For the chapter in the Qur'an, see Quraysh (sura).
Banu Quraysh
(Arabic: بنو قريش)
Adnanite, Ishmaelite
Nisba Quraysh (also spelled Qurayshi or Quraishi)
Location Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Descended from An-Nadr ibn Kinanah
Religion Idolatry and later Islam
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The Quraysh (Arabic: قريش, Qurayš; other transliterations include Qurishy, Quraish, Quresh, Qurishy, Kuraish, Qurayshi, and Quraishi) were a powerful merchant tribe that controlled Mecca and its Ka'aba and that, according to Pre-Islamic and Islamic tradition, descended from Ishmael.

The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe, whom all trace origin to Ishmael, the son of Abraham through his Egyptian maidservant Hagar, unlike the Jews and Christians, who trace their origin to Jacob through Abraham's son Isaac.[1]


The tribe traditionally traces a genealogical history backwards from their eponymous ancestor Fihr AlQuraysh to Adnan, Ishmael, Abraham, Noah, Idris and finally Adam:

According to this tradition, Quraysh is Fihr AlQuraish[2] ibn ("son of") Malik bin An-Nadr ibn Qais ibn Kinanah ibn Khuzaimah ibn Mudrikah ibn Ilyas ibn Mudhar ibn Nazar ibn Ma'ad ibn Adnan ibn Aa'd ibn U'dud ibn Sind ibn Ya'rub ibn Yashjub ibn Nabeth ibn Qedar[3] ibn Ishmael[4][4][5] ibn Abraham[6] ibn Azar[7][8] (Terah) ibn Nahur[9] ibn Serug[10] ibn Reu[11] ibn Peleg[12] ibn Eber ibn Salah[13][14][15] ibn Arpachshad[16] ibn Shem ibn Noah ibn Lamech[17] ibn Methuselah ibn Idris (Enoch) ibn Jared ibn Mahalalel ibn Kenan ibn Enos ibn Seth ibn Adam.

It is said he was known as "Fihr AlQuraish" because in classical Arabic the word "Quraysh" meant Whale/Shark/any big fish perhaps because he had a big personality among his tribesmen.

It is also said that the Quraysh tribe got their name from the gathering of his ancestor An-Nadr with his brothers after they had been separated, for gathering together may be expressed by taqarrush.[18]

Early history

According to Arabic history books, the Quraysh tribe was a branch of the Banu Kinanah tribe, which descended from the Mudhar. For several generations, they 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 keys of the Kaaba, an important shrine, which brought revenues to Mecca because of the multitude of pilgrims that it attracted. 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. Different responsibilities were apportioned between the clans, between whom there were some rivalries, which became especially pronounced during Muhammad's lifetime.

The Quraysh's main god was Hubal. According to The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, "The Qurayshite pantheon was composed principally of idols that were in the Haram of Makka, that is, Hubal (the most important and oldest deity), Manaf, Isaf, and Na'ila."[19]

Opposition to Muhammad

Some clan leaders did not appreciate Muhammad's claim of prophethood and tried to silence him by putting pressure on his uncle, Abu Talib. They rejected Islam's conception of monotheism; while they agreed that there was a single higher God, they also worshipped many lesser Gods, which they believed were intermediaries between mankind and the one higher God.[20] Many of the clans also began to oppose the followers of Muhammad, for example by boycotting them. A number of early Muslims took refuge with the Christian king of Abyssinia,[21] while Muhammad himself would later emigrate to Yathrib, now Medina. The Quraysh fought many battles against Muhammad. One major clash, the Battle of Badr in 624 C.E., where the Quraysh were defeated, was later seen as a turning point for Muslims.[22] After Muhammad died, clan rivalries reignited, playing central roles in the conflicts over the caliphate and contributing to the Shia-Sunni divide.

Conflict with Muhammad

Muhammad ordered the Batn Rabigh Caravan Raid in 623 against the Quraysh. This was the first military operation against them.[23][24][25][26]

The second operation against the Quraysh was in May/June 623 and called the Kharar Caravan Raid.[23][24][25][26][27]

This was followed by the Invasion of Waddan in August 623.[28][29]

In October 623, Muhammad ordered an attack against Quraysh caravans in Buwat known as the Invasion of Buwat.[30][31]

Then, in December 623, another Quraysh caravan was attacked in the Invasion of Dul Ashir.[32]

He then ordered Muslims to gather intelligence against the Quraysh in January 624 in an operation known as the Nakhla Raid, in which one member of the Quraysh was killed and two were captured. This was the first time that someone was killed in an operation.[33][34][35]

A major operation was then launched in March 624 known as the Battle of Badr.[36] In this operation, 14 Muslims were killed as were 70 Quraysh members, with another 30-47 captured.[37]

Clans and the Caliphate

After the introduction of Islam by Muhammad, the Quraysh gained supremacy and produced the three dynasties of the Ummayad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate and the Fatimid Caliphate. The split between the Shi'a and Sunni branches of Islam centers on the succession to Muhammad.[38] The Sunnis believe Abu Bakr was elected as Muhammad's successor while the Shi'a (literally "supporters [of Ali]") believe that Muhammad appointed `Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor.

`Ali was a member of Muhammad's clan, the Banu Hashim, and his son-in-law. Abu Bakr, while a close companion and the father-in-law of Muhammad, came from the Banu Taym clan.[38]

The second caliph, `Umar ibn al-Khattab, was from the Banu Adi clan. He was also the father-in-law of the Prophet.[38]

The third caliph, `Uthman ibn `Affan, was from the Banu Umayyah clan. He too was the son-in-law of the Prophet.[38]

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.[38] After `Ali's assassination at the hands of the Kharajites, 'Ali hoped his son Hasan, the Grandson of the Prophet, would become Caliph, but he deferred the position to Mu`awiyah, in hoping to quell the long-lasting civil war between the Muslims at that time.[38]

After the death of Mu`awiyah, his son Yazid became ruler, but was almost immediately challenged by `Ali's younger son, Al-Husayn ibn 'Ali. Hussayn would not swear allegiance to Yazid when he received letters from the people of Al-Kufah that speak of Yazid's wrongdoing against Islam, and Hussayn's acknowledgment of the caliphate's non-hereditary lineage, which Yazid had breached. Al-Husayn was martyred by the stronger forces of Yazid at the Battle of Karbala.


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

  • Banu Abd Shams sub-clan of Banu Abd Manaf, parent clan of Banu Umayyah.


The leaders of the Quraysh (Arabic: Sadat Quraysh), who formed Mecca's aristocracy upon the appearance of Muhammad, included:

Related tribes

See also

Quraysh is also the name of the 106th Surah of the Qur'an.


  1. Al-Mubarakpuri, Safi-ur-Rahman (2002). The Sealed Nectar (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum). Darussalam. p. 30. ISBN 1591440718.
  2. Koenig, Harold G. (2014-01-01). "Differences and Similarities". Health and Well-Being in Islamic Societies. Springer Science+Business Media. p. 97. The Quraysh was Nadhr, the 12th tribal generation down from Kedar, the son of Ishmael mentioned in the Bible.
  3. Book of Genesis 25:12-16
  4. 1 2 Ishmael, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an
  5. Azraqi, Akhbar Makkah, vol. 1, pp. 58-66
  6. Qur'an 2:127 to 136
  7. Qur'an 6:74
  8. Qur'an 37:99–111
  9. Luke 3:35
  10. Book of Genesis11:20-23
  11. Genesis 11:20
  12. Genesis 10:25
  13. Genesis 10:24
  14. Genesis 11:12-13
  15. Luke 3:36
  16. Book of Genesis 10:22, 24; 11:10-13; 1 Chron. 1:17-18
  17. Luke 3:37
  18. Ibn Ishaq; Guillaume (1955). The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Isḥāq’s sīrat. London. p. 4,41. ISBN 0195778286.
  19. Johnson, Scott (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195336931.
  20. Abdullah Saeed, The Qur'an: An Introduction, pg. 62. London: Routledge, 2008. ISBN 9781134102945
  21. Donner, Fred M. (2010). Muhammad and the Believers. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-674-05097-6.
  22. "Witness-pioneer.org". Witness-pioneer.org. 2002-09-16. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  23. 1 2 Ibn Hisham, Ibn Ishaq, Alfred Guillaume (translator) (1998). The life of Muhammad: a translation of Isḥāq's Sīrat rasūl Allāh. Oxford University Press. p. 591.
  24. 1 2 Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar p. 127
  25. 1 2 Hawarey, Dr. Mosab (2010). The Journey of Prophecy; Days of Peace and War (Arabic). Islamic Book Trust.Note: Book contains a list of battles of Muhammad in Arabic, English translation available here
  26. 1 2 Muḥammad Ibn ʻAbd al-Wahhāb, Mukhtaṣar zād al-maʻād, p. 345.
  27. Sa'd, Ibn (1967). Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir,By Ibn Sa'd,Volume 2. Pakistan Historical Society. p. 4. ASIN B0007JAWMK. august 623 Then occurred the sariyyah of Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqa towards al-Kharar in Dhu al-Qa'dah (May–June 623 AC)
  28. Sa'd, Ibn (1967). Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir,By Ibn Sa'd,Volume 2. Pakistan Historical Society. p. 4. ASIN B0007JAWMK. GHAZWAH OF AL-ABWA* Then (occurred) the ghazwah of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, at al-Abwa in Safar (August 623 AC)
  29. Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, p. 12, ISBN 978-0887063442, In Safar (which began August 4, 623), nearly twelve months after his arrival in Medina on the twelfth of Rabi' al- Awwal, he went out on a raid as far as Waddan
  30. Muhammad Siddique Qureshi (1989), Foreign policy of Hadrat Muhammad (SAW), Islamic Publications, p. 118.
  31. Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, p. 13, ISBN 978-0887063442, Expeditions Led by Muhammad Then the Messenger of God led an expedition in Rabi' al-Akhir (which began October 2, 623) in search of Quraysh. He went as far as Buwat
  32. Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), The sealed nectar: biography of the Noble Prophet, Darussalam Publications, p. 245, ISBN 978-9960899558
  33. Mubarakpuri, Sealed Nectar, P245
  34. Wahhāb p. 346
  35. Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar, pp.128-131. (online)
  36. Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, p. 12, ISBN 978-0887063442, Some say the Battle of Badr took place on 19 Ramadan (March 15, 624).
  37. Muḥammad Aḥmad Bāshmīl, The great battle of Badr, p. 122.
  38. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Early Muslim Leaders from the Tribe of Quraysh" (PNG). Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  39. Glubb, John Bagot. The Life and Times of Mohammed (A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims)url=http://www.al-islam.org/restatement/16.htm Muhammad's Visit to Ta'if.
  40. 1 2 Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:286
  41. 1 2 M Pacuk.
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