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Rulership in Hijaz

4916 2007/11/18 2024/04/23
Article translated to : العربية

ishmael [aws] administered authority over makkah as well as custodianship of the holy sanctuary throughout his lifetime. upon his death, at the age of 137, two of his sons, nabet and qidar, succeeded him. later on, their maternal grandfather, mudad bin ‘amr al-jurhumi took over, thus transferring rulership over makkah to the tribe of jurhum, preserving a venerable position, though very little authority for ishmael’s sons due to their father’s exploits in building the holy sanctuary, a position they held until the decline of the tribe of jurhum shortly before the rise of bukhtanassar. [ibn hisham 1/111]

the political role of the ‘adnanides had begun to gain firmer grounds in makkah, which could be clearly attested by the fact that upon bukhtanassar’s first invasion of the arabs in ‘dhati ‘irq’, the leader of the arabs was not from jurhum. [qalb jazeerat al-arab, p.230]

upon bukhtanassar’s second invasion in 587 b.c., however, the ‘adnanides were frightened out to yemen, while burmia an-nabi fled to syria with ma‘ad, but when bukhtanassar’s pressure lessened, ma‘ad returned to makkah to find none of the tribe of jurhum except jursham bin jalhamah, whose daughter, mu‘ana, was given to ma‘ad as wife who, later, had a son by him named nizar. [rahmat-ul-lil'alameen, 2/48]

on account of difficult living conditions and destitution prevalent in makkah, the tribe of jurhum began to ill-treat visitors of the holy sanctuary and extort its funds, which aroused resentment and hatred of the ‘adnanides (sons of bakr bin ‘abd munaf bin kinana) who, with the help of the tribe of khuza‘a that had come to settle in a neighbouring area called marr az-zahran, invaded jurhum and frightened them out of makkah leaving rulership to quda‘a in the middle of the second century a.d.

upon leaving makkah, jurhum filled up the well of zamzam, levelled its place and buried a great many things in it. ‘amr bin al-harith bin mudad al-jurhumi was reported by ibn ishaq, the well-known historian, to have buried the two gold deer together with the black stone as well as a lot of jewelry and swords in zamzam, prior to their sorrowful escape to yemen. [ibn hisham 1/114,115]

ishmael’s epoch is estimated to have lasted for twenty centuries b.c., which means that jurhum stayed in makkah for twenty-one centuries and held rulership there for about twenty centuries.

upon defeat of jurhum, the tribe of khuza‘a monopolized rulership over makkah. mudar tribes, however, enjoyed three privileges:

the first: leading pilgrims from ‘arafat to muzdalifah and then from mina to the ‘aqabah stoning pillar. this was the authority of the family of al-ghawth bin murra, one of the septs of elias bin mudar, who were called ‘sofa’. this privilege meant that the pilgrims were not allowed to throw stones at al-‘aqabah until one of the ‘sofa’ men did that. when they had finished stoning and wanted to leave the valley of mina, ‘sofa’ men stood on the two sides of al-‘aqabah and nobody would pass that position until the men of ‘sofa’ passed and cleared the way for the pilgrims. when sofa perished, the family of sa‘d bin zaid manat from tamim tribe took over.

the second: al-ifadah (leaving for mina after muzdalifah) on sacrifice morning, and this was the responsibility of the family of adwan.

the third: deferment of the sacred months, and this was the responsibility of the family of tamim bin ‘adi from bani kinana.

khuza‘a’s reign in makkah lasted for three hundred years, during which, the ‘adnanides spread all over najd and the sides of bahrain and iraq, while small septs of quraish remained on the sides of makkah; they were haloul, harum and some families of kinana. they enjoyed no privileges in makkah or in the sacred house until the appearance of qusai bin kilab, whose father is said to have died when he was still a baby, and whose mother was subsequently married to rabi‘a bin haram, from the tribe of bani ‘udhra. rabi‘a took his wife and her baby to his homeland on the borders of syria. when qusai became a young man, he returned to makkah, which was ruled by halil bin habsha from khuza‘a, who gave qusai his daughter, hobba, as wife. after halil’s death, a war between khuza‘a and quraish broke out and resulted in qusai’s taking hold of makkah and the sacred house. [ibn hisham 1/117]


the reasons of this war have been illustrated in three versions

the first: having noticed the spread of his offspring, increase of his property and exalt of his honour after halil’s death, qusai found himself more entitled to shoulder responsibility of rulership over makkah and custodianship of the sacred house than the tribes of khuza‘a and bani bakr. he also advocated that quraish were the chiefs of ishmael’s descendants. therefore he consulted some men from quraish and kinana concerning his desire to evacuate khuza‘a and bani bakr from makkah. they took a liking to his opinion and supported him.

the second: khuza‘a claimed that halil requested qusai to hold custodianship of al-ka‘bah and rulership over makkah after his death.

the third: halil gave the right of al-ka‘bah service to his daughter hobba and appointed abu ghabshan al-khuza‘i to function as her agent whereof. upon halil’s death, qusai bought this right for a leather bag of wine, which aroused dissatisfaction among the men of khuza‘a and they tried to keep the custodianship of the sacred house away from qusai. the latter, however, with the help of quraish and kinana, managed to take over and even to expel khuza‘a completely from makkah. [rahmat-ul-lil'alameen 2/55]

whatever the truth might have been, the whole affair resulted in the deprivation of sofa of their privileges, previously mentioned, evacuation of khuza‘a and bakr from makkah and transfer of rulership over makkah and custodianship of the holy sanctuary to qusai, after fierce wars between qusai and khuza‘a inflicting heavy casualties on both sides, reconciliation and then arbitration of ya‘mur bin ‘awf, from the tribe of bakr, whose judgement entailed eligibility of qusai’s rulership over makkah and custodianship of the sacred house, qusai’s irresponsibility for khuza‘a’s blood shed, and imposition of blood money on khuza‘a. qusai’s reign over makkah and the sacred house began in 440 a.d. and allowed him, and quraish afterwards, absolute rulership over makkah and undisputed custodianship of the sacred house to which arabs from all over arabia came to pay homage.

qusai brought his kinspeople to makkah and allocated it to them, allowing quraish some dwellings there. an-nus’a, the families of safwan, adwan, murra bin ‘awf preserved the same rights they used to enjoy before his arrival. [ibn hisham 1/124]

a significant achievement credited to qusai was the establishment of an-nadwa house (an assembly house) on the northern side of al-ka‘bah mosque, to serve as a meeting place for quraish. this very house had benefited quraish a lot because it secured unity of opinions amongst them and cordial solution to their problem. [ibn hisham 1/125; akhbar al-kiram p.152]

qusai however enjoyed the following privileges of leadership and honour:

  1. presiding over an-nadwa house meetings where consultations relating to serious issues were conducted, and marriage contracts were announced.
  2. the standard: he monopolized in his hand issues relevant to war launching.
  3. doorkeeping of al-ka‘bah: he was the only one eligible to open its gate, and was responsible for its service and protection.
  4. providing water for the pilgrims: this means that he used to fill basins sweetened by dates and raisins for the pilgrims to drink.
  5. feeding pilgrims: this means making food for pilgrims who could not afford it. qusai even imposed on quraish annual land tax, paid at the season of pilgrimage, for food. [ibn hisham 1/130]

it is noteworthy however that qusai singled out ‘abd manaf, a son of his, for honour and prestige though he was not his elder son (‘abd ad-dar was), and entrusted him with such responsibilities as chairing of an-nadwa house, the standard, the doorkeeping of al-ka‘bah, providing water and food for pilgrims. due to the fact that qusai’s deeds were regarded as unquestionable and his orders inviolable, his death gave no rise to conflicts among his sons, but it later did among his grand children, for no sooner than ‘abd munaf had died, his sons began to have rows with their cousins —sons of ‘abd ad-dar, which would have given rise to dissension and fighting among the whole tribe of quraish, had it not been for a peace treaty whereby posts were reallocated so as to preserve feeding and providing water for pilgrims for the sons of ‘abd munaf; while an-nadwa house, the flag and the doorkeeping of al-ka‘bah were maintained for the sons of ‘abd ad-dar. the sons of ‘abd munaf, however, cast the lot for their charge, and consequently left the charge of food and water giving to hashim bin ‘abd munaf, upon whose death, the charge was taken over by a brother of his called al-muttalib bin ‘abd manaf and afterwards by ‘abd al-muttalib bin hashim, the prophet’s grandfather, whose sons assumed this position until the rise of islam, during which ‘abbas bin ‘abdul-muttalib was in charge. [ibn hisham 1/129-179]

many other posts were distributed among people of quraish for establishing the pillars of a new democratic petite state with government offices and councils similar to those of today. enlisted as follows are some of these posts.

  1. casting the lots for the idols was allocated to bani jumah.
  2. noting of offers and sacrifices, settlement of disputes and relevant issues were to lie in the hands of bani sahm.
  3. consultation was to go to bani asad.
  4. organization of blood-money and fines was with bani tayim.
  5. bearing the national banner was with bani omaiyah.
  6. the military institute, footmen and cavalry would be bani makhzum’s responsibility.
  7. bani ‘adi would function as foreign mediators. [tareekh ard al-qur'an 2/104-106]


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