Send an article  |  Print   |  ../file-system/small/pdf   |   RSS   |  


The Quraish (قريش) are an ancient Arab tribe who are the descendants from Prophet Isma’el (Son of Prophet Ibraheem). Prophet Muhammad is from this tribe from the Banu Hashim Clan.


The most powerful and prominent tribe in all of Arabia in the Prophet's era. The Quraysh were the keepers of the Ka`bah and therefore one of the wealthiest and most powerful tribes.


The Prophet was from among the Quraysh. When he started to preach the True religion of Allah; the Quraysh violently persecuted him and his followers. They were badly defeated at the battle of Badr by the Muslims and their days of jaahiliyyah were finally ended when the Muslims liberated Makkah in the year 630 CE [1]


Table of Contents



  1. For the accustomed security of the Quraysh –
  2. Their accustomed security [in] the caravan of winter and summer –
  3. Let them worship the Lord of this House,
  4. Who has fed them, [saving them] from hunger and made them safe, [saving them] from fear.
    Surah Al Quraish 106:1-4



  1. Sons of Ishmael: Ishmael (peace be upon him) had twelve sons from the daughter of Mudad, whose names were: Nabet, Qidar, Edbael, Mebsham, Mishma’, Duma, Micha, Hudud, Yetma, Yetour, Nafis and Qidman,and who ultimately formed twelve tribes inhabiting Makkah and trading between Yemen, geographical Syria and Egypt.

    Later on, these tribes spread all over, and even outside, the peninsula. All their tidings went into oblivion except for the descendants of Nabet and Qidar.
  2. The Nabateans: The Nabeteans – sons of Nabet – established a flourishing civilization in the north of Hijaz, they instituted a powerful government which spread out its domain over all neighbouring tribes, and made Petra their capital. Nobody dared challenge their authority until the Romans came and managed to eliminate their kingdom.

    After extensive research and painstaking investigation, came to the conclusion that the Ghassanide kings, along with the Aws and Khazraj were not likely to be Qahtanians but rather Nabeteans.
  3. Qidar: Descendants of Qidar, the son of Ishmael, lived long in Makkah increasing in number, of them issued ‘Adnan and son Ma‘ad, to whom ‘Adnanian Arabs traced back their ancestry. ‘Adnan is the twenty-first grandfather in the series of the Prophetic ancestry. It was said that whenever Prophet Muhammad spoke of his ancestry he would stop at ‘Adnan and say: “Genealogists tell lies” and did not go farther than him.

    A group of scholars, however, favoured the probability of going beyond ‘Adnan attaching no significance to the aforementioned Prophetic Hadith.

    They went on to say that there were exactly forty fathers between ‘Adnan and Abraham (Peace be upon them).
  4. Nizar: Nizar, Ma‘ad’s only son , had four sons who branched out into four great tribes; Eyad, Anmar, Rabi‘a and Mudar. These last two sub-branched into several septs. Rabi‘a fathered Asad, ‘Anazah, ‘Abdul Qais, and Wa’il’s two sons (Bakr and Taghlib), Hanifa and many others.
  5. Mudar: Mudar tribes branched out into two great divisions: Qais ‘Ailan bin Mudar and septs of Elias bin
  6. Qais Ailan: Of Qais ‘Ailan were the Banu Saleem, Banu Hawazin, and Banu Ghatafan of whom descended ‘Abs, Zubyan, Ashja‘ and Ghani bin A‘sur.
  7. Elias ibn Mudar: Of Elias bin Mudar were Tamim bin Murra, Hudhail bin Mudrika, Banu Asad bin Khuzaimah and septs of Kinana bin Khuzaimah, of whom came Quraish, the descendants of Fahr bin Malik bin An-Nadr bin Kinana.
  8. Division of Quraish: Quraish branched out into various tribes, the most famous of whom were Jumah, Sahm, ‘Adi, Makhzum, Tayim, Zahra and the three septs of Qusai bin Kilab: ‘Abdud-Dar bin Qusai, Asad bin‘Abdul ‘Uzza bin Qusai and ‘Abd Manaf bin Qusai.
  9. Abd Manaf: ‘Abd Manaf branched out into four tribes: ‘Abd Shams, Nawfal, Muttalib and Hashim. It is, however, from the family of Hashim that Allâh selected Prophet Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib bin Hashim


Prophet Muhammad said: · “Allâh selected Kinana from the sons of Ishmael, Quraish from the sons of Kinana, Hashim from the sons of Quraish and He selected me from the sons of Hashim.”Sahih Muslim 2276 (Book 30, Hadith 5653)



Before the rule of Quraish

Ishmael (Peace be upon him) 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.


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 Khuza’a in the middle of the second century AC.


Qur’aish taking the rule from Khuza’a

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. 


Reasons for War between Quraish and Khuza’a

The reasons of this war have been illustrated in three versions:

  1.  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.
  2. Khuza‘a claimed that Halil requested Qusai to hold custodianship of Al-Ka‘bah and rulership over Makkah after his death.
  3. 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.


Achievements of Qusai

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.


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.


Qusai however enjoyed the follong privileged 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.


After Qusai

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.


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.



Most of the Arabs had complied with the call of Ishmael (Peace be upon him) , and professed the religion of his father Abraham (Peace be upon him) They had worshipped Allâh, professed His Oneness and followed His religion a long time until they forgot part of what they had been reminded of.


However, they still maintained such fundamental beliefs such as monotheism as well as various other aspects of Abraham’s religion, until the time when a chief of Khuza‘a, namely ‘Amr bin Luhai, who was renowned for righteousness, charity, reverence and care for religion, and was granted unreserved love and obedience by his tribesmen, came back from a trip to Syria where he saw people worship idols, a phenomenon he approved of and believed it to be righteous since Syria was the locus of Messengers and Scriptures, he brought with him an idol (Hubal) which he placed in the middle of Al-Ka‘bah and summoned people to worship it.


Readily enough, paganism spread all over Makkah and, thence, to Hijaz, people of Makkah being custodians of not only the Sacred House but the whole Haram as well. A great many idols, bearing different names, were introduced into the area.


An idol called ‘Manat’, for instance, was worshipped in a place known as Al-Mushallal near Qadid on the Red Sea. Another, ‘Al-Lat’ in Ta’if, a third, ‘Al-‘Uzza’ in the valley of Nakhlah, and so on and so forth. Polytheism prevailed and the number of idols increased everywhere in Hijaz. It was even mentioned that ‘Amr bin Luhai, with the help of a jinn companion who told him that the idols of Noah’s folk – Wadd, Suwa‘, Yaguth, Ya‘uk and Nasr – were buried in Jeddah, dug them out and took them to Tihama. Upon pilgrimage time, the idols were distributed among the tribes to take back home. Every tribe, and house, had their own idols, and the Sacred House was also overcrowded with them. On the Prophet’s conquest of Makkah, 360 idols were found around Al-Ka‘bah. He broke them down and had them removed and burned up.


Polytheism and worship of idols became the most prominent feature of the religion of pre-Islam Arabs despite alleged profession of Abraham’s religion. [2]


Opposition to Islam

Fifthly: The Opposition Of Quraish Heavily Influenced The Rest Of The Arabs To Oppose Islam As Well.


The opposition of the Quraish to the message of Islam greatly influenced the rest of the Arabs to reject Islam as well. In fact the influence of the Quraish was so great that even if they had not exerted themselves in their resistance to Islam and in the defamation of the Prophet they still could have swayed the people. That was because all of the Arabs looked to the Quraish and waited for their approval for many reasons such as:

(A) The high status of the Quraish in the hearts of the Arabs. They revered the Quraish because they were the people who lived close to the Ka’bah and were the caretakers of Allah’s house. For this reason the other Arabs honored and respected the Quraish and took pride in rushing to fulfill any need that they might have for food, drink or other things as well. Qusay ibn Kilaab played a major role in the establishment of the high status of the Quraish inasmuch as he was the one who settled the tribe in the city Mecca and he led them in a bloody war against the tribe of Jurham to wrest away from them the honor of being the caretakers of the Ka’bah. With that he succeeded in acquiring for the Quraish a position of honor and authority. It is for this reason that a poet said about them:

Furthermore Allah’s protection of the Ka’bah from Abraha and his army in the miraculous manner that is mentioned in the Qur’an served to increase the sanctity and holiness of the Ka’bah in the hearts of the Arabs.


And consequently it increased their respect for those who lived close to the Ka’bah and were its caretakers. As a result the Quraish could safely travel wherever they wanted to in Arabia even though highway robbery was common because they enjoyed the protection of all of the tribes. Hence there were two major merchandise caravans a year that traveled to Syria and Yemen, one in the summer and another one in the winter, which constituted the mainstay of trade for the Quraish.


For this reasons, as well as others, all of the Arabs respectfully and reverently looked to the Quraish. And in general the Quraish deserved this high status amongst the Arabs because of the special favors that Allah bestowed upon them. In fact the Qur’an supports and gives evidence of the special favor of the Quraish inasmuch as Allah mentions them in the Qur’an and the story of how He destroyed the army that tried to invade Mecca, and how He rendered the Ka’bah a place of resort for mankind and a place of safety.


Islam has also stipulated that the leader of all of the Muslims should be chosen from the tribe of the Quraish. And Allah caused the hearts of the people to love the Ka’bah and send all types of fruits and crops to those who inhabited the Holy City of Mecca. Allah also protected the Ka’bah from the invading Ethiopian army, and other would be invaders as well, and He protected the people of Mecca too.


Also the Quraish, as leaders, protected the oppressed and helped the needy as is evidenced by Hilf Al-Fudool which was an agreement concluded in the house of Abd-Allah ibn Jud’an. All of these factors influenced the Arabs to wait and refuse to accept Islam until the people of Mecca – the Quraish – accepted Islam. Therefore when the Arabs saw the Quraish reject Islam and witnessed their contempt for it they too turned away.


(B) The Messenger of Allah was himself from the tribe of the Quraish and the Arabs had a saying that the tribe was more knowledgeable and more informed about the character and condition of its own members than anyone else. So the Arabs were not about to challenge the judgement of the Quraish about their own tribe member notwithstanding the high status of this tribe.


So in the beginning there was almost no tribe that considered entering Islam while the prestigious Quraish refused to enter it, especially since the Prophet’s own tribe refused to believe him and they knew him best!


(C) The outright rejection of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad by the Quraish would seemingly have been enough of a deterrent for the rest of the Arabs but the Quraish added to that very public and very vocal attacks on Islam and the Messenger of Allah using every means at their disposal.


Tribal leaders from the Quraish gathered together in order to carefully plan what they were going to say about the Qur’an to all of the people who would be coming to Mecca as pilgrims next season.


It was not enough for the Quraish to simply spread bad rumors about the chosen Prophet of Allah but the ignorant and foolish ones amongst them who were full of enmity for the Prophet also used to follow him everywhere he went. They would behave in a mean and evil manner with the Prophet and slander and defame his name in front of all of the tribes so that no one would dare accept Islam and follow the Prophet.


Prophet Muhammad had been commanded by his Lord to convey the message of Islam so he would approach the people while they were in their marketplaces and places of assembly. He would even go to the campsites of the pilgrims in Mina and present the message of Islam to them, always using the best of speech and never being offensive or hateful to anyone. Rather he would simply invite the people to Tawheed (to worship Allah alone) and to help and support him in spreading the message of Islam.


The Messenger of Allah was alone, a stranger in his own land. His closest relatives publicly opposed and rejected him in front of the crowds of people that would gather to look and listen, throwing rocks at him until his heels and ankles were bleeding. They would also throw dirt upon his head and in his face and chest, all the while accusing him of being a liar even though they knew that he had never told a lie in his entire life! And they would encourage the people to stay away from the Prophet because he would call them to leave off worshipping Al-Lat and Al-‘Izza and that which they found their fathers and their grandfathers worshipping and to leave off seeking help from Jinn.


Indeed this was a difficult test. The Messenger of Allah and those few who believed with him in Mecca were totally ostracized by their closest relatives before being ostracized by strangers! This was in spite of the fact that the Prophet asked his family to at least maintain the ties of kinship with him by ceasing to harm and annoy him if they would not accept Islam.


There was no family or sub-tribe of the Quraish except that the Messenger of Allah was directly related to them. So when they belied him and rejected the message of Islam, he requested that they at least keep the ties of kinship with him. And since the Quraish were the tribesmen and the kinsfolk of the Messenger of Allah they should have been the first to protect and help him. [3]


Leaders are from Quraish

The Prophetﷺ  said: “The leaders are from Quraysh. The righteous among them are the leaders of the righteous, and the wicked among them are the leaders of the wicked.”


The hadîth is recorded by al-Hâkim in his Mustadrak. It is supported by narrations in Musnad Ahmad, Sunan al-Nasâ’î al-Kubrâ, and Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah. It has been graded as authentic by al-Albânî and Shu`ayb al-Arna’ût.


Ibn al-`Uthaymeen, in his commentary on this hadîth, writes: “The Prophet meant this only for a case where there is a choice between candidates. When we want to choose a supreme leader for the Muslims, we should choose someone from Quraysh. Yet, who from Quraysh should be chosen? He should be someone who adheres to the faith. It is not just a mere question of ancestry, of being able to trace your lineage back to Quraysh as a tribe or even to the Prophet . There is no special distinction in this without true piety. If a iniquitous man from Quraysh comes forward and says he is entitled to the office, we would not appoint him. We would say to him that the primary consideration of a leader is that he must be just.”


It would seem that the Prophet said that the leader should be from Quraysh because a head of state needs to be able to command respect and have the power to mobilize people to action. He needs to possess this ability in order to work towards the welfare of the nation. This will not be possible for a leader regarded in his society as being a person of ignoble status. In Arabia at the Prophet’s time, only Quraysh had the necessary political clout.


It should not be understood the Prophet’s statement as meaning that there is some special blessing in that lineage that we are seeking to attain by making a political appointment form within that lineage.


This is the reason why a good number of Islamic scholars throughout the ages have ruled that the condition of being from Quraysh does not apply except in the first era of Islam. In later times, there is no benefit to be had from upholding such a condition. The necessity of the leader being from Quraysh was a political reality at the Prophet’s time, but it did not remain so. [4]


See Also

Prophet Ismaeel; Prophet Ibraheem; Prophet Muhammad; Makkah; Madina;




[2] The Sealed Nectar by Safi ur Rahman Mubarakpuri



Correct us and Correct yourself
Top of page