The ebb and flow of Arabia’s history, commerce and society was determined by the status of and interaction between various tribes. The greater Makkah area in particular was home to a large number of tribes. Of these, however, the Quraysh was the largest and the most prominent. The word “Quraysh” means “one who collects” or “one who searches and is a mercantile Arab tribe that historically inhabited and controlled Mecca. It is made up of ten clans.
History recorded the tribe was named after a man named Fihr—one of the most important and famous chiefs in Arabia. He was a powerful merchant tribe of the Arabian Peninsula and according to sources, Fihr led the warriors of Kinana and Khuzayma in defense of the Ka’aba and he triumphed.
The Prophet (SAW), hailed from the Hashimi one of the ten clans but, The most powerful clan within the bunch was the Umayyad, whose most famous member was Uthman (RAA). The Hashimi clan members held the hereditary rights and ceremonial privileges such as keeper of the Qurayshi war banner, supervisor of water and provisions to the pilgrims visiting the Ka’bah.
Since the time of jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic Arabia), the Quraysh were well-known not only as keepers of the Kaaba, but as prolific merchant traders. Then, capitalizing on the Kaaba’s renowned as a place of pilgrimage and the home of various pre-Islamic religious idols; the tribe turned Makkah into a major stop on the trade route stretching from the northern tip of the Arabian Peninsula to the south. Truly astute businessmen of their time, the Qurayshis gained wealth and status by charging fees to visitors to Kaaba, taxing trade caravans going in and out of Makkah, and managing all commercial transactions that occurred in the city. By the end of the 6th century, Makkah commerce flourished, and the leaders in this trade the Quraysh had developed from mere merchants into true financiers and a class of men with well-developed managerial and organizational skills. It was a development unheralded, and almost unique, in central Arabia.
Prophet Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim clan of the tribe, and many of his family members were prominent leaders. Abu Talib, the Prophet‘s uncle, was the chief of the Hashimis. His brother Abu Lahab was the next in line as a leader of the clanl although, he strongly objected to the prophet’s message Abu Talib was a staunch supporter.
The first four caliphs of Islam were from the tribe and is the only tribe to whom a whole “surah,” or chapter—albeit a brief one of just two verses—is dedicated in the Quran: “For the protection of Quraysh: their protection in their summer and winter journeying. Therefore let them worship the Lord of this House who fed them in the days of famine and shielded them from all peril.” (Surah 106:1-2)
The polytheistic Quraysh opposed the monotheistic message preached by the prophet Muhammad. The tribe harassed members of the nascent Muslim community. Once he began preaching monotheism the tribe, expelled his clan from it, and plotted to kill him, but he was protected by his uncle Abu Talib and migrated to Medinah. In the next 10 years following the expulsion, his men and the Quraysh fought three major battles—after which Allah returned him triumphantly to Makkah in c. 630 AD. Afterwards, leadership of the Muslim community traditionally passed to a member of the Quraysh. The bloodlines of the many branches of the Quraysh tribe spread far and wide in Arabia—and the tribe is still the biggest in Mecca and successors to each of the clans still exist today. But, for the Banu Hashim clan, it is less pronounced in order to avoid, hero worshiping.bt overzealous Muslims.
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