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Fear of Blackness: Descriptions and

Ethnogenesis of the original AfroArabian tribes of Moorish Spain By

Dana Marniche

Sinai Bedouins
Fear of Blackness: Descriptions and Ethnogenesis of the original AfroArabian tribes of Moorish Spain
a fair-skinned Arab is something inconceivable Ibn Abd Rabbu of
Cordoba born 9thc. in El Iqd el Farid (The Precious Necklace), quoting
Shuraik el-Qadi a 7th century Arab of the clan of Nakhal of the Maddhij
in the Yemen.
the Arabs describe their color as black and they describe the color
of the non-Arab Persians as red. Assertion of the 13th c. grammarian
Ibn Manzur or Mandhur in Lisaan al Arab, Vol. 4 (born in Tunis or
Northern Egypt.)


Red, in the speech of the people from Hejaz means fair-complexioned,

and this color is rare amongst the Arabs. This is the meaning of the
saying a red man as if he is one of the slaves. From Seyar Alaam
al-Nubalaa, vol. 2, by the Syrian Al-Dhahabi (Thahabi),of the century
14th c. A.D.
The Book of Oaths (Kitab al Aiman)
Book 015, Number 4046:
Ayyub said: We were sitting in the company of Abu Musa that he called
for food and it consisted of flesh of fowl. It was then that a person from
Banu Tamim visited him. His complexion was red having the
resemblance of a slave.
most Arabs are dark brown in color. 13th c. Ibn Mandhur,
Lisaan al Vol. 4.

Yemeni Arab
Lank hair is the kind of hair that most non-Arab Persians and Romans
have while kinky hair is the kind of hair that most Arabs have. Lisaan
al Arab, vol 3. Ibn Mandhur.
All the lands became inhabited by Arabs completely mixed with nonArabs. Ahmed Amin in Fajr el Islam, 1975, p. 91.
The above quotes cited in The Unknown Arabs, Tariq Berry, published,
Batn clan; literally meaning from the belly of
Ibn, bin, banu, beni meaning son of

Harrah or el Harra the northwestern volcanic region of Arabia

stretching from border of Jordan southward through region of Medina
Hejaz western coastal region of Arabia stretching towards Yemen
Nejd central Arabian land including Riyadh and Yemamah
Totemism veneration of ancestral consciousness represented by
animal names with cosmological significance and associations.
The Yemen the southern part of the Arabian peninsula
The following treatise documents the tribes of Afro-Arabians descended
from the original Arab-speaking occupants of the Arabian peninsula. In
the early centuries after the birth of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed
early European documents describe the Moors in such descriptive
phrases as black as melted pitch or black as burnt brands as in the
epic of Morien. It is more than likely the original Arab populations of
Spain that gave rise to such exclamations as they are also often
described as black or jet black by authors of Near Eastern derivation.
Although the Arabians were not the first to be called Moors, it was the
of the people leaving the peninsula of Arabia that was mainly due the
use of
the term Moor for black and woolly haired people in Spain, France,
Italy and
other parts of Europe in Islamic times. When the Chanson de Roland
which speaks
of the time of the Moorish battles in Gallic France speaks of those
and hordes blacker than the blackest ink no shred of white on them
their teeth it is no mere exaggeration. Anyone familiar with the
Arabic writings
of the Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian historians up until the 14th century
knows that this is also their description of the early pure Arab clans

the Arabian peninsula.

Therefore, the use of the term Moor in this article refers to the
inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula who long after the time of
Mohammed shared the appearance of Ethiopians and other subSaharan Africans, as well as customs of present day Africans stretching
from the present country of Sudan to Somalia in the East to Mauritania,
Mali and Nigeria in the West.
Arabian dialects, totemism, ancestral veneration, including knowing
the genealogy of cattle and sheep back many generations (almost all
early Arabian tribal names are also the names of their animals and
have an astronomical reference), matrifocal societies (including
worship of Goddesses), the wearing of cowry shells, nose rings, plaited
and totemic hair-styles, ululations, hennaed limbs and scarred faces
are all African-associated traits and customs most of which date back
several thousand years into the Neolithic.
These are the facts of pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arabia, which is
why the Greeks and Romans considered Arabia an extension of
Ethiopia and for Syrians much of Arabia part of the Sudan long after
the time of the prophet Muhammed. (See Richmond Palmers, Bornu,
Sahara and Sudan with regard to the Syrian Al Omari). It was from this
colony of blacks (as the original Arabs invariably called themselves),
that the numerous tribes of the men Europeans once called Moors
left after the time of the Muslim prophet to also spread over parts of
the Middle East, North Africa and the Iberian peninsula.
Although Iranians had settled the Yemen or south of the peninsula in
the centuries immediately preceding the Prophet Mohammed; though
Turks, Circassians, mercenaries, concubines and slaves from all parts of
he world had come to settle the land of the true Arabs later in Islamic
times, large numbers of inidigenous peoples of African appearance still
occupy the peninsula Arabia preserving their indigenous and original
Afro-Arab customs.
Descriptions and Ethnogenesis of the Original Arabs:
The tribes leaving the north and central parts of Arabia occupying the
Hejaz and Nejd can be divided into major branches. They include those
traditional genealogy called Ishmaelites or descendants of Kedar, like
the tribes of Qays ibn Ailan or El Nas and El Yas, and the Rabiah and
Wail all based in the central regions of the peninsula. Many of these
were the Saracens whom Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman general of
the 4th c. A.D. claimed had originated from the cataracts of the Nile in

It is the north and central group of Arabians inhabiting the Jordan, the
Harra and the Nejd whose ancestors came to be called Ishmaelites,
descendants of Thamud (the second Ad), Kedar and Nabait (all
traditionally children of Ismail). (The Nabataeans were among those
known also as Amurru or Amorites in late Assyrian texts.)
In the tradition of Syria and in the later European Jewish or Rabbinic
tradition the term Kushi signified black peoples, and in fact, became
a derogatory term. A European Jewish Targum text Song 1:5 employs
the phrase as black as the Kushi who live in the tents of Kedar.
Because many of the indigenous Arabian people of Jordan and Hejaz
were near black in color and claim descent from the Kedar, Kinanniyya
(Kanaani or Canaan), and Nabataeans (such as the modern
Haweitat), the Syrians and others who had come to adopt Arabic
nationality (or who had been colonized by the Arabs), came to presume
names such as Nabit, Kedar, Kanaan meant black people.
David Goldbergs author of The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in
Early Judaism, Christianity and Islam wrote Dimashqi, who lists the
Nabataeans (Nbt) among the descendants of Ham together with the
Copts, the BrBr (Berbers) and the Sudan and the Akkbar al Zaman,
which lists the Nabit , among the children of Canaan also said the
word, Nabit signifies black see p. 313 The 10th c. Al Masudi of
Baghdad , is thought to have written the text, Akbar al Zaman. Al
Dimashqi of Syria belonged to the 13th century.
In the southern part of Arabia the modern Qahtan Arabs are
descendants of the peoples known mainly as Sabaeans, Himyarites,
Main and Azd (also called Asad, Zayyed or Sid) in Arab genealogy.
These came to spread north and became the progenitors of many
Ismailites . Thus, many groups have genealogies which make them
both north Arabian descendants of Ismail and descendants of Qahtan
through the Azdites (Zayyed) or Maddhij of Yemen, two descendants of
Himyar and Kahlan sons of Saba. Most of the living Qahtan tribes told
the European colonial ethnographers that they came in remote times
from Africa. Thus, Bertram Thomas in 1929 said that the Shahara
(Banu Shahr), Mahra or Maheyra, and Bautahara and Qarra or Kara had
a tradition of African origin in The Southeastern Borderlands of the
Rub-al Khali,in Geography Journal, Vol. 73, 3. These clans are also
described as having a dark pigmentation and fuzzy hair as recently
as 2001 (see David Philips, Peoples on the Move, pp. 250-251).
In 1872, a European named von Maltzan commenting on the
inhabitants of southwest Arabia in Yemen said, The inhabitants of this
part of Arabia nearly all belong to the race of Himyar. Their complexion

is almost as black as the Abyssinians, see p. 121 in Geography of

Southern Arabia by Baron von Maltzan, in Proceedings of the Royal
Geographical Society of London, Vol. 16, No. 2 , pp. 115-123.
On the Qara of Hadramaut and Oman
who are said to descend from the Yemen, it was recently written,
European observers have made much of their physical
resemblance to Somalis and Ethiopians P. 261 J. E. Peterson
Omans Diverse Society: Southern Oman, Middle East Journal Vol. 38,
No. 2 Spring 2004.
SPAIN: The descriptions of the Qays clans families and individuals are
many. To the Qays Ailan groups belonged the famous northern Arabian
tribes of the Harra and Hejaz including the well-described children of
Mansur (Mansour or Manasir) Sulaym bin Mansur, Mazin bin Mansur
and Hawazin bin Mansour whose sub clans are in the dozens. The
descendants Mansur bin Ikrima bin Khasafa bin Qays bin Ailan in
Arabia, like most early Arabs in Arabia are referred to as black and dark
brown in texts. Although they were famous for their slave raiding and
use of Greco- Romans (Rum) concubines in ancient times, many clans,
in fact, remain near black in color in the peninsula today.
The Iraqi Al Jahiz (9th c.) and Ibn Athir, the Kurd (12th -13th c.) both refer
to the Sulaym bin Mansour in particular as pure Arabs and black in
color, not simply dark brown which was also common in the Hejaz. Al
Jahiz said that all the tribes of the Harra an area south of Jordan and
extending into Hejaz were black like the lava and animals in the region.
Some Sulaym (Sulaym ibn Mansour bin Ikrima bin Khasafa) had settled
in North Africa and entered Spain with the first governor of Andalusia,
Abd el Azziz ibn Musa, and others also settled in Tudmir. But most of
the clans of early settlers from the Qays tribes of Sulaym, Ghatafan,
Fahm, Abs, and Dhubyan (Zubyan) of the Ghatafan or Ghutayf came
later from Jazira in Mesopotamia where they had been settled for some
Ghatafan bin Saad bin Qays Ailan, settled the plain of Granada in a
village called Ibra in Spain, while the Abs of the Ghatafan (Abs bin
Baghid bin Raith bin Ghatafan) settled in Jaen. (See bib. Taha, below)
The closely related Banu Fezara (Fezara bin Dhubyan bin Raith) settled
in Elvira where there was a section named for them. An early
eyewitness upon seeing the Abs tribe in Arabia describes them as
black-skinned men shaking their spears and digging in the earth with
their feet. (From Ibn Abd Rabbu of Andalusia, El Iqd El Fareed, vol. 6,

cited in The Unknown Arabs, p. 78). Both Ghutayf and Abs are
originally known as batn or clans of the dark-skinned Murad of the
Maddhij in Yemen according to original sources mentioned in, The
Yemen in Early Islam, 1988.
The clans of Hawazin bin Mansour, like those of his brothers Sulaym
and Mazin bin Mansour were also described in early Arabia. Among
their modern remnants are the black and tall Dawasir of Yemamah and
the dark brown Utayba (Oteiba or Ateibeh) and the lithe short
chocolate colored Hamida of the Harb.
A great number of Hawazin settled in Seville and Valencia others
settled in Elvira and Grenada. (see below, Taha, p. 135 The Muslim
Circa 1879, the famed British adventurer Sir Richard Burton describing
the Hamida as a large clan of the Banu Salim bin Auf of Hejaz, Sir
Richard Francis Burton describes the men as, small chocolate colored
beings, stunted and thin with mops of bushy hair straggling
beards , vicious eyes, frowning brows armed with scabbards slung
over the shoulder and Janbiyyah daggers a people of the great
Hejazi tribe that has kept his blood pure for the last 13 centuries (
Burton in Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to el Medina and Mecca .p.
173 3rd edition William Mullen and Son.)
Concerning the Otaiba (also written Ateyba, Utaiba, Ateibe, etc.) a
century ago, James Hamilton wrote , they wore their hair in long
curly plaits and their skin was a dark brown. See pp. 129-130,
Wanderings Around the Birthplace of Mohammed, published by R.
Bentley, 1857.
Mazin bin Mansours descendants:
Clans of Khazraj and Aus based in Medina and the surrounding area are
two tribes whose individuals are often described in Arabic texts
because of their being the companions of the Prophet. When
individuals of these tribes are described by non-Arabian writers, they
are usually called black- skinned and huge or massive in stature
making it likely this group originally from the Yemen belong to the
remnants of the old Ubaid or Obeid stock of neolithic Arabia and Syria,
whom are described as having unusually large bodies and negroid
aspect by early anthropologists like Archibald Sayce. The Ubaid crania
show they were a people that with long, wide and platyrrhine noses
according to early physical anthropologists A. Sayce and others.

The Khazraj (Jazar or Gezer) and Aus (Uz) are the tribes from which
came most of the Ansar or companions of Mohammed, the Prophet.
One famous leader of the Ansar visiting the Byzantine ruled Egypt,
Obadah bin Samit an aristocrat and chief of the Khazras or Khazaraj is
described as black and by tradition was at least 8 ft tall, which may
be an exaggeration of course, but then again may not have been. The
famous Mohammed ibn Maslama of the Aus clan of al Ansar is also
tall, black-skinned, and huge. By Ibn Saad (9th century Baghdad,
Iraqi) in El-Tabaqat El Kubra vol. 3. (See Berry). While El Baladhuri (a 9 th
century Iranian ) also calls Nabtali ibn Harith from the Aus Ansar as tall,
jet black and huge, with nappy hair. See Tariq Berrys book, The
Unknown Arabs for more description of members of Aus and Khazraj.
Most of the Medina al Ansar settled in the region of Saragossa in
Spain. (See below, Taha, p. 118) The Khazraj clan of Sad bin Abada
settled in Qarabalan near Saragossa in Spain, while the Aramramma
clan settled Sidonia and Cordoba and later moved to Elvira, Grenada,
Toledo, Tortua and Jerica in the province of Castellon.
Muzars other descendants were the clans of Elyas of the southern
Hejaz. When the tribes and individuals of the clans of Elyas are
described, they are described in writings as dark brown or black.
They were centered in Hejaz or western Arabia stretching southward
toward the Yemen. The El Yas or Elias bin Muzir or Mudar was
exemplified by the Kinaniyya or Kinana bin Khuzaima bin Mudrika bin
Elyas (who became famously known as the Canaanites) from which
came Mohammeds tribe of the Qureish, and the tribes of Tamim bin
Murra, Hudhail, Nadir, Mustaliq, Makhzumi and Zahra.
Elyasa or Elias included the famous Kinana who were described in
European Talmudic texts as black, thieving people with large male
members. Wah ibn Munabbih a 7th century descendant of Iranian
mercenaries who had settled in the Yemen just before the period of
Islam also made Canaan black, being quite familiar with the
Kinaaniyya tribe of Hejaz. The Banu Umayya who founded the
Umayyad dynasty of Islam among the clans descended from tribes of
Qureish founded the Umayyad dynasty.
Some Kinana or Kinaniyya who now live in Jericho today, the modern
state of Israel are black, and many with the keenest features are jet
black. (Some have tried to say they descend from Nubian slaves, which
may be the case, but certainly not for the blacker ones.) The Quraish
clan of the Kinaniyya were with Musas army (the first Arab governor in
of Al-Andalus in Spain). Kinana also came to live in Jaen in Spain.

When individuals of the Qureish clan of the Kinana in Arabia

especially relatives of the Prophet are mentioned in texts they
described as black. Ali, the son of the prophets cousin described as
black skinned by the Turkish and Iranian writer el Suyuti and by Ibn
Saad, a Baghdad, Iraqi of the 8th c. in El Tabaqat ael Kabra vol. 8. (cited
in Berry). Alis great grandson according to Kitab el Aghani by Esfahani
of Central Asia was black skinned and huge.
The black nationalistic views and horrifying racism of the original Arabs
towards fair skinned peoples settling in Arabia is aptly illustrated by
early writings and expressions from individuals of Mohammeds own
tribe in Arabia. Yazid ibn Muawia of the Omayya ibn Shams bin Abd
Manaf of the Qureish tribe was black skinned and hairy and kinky
haired according to Ibn Abd Rabbu 9th c. of Cordoba and el Dhahabi
the Syrian of the 14th c. It was apparently Yazids father, Muawia, who
said I see these white folks have become very numerous and are
saying bad things about those who have passed. I can envision a
daring enterprise from them against the Arabs and authority. I am
thinking of killing half of them and leaving half of them to set up
markets and to build roads. Whats your opinion? (This statement
reported by Ibn Abd Rabbu, in El Iqd al Farid, vol 3. cited in The
Unknown Arabs. P. 81)
The Zuhra clan of Qureish also settled Saragossa. (see Taha) A member
of the Banu Zuhra in Arabia named Saad ibn Waqqas is called very
dark, tall and flat-nosed by El Dhahabi, of Syria. While Jahiz of Iraq
(9th.c.) calls him black-skinned and huge.
The tribe of Hudhail bin Mudrika bin El Yas settled Murcia and
Saragossa. El Baladhuri, the 9th century Iranian, describing Abdella ibn
Masud, a famous member of the Hudhail clan of Arabians says he was
short, thin and black. (p. 17, Tariq Berry). Tabikha was brother of
Mudrika in the genealogy. When the Central Asian or Iranian writer Al
Esfahan (from Esfahan in Iran) described an Arab of the clan of Tabikha
and Banu Asad he described him as black- skinned with black eyes.
According to Taha (p. 137, The Muslim Conquest), Banu Asad bin
Khuzaima bin Mudrika settled in al Bushra near the Sierra Nevada
mountains and Barajila. The Unknown Arabs Tariq Berry, 2002.
Available at
The Muslim Conquest and Settlement of North Africa and Spain, by
Abdul Wahid Dhunan Taha, 1989.


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