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Quraysh is also the name of a Surah in the Qur'an.

Quraysh or Quraish ( ) , meaning little shark. Other transliterations include "Quresh", "Quraysh", "Koreish" and "Coreish". Turkish: Kureyş) was the dominant tribe of Meccamarker upon the appearance of the religion of Islam. It was the tribe to which the Islamic prophet Muhammad belonged, as well as the tribe that led the initial opposition to his message.


According to popular legend, the Quraysh was a branch of the Kinana branch, which descended from the Khuzaimah, which has its genealogical root in Mudhar patriarchy, descendant of Adnan.

The Quraysh remained completely disunited until Qusai ibn Kilab managed to rally their ranks on honourable terms attaching major prominence to their status and importance . After the introduction of Islam, the Quraysh gained supremacy and produced the three dynasties of the Ummayad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate and the Fatimid Caliphate.

Early history

For several generations the Quraysh were spread about among other tribal groupings. About five generations before Muhammad the situation was changed by Qusai ibn Kilab. By war and diplomacy he assembled an alliance that delivered to him the possession of the Meccanmarker Sanctuary (the Kaabamarker). He then gathered his fellow tribesmen to settle at Mecca, where he enjoyed such adulation from his kin that they adjudged him their de facto king, a position that was enjoyed by no other descendant of his.

Arab lineages

According to traditional legends, Arab lineages allegedly originate from three groups:

  1. Perished Arabs (العرب البائدة): These are the ancients of whose history little is known. They include ‘Ad, Thamûd, Tasam, Jadis, Imlaq and others.
  2. Pure Arabs (العرب العاربة): They allegedly originated from the progeny of Ya‘rub bin Yashjub bin Qahtan bin Hud so were also called Qahtanian Arabs.
  3. Arabized Arabs (العرب المستعربة): They allegedly originated from the progeny of Ishmael and were also called ‘Adnanite Arabs. The Quraysh are a branch of the "Arabized Arabs".

The Quraysh had become a prominent tribe in Meccamarker before the birth of Muhammad and essentially ruled the city. Before Muhammad's birth, the tribe had split into different clans, each with different responsibilities. There were some rivalries among the clans, but these became especially pronounced during Muhammad's lifetime. Some clan leaders did not appreciate Muhammad's claim of prophethood and tried to silence him by putting pressure on his uncle, Abu Talib. Many of the clans also began to persecute the followers of Muhammad, for example by boycotting them. This response led Muhammad to initially send some Muslims to Ethiopiamarker, and later would lead to his own emigration to Medinamarker.

After Muhammad's conquest of Mecca in 630, he pardoned many of those who had oppressed him before, and peace among the different clans was maintained. After Muhammad's death, clan rivalries reignited, playing central roles in the conflicts over the Caliphate and contributing to the Shi'a-Sunni divide.


Quraysh branched out into various sub-clans, who in turn branched out into yet further sub-clans. Roughly the division corresponded to the family lines of the current chieftain of that clan having sons.

  • Banu Quraysh — Quraysh was divided into several sub-clans.
*Banu Abd-al-dar — sub-clan of Quraysh
*Banu Abd Manaf — sub-clan of Quraysh
:*Banu Nawfal — sub-clan of Banu Abd Manaf, clan of Mut`im ibn ‘Adi
:*Banu Muttalib — sub-clan of Banu Abd Manaf
:*Banu Hashim — sub-clan of Banu Abd Manaf, clan of Muhammad and Ali.
:*Banu Abd Shams — sub-clan of Banu Abd Manaf, parent clan of Banu Umayyah.
::*Banu Umayyah — sub-clan of Banu Abd Shams, clan of Abu Sufyan and Uthman ibn Affan

*Banu Makhzum — sub-clan of Quraysh, clan of Khalid ibn al-Walid
*Banu Zuhrah — sub-clan of Quraysh, clan of Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas
*Banu Taim — sub-clan of Quraysh, clan of Abu Bakr
*Banu Adi — sub-clan of Quraysh, clan of Umar ibn al-Khattab
*Banu Asad — sub-clan of Quraysh, clan of Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr and Khadijah
*Banu Jumah — sub-clan of Quraysh
*Banu Sahm — sub-clan of Quraysh- Amr ibn al-As

Leaders of the Quraysh

The leaders of Quraysh, who formed Mecca's aristocracy upon the appearance of Muhammad, were referred to as the Lords of Quraish (by conventional translation), Dominants of Quraish (by literal translation) (Arabic: Sadat Quraysh).

A list of them include:

Clans and the Caliphate

The split between the Shi'a and Sunni branches of Islam centers over the succession to Muhammad. The Sunnis believe Abu Bakr was elected as Muhammad's successor while the Shi'a (literally "party [of Ali]") believe Muhammad appointed Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor.

Ali was a member of Muhammad's clan, the Banu Hashim. Abu Bakr, while a close companion of Muhammad, came from the Banu Taim clan.

The second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, was from the Banu Adi clan.

The third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, was from the Banu Umayyah clan.

When Ali was made caliph after the death of Uthman, the Caliphate was in the hands of the Banu Hashim, but he was almost immediately challenged by Muawiyah, who was a member of the Umayyad clan. After Ali's assassination at the hands of the Kharajites, the Shi'a hoped his son Hasan would become Caliph, but he was forced to defer to Muawiyah, who, in violation of the treaty signed with Hasan bin Ali, established the Umayyad line of Caliphs.

After the death of Muawiyah, his son Yazid became Caliph but was almost immediately challenged by Ali's younger son, Hussein, who would not swear allegiance to Yazid for a number of reasons, among which that the Caliphate was not supposed to be hereditary, and that Yazid was said to be corrupt. Yazid's forces were stronger than those of Hussein and Hussein was killed at the Battle of Karbela. This event would ultimately lead to a full schism between Shi'a Islam and Sunni Islam.

The fact that Muhammad's descendants through Ali would be persecuted by Umayyad Caliphs did not help the matter.

See also

Related tribes


  1. [1]
  2. GLUBB, John Bagot, The Life and Times of Mohammed, in A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims, chapter " Muhammad's Visit to Ta'if",
  3. M Pacuk.

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