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Quraish falcon as coat of arms of the Federation of Arab Republics

The Quraish ( Arabic قريش, DMG Quraish used to be), the German Quraysh called, are an Arab tribe , who at the time of the Islamic prophet Muhammad via Mecca prevailed and until the beginning of the modern era held a leading political role in the Islamic world. Not only Mohammed, but also many of his earliest followers belonged to this tribe. People who consider themselves to be members of this tribe now live all over the world.

origin of the name

The origin of the name Quraish is unclear. Yāqūt ar-Rūmī (d. 1229) discusses the following explanations in his Geographical Lexicon:

  • One explanation derives the name from the Arabic verb taqarraš ("gathering up"): The Quraish are said to have come from the vicinity of Mecca and gathered there at the time when Qusaiy ibn Kilāb ruled over them. Yāqūt himself considers this explanation to be particularly plausible.
  • Another explanation derives it from the verb qaraš ("collect, acquire, have money"). It is said to have been appropriate because the Quraish did not cultivate or raise cattle, but were traders.
  • ʿAbdallāh ibn ʿAbbās is quoted with an explanation that the name is derived from the sea animal quraiš , which eats the other sea animals. Quraiš is interpreted as a diminutive form of the Arabic noun qirš ("shark"), so it has the meaning of "small shark". As proof of the correctness of this explanation, Ibn ʿAbbās is said to have referred to an ancient Arabic verse which interprets the name in this way. Yāqūt himself rejects this declaration as worthless ( bārid ). Henri Lammen regards it as "a Bedouin satire on the greed and the tendency to attack Muḥammad's relatives".
  • Another explanation, which Yāqūt considers particularly plausible, derives the name from a tribal member who was supposedly Quraish ibn al-Hārith ibn Yachlad ibn an-Nadr ibn Kināna . He is said to have been the caravan leader of the Banū n-Nadr. The Arabs would have said: "Here comes the caravan of Quraish ( ʿīr Quraiš )". When the Quraish then separated from the Kināna, that name gained the upper hand among them.

Position in pre-Islamic times

Like some other Arab tribes, the Quraish are regarded as descendants of Mudar ibn Nizār and thus belong to the northern Arabs who refer to ʿAdnān as their common ancestor. At the time of Muhammad the Quraish were already divided into different clans. These included the Banū l-Hārith (ibn Fihr), the Banū ʿĀmir, the Banū ʿAdī, the Banū Taim, the Banū Sahm, the Banū Jumah, the Banū Machzūm, the Banū Zuhra, the ʿAbd (ad-) Dār, the ʿAbd Shams , the Banū Naufal, the Banū Hāschim , the Banū al-Muttalib and the Banū Asad. Within these clans, the last six, as descendants of Qusaiy ibn Kilāb, represented a special group. According to Islamic tradition, Qusaiy had grown up outside of Mecca five generations earlier and had then wrested control of the city from the South Arabian tribe of Chuzāʿa. Then he is said to have rearranged the cult around the Kaaba and also precisely determined the boundaries of the Holy District ( ḥaram ) around the Kaaba by setting up stone marks. Among the descendants of Qusaiy, the Banū Hāschim and the ʿAbd Shams with the subgroup of the Banū Umayya played a prominent role. They were both descendants of Qusaiy's son ʿAbd Manāf and rivaled each other for the leadership of the city of Mecca.

A common political institution of the Quraish was the malaʾ , a kind of senate of the most important representatives of the different clans, but which was almost exclusively of an advisory nature. The individual clans were each headed by "arbitrators" ( ḥukkām , pl. From ḥakam ). For example, ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib with his two sons az-Zubair and Abū Tālib was the ḥakam of the Banū Hāschim, Abū Sufyān with his father Ḥarb was the ḥakam of the Banū Umayya and al-Walīd ibn al-Mughīra the ḥakam of the Machzūm. The most important economic base of the Quraish was trade. They had trade relations with both Syria and Abyssinia .

As for the religious conditions among the Quraish in the early 7th century, Ibn Ishāq reports that the Quraish had several idols, the stone idols Isāf and Nāʾila inside the Kaaba Hubal and at the Zamzam fountain . Each Quraish family also had a household idol. When a man went on a journey, the last thing he did when he left was to rub against this idol, and when he returned, the first thing he did was rub against this idol again. There were also two people who had adopted Christianity, Waraqa ibn Naufal, who is also known as Hanīf , and thUthmān ibn al-Huwairith. They both belonged to the Banū Asad.

The argument with Mohammed

According to consistent Islamic tradition, the Quraish were initially not hostile to Mohammed when he called on the people of Mecca to his new religion and gathered the first followers around him. To break it to have come only when Mohammed in the name of Allah criticized the worshiped by the Quraysh beside Allah gods and spoke about the eternal damnation of their forefathers, which in disbelief had died. As a result, a group of Quraysh, who had possessions in the city of Ta'if , started to fight him, so that Mohammed lost a large number of his original followers.

As Mohammed continued his attacks on the gods of the Quraish, they asked his uncle Abū Tālib to either prevent him or hand him over. Abu Tālib, however, held his protective hand over Mohammed and obliged both the Banū Hāschim and the Banū l-Muttalib to defend him against all attacks. The Quraish could therefore do nothing against Mohammed, but they exerted strong social and economic pressure on his followers. This pressure eventually led a large part of Muhammad's followers to emigrate to Abyssinia. A diplomatic initiative by the Quraish with the Negus , aimed at expelling the followers of Muhammad from his country, failed.

After Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib and ʿUmar ibn al-Chattāb, two other important men of the Quraish, converted to Muhammad's religion and Mohammed had also gained more and more followers among the Arab tribes in the vicinity of Mecca, the Quraish imposed on the Banū Hashim and the Banū l-Muttalib a marriage and trade boycott that was documented on a sheet that was hung up in the Kaaba. However, this boycott was lifted after a while. After Abu Talib died in 619, the Quraysh cracked down on Mohammed. This eventually forced him to emigrate to Yathrib with his followers in 622 .

In Yathrib, the Quraish as emigrants ( Muhādschirūn ) formed only part of Mohammed's followers, the other part were the Ansār , Mohammed's helpers from this place, who mainly belonged to the Aus and Khazradsch tribes . The struggle of the Muslims in Yathrib against the pagan Meccans was conducted as a struggle against the Quraish. However, after the capture of Mecca in 630, a peaceful settlement was reached with the heads of the Quraysh, and Muhammad was widely recognized as the leader of the tribe. With the recognition of Muhammad by the other tribes on the Arabian Peninsula, the Quraish themselves took on a leadership role over the other Arabs.

Post-prophetic period: leadership role in the Islamic state

When Mohammed died in Medina in 632, a dispute broke out among the Prophet's companions over the leadership of the community. The Ansār spoke out in favor of Saʿd ibn ʿUbāda as the new leader. However, the Quraish insisted that the state established by Mohammed be continued under their leadership. Al-Hubāb ibn al-Mundhir, a man of the Ansār who fought in the Badr battle , suggested that the dispute be resolved by Ansār and Quraish each choosing their own Amīr . The Muslim community threatened to break up. Umar ibn al-Chattāb , who ensured that the companions of the Prophets paid homage to the Quraishite Abū Bakr at the meeting of the Saqīfa, was of decisive importance for the ultimate assertion of the Quraysh's claim to leadership . The three subsequent caliphs, Umar ibn al-Chattab himself, ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān and ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib also belonged to the Quraish.

With the Kharijites , who separated from Ali in 657 after the battle of Siffin , a political movement arose for the first time, which denied the right of the Quraish to lead the Islamic community . After Ali was killed by a Kharijite in 661, Muʿāwiya I, another member of the Quraish , prevailed as ruler. Muʿāwiya founded the Umayyad dynasty, which ruled until 749. During this time, however, there were very frequent Kharijite uprisings, and even at the Umayyad court itself there were people who were critical of the Quraishite claim to the imamate , i.e. the leadership of the umma. The Qadarit Ghailān ad-Dimaschqī, who served ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (r. 717-720) as secretary, said that it should not be deduced from the fact that the Umma had always agreed on a member of the Quraish that the imamate could not also come to a non-Quraishite. If the Ummah agrees on him and he adheres to the book (= Koran ) and Sunna , such a non-Quraishit is perfectly suitable for the Imamate.

The Abbasids , who inherited the Umayyads in 749, belonged to the Quraish as members of the Banū Hāschim. The model of the leadership of the Islamic state by an imam from the Quraish tribe was laid down in writing in the 11th century in state-theoretical treatises such as the book al-Aḥkām as-sulṭānīya by al-Māwardī , but was practically abandoned after the end of the Abbasid dynasty in 1517 .

After the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924, the Hashimite Hussein , king of Hejaz in Mecca , citing that he belonged to the Quraish, tried to win the caliphate for himself, but without finding general recognition.

In the Islamic world, descent from the Quraish tribe is considered a sign of prestige to this day. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims claim a descent from the tribe of the Quraish, but this is mostly not verifiable. The name Quraishi is by no means rare even today. The most famous name bearer today is probably the Pakistani-English writer and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi .

Quraysh falcon

The Arabs of the peninsula, today especially those on the coast of the Persian Gulf, are traditionally regarded as excellent falconers , the falcons, in turn, were and are considered a status symbol and one of the Arabs' favorite animals. A falcon has also been handed down as a status symbol or tribal seal from the Quraish clan and the Prophet Mohammed. The so-called falcon of the Quraish is therefore in different variants until today the heraldic animal of several Arab states and rivals Saladin's eagle in this function .


Arabic sources
Secondary literature
  • Ḫalīl ʿAbd-al-Karīm: Quraiš min al-qabīla ilā d-daula al-markazīya. Cairo 1993.
  • Patricia Crone, “Quraysh and the Roman Army: Making Sense of the Meccan Leather Trade” in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 70 (2007) 63-88.
  • Sabine Kalinock: "Reenacting the past, negotiating the present: ʿArus-i Qoraysh ritual of Iranian women" in Pedram Khosronejad (ed.): Women's Rituals and Ceremonies in Shiite Iran and Muslim Communities. Methodological and Theoretical Challenges . Lit, Zurich, 2015. pp. 7–24.
  • Meir Jacob Kister : Mecca and the tribes of Arabia: Some notes on their relations in M. Sharon (ed.): Studies in Islamic History and Civilization in honor of David Ayalon. Leiden 1986. pp. 33-57.
  • Henri Lammen : "Ḳurai sh " in Encyclopedia of Islam . Brill, Leiden, 1913-1936. Vol. II, pp. 1203b-1208a.
  • Michael Lecker: "Did the Quraysh conclude a treaty with the Anṣār prior to the Hijra?" In Harald Motzki (ed.): The Biography of Muḥammad. The Issue of the Sources. Brill, Leiden, 2000. pp. 157-170.
  • Francis Edward Peters : Muhammad and the origins of Islam . Albany 1994. pp. 16-21, 167-178. ( Preview in Google Book Search)
  • Uri Rubin: “The Īlāf of Quraysh: A Study of Sūra CVI” in Arabica 31 (1984) 165-188.
  • Uri Rubin: "Quraysh and their winter and summer journey: On the interpretation of Sura 106" in Uri Rubin: Mu theammad the Prophet and Arabia. Aldershot 2011. pp. 1-32. http://www.urirubin.com/downloads/articles/ilaf_Quraysh.pdf
  • William Montgomery Watt : Art. "Ḳuraysh" in Encyclopaedia of Islam . Second edition. Vol. V., pp. 434-435.
  • William Montgomery Watt: Muhammad at Mecca . Oxford 1953.

Web links

Commons : Quraish  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Yāqūt ar-Rūmī: Kitāb Muʿǧam al-buldān . 1867, Vol. IV, p. 79.
  2. Lammens, "Kurai sh " in Encyclopedia of Islam Vol II, p 1204a..
  3. See also Hans Jansen : Mohammed. A biography. (2005/2007) Translated from the Dutch by Marlene Müller-Haas. CH Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-56858-9 , pp. 140 f. ( The boycott against Muhammad's clan ).
  4. See Peters 16-21 in the Google book search.
  5. See Watt 1953, 8.
  6. See Kister 53.
  7. See Peters 173.
  8. Cf. Kitāb Sīrat Rasūl Allāh according to Muhammed Ibn Ishāk. Arranged by Abd el-Malik Ibn Hischâm. From d. Hs. On Berlin, Leipzig, Gotha a. Leyden ed. by Ferdinand Wüstenfeld. 2 vols. Göttingen 1858-59. P. 54. Available online here: http://archive.org/stream/p1daslebenmuhamm01ibnhuoft#page/n493/mode/2up
  9. Cf. al-Yaʿqūbī : Tārīḫ . 2 vol. Beirut: Dār Ṣādir o. D. vol. I., p. 57.
  10. See Peters 168f.
  11. See Peters 171 f. in Google Book Search
  12. See Peters 173f.
  13. Cf. Peters 177 in the Google book search.
  14. See Peters 178 in the Google book search.
  15. See Wilferd Madelung: The Succession to Muḥammad. A Study of the Early Caliphate. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1997. pp. 28-34.
  16. Cf. Muhammad al-Schahrastani : Religious parties and schools of philosophers for the first time completely from d. Arab. trans. u. with declared Note vers. by Theodor Haarbrücker. 2 vols. Hall 1850-51. S. 160. Available online: http://archive.org/stream/abulfathmuhamma00unkngoog#page/n185/mode/2up
  17. ^ Karl-Heinz Hesmer: Flags and coats of arms of the world , pages 93, 155 and 171.Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh 1992
  18. Syed Junaid Imam: The Flag of Quraish , Flags Of The World (1999)