J. 1857, p. )
As we mentioned earlier in the blogspot the Kenites are the historical Ba’l Qayn of the Qudha’a Himyarites who were the miners of the Sulaym or Soleymi Arabs. Thus we can see why the biblical Zipphorah a“Kushite” from the Kenite clan of the Midianites is called Zarifa al-Himyari in Arabian tradition. And these Kushi or Kushan Midianites or Ghassan from the Tihama were ironically enough “the Kushites dwelling in the tents of Kedar”.
|MEN FROM A TOWN CALLED SABYA IN TIHAMA|
As we can see there is no escape from the actual historic Arabian heritage of the Bible. It would be illogical to assume that the Arabs took all of their names from some ancient Israelites, Edomites and Hebrews imagined in Syria and somehow remained in the same area with the identical “biblical” placenames that were mentioned in the Torah. The Jews, the Himyarites, Canaanites, the Israelites, were at one time a small group of Yemenite people ancestral to the earliest Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
As for the “Children of Israel, of the tribe of Dan” son of Bilha from Hadramaut living amongst the Yehud Chaibr observed by Joseph Wolff. These have been already identified as the Habbani of Hadramaut spoken of previously in this blogspot. This is the tribe whom texts claim descend from Bahila and Dan. They claim descent from Dan and some textual sources say from Bahila b. Assur who was considered from Ghatafan and otherwise from the Azd tribe related to Suham and Ghunay.
As Ibn Rabbih noted, “Sahm was in Quraysh; and Sahm was in Bahila” (2012, p. 269). Just as Tebah or Tabikh was in Quraysh, and Tebah was in the Azd called Jodham. Most importantly it has elsewhere been shown that the name Bahila was none other than the Israelite ancestress “Bilha”, “mother of Dan” (Genesis 32:25).
Many of the Hadramauti Jews or “Habbani” are almost identical in appearance to the Kayla or Beta Israel of modern Ethiopia (formerly known as “Falasha). It is thus not by coincidence that Banu Kayla is also the name of the tribes of Azd (Khazraj and Aus) who descended according to Arab tradition from the ancient followers of Muzaikiyya and Zarifa al Himyarite (“Moses” and “Zipphorah”) in Marib (Meribah) in the Torah (Exodus 17:7 and Numbers 20:13).
In the 12th century the European Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela (in Spain) visited the region of Khaibar and mentioned their capitol at Thema (or Teima?) northwest of Khaibar. He said the towns inhabitants were called the Beni Rechab and that no less than 50,000 inhabitants lived in the area. Interestingly the town of Teima or Teyma was said to have been founded by the Tayy. This adds to the plausibility that the Rakibiyya (Rechab) and Khaibar (Heber) inhabitants in general descended from the Tayyi through the clan of Jundub or “Jonadab”, son of Rechab.
Tudela also wrote that these Kenite Rechabites or descendants of Heber had large and strong cities from which they would undertake warlike expeditions. “Among them were scholars maintained by tithes who spent their lives in studying the law.” They also had ascetics living in caves who abstained from wine, ate no meat and dressed in black. Finally Benjamin also claimed they were pruported descendants of the clans of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh (Bowden, Ernest, 1891, p. 174).
Also confusing matters is the fact that Israelites were not the same thing as the people later to be called Judaeans, let alone Jews, which by the 1st century was only a religious category strictly speaking, a term not necessarily encompassing either Judaean nor Israelite peoples.
Judah or Judaea however was originally the geographic area where many of the people followers of Muzaikiya the people of Yemenite Azd origin who came to be called “Israelites” (or Yashir-el being a name for Saturn)* in the Asir and Minaeans (Ma’an, Mehunim and Ma’on) or Midianites further north. They settled around the Dead Sea (the Assyrian Lake of Josephus, or the lake of Ashir?) under such names as Soleimi (who became Shallum, Shulamites or Salma) and Banu’l Qa’in (Kenites) in regions extending up to Sinai. As we have shown their numerous clans are mentioned in the Torah/Bible as the inhabitants of “Judaea” (See King Solomon's miners Part II and III on this blog).
The Khazraj originally venerated the female deities Manat and al-Sa’ida located on a mount called Uhud, as well as the male deity al-Khamis. Manat was the Manawat of the Nabataeans their near relations. She was wife of Hubal, whose center of worship was at Kaaba in pre-Muhammedan times. Hubal son of the goddess Al’lat was the head of a hierarchy of 360 divinities which the later Arab writers called idols.
He was also the brother of Wadd (Udda) or Aoud, (named from the sound of the lion) who was represented by a lion, and al Uzza (Aziz-lat) worshipped by the Quraysh represented by a vulture. Thaqif a center of the Hawazin bin Mansur were accustomed to worship of Al-Lat. As mentioned previously the Afro-Arabs like their African kinsmen had a totemic basis for their spiritual beliefs so names of Arabian tribes are often associated with animals.
Being affiliated with Africans, many bedouin tribes were once matrifocal in societal structure. Manat, Uzza and Al-Lat were three “daughters” and "protectors" of Allah, worshipped by the black peoples or Arabs then the exclusive inhabitants of Mecca and Medina or Hijaz. They came to be portrayed as wicked idols symbolizing the period of ignorance rightly destroyed by followers of the Prophet. Like the Moors in this period, Arabians like the Moors still had priestesses who were oracles (Kahina in Arabia and Abyssinia) considered adept at prophesizing, diplomacy, magic and rainmaking. Thaqif a center of the Hawazin bin Mansur were accustomed to worship of Al-Lat.
The Central Asians and Middle Eastern commentarists who came to write about the early life of Muhammad created folktales about how the Arabians came to destroy the indigenous matrifocal cults. “The goddesses Manat and Na'ila were also portrayed as naked black women, pulling out their hair in grief when Muslims destroyed their sanctuaries.” (Knight, Michael, 2009, pages not numbered ). The same stories are told about the temple of al-Uzza said to have been destroyed by Khalid ibn Walid.
A Michael Knight in his Journey to the End of Islam wrote of in his words a “Somewhat creepy story from the past, still printed as accepted history in the Saudi books -
“During the waves of idol-smashing after Islam’s triumph in Mecca, the prophet sent Khalid bin Waleed to nakhlah, where the idol of al-Uzza was stationed. Accompanied by thirty horsemen, Khalid destroyed the idol and thenr reported back to the Prophet.The written traditions that speak of the early Quraysh generals destroying temples in the Hijaz where black women are venerated, but they say more about the people that were created them than they did about the black people living there. The story has been aptly summed up in a book recently published book by a Muslim, “Khalid bin al-Waleed went at the head The of thirty horsemen to a spot called Nakhlah where there was a goddess called al-Uzzza venerated by Quraysh and Kinanah tribes. He destroyed the idol and the structure around it.” But was sent back again to complete his task “Seeing him again, the custodians of al-Uzza ran to nearby mountains screaming, “O Uzza, drive him mad. O Uzza, make him blind in one eye.’ Much to his surprise, Khalid found a black woman, naked with torn hair. Khalid struck her with his sword into two parts and returned. (Jaleel, Talib, 2014, p. 507)
When the Prophet asked if Khalid had seen anything unusual, Khalid answered that he had not. The Prophet told him that the job was unfinished.
Khalid went back to Nakhlah, and spotted an angry black woman with dishevelled hair running naked among the people. Ignoring pleas for mercy from those around her Khalid drew his sword and killed the woman. According to one account, the sword blow caused her to become a pile of ashes. ‘That was al-Uzza,’ the Prophet told Khalid. ‘She has now lost hope of ever being worshiped in this peninsula.’” (Knight, p. 2009)
The book continues. "Amr bin al-As was sent on an errand to destroy another idol, venerated by Hudhail, called Suwa, kilometres from Makkah. The door-keeper warned Amr that he would not be able to do it. When Amr destroyed it and the casket beside, the man immediately embraced Islaam.
Sa’d bin Zayd al-Ashali is said to have also demolished the temples devoted to black Goddesses. He was “at the head of twenty sahaaba, was sent to al-Mashallal to destroy an idol, Manat, venerated by both al-Aws and al Khazraj tribes. Here also a black woman, naked with messy hair appeared wailing and beating on her chest. Sa’d immediately killed her destroyed the idol and broke the casket.
“According to Islamic tradition as the commander of the group went towards the beautifully carved statue of Manat, a naked black woman arose out of nowhere. The keeper called out to her, 'Come O Manat show the anger of which you are capable.’ Manat began to pull out her hair and beat her breasts in despair.”(Jaleel, p. 507). (As we can see the people who created this folk tradition several centuries after the birth of Muhammad had more more acquaintance with black women then they did with true inhabitants of Arabia. Interestingly, some U.S. Wikipedia commentarists have complained this as a stereotype “in the United States”. I guess this “angry black woman” stereotype has lasted for some 3,000 years in the world – for some reason. Hmmm, I wonder why? : )
“All the while she cursed her tormentors. Sa’ad beat her to death.” This Sa’ad is Sa’ad ibn Zayd ibn ibn Nufayl. He is married to his cousin who was brother of the first Ummayad Khalif.
The latest and perhapest the weirdest reconstruction of the tale about Uzza comes out of a recent 2008 imprint from New Delhi by someone Indian Muslim socialist reformer and liberation theologian who says “interestingly enough in charge of the temple was a black woman along with another man. However, it should be noted that this black woman remained hidden inside the temple whereas the man acted as its trustee” (Engineer, Asgharali, 2004, p. 42). (“Interestingly enough…” lol! Yes, "interestingly", that apparently, in the Indian version of the story the black woman doesn’t get to be a goddess, but remains a sight unseen. Perhaps like an untouchable? .)
Anyway, back to reality. Khalid ibn Walid like the other historical generals spoken about was from the tribe of Quraish, and thus couldn’t have looked much different than the anthropomorphic Goddesses he is said to have smitten. Although many Byzantine slaves and concubines had already been brought into Mecca and Thaqif and other towns in Hijaz (according to Jahiz al Dhahabi and Chinese recordings) it hadn’t done much to change the complexion of the people even by the 15th century if we are to believe Al-Dhahabi and the Chinese records which also speak of the entire region from Mecca to Jidda as occupied by "very dark purple" people.
To make matters the most interesting, “Khaled lbn Al-Waleed was born around. 584 in Mecca to Waleed lbn Mughirah, the chief of the Bani Makhzum.” The Makhzumi (or Miqsam) tribe of the Kinanah in particular is even mentioned as one of the purer Arab tribes of the period by al-Jahiz, in his Glory of the Blacks over the Whites, being comprised of black nobles . And it is ironic that Al Jahiz mentions the clan of Mughirah as one of the Khudr or Khudar clans of his time, especially when we know that this the clan to which belonged the smiters of the enraged, naked and black daughters of Allah.
This Sa’ad mentioned above is in fact Sa’ad ibn Zayd ibn Nufayl. He is married to his cousin who was the sister of the first brother of the first Umar ibn khatab ibn Nufayl. The mother of Khatab ibn Nufayl who is the Khalif’s father is Hantamah bint Hisham ibn Al-Mughira. Hisham al-Mughira is from the Banu Makhzum. That is to say these people are the black nobles or "Khudr" of Al-Mughira that Jahiz was speaking about!
Such contradictions however are easily explainable. They testify to the fact that Arabs are not the ones who made up such folktales. They were fabricated events about historical happenings in Arabia by non-Arab people. Of course statues did not start come to life and start pulling their hair out, and of course generals were not surprised to find naked black women running around, because first of all these Arabs themselves were black ones. And their people worshipped deities that were female, something other people, Syrians and Persians that Arabs had come in contact were quite averse to doing.
The name of Uzza is related to that of the planet Venus, Godess of love, but also named by the Greeks "the star of lust" called Uz in South Arabia. It was worshipped in a cave as a metaphor for "the morning star" born from darkness. We are told in several ancient Greek texts that the Saracens i.e. black bedouin people particularly in Sinai in "the period of ignorance" or Jahiliyya used to unfortunately worship al-Uzza or the Morning Star by sacrificing on a pile of stones handsome or beautiful children captured in their bandit raids (Ward, p. 95; Ward, 2014, p. 33 and 148). The God Aziz or Uz whose title was "Lucifer" or "light bearer" or "the morning star" was worshipped at Elusa and in Edessa Turkey where many Arabs, including the ancestors of Ukama "Abgar Ukama or Akbar the black", was settled (Smith, William Robertson, 1885, p. 296).
This in and of itself was enough to of course scare the Europeans who came to view worhip as associated with the devil worship. It is how the name of Lucifer (meaning light bearer) a name for Al-Uz came to be associated with that conception or reality of the devil or Satan - a force whose first and foremost reputation was the abuse and sacrificial slaughter of the innocent (epitomized by children or young animals in general).
Herodotus makes Alilat another name for Aphrodite and the Nabataeans seemed to have worshipped her as Elusa (Ward p. 33) who was the Khalusa of the Azd tribes of Umayma and Ad-Daws or Daus. As we saw above Abu Huraira - a man of the Daws clan of Azd who is described as black in one of the Central Asian al-Bukhari’s commentaries, is supposed to have spoken of the women of the tribe of ad-Daus circumambulating or making tawaf around the idol of Dhu’l Khulasa wiggling their buttocks (Felder, Christine and King, Chris, 2006, ) (Another black woman stereotype I guess? : )
Known as the Yemenite Ka’aba the idol was in the hands of the Banu Umamah or Umayma tribe from Bahila bin A’sur (Azd) and was located somewhere on the road between Mecca and Sana’a. It was destroyed in 632AD at the command of the Prophet. (We saw in another part of this blog that these Umayma were likely the "Amim" or "Emim", giants of the biblical commentaries, also known as the Nephilim, Rephaim or Anakim of Canaan (the Kenauna lowland in Arabia.)
Spain’s “Moorish Arabs”: Early Settlements of the Saracens from Yamaniyya
“…know, O reader! That when the island ofAndalus had been finally subdued by the setting in Andalus, Moslems, - when the news of the mighty conquest had spread over the countries inhabited bt the Moslems – great numbers of the population of Syria and other distant regions felt a strong desire to visit Andalus, and take up their abode in it. Accordingly many individuals of the best and most illustrious among the Arabian tribes left the tents of their fathers and settled in Andalusi, thereby becoming the stock of the many noble families whose luminous traces are visible throughout the annals of that country.” Pascual de Gayangos, The History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain by al-Maqqari, Vol. 2, p. 20 1843.
"During the 5th century AD, Syrian writers described the Himyarites of South Arabia as Cushaeans and Ethiopians." Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences and General Literature, Volume 6 (1868) p. 729.
The blacker than ink Saracens Roland fought against probably included Ghafiq and other Azd under Abdu’l Rahman “the Ghafiqi”, the Governor General of Andalusia, along with the Berber tribes, themselves described “black as night” around the same period. The principle settlements of the Akk in Spain were in the region of Seville, Cordoba, and to some extent Toledo, Elvira, Granada and Al Sharaf west of Seville.
A physician named al-Ghafiqi or Abdu’l Ja’far “of the Ghafiqi” has been described as “undoubtedly the greatest botanist and pharmacologist of the Islamic period” by the MacMillan University Ghafiqi Project.
In fact the 16th century Algerian-born Al-Maqqari writes that the members of the Azd were “very numerous in Andalusia” and there were several famous poets among them. He asserted that most of the districts of Segura were named after the clan of Ghafiq (De Gayangos, p. 26). He also mentioned the Azd clan of Ghasan were among the “distinguished citizens” of the city of Granada.
He notes that the Ansar tribes of Khazraj and Aus had already virtually disappeared from Medina, but that it was “notorious” that they “abounded in most great cities of Andalus”, above all Toledo. The “family of Khazraj”, he wrote, were once the sultans in Granada.
As for the Lakhym, Lahim of the Azd, he wrote of the conqueror of Andalus, Ibn Nusayr, as one of their number, and their clan of Beni Abbad as "Sultans" of Seville. While the Beni Hud related to the once purely Jewish Jodham brethren of Lakhym were kings and “absolute masters” of Eastern Andalus even after the time of the Masmuda dynasty of Almuwahiddun (or Almohades).
Banu Rachid of the ‘Abs clan settled in the valley of the River Guadiana (Taha, p. 171).
Large numbers of the Banu Gudham or Judham branch of the Azd were settled in Rayya (p. 147) while others were in Algeciras, Sidonia, Tudmir, and Calatrava (p. 146) and the Banu Hud settled in an area called the Upper March or Aragon while others lived in Elvira in the 12th and 13th centuries. Another portion of the Judham were based in Kala’h Rabah, otherwise known as Calatrava.
|Al- Mokhala, port city of the Yemen (in the Gulf of Aden)|
The largest settlement of the Daws Azdite tribes in Spain was in Tudmir in the area of Murcia. (Taha, p. 119 and 120) According to one source Tayyi were among the jund from Syria that settled in Murcia, Spain, in the period of Muslim rule there. Murcia though was according to al-Bakri in fact predominantly a Berber settlement (Gerald T. Elmore, 1999, p. 16).
Tayyi was according to Ibn Rabbih of Cordoba “brother of Madhhij, and it is said the son of Madhhij” in Volume III of his book, The Unique Necklace ( Boullata, Issa J., 2012, p. 294). The Maddhij clan called Suraj were among the “distinguished citizens” of Cordoba and their brethren Tayy living south of Murcia in the region Tudmir, and also Jaen (Taha, p. 145). As we remember it was Ibn Rabbih who also noted that a Madhhij qadi or judge of several centuries earlier once joked that an Arab with fair skin was unthinkable and as rare as one of the “seven wonders of the world”.
Among the sub-tribes of “Madhhij” according to Ibn Khaldun were “the Banu Ju’fi, Zubayd, Hakam and Simhan, derived from Sa’d al Ashira, son of Madhhij, also the Banu Ans, Banu Murad, Banu Jald, Bani Hurab, Nakha, Munabbih or Janb and the Banu’l Harith ibn Ka’b…” (Kay, Henry, 1892, p. 217). According to the recent book , The Muslim Conquest and Settlement of North Africa and Spain detailing the locations of Muslim tribes in Spain, the Sa’d al Ashira clan of the Maddhij settled in Guadix northeast of Granada and Seville (Taha, 1988, p. 125).
|Madhh'ij children. Madhh'ij was from the tribe of Kahlan, "brother of Himyar."|
“The sources also mentioned that many people of Murad of the Maddhij lived in various places such as Granada, Seville, Makkada, …in the province of Toledo, Cabra, Huesca, Saragossa, and Alicante.” (see Taha, p. 125) And, the descendants of the Murad tribe of Maddhij had a castle which stood on the road between Cordoba and Seville (De Gayangos, p. 26)
The Sadif or Sadaf clan also from Hadramaut are mentioned in Saragossa, Tudila and Ecija . They settled between Seville and Cordoba in a place called el Sadif (Taha, p. 142 ). The Hadrami tribe from Hadamaut at one time came to be "too numerous" in Seville to count (p. 141). The Hamdan were closely related to the tribe of Madhhij who in tradition often said to be sons of Hamdan. A few of the El Sabi or Saba’i group of Hamdan settled in Cordoba and Elvira (Taha, p. 126). Hamdan’s major place of settlement was in Elvira and in a place named iqlim Hamdan, 7 miles south of Granada (Taha p. 138; de Gayangos, p. 143).
Hamdan was a major tribe of the ancient Sabaean kingdom and as previously stated on the blog was mentioned in the ancient Sabaean inscriptions. They were a link between the tribes of Himyar and his brother Kahlan from which the Azd tribes had and Tayyi-Madhij groups had sprung.
Among the other major Himyarite branches were the Banu Quda’a whose tribes include the numerous Mahra/Maheyra, Shahra/Shahara and Bahra, the first two still present in the Yaman, Hadramaut and Oman. They are those who according to British colonialist remembered in their traditions that they came originally in a remote period from Africa.
Mahra or Mahri who “son of Haydan, son of al Haf, son of Kuda’ah, reigned over the countries of Kuda’ah.” This was a land of frankincense and myrh. A 3rd century inscription from Hadramaut mentions Shahirum, chief of the Mahri (Newton, Lynn S., 2007, p. 47). Some of the Kuda’a in Spain had the patronymic Mahri. Al Maqqari also writes that a man called Wizir Ibn Ammar al Mahri surped the kingdom of Murcia there.
He noted that the clan descended from Barrah (Bahra) became learned theologians in Granada and took the patronymic Barri. He also says the people who were descendants of the al-Murra had a castle called Khaulan not far from Seville.
From the Murrah bin Udad brother of Madhij, came also the Mu’afir or Ma’afir tribe. This clan was mentioned as far back as 500 B.C. in an ancient text (Houtsma, p. 139) in Yemen and was “probably the first Arab clan to settle in Spain" (Taha, p. 122). They crossed with Tariq b. Ziyad led by Abdulmalik al-Mu’afiri and played a great role in the occupation of Algericas/Algeciras and Quarajuna and Torre de Cartagena. Later some Mu’afir entered Spain again with the Syrians settling at Losha, Luja located southwest of Granada.
The Kuda'a/Qudha’a of the Himyar had been settled in Andalusia "‘since the Conquest, most especially near Castellon de la Plana. Baliyy was one clan, led by Ziyad b. Udhra al-Balawi. They settled to the northwest of Cordoba. Some groups of the ‘Udhra settled in Jaen and Almeria, others near Algeciras, immediately facing the coast of Morocco. Juhayna another of their clans were also settled in Cordoba” (Norris, H. T. , p. 95).
. According to Taha’s text, the Baliyy clan were led by an al-Balawi. Baliyy settled in localities called Mawru, Moron de la Frontera, al-Arha near Sidonia, as well as Seville and Elvira. The Udhra or Uzdra, clan of the Quda’a settled Jaen and Algericas and Saragossa. They also settled in the “Upper Marches” and in Almeria (Taha, 1989, p. 126 and 127).
A ruler of Yemen (in the Kingdom of Saba/Sheba) in Nashqum in the 6th -7th centuries B.C. (Before the arrival of the Sassanid Persians and Greek merchants around the Christian era.) The Himyarites are by tradition offshoots of the Sabaeans or people of Saba.
Considerable numbers of Al-Kala another clan of Himyar settled in Seville and Niebla in Spain”(p. 142).
Al Maqqari noted that the Baliyy in Spain included the Baliyyun of Seville and that the Juhaynah clan of Qudha’a were found “in great numbers” in Cordoba. Many kings of Cordoba were from the Kalb clan of Qudha’a while the Udhra were in Algesiras.
Murad, Madhhij and Tayy were closely related to Udad and another was Al-Morra or Murra bin Udad from whom came the clans of Kinda or Thawr and Amila and the Khawlan. Descendants of Murra bin Udad had also castle between Seville and Algesiras.
Kedar : Northern Arabs in Europe’s Midst
Finally, Roberto Marin-Guzman writes in "Arab Tribes, the Umayyad Dynasty, and the `Abbasid Revolution" “Al-Maqqari (d. 1632) asserted in his Kitab Nafh al- Ti that as the Qahtan settled in al-Andalus in great numbers they brought with them their hereditary hatred of the Mudar and other tribes from the line of `Adnan. He also asserted that the Qahtan tribes were more numerous in al-Andalus than their adversaries, and always obtained a greater share of power and influence.” (Marin-Guzman, R., 2004, p. 61)
However the clans that were traditional descendants of Adnan and Mudar or Kedar were noted in Iberia by early Arabic historians. Hudhail was the son of Mudrika and akin to the Kinana. The Hudhail or Huthayl tribe still based near Mecca mentioned by Doughty with “black and shining” skins “fixed their domicile in the vicinity of Orihuel in the country of Tudmir.” The children of Tabikha of the Kinana also settled in Spain, but were not very numerous (De Gayangos, p. 23)
Of the Qays Ailan some had taken patronomic of the “Sulaymi” whose unmodified descendants are still the color of lava, while others took of his brother patronomic Hawazin b. Mansur whose lesser modified descendants are still "nearly black" “the complexion of Abyssinians”. And these were chiefly based in Valencia though many were also in Seville. The sub-tribes of Beni Amr bin Zsa Zsa of the Hawazin including Kilab and Qusair bin Ka'ab were found in many places in Andalusia. The Hawazin tribe of Thakif is called a remnant of the Thamud.
As well, the sub-tribes of Ghutayf and Ghatafan known as Abs, Zubyan, Ashja’a and Fezara were in the region of Spain.
In addition, two branches of the Rabi’a ibn Nizar from “Mudhar” settled in various parts of Spain including the An-Namar ibn Kaset and Bakr bin Wa’il allied to Banu Taghlib from the central Arabia Nejd. Other branches were settled in Guadix.
The appearance of the Ghatafan and Banu Amir bin Zsa' zsa' and their sub-tribes of Uqayl or Ka’b Muntafiq - factions of the Amir b. Zsa’zsa’a or Hawazin Arabs of north and central Arabia have been addressed more than a few times on this blog. The name Kedar came to be associated with words or terms connoting "blackness" (akhdar, khudar) because of them, and their ancient tribes - the Nabataeans, Thamudenioi or Dumah are the famous Arabs of 'Ad, or "Amalek" and Adnan, known to the ancient Greeks and the historian Josephus as “the Phoenicians” and "Danaans".
TO BE CONTINUED in PART II (On the Moors/Berbers in Spain)
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Proceedings of the:International Symposium on the Historical Relations between Arabia the Greek and Byzantine World (5th century BC-10th century AD)
Riyadh, 6 – 10 December, 2010P. 314