The Jewish tribes of Arabia were ethnic groups professing the Jewish faith that inhabited the Arabian Peninsula before and during the advent of Islam. In Islamic tradition, the Jewish tribes of the Hejaz were seen as the offspring of the ancient Hebrews. According to historical Muslim sources, they spoke a language other than Arabic, which al-Tabari claims was Persian. This implies they were connected to the major Jewish community of Babylonia. Certain Jewish traditions record the existence of nomadic tribes such as the Rechabites, which converted to Judaism in antiquity.
Some of the Jewish tribes of Arabia historically attested include:
Contemporary researchers[who?] have pieced together a mosaic of Judaized Arabian tribes, but there is some evidence that Judaism found its place in the Arabian Peninsula by immigration of Jews, which took place mainly during six periods:
The Sanaite Jews have a tradition that their ancestors settled in Yemen forty-two years before the destruction of the First Temple. According to Jeremiah some 75,000 Jews, including priests and Levites, traveled to Yemen. The Banu Habban in southern Yemen have a tradition that they are the descendants of Judeans who settled in the area before the destruction of the Second Temple. These Judeans supposedly belonged to a brigade dispatched by King Herod to assist the Roman legions fighting in the region.
The Himyarite royal family in exile commanded vast wealth and resources, particularly the Nabatean bedouin with whom they had controlled the market of trade by Land from North-East Africa for centuries.
By the close of the fifth century, the Banu Aus and Banu Khazraj had become masters of Yathrib. During these events, or possibly in coordination with them, Yathrib was host to a noble visitor. In 470 CE, Persian King Firuz was attempting to wipe out the Exilarchate. The Exilarch Huna V, who was the son of Mar-Zutra bar Mar-Zutra, whisked his daughter and some of his entourage to Yathrib (Medina) for safety.
It is believed by some Muslims[by whom?] that the main reason the Banu Aus and Banu Khazraj chose to settle in this city is because their prophecies has predicted the coming of a new prophet in the Arabian peninsula near the city of Yethrib, but when Mohammed came to them most of the Jews rejected his message as he was not a Jewish descendent.
In about 400 CE, Himyarite King tubba Abu Karib As'ad Kamil (385-420 CE), a convert to Judaism, led military expeditions into central Arabia and expanded his empire to encompass most of the Arabian Peninsula. His army had marched north to battle the Aksumites who had been fighting for control of Yemen for a hundred years. The Aksumites were only expelled from the region when the newly-Jewish king rallied Jews together from all over Arabia with pagan allies. The relationship between the Himyarite Kings and the polytheistic Arab tribes strengthened when, under the royal permission of Tubba' Abu Karib As'ad, Qusai ibn Kilab (400-480 CE) reconstructed the Ka'aba from a state of decay, and had the Arab al-Kahinan (Cohanim) build their houses around it. Qusai ibn Kilab was the great-great- grandfather of Shaiba ibn Hashim (Abdul-Mutallib). Shaiba ibn Hashim was fifth in the line of descent to Muhammad, and attained supreme power at Mecca. Qusai ibn Kilab is among the ancestors of Sahaba and the progenitor of the Banu Quraish. When Qusai came of age, a man from the tribe of Banu Khuza'a named Hulail (Hillel) was the trustee of the Kaaba, and the Na'sa (Nasi)--authorized to calculate the calendar. Qusai married his daughter and, according to Hulail's will, obtained Hulail's rights to the Ka'aba. Hulail, according to Arabian tradition was a member of the Banu Jurhum. Banu Jurhum was a sub-group of the Banu Qahtani from whom the Himyarites originally descend.
Around 455 CE, the last Himyarite King is born, Zur'ah Yusuf Ibn Tuban As'ad Abu Kaleb Dhu Nuwas or Dhu Nuwas. He died in 510. His zeal for Judaism brought about his fall. Having heard of the persecutions of Jews by Byzantine emperors, Dhu Nuwas retaliated by putting to death some Byzantine merchants who were traveling on business through Himyara. He didn't simply kill them with hanging--he burned them in large pits--earning him the title "King of the burning pit".
These killings destroyed the trade of Yemen with Europe and involved Dhu Nuwas in a war with the heathen King Aidug, whose commercial interests were injured by these killings. Dhu Nuwas was defeated, then he made war against the Christian city Najran in Yemen, which was a dependency of his kingdom. After its surrender, he offered the citizens the alternative of embracing Judaism, under coercion, or being put to death. As they refused to renounce their faith, he executed their chief, Harith ibn Kaleb, and three hundred and forty chosen men.
The Jewish tribes played a significant role during the rise of Islam. Muhammad had many contacts with Jewish tribes, both urban and nomadic. The eating of pork has always been strongly prohibited in both religions. Muhammad viewed Christians and Jews (both of whom he referred to as "People of the Book") as natural allies, sharing the core principles of his teachings.
In the Constitution of Medina, Jews were given equality to Muslims in exchange for political loyalty and were allowed to practice their own culture and religion. A significant narrative symbolising the inter-faith harmony between early Muslims and Jews is that of the Rabbi Mukhayriq. The Rabbi was from Banu Nadir and fought alongside Muslims at the Battle of Uhud and bequeathed his entire wealth to Muhammad in the case of his death. He was subsequently called ?the best of the Jews? by Muhammad. Later, as Muhammad encountered opposition from the Jews, Muslims began to adopt a more negative view on the Jews, seeing them as something of a fifth column. According to the Quaran, Jewish violations of the Constitution of Medina, by aiding the enemies of the community, finally brought on major battles of Badr and Uhud which resulted in Muslim victories and the exile of the Banu Qainuqa and Banu Nadir, two of the main three Jewish tribes from Medina, and the mass slaughtering of all male adults of Banu Qurayza.
Some historians, like Guillaume, sees the attacks on the Banu Qaynuqa for their hostility against the Muslims and for mocking them. They left for modern-day Der'a in Syria. In one account, the Banu Nadir tribe was evicted from Medina after they attempted to assassinate Muhammad.