Qahtani Arabs
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Qahtani Arabs
Banu Qahtan
( )
Qahtanite, Children of Qahtan, Joktan
Map of Arabia 600 AD.svg
NisbaQahtani, Qahtaniyyah
LocationThe southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, e.g. Yemen.[1]
Descended from(Qahtan)
ReligionArabian mythology, Nestorian Christianity, Judaism, later mostly Islam and Druze
Qahtan redirects here. For other uses, see Qahtan (disambiguation)

The terms Qahtanite and Qahtani (Arabic: ?‎; transliterated: Qahtani) refer to Arabs who originate from Yemen.[1][2]

According to Arab tradition, the Qahtanites are pure Arabs, unlike the Adnanites who are "Arabized Arabs", descended from Ishmael through Adnan.[3] The Qahtani people are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar (Himyartes) and Kahlan (Kahlanis).[2]

Traditional Arab genealogy

A family tree of the Qahtanites

Arab tradition maintains that a semi-legendary ancestral figure named Qahtan[1][2] and his 24 sons are the progenitors of Yemen who controlled the Arabian Peninsula known as Qahtani.

Early Islamic historians identified Qahtan with the Yoqtan (Joktan) son of Eber in the Hebrew Bible (Gen. 10:25-29). James A. Montgomery finds it difficult to believe that Qahtan was the biblical Joktan based on etymology.[4][5]

Among the sons of Qahtan are noteworthy figures like A'zaal (believed by Arabs to have been the original name of Sana'a), Hadhramaut and Jurhum whose descendants formed the second Jurhum tribe which Ishmael learned Arabic from.[6][7][8] Another son is Ya'rub, and his son Yashjub is the father of Saba'. All Yemeni tribes trace their ancestry back to this "Saba", either through Himyar or Kahlan, his two sons.

The Qahtani people are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar and Kahlan, who represent the settled Arabs of the south and their nomadic kinsmen (nomads).[2] The Kahlan division of Qahtan consists of 4 subgroups: the Ta' or Tayy, the Azd group which invaded Oman, the 'Amila-Judham group of Palestine, and the Hamdan-Madhhij group who mostly remain in Yemen.[2]

The Kahlan branch includes the following tribes: Azd (Aus and Khazraj, Bariq, Ghassan, Khuza'a and Daws), Hamdan, Khath'am, Bajilah, Madhhij, Murad, Zubaid, Ash'ar, Lakhm, Tayy (Shammar), and Kindah.[9]

Early linguistic connection

The first groups of Semitic speakers that moved northward[clarification needed] already developed the early Semitic names derived from triliteral, and sometimes a quadriliteral verb root. These appellations first appeared in early (now extinct) East Semitic languages, especially Akkadian, Assyrian, and Old Babylonian. A closer examination reveals connections with the Central Semitic language family including: Aramaic, Phoenician, Hebrew, and Nabatean, which is closely related to the Southern Semitic languages Minaean, Sabaean, Qatabanian, Awsanian, Hadhrami, and Himyarite.[]

Pre-Islamic Qahtani migration out of Arabia

Early Semites who developed civilizations throughout the Ancient Near East gradually relinquished their geopolitical superiority to surrounding cultures and neighboring imperial powers, usually due to either internal turmoil or outside conflict. This climaxed with the arrival of the Chaldeans, and subsequently the rivaling Medes and Persians, during the 7th and 6th centuries BCE respectively. Though the Semites lost geopolitical influence, the Aramaic language emerged as the lingua franca of much of the Near East. However, Aramaic usage declined after the defeat of the Persians and the arrival of the Hellenic armies around 330 BCE.

The Ghassanids (ca. 250 CE) were the last major non-Islamic Semitic migration northward out of Yemen. They revived the Semitic presence in the then Roman-controlled Syria. They initially settled in the Hauran region, eventually spreading to modern Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, briefly securing governorship of Syria away from the Nabataeans.

Modern historiography

According to Parolin, the traditional distinction between Adnanites and Qahtanites lacks evidence and may have developed out of the later faction-fighting during the Umayyad period.[3]

After the Rise of Islam

Between the 7th and the 14th centuries, the Arabs had forged an empire that extended their rule from most of Spain, to western China in the east. During this period of expansionism, the Arabs, including Qahtanite tribes, overspread these lands, intermingling with local native populations while yet maintaining their cultural identity. Although you can find the largest number of Qahtanite Arabs in Yemen. Among the most famous examples of Qahtanite Arabs are the social scholar Ibn Khaldun who was born in Tunisia to a family that immigrated from Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus), Al Kindi, Ibn al-Baitar.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Qahtan, Britannica Online Encyclopedia, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e De Lacy O'Leary (2001). Arabia Before Muhammad. p. 18. notes "Qahtan are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar and Kahlan".
  3. ^ a b Parolin, Gianluca P. (2009). Citizenship in the Arab World: Kin, Religion and Nation-State. p. 30. ISBN 978-9089640451. "The 'arabicised or arabicising Arabs', on the contrary, are believed to be the descendants of Ishmael through Adnan, but in this case the genealogy does not match the Biblical line exactly. The label 'arabicised' is due to the belief that Ishmael spoke Hebrew until he got to Mecca, where he married a Yemeni woman and learnt Arabic. Both genealogical lines go back to Sem, son of Noah, but only Adnanites can claim Abraham as their ascendant, and the lineage of Mohammed, the Seal of Prophets (khatim al-anbiya'), can therefore be traced back to Abraham. Contemporary historiography unveiled the lack of inner coherence of this genealogical system and demonstrated that it finds insufficient matching evidence; the distinction between Qahtanites and Adnanites is even believed to be a product of the Umayyad Age, when the war of factions (al-niza al-hizbi) was raging in the young Islamic Empire."
  4. ^ Maalouf, Tony (2003). "The Unfortunate Beginning (Gen. 16:1-6)". Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God's Prophetic Plan for Ishmael's Line. Kregel Academic. p. 45. ISBN 9780825493638. Archived from the original on 28 July 2018. Retrieved 2018. This view is largely based on the claim of Muslim Arab historians that their oldest ancestor is Qahtan, whom they identify as the biblical Joktan (Gen. 10:25-26). Montgomery finds it difficult to reconcile Joktan with Qahtan based on etymology.
  5. ^ Maqsood, Ruqaiyyah Waris. "Adam to the Banu Khuza'ah". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved .
  6. ^ Leaman, Oliver (2006). The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780415326391.
  7. ^ ? . Darussalam. 2006. ISBN 9789960980324.
  8. ^ India), Asiatic Society (Kolkata; Bengal, Asiatic Society of (1878). Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
  9. ^ Jirj? Zayd?n, David Samuel Margoliouth, Umayyads and ?Abb?sids: Being the Fourth Part of Jurj? Zayd?n, (about Islamic Empire), 1907, p.45.

Further reading

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