World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000717022
Reproduction Date:

Title: Qahtanite  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of Yemen-related topics, Pre-Islamic Arabia, Bedouin, Adnan, Najd
Collection: Descendants of Eber, History of Yemen, Qahtanites, Semitic Peoples, Tribes of Arabia, Yemeni Tribes
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Banu Qahtan
(Arabic: بنو قحطان‎)
Qahtanite, Children of Eber
Nisba Qahtani, Qahtaniyyah
Location The southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, eg. Yemen.[1]
Descended from Qahtan or Joktan (the son of Eber)
Religion Indigenous polytheistic beliefs, Nestorian Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, later Islam

The terms Qahtanite and Qahtani (Arabic: قَحْطَانِي‎; transliterated: Qahtani) refers to Arabs who originate from the southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, especially from Yemen.[1][2]

According to Islamic tradition, the Qahtanites are pure Arabs, unlike the Adnanites who are "Arabized Arabs", descended from Adnan.[3] The Qahtani people are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar (Himyartes) and Kahlan (Kahlanis).[2]

In fact, modern historians believe that the distinction between Qahtanites and Adnanites was created much later, during the Umayyad period, to support the cause of different political factions.[3]


  • Traditional Arab genealogy 1
    • Early linguistic connection 1.1
    • Ancient Semitic villages 1.2
    • Pre-Islamic Qahtani migration out of Arabia 1.3
  • Modern historiography 2
  • After Islam 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6

Traditional Arab genealogy

A family tree of the Qahtanites

Arab tradition maintains that a semi-legendary ancestral figure named Qahtan[1][2] and his 24 sons are the progenitors of the southern inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula known as Qahtani.

Early Islamic historians identified Qahtan with the Yoqtan (Joktan) son of Eber of the Hebrew Bible (Gen. 10:25-29).[4][5]

Among the sons of Qahtan are noteworthy figures like A'zaal (believed by Arabs to have been the original name of Sana'a, although its current name has been attested since the Iron Age) and Hadhramaut. Another son is Ya'rub, and his son Yashjub is the father of 'Abd Shams, who is also called Saba. All Yemeni tribes trace their ancestry back to this "Saba", either through Himyar or Kahlan, his two sons.

The Qahtani people are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar and Kahlan, who represent the settled Arabs of the south and their nomadic kinsmen (nomads).[2] The Kahlan division of Qahtan consists of 4 subgroups: the Ta' or Tayy, the Azd group which invaded Oman, the 'Amila-Judham group of Palestine, and the Hamdan-Madhhij group who mostly remain in Yemen.[2]

The Kahlan branch includes the following tribes: Azd (Aus and Khazraj, Bariq, Ghassan, Khuza'a and Daws), Hamdan, Khath'am, Bajflah, Madhhij, Murad, Zubaid and Nakh', Ash'ar, Lakhm and Kindah.[6]

Early linguistic connection

The first groups of Semites that moved northward already developed the early Semitic names derived from triliteral and sometimes a quadriliteral verb root that first appeared in early (now extinct) East Semitic languages, especially Akkadian, Assyrian, and Old Babylonian. A closer examination reveals connections with the Central Semitic language family including: Aramaic, Phoenician, Hebrew, and Nabatean, which is closely related to the Southern Semitic languages Minaean, Sabaean, Qatabanian, Awsanian, Hadhrami, and Himyarite.

Ancient Semitic villages

Biblical and historiographical place names that correspond with modern place names in Yemen and Asir include:

Pre-Islamic Qahtani migration out of Arabia

Early Semites who developed civilizations throughout the Ancient Near East gradually relinquished their geopolitical superiority to surrounding cultures and neighboring imperial powers, usually due to either internal turmoil or outside conflict. This climaxed with the arrival of the Chaldeans, and subsequently the rivaling Medes and Persians, during the 7th and 6th centuries BCE respectively. Though the Semites lost geopolitical influence, the Aramaic language emerged as the lingua franca of much of the Near East. However, Aramaic usage declined after the defeat of the Persians and the arrival of the Hellenic armies around 330 BCE.

The Ghassanids (ca. 250 CE) were the last major non-Islamic Semitic migration northward out of Yemen. They revived the Semitic presence in the then Roman-controlled Syria. They initially settled in the Hauran region, eventually spreading to modern Lebanon, Israel & the Palestinian Territories and Jordan, briefly securing governorship of Syria away from the Nabataeans.

Modern historiography

According to modern historians, the traditional distinction between Adnanites and Qahtanites lacks evidence and may have developed out of the later faction-fighting during the Umayyad period.[3]

After Islam

Between the 7th and the 14th centuries, the Spain and southern France in the west, to western China in the east. During this period of expansionism, the Arabs, including Qahtanite tribes, overspread these lands, intermingling with local native populations while yet maintaining their cultural identity. It is not unlikely to find Arabs of Qahtanite descent as far away as Morocco or Iran, and many can trace their heritage with profound accuracy. Among the most famous examples of Qahtanite Arabs are the social scholar Ibn Khaldun who was born in Tunisia to a family that immigrated from Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus), Al Kindi, Ibn al-Baitar.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Qahtan, Britannica Online Encyclopedia, 2009, webpage: .
  2. ^ a b c d e notes "Qahtan are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar and Kahlan".
  3. ^ a b c "The ‘arabicised or arabicising Arabs’, on the contrary, are believed to be the descendants of Ishmael through Adnan, but in this case the genealogy does not match the Biblical line exactly. The label ‘arabicised’ is due to the belief that Ishmael spoke Hebrew until he got to Mecca, where he married a Yemeni woman and learnt Arabic. Both genealogical lines go back to Sem, son of Noah, but only Adnanites can claim Abraham as their ascendant, and the lineage of Mohammed, the Seal of Prophets (khatim al-anbiya'), can therefore be traced back to Abraham. Contemporary historiography unveiled the lack of inner coherence of this genealogical system and demonstrated that it finds insufficient matching evidence; the distinction between Qahtanites and Adnanites is even believed to be a product of the Umayyad Age, when the war of factions (al-niza al-hizbi) was raging in the young Islamic Empire."
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Jirjī Zaydān, David Samuel Margoliouth, Umayyads and ʻAbbásids: Being the Fourth Part of Jurjí Zaydán, (about Islamic Empire), 1907, p.45.

Further reading

  • John Simpson, Treasures from Ancient Yemen
  • Qahtan in the Arab History
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.