The Arab tribes from Jāhilīya to Islām : sources and historical trends
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This dissertation aims to formulate a view of Arabian tribalism in the pre- Islamic period and its development in Islamic times. The first part assesses the historical usability of the literary source material of the Jahiliya. The focus is on oral historical traditions - the ayyam al- carab. These are found to have remained textually fluid until the time of their recording. This fluidity may have affected style and form but did not substantially affect certain historical elements. The more inter-tribal and less local the account was, the more reliable it is likely to be historically. A sample comparison between tribal hostility and tribal distribution showed that the accounts seem to be highly consistent. The second part of the thesis is concerned firstly with establishing a Jahili profile for two tribal groups; secondly with tracing the affairs of their descendants into the Umayyad period. The tribal groups of Taghlib and Ghatafan were picked for examination. Both were strong cohesive groups in the pre-Islamic period. In Islamic times, Taghlibis lose importance since they opted to remain Christian, thus, Taghlibis are virtually impossible to trace. Ghatafanis did join Islam on a far greater scale and are often mentioned in the Islamic period. After the second civil war Ghatafanis are only ever mentioned as individuals. Close kin continued to cooperate but cooperation above this level was only conducted within the Qaysi faction. The third part discusses changes in the tribal system. A review of the functions of modern tribal genealogies illuminates the process by which genealogies can change in order to reflect changing realities. Early Arabic genealogies are clearly seen to be also naturally dynamic and the subject of deliberate change. New links reflected new realities, particularly the political alliances forged under the Umayyads. A belief in a single progenitor led to a move towards creating genealogical links to one ancestor, while the conditions of the conquests let to a regionalization of tribalism. The professionalization of the Marwanid army enabled cross-regional tribal co-operation which resulted in dividing in two the Umayyad army and Arab genealogies.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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