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Yenen in EavI IsIan an Exaninalion oJ Non-TviIaI Tvadilions

AulIov|s) SuIinan BasIeav


Souvce AvaIica, T. 36, Fasc. 3 |Nov., 1989), pp. 327-361
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YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM
AN EXAMINATION OF NON-TRIBAL TRADITIONS
BY
SULIMAN BASHEAR
It is unanimously agreed upon by scholars that the concepts
<(Yemen)) and <Yemenism>> (yamdniyya) have figured centrally in
the history of early Islam down to the Abbasid Period. But, so far,
attention has been overwhelmingly limited to studying the elements
of genealogical-tribal affiliations and political loyalties revealed by
Muslim traditional sources on these concepts'. At the same time,
no serious attempt was made at examining the clear religious con-
notations of yamaniyya or even the question of delimitingyaman in
early Islam.
The present paper strives primarily to contribute to the study of
this latter issue. In order to do so, not only geographic and lexical
sources will be consulted but commentaries on some traditional and
Quranic occurrences with relevant bearings will also be scrutinized;
a task which hopefully will help to illuminate some religious aspects
of these concepts as well.
Going Right, Going South
The term <<yaman>> is presented in Arabic lexicography as being
derived from the root YMN2 which, like in other semitic languages,
I
E.g.: Goldziher's views on the South-North tribal division and his comments
on. the studies of T. Noldeke and others, in his: Muslim Studies, vol. 1, Eng. ed.,
N.Y. 1966, 90-5. On the role played by this tribal rivalry all along the Umayyad
period see: J. Wellhausen, The Arab Kingdom and its Fall, Calcutta, 1927, 107, 101,
175, 180-2, 209-10, 251, 258-61, 313-4, 319-22, 328-30, 359, 386-7, 489-91, 508,
542. Of later works see: P. Crone, Slaves on Horses, Cambridge, 1980, 34, 46-8;
and G. Hawting, The First Dynasty of Islam, London, 1986, 36, 54-5, 69-70. The
problematic of tribal affiliation to yaman as a whole and of some tribes in par-
ticular, has been thoroughly studied by M. J. Kister and M. Plessner: (Notes on
Gaskel's Gamharat an-Nasabo, Oriens 1977; M. J. Kister, (IKudcaCa(, E.I. 2,
Suppl.; id. <(Mecca and the Tribes of Arabia>, unpublished typescript; and I.
Hason, Mucdwiya's Rule.... unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, The Hebrew Univer-
sity of Jerusalem, 1983, 61-5, (in Hebrew).
2
Azhari (d. 370 H.) Tahdhib al-Lugha, Beirut, 1967, 15/526-7; Ibn Manzuir,
Arabica, Tome xxxvi, 1989
328 S. BASHEAR
denotes <right>>. The antonym of it, often brought by these sources,
is the root S/'M which denotes ((left>>4. From these two roots are
derived the verbal coupletsyadmana - Shd'ama, caymana - 'ash'ama,
tayamana - tashai'ama. Other verbal stems, though less often men-
tioned, are yamana and yammana.
The direct and close associatioh of the term <<yaman>> with this root
explains how such verbs can mean both going to the right direction
and towards Yemen as a certain location. In the words of Ibn Man-
zuir: <<yaman>> is a gender and non a noun
(<jinsg/ghayr
calam-))). As a
further proof to that he mentions the existence of two other nouns,
yumna and maymana, which also denote Yemen as a location. From
Azhari we also learn that yamin and yumn are names of Yemen too.
As to why was Yemen called as such, lexical and geographic
sources give different reasons corresponding to a variety of conflict-
ing traditions. What is common to all of these traditions is the
attempt to fix a point of reference from which a certain given posi-
tion will put Yemen on the direction of one's right hand. A scrutiny
of them, however, will quickly reveal the existence of clear geo-
political and religious dimensions to the different points of
reference inherent in them.
To begin with, the term <yaman>> as a gender is, in itself, a fluid
and relative one. Hence, Arabic lexical and geographic sources
present us with names derived from YMN for several locations
which clearly stand outside the extreme south-western corner of the
Arabian peninsula and which spot the coastal area east of the Red
Sea up to Tayma' on the border between modern Jordan and Saudi
Arabia, as well as the latter's hinterland. E.g. to such locations are:
Tayman (and Tayman dhuf Zilal), Tayman, Tamanni, Yamn (or
'Amn), Yumn and even Yaman itself as sometimes vocalised in this
specific form5.
Lisan al-'Arab, Cairo, n.d. 17/354; Zubayd1,
Taj al-cArus, Cairo, 1306 H. 9/371;
E. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, Beirut, repr. 1980, 8/3064; Jawhari, Sih4h, Cairo,
n.d., 2/119; Rizi, Mukhtar al-.Sihih, Cairo, 1926, 742; Zanjani, Tahdhfb al-.Sihdh,
Cairo, 1952, 2/891; Zamakhshari Al-Jibal, Najaf, 1968; 154; Saraquspi, K. al-
A/'al, Cairo, 1980, 298;
al-$dghdni,
al-Takmila, Beirut, 1979, 6/330; Fayrfizabadi,
al-Qamuis, Cairo, 1978, 4/297.
3
Compare with the Hebrew yemin and the Sabaic derivations from ymn in A.
F. L. Beeston et al., Sabaic Dictionary, Louvain and Beirut, 1982, 168.
4
Another antonym, from the root YSR is also given, but not so often. See Ibn
Manzuir 15/209; Zubaydi 8/354; Lane 4/1490.
5
Ibn Manzuir 16/222-3; Yaquit, Mu'jam al-Buldan, Beirut, 1957, 1/68, 5/447-9;
id. al-Mushatarak Wadcan, Gottingen, 1846, 86; Bakri, Mu'jam, Cairo, 1945, 1/331,
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 329
Note especially that this latter name (yaman) is given to ((a place
near Mecca)) mentioned in a verse of 'Umar b. Abil Rabi'ca:
nazarat laynf ilayhd nazratan
mahbitta 1 - batha4'i min ardi yaman6
However, in order to contain the fluidity inherent in the
relativity of the initial meaning of ((right)), our sources reveal few
alternative traditional currents in the process of fixing the necessary
point of reference. One of these was to take the Ka'ba as such point
and to say thatyaman is related to whatever exists on its right. This
view figures heavily in these sources in a way that reflects its emerg-
ing prominence resulting eventually in the final delimitation of
Yemen as a territory located to the right and south of Mecca; a
notion which corresponds to the fact that <south)) is also one of the
meanings given to adjectives from Sabaic YMN as well as in some
traditional Arabic usages7.
It is difficult to date the emergence of this notion with certainty
as geographic traditions are usually brought without isndda
authorities, or sometimes are brought in the anonymous form
((wa-yuqal>>8.
In most late sources we meet this notion (coupled with the one
that al-sham was called as such because it is to the left and north of
the Ka'ba) as a view of the author himself without any traditional
reference9. To the problematic of this notion as revealed by some
of its traditional connotations, we shall come back soon. However,
from the meagre information provided by some geographic
sources, it seems that, towards the end of the second century, it led
to a growing trend to identify <<Yamano with modern Yemen, i.e.
south-west Arabia. Evidence to this can be gauged from the fact
4/1400-1; Abfu Lughda l-Ifahani, Bilddal-CArab, Riyad, 1968, 186-7; Ijimyarl, al-
Rawd al-Mi'tdr, Beirut, 1975, 619; Baghdadi, Mardsid al-IttildC, Beirut, 1955,
3/1483; Mas'udi, Tanbth, Leiden, 1893, 262.
6 Cf. Bakri 4/1401; Ijimyari 619.
7
Compare Sabaic ymn (right hand), ymnt and ymnyt-n (south, southern) and
yhymnn (be southward) in A. F. L. Beeston, op. cit., 168. See also 'I. Shahid, (<Pre-
Islamic Arabia>, Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 1A, Cambridge, 1977, 6. On such
Arabic usage more will be said below.
8 See Ibn al-Faqih (wrote ca. 293 H.), Mukhtasar K. al-Bulddn, Leiden, 1885,
33; and compare with Azhari 15/527.
9
Bakri; 4/1401; Uimyari 619; Ibn Manzar 17/356. See also Ibn Hajar, Tafsfr
Gharlb al-Hadtth, Beirut, n.d., 264; Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Suyiiti, FadePil al-
shdm, Ms. Princeton, Yehuda 1(264), 97(a).
330 s. BASHEAR
that to Abiu 'Ubayda (d. 207 H.) was attributed the view that the
southern corner (al-rukn al-yamdni) of the Kacba is the direction of
prayer (qibla) for the people ofyaman'0. Another early third century
source, al-Asmaci (d. ca. 216 H.), is quoted by Ibn al-Faqih as
identifyingyaman in terms of its excellence in spices and perfume
products, characteristic to that part of the peninsula. We also meet
the same form of identification brought by another geographer of
that period, Ibn Khurdadhbah (d. ca. 300 H.)". Yaqfit, though a
relatively late source, brings what seems to have become the final
concept in delimitingyaman (as laying between cUInan, Najran and
cAden) and attributes it, again, to Asmacil2.
Evidence to the growing identification of yaman with modern
Yemen after the 3rd century can be gauged from other directions.
Ibn al-Faqih states that the distance between it and Mecca is twenty
days of travelling"3. Hamdani explicitly says that Mecca stands as
the last (northern) limit ofyaman'4. But, all in all, what seems to be
the driving factor behind such delimitation is the emergence of
Mecca as the final cultic center in Islam. For, with that, not only
the directions of qibla were fixed, but also relative genders like south
and north became names of specific locations as related to it, in this
caseyaman and sham, respectively. In this context the definition of
the limits of cultic ihldl during the Hajj certainly helped to define
the location of yaman too in relation to Mecca. Such effect can be
estimated by comparing those limits as specified, on the one hand,
by a hadith compilation and, on the other, by a geographic source,
both from the third century: the place stated by the former is
yalamlam to the south of Mecca, while the latter alternatively men-
tions another two places, one of them curiously being <(the curve
(thanya), from which the people of Medina [sic.?] enter too>0'.
As much as delimiting yaman in south-western Arabia was
enhanced by relating it to Mecca, such a trend was not the only one
and certainly did not pass without resistance. Several aspects of this
'? Ibn al-Faqlh, 35-6. Compare also with Ibn Khurdadhbah, al-Masdlik wa-l-
Mamdlik, Leiden, 1889, 5. The latter, however, does not mention Abu 'Ubayda.
Ibid., 71.
12 Yaqfut, 5/447. Baghdadi, 3/1483, makes similar delimitation but does not
name any source for it.
13
Op. cit., 31.
14
Hamdani,
$ifatJaz&rat
al-cArab, Leiden, 1884, 27.
15
Muslim, Sah4fh, Beirut, n.d., 4/6-7 and Abu Lughda l-Isfaha-ii7, op. cit., 375.
See also the modern editor's comment in f.n. (1) of the latter source.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 331
resistance are revealed by the very existence of other traditional and
even lexical sources for the term <yaman)).
One of these alternative trends drew upon the above noted fact
that from the root YMN could be derived forms denoting not only
<<right>> but ((south>) too. But in order to have the south on one's
right too, one must face the east. And this exclusive combination
between right and south is retained in certain archaic forms of the
Arabic names given to the winds in a way that also corresponds to
the directions from which they blew. In a chapter on ((the descrip-
tion of the winds of countries and angles>>, HamdanI mentions al-
qabuil (the frontward) and al-dabtir (the backward), for the eastern
and western ones respectively; a denotion that implies a position
facing the east too. It is striking to see how from such position the
southern wind which, in his words ((blows from al-yaman)> is literally
called al-taymanad6.
In quite the same way one can understand how the adjectives
yamdni andyamdniyya were given to the stars suhayl and shicra, simply
because they were seen overyaman, i.e. the south17. We shall also
see how one of Mecca's names itself is al-yamaniyya, the southern.
In all these cases, however, such names will hold immaterial of the
latitude position that one takes in the ((north)), since yaman itself
means only (<south)>.
Now, even after the Kacba was accepted as a point of reference,
there still were some difficulties. For, while saying that ((whatever
is on its right isyaman>>'8 could be rationalized on the ground that
the area of Mecca bordered Yemen, it was impossible to apply the
same to al-Sham. Indeed, it seems not to have been enough for
Muqaddasi to say that ((al-sham is everything that faces al-yaman>)
without immediately adding: ((with Hijaz laying (separating)
between them>>19.
Other problems seem to have faced some geographers over the
issue of taking the Kacba as a point of reference. This is made clear
from the way they comment upon a tradition attributed to Ibn
cAbbas and brought also on the authority of al-Sharqi. It says that
16
Hamadni, Sifat, op. cit, 154. Compare also with Wahb b. Munabbih, K. al-
Tzjdn, Haydarabad, 1347 H. 32.
17 Zubaydi: 9/373.
18 As stated by Aba Bakr Ibn cArabI (d. 534 H.), S4arh Sahfh al-Tirmuidhi, in the
margin of that Sahhz, Cairo, 1934, 13/286.
19
Ahsan al-Taqa-si-m, Leiden, 1906, 152. See also Himyari, 619.
332 s. BASHEAR
the Arabs (var.: people), after multiplied and Mecca could not con-
tain them, they dispersed andyaman was named as such after those
who went right/south to it (taydman1i)20. It is interesting to see how
Yaquit rejects this tradition on the ground that ((the Ka'ba is square
shaped (murabbaca) and has no right or left so that if yaman stands
on the right of some it will also be to the left of others, except in
the case of those who face its yamdnz corner, w-hich is the most
exalted, then it would be true (to say that yaman stands on its
right))).
On this background the view, brought by Bakri and others,
which definesyaman as whatever stands to the right of the sun rather
than the Kacba, gains more weight and sounds older. Such tradi-
tion does not only imply that the location of yaman is beyond
whatever to the right of the Kacba, but also says explicitly that the
emergence of such a name antidates the recognition of the latter21.
Investigating the conflicting traditions on the dispersal of people
in general and the corresponding genealogy of the Arab tribes in
particular lies, as such, beyond the scope of this study. Mention
must be made, however, of a tradition of Wahb which states that
such dispersal started from Babylon and that Yacrub b.
Qahtan b.
Hud, the ancestor of the Arabs, led some of his grandfather's folk
from there. Since he was also named Yaman, the country he settled
in was called as such too. Note also that according to this tradition,
the location of that country, i.e. Yaman, was in the vicinity of the
sanctuary of Mecca22.
A certain element of this notion exists also in a tradition of al-
Kalb! brought by some geographic sources. It says that the country
of Yaman was called as such after Tayman b. Yuqtan (var.:
Tayman/Yacrub b. Qaitdn)23.
Another similar notion of turning right/south towards Yaman
occurs in a prophetical tradition related through Farwa b. Musayk
al-Muradi. Here, however, those who made the act of tayamun were
four tribal ancestors from among the ten sons of Saba), while the
remaining six took the opposite direction (tasha'am1i)24.
20
Yaqu-t, 5/447; Zubaydi, 9/371.
21
Bakri, 4/1401; Ibn 'Arabi, 13/287.
22
K. al-T-jdn, op. cit., 32, 36.
23
Compare: Ibn
al-Faqlh, 33; Bakri, 4/1401; Ijimyarl,
619.
24
Ibn 'Arabi, 13/286.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 333
Again, these traditions belong primarily to the literary genres of
bad' and ansab and, as such, do not concern us here. Note will only
be made of the fact that they represent conflicting currents in these
fields as to the genealogy and original place of the initial dispersal
of the Arabs as well as to the abodes of their different divisions.
More relevant to our investigation are the terms used by Arab
geographers to define and delimit these abodes, such as <<diyar al-
carab>> and (Jazirat al-carab)), and the place occupied byyaman-tayman
in them.
To start with, the term (<Jazirat al-carab)> as used by Hamadani
includes not only what is known today as the Arabian peninsula but
also Iraq west of the Euphrates and greater Syria up to the present
day border with Turkey. He also states that this Jazfra has a south
(yaman) and a north (shaim) and specifies modern Yemen with the
title (.the green>) (al-Khadrda). Note also that he justifies the use of
the term
((Jazzra)) (which means: an island) on the ground that the
whole area is surrounded by a chain of seas and rivers including the
east Mediterranean and the Euphrates river25.
The name used for the same area by Ibn Hawqal is diydr al-carab.
He says that Yaman occupies two thirds of this area, its northern
border being a line from cAbadan in the east to 'Ayla (cAqaba) in
the west. To the north of this line is al-sham; but he excludes upper
Mesopotamia (al-jazira al-furdtiyya) from diyar al-carab, although, as
he notes, it was inhabited by the Mudar and Rabica tribal divi-
sions. Such exclusion is justified by him on the ground that this was
a Byzantine and Persian sphere of influence and the Arabs there
were only subjects to them and some even adopted Christianity26.
Even more interesting is the place which Tayman occupies in the
administrative geographic scheme of two 3rd century sources. Both
YaCqfibi (d. 284 H.) and Ibn Khurdadhbah (d. ca. 300 H.), divide
the Caliphate into four quarters (arbac) with the capital, Baghdad,
as the center and point of reference. The name applied for the
southern quarter (al-rubc
al-qibli)
is Tayman which includes the
Arab lands to the south and south-west of the capital. In Ibn Khur-
dadhbah's words: <<wa-l-tayman bilad al-junTbh rubc al-mamlaka>27.
25
Hamdani, Sifat, 47-51.
26
Ibn Hawqal, Suirat al-'Ard, Beirut, n.d., 29-30.
27
Ibn Wadih al-YaCqfibl, K. al-Bulddn, Leiden, 1891, 308-20;
Ibn Khur-
dadhbah, 125, 149-50.
334 s. BASHEAR
Teman, Felix and Tuir Taymana
Without going into specific details concerning the borders, our
investigation has generally led us towards considering the
possibility thatyaman and tayman were initially applied to denote the
lands of the Arabs outside and to the south of the great powers'
spheres of influence in the area. Recall in this context that both
terms were stated as variant names of the legendary ancestors of the
Arabs: Ya'rub, Qahtan and Yuqtan. Added to that is an isolated
reference brought by Ibn Manzuir where tfman (gen. timani) and not
just tayman, was said to have been ((father of theyaman>>. The same
source also quotes in this context the view held byJawhar1 thatyaman
is actually synonymous to <<bilad al- carab>>28 And another support to
such view can be gauged from the reported answer given by Ibn al-
Qiriyya when asked by al-Hajiaj, in which the former states that
((al-yaman is the land of the Arabs>>29.
It is striking to see how these early lexical, geographic and tradi-
tional Muslim references toyaman and tayman correspond clearly to
some Biblical and Classical references to Teman and Felix
respectively.
There are several occurrences of the term "<Teman>> in the Old
Testament. Originally stated as the name of the son of Eliphaz, son
of Esau (the twin brother of Jacob), who dwelt in Edom, it reap-
pears also as a synonymous name of this area in the south of
modern Jordan30. In spite of the vague nature of some of the other
occurrences, it is possible to establish beyond doubt that Biblical
Teman referred to that southern area of modern Jordan31.
The close correspondence in Muslim sources between <yaman>>
and ((tayman>>, as genealogical, geographic and linguistic indicatives
reviewed above, clearly points to a late process of transfer and
fusion between the two. Such fusion can also find an indirect sup-
28
Ibn Manzuir, 17/357 and the comment in its margin. Compare with
Jawhari's Siha-, 2/119, Razi's Mukhtdr, 742 and Zajani's TahdhTb were "yaman>, is
defined as ((biladun li-l-'arab>.
29
Ibn al-Faqlh, 92.
30
Compare: Genesis, 36/10-35 and
1
Chronicles, 1/35-53.
31
In Obadya 9, Teman is referred to as part of the mount of Esau; Amos, 1/12
mentions it in connection with ((the Edomite palaces of Bozrah>>; and Ezikiel, 25/3
speaks of it in contrast with its southern boundary with Dedan. See also: TheJewish
Encyclopedia, N.Y., 1906, s.v. <<Teman>>, 12/79; but compare with Encyclopedia
Mikra'it, Jerusalem, 1982, 8/524-2 where the possibility is considered that Teman
of Job is located in Mesopotamia too.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 335
port in the legendary, non-historical and confused nature of the
reports concerning Jewish settlement in Yemen proper before the
Christian era, while such settlement in Trans-Jordan is attested by
Josephus for at least his own time".
A comparative examination of some Muslim geographic sources
and the Old Testament reveals the nature of at least one clear
instance where such transfer occurred on the level of pseudo-
historical reports. In I Chronicles, cited above, it is related how
Hosham, from the land of the temanite was one of the Kings who
ruled Edom. Almost the same story reappears in Ibn al-Faqlh in the
form of a tradition of Sayf b. cUmar. Beside the substitution of
((kings of al-ruzm> for ((kings of Edom>>, the main amendment intro-
duced is that Hosham is said to have ((went down to tayman>> (lit.:
wa-nazala al-tayman)33. If this was not a mere figure of speech, then
it is a clear indication to the process of pushing the location of
Tayman southwards latent in the very meaning of the term, as well
as to the successive attempts made by the Antiochian successors of
Hellenism and the Romans to conduct an agressive policy for
safeguarding the southern borders of their Arabian province34.
A clear evidence to this is provided by the <<Onomasticon)) of
Eusebius (4th century A.D.) who mentions a region of Thaiman in
the district of Petra and also notes an East Teman with a Roman
garrison fifteen miles from there35. It is worth noting, on the other
hand, that his Ecclesiastical History does not mention Yemen at all36.
Another such evidence can be gauged from the way Hamdani
renders the terms used by the mid 3rd century Ptolemy into
Arabic. Here, ((Arabia Felix)> was presented as ((bilad al-acrdb al-
KhasTba>> which includes the areas not only of present day Arabian
Peninsula but also of Edom in modern Jordan and south of Judaea
in Israel37.
32
The Jewish Encyclopedia, op. cit., s. v. ((Yemen)), 12/592-3 and Josephus, Jewish
Antiquities, London, 1969, 8/491. Compare also with L. Ginsberg, The legends of
the Jews, Philadelphia, 1959, 6/431-2; J. A. Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible,
Philadelphia, 1934, 36 and f.n. 17; and C. C. Torrey, The Jewish Foundation of
Islam, N.Y. 1967, 26-7.
33
Ibn al-Faqih, 139.
34
Further details on these attempts in G. W. Bowersock, Roman Arabia, Camb.
Mass. and London, 1983, 53-99, and the sources cited therein.
35
Cf. TheJewish Encyclopedia, op. cit., 12/79.
36 Camb. Mass. and London, 1932, 1975, 1/515, 2/63-5, 87, 91, 287.
37
Hamdani,
$ifat,
34.
336 S. BASHEAR
Actually, long before Eusebius and Ptolemy, the geographer
Strabo, a contemporary and friend of the commander of the first
full fledged Roman expedition to the south (Aelius Gallus, 26
B.C.), gave us a unique description and a map of the area. From
several references in his Geography we learn that Arabia Felix
include all the lands to the south of a line stretching from approx-
imately ElVArish on the Mediterranian and north-eastwards to the
Dead Sea, Moab in Jordan, the east of Syria until the Euphrate
river and down along it to the Persian Gulf. The coastal area from
ElCArish to Antiocheia he calls <<Phoenicia>> which, for him, is part
of Syria, while the land of upper Mesopotamia east of the Euphrate
he calls ((Assyria>>38.
To all intents, ((Arabia Felix>) seems clearly to be the Graeco-
Roman rendering of a vocalised semitic YMN or one of its deriva-
tions, and a geographic application for Biblical ((Teman)) though
this latter name was expanded to include not only Edom but the
lands of the Arabs as such. Of course, it is difficult to point with
certainty to the first appearance of this rendering or to the historical
circumstances in which Biblical ((Teman>> and Arabicyaman started
to denote wisdom, belief, blessing and good omen. The wisdom of
Teman and the Temanites is a strong theme in various Old Testa-
ment occurrences especially in Prophets39. In Habbakuk 3/3, Teman
is explicitly said to be the place where God will come from. In Isaia
63/1-6, mention is made of the savior as coming from Bozrah of
Edom.
Any definite statement on these issues belong to the unsettled
fields of the history of composition of the Old Testament and the
appearance of the Septuagint and, as such, lies beyond the scope
of this study40. However, Josephus who basically adopted the
genealogical geography of the Old Testament uses ((Arabia Felix>>
in two occasions to denote the area to the east of Egypt and the Red
Se 4i Sa .
38
The Geography of Strabo, Camb. Mass. and London, 1966, 7/239, 265, 299,
301, 309-11, 351 and the attached map opposite 374.
39 Jeremia, 49/7; Baruch, 3/22; Job, 2/11.
40 See J. A. Montgomery, 114; Sprenger, Die Alte Geographie Arabiens, 8;
Hogarth, Penetration of Arabia, 41.
41
Josephus, TheJewish Wars, 2/385; id., Antiquities, 1/239.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 337
Note must also be made of the interesting transformation which
the title ((Queen of Sheba)) went in almost a full circle from its
Hebrew origin in the Old Testament42, via the Greek origin of two
occurrences of it in the New Testament43, where it was presented
as ((Queen of the South>> and, finally, into the modern Arabic
translation of the latter as <<malikat al-taymam>>.
It is striking how in the Qur'an no mention of Yemen by name
is made. Vague references to some ancient incidents in the history
of south-west Arabia were believed by some exegets to have been
made in verse 34/17. To other indirect references to the Yemenites
in Qur'an 5/54 and 47/38 we shall come back later.
As for Mecca, note has been made above of some traditional
instances where it was considered or even named as al-yamaniyya. In
Qur'an 95/3 it was referred to as <<al-balad al-'amnf>> where exegets
believed that God was swearing by it along with three other holy
things. (lit.: wa-l-ttni wa-l-zaytuini wa-tir sni-na wa-hddhd al-baladi al-
'amfnt). Some of these exegets interpreted the terms occurring here
as referring to holy mountains near Damascus, Jerusalem, Sinai
and Mecca respectively. However, a highly unique, though
extremely isolated, Syrian tradition gives the name of Mecca as
Tuir Taymand in this Quranic context rather than al-balad al-
Damfn44. It is heavily associated with the name of the Damascene
((successor)> (tdbic Yazid b. Maysara al-Kindi45, though it was some-
times attributed to Ibn cUmar without isndd46. So far I could not
find any trace of this tradition in all the tafsir works I consulted
except one which curiously bears the name and exact title of
Thaclabl's Tafsfr47.
42
In
1
Chronicles, 10/1; 2 Chronicles, 9/1.
43
In Matthews, 12/42; Luke, 11/31.
44
It literally says: <<arbacat ajbul muqaddasa bayna yadayi-lldhi tacdld: tar zayta, izur
sina, .ir tind wa-tur taymdnd.))
45 See on him: Bukharl, Tarikh, n.d., 8/35 and Ibn Abi Hatim, Jarh,
Haydarabad, 1953, 2(4)/288.
46 Al-Musharraf, Fada' il, Ms. Tubingen, 27, 84(a); al-RabaCi, Fada' il al-Sham,
Damascus, 1950, 61; Ibn cAsakir, Tdrfkh, Damascus, 1954, 2/5; Anon. Fada' il,
Ms. Princeton, Yehuda, (4560), 25(b); al-Badri, Nuzhat al-Andam, Ms. Princeton,
Yehuda, 1(264), 12(a); Muhammad b. Habibullah, Risala ft Fadl al-Shdm, Ms.
Princeton, Yehuda (1862), 3(a-b).
47
Thaclabi', al-Kashf wa-l-Baydn, Ms. Princeton, Yehuda, 1(2217), 35(a-b).
However, this work is completely different from Thaclabl's Tafsfr in content. Note
also that it gives the death year of its author as 427 H.
338 s. BASHEAR
Messianic Deliverance is Southern
Note of the Biblical references to Teman as the land of wisdom
(Jeremia), deliverance (Isaia) and even where God will come from
(Habbakuk), has already been made. In a pseudo-Christian gnostic
tractate it is explicitly stated that ((the regions of the south will
receive the Word of the Light)), while ((the demon)) and ((error of the
world)) are associated with ((the east">48.
On the basis of the present study it will be interesting to conduct
a further and thorough investigation into the thematic connection
between such apocalyptic elements in Judeo-Christianity con-
cerning Teman-the South, and some Quranic and hadfth praises
of yaman in early Islam. Here few such examples from the Muslim
side will be brought, the commentaries upon which provide some
geographic definition of the terms yaman and tayman.
Mention has already been made of the unique exegetical
reference to Mecca as Tfir Taymana in the context of Qur'an 95/3.
Other exegetical traditions believed that Qur'an 5/54 and 47/38
included indirect references to the people of yaman. Worth noting
is one by Mujahid on 5/54 as brought by the geographer Ibn al-
Faqlh too. According to it the people referred to in this verse as
those whom God will bring forth, who love God and are loved by
him, are <<Saby al-yaman>>49.
A cross examination of traditional exegesis confirms the existence
of this tradition, though in an early 4adfth source those referred to
were said to be ((people from saba' >50. Here, as well as in several taf-
sir sources, such tradition was brought in the context of other tradi-
tions which specify that those referred to were either the
'Ash'ariyyu-n, people of Abui Muisa al-Ashcari or from al-Saku-n
tribe of Kinda51.
This view, however, is not unanimous upon other exegets of
early second century. One tradition, associated with the name of
48
<<The Paraphrase of Shemr>, in J. M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi
Library, Leiden, 1978, 326-7.
49
Ibn al-Faqih, 33, ((lit.: ... man yartadd minkum can dfnihifa-sawfa ya'tt lldhu bi-
qawmin yuhibbuhum wa-yuhibbzunahu.
50
Abu Sacid
al-Ashaij, jladith, Ms. Zahiriyya, maj'muc, 18/222. Note the
variant reading saby-saba'.
51 Ibid. These traditions are attributed to cIyad al-Ashcarl and Ibn cAbbas,
respectively. Compare with: Tabarl, TafsFr, Cairo, 1326, 6/183-4; Razi,
Mafidth,
Cairo, 1308, 3/427; Zamakhshari, Kashshdf, 1354, 1/345; 7aJs&r al-Jalalayn, Cairo
n.d., 96.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 339
Suddi, says that the ones referred to in this verse were the ansdr52.
But main-stream exegesis, associated with the names of Hasan al-
Basri, Qatada, Dahhak, Ibn Jurayj, or even curiously with that of
cAli, presents the verse as referring to <<Abu Bakr and his compan-
ions>> in the context of his struggle against the ridda. Few sources
bring an unidentified tradition which says that they were the Per-
sians, people of Salman al-Farisi53. In other sources such reference
to the Persians was sought in Qur'an 47/38 too54. However the only
view brought by Ibn al-Faqlh is that 47/38 refers to <the people of
yaman>>. It is worth noting that Ibn al-Faqlh brings in this context
a tradition according to which the Prophet pointed to al-yaman and
said: <if the request of any of you becomes difficult, turn to this
direction?>55.
From the fields of prophetical sira and tradition one can bring few
more examples whereyaman and its people were obscurely referred
to. One of these occurs in the sira of Ibn Ishaq in the context of the
apostasy of cAdi b. Hatim and his repentance. From it we learn that
when the sister of cAdi advised him to repent and follow Muham-
mad she said: (<If the man is a prophet, [then] whoever precedes to
[follow] him gains priority, and being who you are, [even] if he is
a king, you will not be humbled in the glory of yaman>> (lit: .... wa
- in yakun malikan fa - lan tadhilla ft cizzi 1-yamani wa - anta anta)56.
This tradition was reiterated by few later szra works. However,
its explicit description of Muhammad's movement as ((the glory of
yaman>> was not commented upon and, standing as such, remains
unexplicable57.
Another obscure connection between Muhammad and yaman is
made by a unique tradition of Waqidi on the debate which
Muhammad b. Maslama had with the Jewish Banu- al-Na hdr before
they were expelled from Medina. According to this tradition Ibn
52
Tabarl, 6/184; Razi, 3/427. Compare also with Zamakhsharl, 1/345.
53
Such was the only one brought by Nasaft, Tafsir, Beirut, n.d., 1/419.
54
Razi, 7/532; Zamakhshari, 3/460-1 as well as Nasafi, 3/374.
55
Ibn al-Faqih, 33: "'idhd tacadhdhara 'ala ahadikum al-multamasfa-'alayhi bi-hadhd
1-wajh, wa- 'ashdra 'ild 1-yaman.
56 Ibn Hisham, stra, Beirut, 1975, 4/168.
57 Tabari, Tdrikh, Cairo, 1962, 3/114; Suhayll, Rawd, Cairo, 1970, 7/404, 450;
Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, 'Uyujn, Beirut, 1974, 2/238. Halabi in his turn drops the phrase
<<'izz
a1-yaman>,,
Insan, Cairo,
1320 H. 3/255. In
Waqidl's Maghdzf (Oxford, 1966,
3/989) and Ibn Sacd's Tabaqat (Beirut, 1960, 1/322), the story of CAdl's apostasy
is brought without mentioning his sister's advise altogether.
340 s. BASHEAR
Maslama proved the Jews wrong and untrue in rejecting Muham-
mad by reminding them of the description of the ((man of hantfya>
which they themselves had given in apocalyptic form sometime
before he was sent. Among other things they had expected the com-
ing prophet as <<.... coming from the direction of yaman, riding a
camel ... (lit. .... ya ti min qibal al-yaman, yarkab al-bacfr.... )58.
Needless to say that the reasoning behind the whole argument
attributed to Ibn Maslama is that such description exactly fitted the
prophet of Islam. On the other hand substantial differences could
be spotted between this apocalyptic vision attributed to the Jews
concerning the coming of the prophet of hanffiyya from yaman, the
pseudo-Christian <<Paraphrase of Seth)) where the south was
expected to receive <the Light of the Word of God)>, and the
apocolypse of Habbakuk where God himself was said to be coming
from teman. However, considering the ((south)> (Yaman - Teman) as
a source of divine deliverance is a common theme too strong to be
overlooked. One must note in this connection that the apocalypse
of Habbakuk was one of the major Biblical ((proofs)) (dald'ii) brought
by the early Ibn Rabban (wrote ca. 232-247 H.) for Muhammad's
divine mission. This he does through bridging between the two
themes and explaining that (<rabb>> (clearly an Arabic usage of a
Syriac translation of the Bible) means both human as well as divine
lordship, and that his coming is to be understood as the revelation
of his divine word59. As for Biblical Teman, he says: <the land of
yaman and the Hijaz is for the sages [that] of al-tayman)) (lit.: wa-ard
al-yaman
wa-l-h4ydz
cinda al-hukamd) min al-tayman).
Such presentation ofJudeo-Christian elements into Muslim form
can be found in another obscure tradition which is very limited in
circulation. According to it the Prophet was reported as saying: <I
find God's breath from the direction of yaman)) (lit.: inni la- ajidu
nafasa rabbikum (var. al-rahmdn) min qibali al-yaman (var. min hd-huna,
wa-'ashara ild l-yaman)60. The meaning of this tradition depends on
the vocalisation and interpretation of nafslnafas. While the former
variant could mean <the very entity)) of God which clearly reminds
58
Wdqidi,
1/367.
59
'All Ibn Rabban, K. al-Din wa-l-Dawla, Tunis, 1973, 79-129.
60
Ibn 'Abd Rabbihi, CIqd, Cairo, 1321 H. 2/45 where it is brought without
isndd or source; and al-Muttaqi 1-Hindi, Kanz al-cUmmdl, Beirut, 1979, 12/50,
quoting Tabarani's al-Mu5iam al-Kabfr and noting that the tradition was brought
there via Saldma b. Nufayl.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 341
of Habbakuk 3/3, nafas could mean not only ((breath-soul)> but also,
metaphorically taken, <support>, too. And this last meaning was
the only one chosen by one of the sources which bring the tradition
(the CIqd of Ibn cAbd Rabbihi) presenting the whole tradition as
referring to the support given by God to the Muslims through the
ansar.
In the course of this study we will come accross other attempts
to interpretyaman andyamdniyya in the context of the support of the
ansdr to Muhammad. Suffice to say at this stage that such attempt
do not figure much in the commentaries on similar traditions and
was often rejected by them. Yaman, it seems, continued strongly
and for a long time to retain its initial meaning of a general indica-
tion to the lands of the Arabs to the south of the centre of the
Roman-Sassanid sphere of influence, and to constitute, as such, a
source of defensive inspiration concerning an awaited and mes-
sianic deliverance. And, in itself such turn to the <<south>) figures
centrally in numerous Muslim apocalyptic traditions which remain
curious occurrences unless considered on the back-ground of a sup-
pressed Judeo-Christian apocalyptic heritage in the area.
One such curious occurrence is the reported exegetical tradition
of Kacb al-Ahbar in connection with Qurldn 28/4661. According to
this tradition ((God stood on Mount Sinai and called, O' yaman
come to me for I sought them before they sought me and I gave
them before they asked me...>62.
It is precisely on this background that one should present the
sporadic identification in Islamic sources of the awaited Mahdi as
a yamdnf or, figuratively, a Qahtani too. Such notion seems to be
so strong in early Islam that it took the form of a prophetical tradi-
tion which found its way into the classical collections of Hadfth.
Bukhari, for example, records a tradition according to which the
Prophet said: ((the hour will not come until a man from Qahtan
rises and drives people with his stick))63.
But the identification of the forthcoming Mahdi as such
represents only one of other conflicting currents in early Islam.
From several apocalyptic traditions brought by Nucaym b. Ham-
61
((Nor were you on the side of the mountain (al-tir) when we called, but it is
of the mercy of your Lord [so] that you warn a people to whom no warner had
come before you so that they should reflect.))
62
Fasawl (d. 277), al-MaCrifa wa-l-Tarikh, Baghdad, 1975, 2/316-7.
63
Bukhari Sahih, Beirut, 1981, 4/159, 8/100.
342 s . BASHEAR
mad we learn about the expected conflict between the Yamani,
Qaltani, Qurashi, Hashimi, Sufyani, $akhri, etc64. Likewise, one
may find an indirect support to the above mentioned tradition of
Ibn Ishlq, which connects the rise of Islam with the glory ofyaman.
A tradition of Zuhri describes how Mucawiya strongly rejected the
notion propagated by cAbdullah b. cAmr b. al-cAs on the eventual,
though apocalyptic, appearance of the kingdom of Qaltan65. How-
ever, the same cAbdullah b. cAmr, is also reported as expressing the
view that ((the Mansuir> whom the Yemenites expected was not a
yamani but rather a Qurashi66.
Note at this stage must be taken of the fact that messianic titles
as they, like Mansur, appear in several apocalyptic traditions, are
also well known proper names of caliphs or even rebels in the first
two centuries of Islam67. Among the latter, Ibn al-Ashcath is worth
mentioning for claiming that he was the Qahtani which the yamanis
awaited and to whom he was expected to restore kingship68.
Finally such awaited restoration before the end of the world was
again connected with the eventual end of the reign of Quraysh in
the form of an apocalyptic poem attributed to Tubbac, one of the
legendary kings of yaman. However, in spite of the fact that such a
poem was brought within the compilation Akhbar cAbfd b. Sharya
with Mucawiya, it is certainly a fabrication reflecting the
atmosphere in its editor's time in the 3rd century. For, it includes
a clear indication to the ((unjust reign>> of the Umayyads except for
the priestly Umar LI, the early <"rightguided>> Abbasids and the
strife inside Quraysh and its weakness which is considered as one
of the signs of the approaching messianic events69.
On the whole, the traditions brought by Nucaym present an
ambivalent picture of the relations between the yamani Mahdi and
64
Nucaym b. Hammad, K. al-Fitan, Ms. British Museum, Or. 9449, 1/10, 25,
2/27.
65
Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Cairo, 1313 H. 4/94; Samarqandi, Fawadid, Ms.
Zahiriyya, Majmu'c, 120/123.
66
Cf. M. J. Kister, 4Haddithfi...,> Israeli Oriental Society, Tel-Aviv, 1972, f.n.
51.
67
Nucaym, op. cit., 5/95-105 were such titles and names are given as Siddliq,
Farufq, cUmar b. cAbd al-'Azlz, Saffah, Mansuir, Mahdi, etc. More details con-
cerning the messianic titles assumed by the Umayyads other than Umar II in P.
Crone and M. Hinds, God's Caliph, Cambridge, 1986, 4-43.
68
Mascufd1, Tanbfh, Beirut, 1965, 314.
69
Akhbar cAbfd, in the margin of K.
al-TFYdn by Wahb b. Munabbih, op. cit.,
477-8.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 343
Quraysh; a fact which clearly represents different currents in
apocalyptic traditions. One of these states that the caliph who will
defeat the Byzantines at the maldhim of the plains (maldhim al-acmaq)
is a <(yamant Qurashz>>70. From another, however, we hear about
<<the yamanf who will kill Quraysh>71.
In the absence of any independent source, it is difficult to assess
the religio-political and military circumstances behind the spread of
apocalyptic traditions in early Islam72. However, the general pic-
ture drawn from this material, especially from the tradition of
Kacb, is clear: yaman and yamaniyya stand as a reserve force upon
which the Muslims could fall in their final maldhim against the
Byzantine attacks on Syria73. A tradition by cAbdullah b. cAmr b.
al-cAs., in its turn, warns that in those wars the Byzantines will
initially defeat the Muslims and drive them until Hisma, the land
of Judham-i. e. south Jordan74. And, while the yamanis will stand
for Islam, the main support for the Byzantines according to another
tradition by Kacb, will be thirty thousand Christians from upper
Mesopotamia (al-Jazfra = the Euphrate peninsula)75. Finally, in a
prophetical tradition brought in this context it is related how after
the defeat of the Byzantines the Muslims would receive news from
the east that the False Messiah (al-masih al-dajd[) had appeared
there and would, consequently, retreat76.
Faith and Wisdom are Southern
Note has already been made of the existence of a pseudo-
Christian gnostic notion that demon and error rest in the east and
will rise from there. We have also noted the existence of few
apocalyptic references in the O.T. where Teman was stated as the
70
Nu'aym, op. cit., 5/127.
71
Ibid, 5/141.
72
See the interesting attemps in this field by A. Vassiliev, ((Medieval Ideas)),
Byzantion 16 (1942-3); P. Alexander, ((Medieval Apocalypses>>, The American
Historical Review, 73(1967-8); S. P. Brock, <<Syriac Views)), in G. Juynboll,
Studies..., Carbondale, 1982.
73
Nu'aym, op. cit., 5/117-8, 6/129-30, 137.
74
Ibid., 6/129.
75
Ibid., 6/133. Note that thisJazira was inhabited by the Christian Banui Iyad
and Banui Taghlib. According to some Futiuh traditions the Iyadis indeed joined
the Byzantines while Taghlib persisted in Christianity. Tabari, Tdrikh, op. cit.,
4/54-6.
76
Nu'aym, op. cit., 5/118.
344 S. BASHEAR
land of wisdom and deliverance. In what follows we shall consider
few Muslim traditions which convey a similar notion, especially the
widely reported prophetical statement that ((faith and wisdom are
yamanites)) (al- 'imanu yaman wal-hikmatu yamaniyya...). Some variant
forms of this tradition bring it in the context of condemning ((the
east)) or some ((northern>> tribes dwelling there, from where it was
also said that the devil or the head of unbelief will rise. Finally, an
attempt will also be made at assembling few other traditions and
traditional commentaries on the question of delimitingyaman in this
context.
In its rough form, ((al- 'manu yaman>> occurs in a wide variety of
Muslim, early as well as late, sources. Although it is absent from
Ibn Ishaq and most late sira sources, it was brought by Wdqidi77;
and one sfra work which drew upon hadith sources78. Of these, men-
tion must be made of the early musnads of al-Rabic, Tayalisi and Ibn
Hanbal79, the Sahihs of
Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi80
and later
commentaries upon them81, and other, less known as well as late
sources82. Of the lexicographic and geographic works cited above,
Ibn Manzir and Ibn al-Faqlh bring it83.
There is a wide range of authorities on the insdd of this tradition
and it is related within a variety of textual and occasional contexts.
To start with, there are three major variants of it, corresponding
in form to three different persons with whom their isndd ends: cAmr
b. cAbasa al-Sulami; Abuf Mascufd al-Ansari and Abui Hurayra.
From the first one we learn of a debate between the Prophet and
77
Maghztf, 3/1017.
78
Dahldn, Sfra, in the margin of Insdn, op. cit., 3/47.
79
Musnad al-Imdm al-Rabi, b. Habfb, Cairo, 1349 H., 1/17; Ibn Hanbal, op. cit.,
4/387.
80 Bukhari, Sah4h, Beirut, 4/154; Muslim, Sahfh, Beirut, n.d., 1/51-2, Tirmidhi,
$aFht, Cairo, 1934, 9/97-8, 13/286-7.
81 Qastalani, Irshdd al-Sdri, Cairo, 1304, 6/5-6; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bart, Cairo,
1959, 3/161-3; Al-'Ayni, CUmdat al-Qdrz, Beirut, n.d., 18/32; Nawawl, Sharh 'Ald
Sah4h Muslim, in the margin of Qastalani, op. cit., 1/348-9; Ibn 'Arab!, Sharh 'Ala
Sahth al-Tirmidhi, in the margin of Tirmidhi 13/290-1.
82 Al-Sarraj, Fawa'id, Ms. Zahiriyya, majmu'c, 98/37, 162; al-)Abhari, Fawd'id,
Ms. Zahiriyya, majmac, 59/145; al-Dhakwani, 'Amdlf, Ms. Zahiriyya, majmiic,
63/2; al-Fasawl,
al-Macrifa wa-l-Tdrfkh, Baghdad, 1974, 1/327-8 (I am indebted to
M. J. Kister for this citation); Suyiiti, al-jamiC al-.Saghtr, Beirut, n.d., 1/6, idem,
al-Jimic al-KabFr, lithog. ed., Cairo, n.d., 1/8, al-Manawi, Kuntiz al-HaqdPiq in the
margin of SuyfitilsJ.S., 1/97; al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanz al-CUmmdl, Beirut, 1979,
12/48-54.
83 Lisain, 17/357 and Mukhtasar, 33, respectively.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 345
'Uyayna b. Hisn, leader of Fazara, over the question of tribal
merits. 'Uyayna says: ((the best men are in Najd)), but the Prophet
befaults him and asserts: (<the best men are the people of yaman>>.
To this he also adds: ((faith isyaman>> and goes on to praise certain
tribes and to condemn others. Finally he even makes a statement
of self identification in the form of <<and I am ayamdn>> (wa-'ana
yaman)84.
It is beyond the immediate concern of this inquiry to make a
thorough follow-up of the aspect of tribal
mufdaala
inherent in this
tradition. It suffices to say that the merits of some of those specified
by it, like Lakhm and Judham were expressed in other separate
traditions transmitted via people other than 'Amr b. 'Abasa. On
the other hand, the two tribes anonymously condemned by it as (<al-
4ayyayn>> are specified in other separate traditions as Mudar and
Rabica85. As for the tradition on (<Lakhm and Judham>> note that
one of its variants which is reported as a mursal reads: ((al-'Tmadnu
yamdn hatta JibdaJudham>> i.e. notifying the territory of that tribe
which is usually believed by other sources to be in the south of
modern Jordan86.
The tradition of Abuf Mas'ufd is a clear reference to a place
though, on the other hand, it also mentions Rabi'a and Mudar by
name. According to it, the Prophet is described as standing in
Tabuik and pointing with his hand towardsyaman and saying: <<faith
is here>) (lit.: al-'Fmannu ha-hund). But, in contrast, he warns that
((fitna and heart-thickness are among the cattle breeders where the
two horns of the devil, Rabica and Mudar, will rise>). (lit.: haythu
yatlacu qarna al-shaytan rabifa wa-mudar)87.
Again the condemnation of Mudar as such does not concern us
here. Kister has thoroughly studied this issue in the context of the
Prophet's economic and political relations vis-a-vis Quraysh, other
Mudari tribes and the practice of qnunt in early Islam in general,
84
Ibn Hanbal, 4/387 and Fasawl, 1/327-8.
85
Several examples are extensively brought by al-Muttaql al-Hindi, 12/50-5
who quotes Tabarani, Shirazi, Baghdadi and Ibn CAsakir. Such traditions were
related from the Prophet by Anas, Rawh b. Zinba', Abiu Kabasha, cAbdullah b.
cAwf, Muc'dh b. Jabal, al-Barra', Ibn Mascuid, Ibn cAbbas, Ibn cAmr, etc.
86
See al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, 12/51 and Hason, Mucdwfya's Rule..., op. cit., 89,
cf. Yaquit, 2/287.
87
Musnadal-Rabic, 1/17; Ibn Hanbal, 4/118; Bukhari, 5/122; Muslim, 1/51; al-
Sarraj, 98/37, 162; al-Abharl, 59/145. Compare also with: al-Khatib al-Baghddi-,
Ibn cAsakir and Tabarani cf. al-Muttaqi, 12/50-2.
346 S. BASHEAR
and has scrutinized the various textual and circumstantial connota-
tions within which this invocation was brought88. What does con-
cern us here, however, are the numerous instances in which ((the
east)) as the dwelling place of Mudar and Rabica was considered as
a devilish place of unbelief (ra's al-Kufr) as opposed to ((the south))
(yaman) which is the land of faith and wisdom. We notice that in no
way such contrastive statement was connected with the Prophet's
supplication in favour of the oppressed believers (al-mustadcafiin) in
Mecca or was brought in the context of any military engagement
of the Prophet except that of Tabuk. On this background one may
consider the possibility that the two elements, initially separate,
were moulded by third century traditionists; an example to which
is Bukharl's explanatory addition to the saying ((tighten thy grip...))
in the form of: ((the people of the east from among Mudar were then
conflicting with him>>89.
We also notice that over half a century before Bukhar1, condem-
nation of ((the east)) as a devilish place was circulated by Abui al-
Jahm al-BThill (from Layth b. Sacd) in a form that includes no
tribal elements or any indication to where exactly was the Prophet
when he made such invocation9".
Coming back to the Tabuik element in Abuf Mascuid's tradition,
we find that a similar one in both form and content was brought
by Waqid1. From this latter we learn that ((the Prophet sat in the
location of his mosque in Tabufk, looked to the right (nahw al-
yamin), raised his hands pointing to the people of yaman and said:
((faith isyamdn>>. Then, he looked to the east, pointed his hand and
condemned the cattle breeders there from where the devil would
raise his two horns.91.
Of the hadfth sources the relatively early Tayalisi brings probably
the simplest form of Abuf Hurayra's tradition where the Prophet
only states: ((faith is yaman and Kufr is from the east))92. For, this
notion is retained in some variants of that tradition which are
brought by Muslim. To it, however, is added the praise of the cat-
tle, as opposed to the camel, breeders93. In another variant brought
88
M. J. Kister, "O'God, Tighten they Grip
on
Mudar>,JESHO, 24/3,
242-73.
89
Sah4h, 1/195.
90
Abui al-Jahm al-Bahili, Hadtth, Ms.
Zahiriyya, Majmuzc,
83/7.
91
Waqidi, 3/1017, 1021.
92
Tayalisi, Musnad, 327.
93
Muslim, 1/52.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 347
by Muslim, a further, introductory, sentence is added: ((the people
ofyaman came to you, they are kind-hearted, faith isyaman, wisdom
is yamanzyya and the head of Kufr is in the east>). A third variant
combines all the elements of the introductory announcement on the
arrival of the people of yaman, the assertion that faith and wisdom
areyamani, praise of the peace and dignity of the cattle-breeders and
condemnation of the vicious pride of the camel-breeders ((from
where the sun rises)). Finally, several other variants brought by
Muslim mention all of this but drop altogether the notion of con-
demning the kufr of the east. Some of these are even limited to
praising the cattle, and condemning the camel, breeders, while
dropping the statement on yamran faith, wisdom and even the
introductory announcement on the arrival of the people ofyaman94.
Probably more important, from the point of view of the develop-
ment of this tradition, is the fact that the Prophet's standing in
Tabuilk and pointing to yaman on the one hand and to the east on
the other, which is clearly present in al-Bahilli, Waqidi, TayMlis1,
Ibn Hanbal and some variants in Muslim, completely disappears
in most others brought by Muslim himself, where it is replaced by
the announcement ((the people ofyaman have arrived.)) In Bukhari
the process of selection is pushed a step further as no trace of poin-
ting by the hand, Tabuik or the east, is found, and the above men-
tioned introductory announcement predominates in almost all
variants. And, while Muslim could still consider this tradition part
of his ((Book of Faith)>, Bukhari makes a further step of bringing it
in his <<Book of Maghdzz>> under a sub-division on the arrival of the
tribal delegation of Ash'ariyyiin after the conquest of Mecca,
though such view is far from being unanimous upon
historiographers95. In another place, ((the Book of Merits>> (mana-
qib), Bukhari brings almost the same variant with the only dif-
ference of dropping the introductory announcement96.
In Tirmidhi we meet both trends represented by the two main
variants. One, like in Bukhari's and most of Muslim's, couples the
94
Ibid., 1/52-3.
95
Bukhari, 5/112, 122. Waqidi, 2/586, relates a similar tradition through Abu-
Sacid al-Khudri which does not mention the )Ash'ariyyu-n or any other tribe and
is brought in the context of Hudaybiyya. Compare also with Diyarbakri where the
arrival of 'Ash'ariyyun was put in the year 7 H. While that of Himyar, another
yamant tribe, in the year 9 H. Tdrfkh al-Khamis, Cairo, 1283 H, 2/194.
96
Bukhari, 4/154.
348 S. BASHEAR
notion ofyamanf faith and wisdom with the introductory announce-
ment of the arrival of the people of yaman97. Elsewhere, we come
across a variant similar to the one brought by Tayalisi and Waqidi.
It reads: ((faith isyaman and kufr is from the east)). Then comes the
element of praising the cattle, and condemning the camel breeders.
We also learn that the masi.h, clearly the anti-Christ, will arrive but
the angels will expel him from behind mount Uhud, and he will
eventually perish in Syria98. Finally, Tirmidhi brings other tradi-
tions attributed to the prophet via Abui Hurayra. One of them
states that fiqh too is yaman99.
With the way geographic and lexicographic compilers tried to
tackle the problem of whereyaman was, we have already dealt. Such
attempts, it must be remembered, referred basically to traditions
and traditional variants of the kind investigated here. On the whole
they constitute part of the efforts made by traditional commentaries
on this issue. Thus we find Azhari and Ibn Manzur, in order to
explain whereyaman was, refer to the notion that the Prophet spoke
about theyamani faith and wisdom from Tabufk. In this context they
also rely on Abui 'Ubayd
(al-Qasim
b. Sallam) whom they quote as
saying that what was meant is Mecca where faith started; an idea
corroborated by another view which explicitly puts Mecca in the
yaman. Hence, the two lexicographers note that Mecca is also called
al-yamanijyya and that the saying ((faith is yamdn>> applies to itl00.
This kind of information is reiterated by Zubaydi too'01. But,
long before that, the geographer Istakhri brought a similar notion
accepted ((on some scholars)), i.e. that Mecca belongs to the Tihama
of yaman'02. On the other hand an extremely isolated tradition of
Ibn Jurayj (d. 150 H.) clearly tries to shift the focal point from the
Prophet's saying ((faith isyamdn>> by presenting it, alternatively, as
((faith is in the people of the Hijaz)). Apart from this shift, this tradi-
tion literally reiterates the main element of condemning the thick-
97 Tirmidhi, 13/286.
98
Ibid., 9/97.
99
Ibid., 13/287. Compare also with Suyu-ti, al-Jdmic al-.aghfr, 1/6 and
Dhakwani, 63/2. Ibn al-Faqih, 33, brings a tradition which states, instead, that
<Islam is yaman>>.
? Azhari, 15/527; Ibn Manzufr, 17/356.
101
Zubaydi, 9/373.
102
Istakhri, al-Masalik wa-l-Mamdlik, Leiden, 1927, 15.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 349
heartedness of the east which predominates most of the variants
examined here'03.
Azhari and, following him, Ibn Manzuir add that, on the basis
of this statement being made in Tabuik, Medina could also be
included since, like Mecca, it is located in the direction (ndhiya) of
yaman too. Finally the form and content of the Tabfik tradition
brought by Ibn cAsakir is worth noting. It drops the statement on
faith and wisdom and simply states that the Prophet stood there
((pointed his hand to al-sham and said: what is here is al-shdm, and
pointed his hand to Medina and said: what is here isyamano> 04.
The difficulty to delimityaman, as revealed by lexicographers and
geographers is basically a problem of traditionalism. Bukhari
himself comments on one of Abui Hurayra' s variants by stating that
yaman was called as such because it is on the right of the Ka'ba while
al-sham is on its left'05. By this he actually reiterates the view of Abui
cUbayda which is brought by the lexical and geographic sources
cited above.
Later commentators on Bukhar1, however, aware as they were to
other traditional pronouncements and views, could not limit them-
selves to his. What they actually do is to bring Bukhari's view along
other conflicting ones on much the same line followed by Azhari
and Ibn Manzufr. Qastalani for instance says that one view is ((to
relate faith to Mecca because it started there and Mecca is con-
sidered southern in relation to Medina (wa-makka yamaniyya bi-l-
nisba li-1-madfna). The other view brought by him is that both Mecca
and Medina are meant because they are to the south of al-sha-m
given that the Prophets' statement was made in Tabiik'06.
The way Ibn Hajar and cAyni tackel the problem is even more
interesting. They refer to the tradition of Abui Masci'd with the ele-
ment of the Prophet's pointing towards yaman and conclude that
what was meant by his statement is the country and not the tribal
genealogy of yaman'07. As for the opening phrase ((atakum ahl al-
yaman>>, they understand it as addressing the companions in
Medina, including those from among the ansa-r. This, they say, is
103
Brought by Muslim, 1/53. The isndd of this isolated tradition ends
withJabir
b. 'Abdullah.
104
Ibn
'Asakir, Tdrfkh, Damascus, 1951,
1/187.
105
Bukhri-, 4/154.
106
Qastalani, 6/5-6.
107
Ibn Hajar, 9/161;
CAyni, 18/31.
350 s. BASHEAR
a proof that what was meant by ahl al-yaman were not the ansa-r and
the tradition as a whole should not be understood as referring to the
<(yamant genealogy)> of the latter. Ibn Hajar in particular refers to
an earlier work by Abui 'Amr b. al-Saldh who, he says, relates the
same opinion to Abui 'Ubaydi08.
From the commentary of Nawawi on Muslim we also learn that
such opinion occurs in another source, that of
Qaddl
'Iyad who was
earlier than Ibn al-Salaih'09. But basically he brings the variant
interpretation of yaman in relation to Mecca and Medina brought
by Qastalani and Ibn Hajar, and confirms that )Abu- CUbayd was
the first to circulate it. From him, however, we also learn that Abui
'Ubayd preferred the view which says that the tradition actually
referred to the ansdr. And this view, he says, was rejected by Ibn
al-Saldh.
The fourth century lexicographer, Azhari, explicitly says that he
prefers the view that the tradition spoke about the ansar. As for
Nawawi, he tries hard to harmonize between these different views.
And, before him, the same was done by Ibn 'Arabi's commentary
on Tirmidhi. But the basic difficulty common to all hadfth commen-
tators lies in the transformation which the termyaman seems clearly
to have undergone: from an early geonational concept with clear
messianic connotations, into a mere tribal-genealogical one con-
nected in a legendary obscure form with the territory of south-west
Arabia.
With Ibn cArab- we already meet such harmonisation in the form
of his attempt to forward the view thatyaman in this tradition means
both <<a location, i.e. Mecca and Medina, and people, i.e. the
Prophet and muhdjiruin in the first place and the ansar in the
second))1I10.
Such resistance to capitulate completely to the idea that the ansdr
were the ones meant by yaman seems to have relied on, or at least
expressed by, the existence of traditions other than the ones with
the element of pointing from Tabuik. One of these is a tradition
which was not brought by Bukhari but occurs already in Tayalisi
and was quoted from others by the late sources of Ibn Hajar,
108 Ibn
Hajar, 9/162.
109
Nawawl, in the
margin of
Qa$talnl,
1/348.
0 Ibn cArabi, 13/291.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 351
Suyuit1, al-Muttaqi al-Hindi and the sfra of Dahldn'll. This tradi-
tion is usually attributed to the Prophet through Jubayr b. Mut'im,
though a similar one was reported from Ibn 'Abbas too"12.
According to the tradition of Jubayr, the Prophet, while between
Mecca and Medina, said: ((the people of yaman have come like
clouds and they are the best upon earth. A man from the ansar said:
except us, O' messenger of God; but he [Muhammad] remained
silent.... [After the ansdrz repeated his question three times].... then
he said a weak word (kalima dalffa): except you>>1"3.
As for the tradition of Ibn 'Abbas brought by Bazzar, it includes
the assertion that faith, wisdom and fiqh too are yaman, and the
praise of the yamanis for their pure hearts and good obedience.
However, all this is brought in the context of the Prophet's
announcement, while in Medina, of the coming of the people of
yemen who are also described as pure-hearted and obedient and
whose very coming is equated with the arrival of the victory of God
and conquest (nasru-lldh wa-l-fath).
Al-Sham and Yaman
Contrasting the lexical and traditional information reviewed
above one faces a bizarre and problematic phenomenon. On the
one hand, there is almost no traditional instance in which al-shdm
was presented as the source of ominous evil in the context of and
as apposed to praisingyaman as the blessed source of faith, wisdom,
etc. It is <<the east>> that predominantly occupies such a place all
along the way. On the other hand, sha'm stands as the linguistic
contrast to yaman not only in terms of left and right but also in the
sense of bad vs. good.
This is not the right place to conduct a thorough investigation
into the philology of the term sha 'm or its etymology. However, one
may recall the fact that the sense which predominates in all the lex-
ical and some of the geographic sources cited above is that of ((left)).
111 Tayalisi, 127; Anonymous, Hadfth, Ms.
Zahiriyya, majmuzi, 24/29; Ibn Han-
bal, Ibn Mani", Abui Yalla, Bazzar, Ibn Abi Shayba and Tabarani's Kabfr, cf. Ibn
Hajar, 9/161, Suyuttl's Kabir, 1/8, Dah1an, 3/46-7 and al-Muttaqi al-Hindi,
12/49-50.
112
In Ibn Hajar and Dahlan, al-Bazzar is explicitly quoted for the tradition of
CIbn Abbas.
113
Compare Tayalisi and Suyupi, with Hajar and Ibn Dahlan.
352 s. BASHEAR
The question as to when and in what circumstances of early Islam
did sha'm acquire also the sense of ((bad omen>> (from shu'm) too, is
more difficult to follow because of the complete absence of such
sense in the traditional references cited above. However, the
meagre information provided by our lexical sources point to the
early third century Basran, Qutrub, as an authority on this view as
opposed to the blessedness ofyaman" 4. About this
Qutrub
we know
that he studied under Sibawayh, was accused of Muctazill views
and compiled several lexical and
tafsir
works. But all this does not
explain the anti-Syrian attitude implicit in circulating the above
mentioned view on al-shalm attributed to him; a view which is com-
pletely ignored by the two main classical geographers Bakri an
Yaqi ttt5.
Considering the possibility of some jewish roots for the sense of
blessedness in terms derived from YMN, our inquiry points to the
existence of a clear apocalyptic concept in Biblical and Talmudic
Teman which may also reflect a vague trace of an archaic belief in
the source of monotheism from the south. In Habakkuk, Jeremia and
an isolated pseudo-Christian gnostic source, Teman and the South
are presented as a source of messianic deliverance, reception of the
Light of the Word of God and even a place where God himself will
come from.
In the Babylonian Talmud there occurs the saying ((wake up o'
north and come south>06. While the word used here to denote
((south>> is Teman, the one used for north is ((zafon>> which is believed
to have substituted the more archaic term <<shmal>>-the Hebrew
cognate of Arabic shmll l7. Now, in the Pentateuch, this latter term
appears mainly as a geographic one without any religious or
mythological connotations'18. But in Prophets (Jeremia 1/14) as well
as in the Talmud (GittFn 6/1) we read: <and Jehova our Lord said:
from the north calamity will open on all the people of the land>>' 9.
It is plausible to suggest, that north and south has acquired the
senses of evil and good in the circumstances of the threat of invasion
114
Ibn Manzuir, 9/371. Qutrub's full name is Muhammad b. al-Mustanir. See
on him: Yaqu-t, Mu'jam al-Udaba-', Cairo, 1938, 19/52.
115
See their 3/773 and 3/312, respectively.
116
Zevahbm, 106/1.
117
Encyclopedia Mikra'ft, Jerusalem, 1971, 6/747 (in Hebrew).
118
Ibid., 6/749.
119
See also B. Kasowsky, Ozar Lashon ha-Talmud, Jerusalem, 1974, 32/153.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 353
which Jewish Palestine was continuously subjected to during the
Hellenistic-Roman period. But, whileyaman retained such positive
meaning in traditional instances of early Islam, it is striking to see
how its antonym, sha'm looses the sense of ominous evil which re-
appears in the late second-early third century propagated only by
one philological authority, Qutrub; and even then does not gain
much circulation in lexical and geographic sources, and is not cor-
roborated by almost any traditional instance. It is safe to say that
anywhere the geographic dimensions of shdm and yaman were con-
trastively presented in tradition, the former was positively or, at
least, neutrally, referred to.
It is beyond the scope of this study to bring all the traditions
which promote the merits of al-sham. We shall limit ourselves to
illustrating a few examples where shdm and yaman are presented in
a contrastive way. One of them is a unique tradition brought by
Musharraf according to which the Prophet said: ((the pillars of my
umma are the bands of yaman and forty abddl in al-shdm>>'20.
Another unique example is a qudsz tradition according to which
the Prophet said: ((God positioned me with my face to al-sham and
my back to al-yaman and said: O' Muhammad, I made what is in
front of you a booty and what is in your back an equipment and
reinforcement for you'>121. A second qudsi tradition, similar to the
previous one, was brought by an earlier source on the authority of
Kacb. God, according to it, revealed to the Prophet: ((I have sent
you as an ummi and made yours what is under your feet and sup-
ported your back with those who are behind you from yaman and
made a booty for you what is in front of you: Iraq, Syria and the
Maghrib. .,122
There is also the tradition according to which the Prophet com-
bined al-sha/m and yaman in an invocation for blessedness. This
tradition is almost exclusively associated with the name of Ibn
cUmar either via his son Salim or via Nafi'. It is brought by
Bukhari and Tirmidhi and re-appears in several works on the
120
Al-Musharraf b. al-Murajji, Fa.d'il, Ms. Tuibingen, no. 27, 109 (b)-110
(a). The isnad of this tradition is.... (Abd al-Malik b. Micqal -Yazid al-Riqashi
-Anas.
121
Ibid., 112 (b). Its isnad is... Ismacil b. cAyyash
-
IbnJurayj
-
cAta)
-
Ibn
'Abbas.
122
Wahb b. Munabbih, K.
al-djan, 110-1. No isndd is given for this tradition.
354 s. BASHEAR
merits of al-shalm23. It is clearly a Medinese tradition and note must
be taken especially of the invocation to bless Medina and its cubic
and dry measures (sa` and
mudd).
For, such invocation occurs
separately in traditions brought by other sources where it is related
through other companions and traditional authorities'24. In these
latter instances it is usually related how the Prophet also ((looked
towards yaman and said: O' God, draw their hearts ... .)>, while the
notion of double blessing for shdm and yaman is totally absent.
The tradition by Nafic-Ibn cUmar usually opens with the
Prophet's invocation: <<O' God, bless our sham and our yaman>>
(alldhumma bdrik lana ft shalmina wa-yamanina). At this stage it splits
between several variants. One proceeds with a man asking to bless
the east (wa-fr sharqina ya rasuil allah?), to which the Prophet
responds: ((from there the horn of the devil will rise)). A second
variant makes the man ask about Najd to which the same response
is given plus the warning that ((earthquakes andfitan are there.>>
And the third variant makes the Prophet say all this about Iraq.
It is clear that no reference is made in all these variants to Hijaz
except the few infiltrations on Medina from other currents noted
above. This, it seems, was noted at some stage (possibly around
mid 2nd century) by traditionists who felt obliged to comment
especially about the absence of any mention of Mecca. From two
sources we hear that cAbdullah b. Shawdhab, the mid second cen-
tury authority on this tradition (d. 144-157 H.) said: (<he did not
mention Mecca and said [that] Mecca is yamanijyya. To this Ibn
Sacid added: i.e. it was included within the yaman>>)".
Another tradition of this sort enjoyed a better circulation. It is
usually attributed to cAbdullah b. Hawala although other compan-
ions are accredited with relating it from the Prophet.
Roughly speaking, this tradition, including all its variants,
speaks about the Prophet's choosing for people to move to al-sham
being <<God's choice for the best of his people.)) What concerns us
here is the sentence which often follows such urging, and in which
the Prophet says: <<... whoever refuses (to go to al-shadm) shall attach
to his/itsyaman and drink from its ponds, for God has guaranteed
123
Cf. Ahmad al-Suyfiti, 101 (a); Tirmidhi, 13/299; Fasawl, 2/747-8, Mushar-
raf, 108 (a); Ibn CAsakir, 1/120; Ibn CAbd al-Razza-q, 22 (b).
124 E.g. the one by Zayd b. Thabit on the authority of cImran al-Qattan. See
for it: Ibn Hanbal, 5/185 and Tirmidhi, 13/285.
125
Ibn CAsakir, 1/120. See also Fasawi, 2/747.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 355
for me al-shdm and its people)) (lit.: Calaykum bi-1-sham, fa-man 'abdifa-
)in abaytum fa- calaykuml alayhi bi-yamanihi wa-l-yastaqilyusqa/tasquz min
ghudurih, fa-inna lldh qad takaffala 1i bi-l-shdm wa-ahlih).
Although not mentioned in the Sahahs of Bukhari, Muslim or Tir-
midhi, many early as well as late sources brought this tradition and
considered it as a ((sahlh)>. Among these mention can be made of an
early 4adith compilation by Abui Mushir'26, the Musnad of Ibn
Hanball27, the Sunan of Abu-
Dawiidd28,
the Mustadrak of al-
Hakim'29 and other hadith,
faad)il
and geographic sources130.
The main role assigned to Ibn Hawala in this tradition is that,
after the Prophet informs the companions that they will be drafted
to al-sham, yaman, Iraq, etc., he, Ibn Hawala, asks him for his
choice. Then comes the Prophets' saying: "<... calaykum bi-l-sham, fa-
man aba...>> etc.
In some sources, however, the isndd of the tradition ends not with
Ibn Hawala but with one of his transmittors131, another person who
was supposedly present on that occasion, or else it is brought with-
out any chain after him'32. Others do not specify Ibn Hawala as the
person involved at all and, instead, there appears in the anonymous
form ((fa-qala rajulun))'33. And in yet another group of sources, cer-
tain variants of this tradition were related to Abui Dharr, Abuf al-
126
Nuskhat Abf Mushir, Ms. Zahiriyya, majmuf', 59/58. Abui Mushir was a
Damascene traditionist who died in 218 H. See on him Tahhfb 6/98.
127 Op. cit., 4/110 and 5/288.
128
Op. cit., 3/4, 8; Cf. also al-Badri, Nuzhat al-Andam, Ms. Princeton, Yehuda,
1(246), 5(a); al-Mizzi, Tu4fat al-Ashrdf, 4/287.
129
Al-Hakim, Mustadrak, Riyad, 1968, 4/510, where he notifies it as <.a sah4fh
inspite of the fact that Bukhari and Muslim did not bring it.
130
Cf. Suyiiti,J.K., 1/287 where Tabarani is quoted for it; al-Mizzi, 4/287; al-
Muttaqi al-Hindi, 12/275-81, especially 12/279 where Ibn Hibban and Sacid b.
Mansir are added to the list of sources quoted for it; Fasawl, 2/288-9, 302; al-
Rabaci, Fada'il al-Sham, Damascus, 1950, 4-5, 12-3; al-Musharraf, 108 (a)-109
(b); Anon.
Faaddil al-Sham, Ms. Princeton, Yehuda (4560), 1 (b); Ibn Habibullah,
Risdla;fiFadl al-Shdm, Ms. Princeton, Yehuda (1862), 4 (a-b); al-Badri, Nuzhat, op.
cit., 5 (a-b); al-Manini, al-I'ldm bi-Fada'il al-Sham, Jaffa, n.d., 54-5; Yaquit,
Mu?/am al-Buldan op. cit., 3/314.
131 These include Abui Muslim al-Khawlhni, Sulayman b. Shamir, Abu Qatila
(var. Ibn Abi Qatila), Makhufl and Salih b. Rustum, For few others see al-Mizzi,
4/287.
132
Mainly his main transmittor, Abui Idris, but also al-cIrbad b. Sariya al-
Sulami, Abui al-Darda', and cAbdullah b. Zayd. See Fasawl, 2/288; Musharraf,
109 (a-b); al-Muttaql al-Hind1, 12/275-81.
133
Ibn Hanbal, 5/33-4; Ibn cAbd al-Razzaq, op. cit., ibid.
356 S. BASHEAR
Darda', Wathila b. al-Asqa', Mu'adh b. Jabal and Hudhayfa b. al-
Yaman, though no chain of isndd was provided'34.
Such variety of isndd lines and chains of authorities is a clear war-
ning against a possible moulding of material from different textual
origins. Indeed there are at least two different introductory
sentences which alternatively precede the key phrase <<fa-man abdifa-
in abaytum>>. One of them is the above noted statement by the
Prophet on the future recruitment (sa-tujannadtina ajnddan)
which is
always followed by Ibn Hawala's request for his choice, etc... In the
second variant the Prophet opens right from the beginning with his
advise to move to al-sham <the choice of God from among his lands,
where he will settle the best of his servants)>.
We notice that while the first variant is heavily associated with
Ibn Hawala, one of his transmittors or a companion who was pres-
ent on that occasion, the second is associated with the names of Abui
Dharr, Wathila, Mu'adh and Hudhayfa. And it is exactly here that
the moulding of texts from different origins appears. For, the
introductory part of the second variant stands in other sources on
its own, i.e. without the issue of choice between sham and yaman.
Likewise, this part appears as an independent tradition attributed
to the Prophet by new names such as Jubayr b. Nufayr and Hakim
b. Mu'awiya al-Qushayri-35.
But the main difficulty with the tradition lies in the content of the
part that concerns us which, to all intents, conveys a vague mean-
ing in clumsy syntactical structure. The key to this difficulty lies in
deciding the exact identity of the second member of the construct
phrase i.e. to whom the genetive ((h>) in yamani(h) and ghuduri(h)
refers?; to al-shalm or to the subject indirectly referred to as ((man
aba)>?
To be true, commentaries on this issue are almost non-existent
in a way that corresponds to the absence of the tradition from
classical compilations in the first place. Actually, only two late
sources bring some isolated commentaries by an unspecified work
of Manawi136. The first of them says that the <<h>> in ghuduri(h) refers
134 See Manini, 53; Suyxitl, J.K. 1/287; idem, J.S., 2/64 cf. Tabarani but
branded as <<weak>>. In Musharraf, 109 (b), it is said <<Makhul said: we came to
Wathila and he told us: I heard Mu'adh or Hudhayfa asking the Prophet where
to dwell and he said: go to al-Shdm....> etc.
135 See Ibn al-Faqlh, 92; Fasawl, 2/288; Anon. Hadith., Ms. Zahiriyya, majmuic,
24/8.
136
Manini, 53 and Ibn cAbd al-Razzaq, 17 (a-b).
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 357
to al-shdm (i.e. drink from the ponds of al-sham), while the one in
yamani(h) refers to whoever refused to go to al-sham. This, he says,
makes <fa-man abdfa-l-yalhaq bi-yamanihi>> an interfering sentence.
However, the commentary attributed to the same Manawi by the
second source contradict this one in a way that reopens what seems
to be an old problem of the very wording of this tradition. For,
implicit in this commentary is that the addressing of the compan-
ions is made in the plural form where the genetive <<h>) becomes
((kum)) (yamani(kum) and ghuduri(kum)).
Checking again the exact wording of the whole tradition, one
realizes that the opening phrase comes indeed in the plural
(calay(kum) bi-l-sham) in several sources that bring it. In few earlier
ones the genetive ((kum)) is retained all along the way even when Ibn
Hawala is addressed in the singular (calayka bi-l-shdm)'37. In such
case the syntactical problem finds its solution and the tradition as
a whole speaks in the second personal plural all along the way: fa-in
abaytum fa-calaykum bi-yamanikum wa-squi min ghudurikum.
But this does not solve all the semantical problems of the tradi-
tion. For, what sense is there in including ((go to youryaman and
drink from your ponds)) in a tradition which primarily comes to
urge people to go to al-shalm? And what to make of some of the early
sources which bring the singular: <<fa-man abd fal-yalhaq bi-
yamanihii>138?
It is difficult to make any certain judgment on these issues. And
any attempt in this direction must not exclude the scribal variant
forms retained in some of our manuscriptural sources. Examples to
such variants are abundant:
1) Musharraf gives ((man abda> as <<man ata>>.
2) ((wal-yastaqilwal-yusqa>> is closer to <wa-l-yathiq>> in Badri and
Ahmad al-Suyu-ti, appears as <(wa-yathiq)> in the early Abud
Mushir, and even <<wal-yattaqi> should not be excluded.
3) Obi-yamanihi/ appears in the lithographic edition of Suyiiti'sJ. K.
as well as in Yaquit as <<bi-yaminihi)); and in both sources
<<ghudurih>> appears as ((bi-cudhrzh)>. Even ((yacdhurah)) should not be
excluded by the moder reader.
137
E.g. Ibn Hanbal, 4/110: <<fa-)in )abaytumfa-calaykum bi-yamanikum wa-squi min
ghudurikum>,. See also Abui Dawuid, 3/4, 8 and Musharraf, 180/(a-b).
138
E.g.: Abui Mushir, 59/58; al-Hakim, 4/510 as well as in certain variants in
Ibn Hanbal, 5/33-4; Musharraf, 109 (a-b) and Rabaci, 4-5, 12-3.
358 s. BASHEAR
Taking these variants into consideration one may proceed to see
whatever their combination could alternatively make of the tradi-
tion. The point of departure remains, however, that it utterly
makes no sense that the Prophet urges his companions to go in two
opposite directions.
One must also not exclude the possibility that <yamanih>> refers to
al-shdm itself meaning the latter's south and right side; a notion that
does not contradict the geographic, lexical and even some of the
traditional evidences brought above. There is also the possibility
that <fa-l-yalhaq bi-yamanihi>> was meant as a concession (rukhsa)
given by the Prophet to those who refuse to go to al-sham. Added
to this, the opening phrase <<'alaykum>> does not mean only <go to>>,
but also bears the notion of urging to fight, struggle and be respon-
sible for; an element absent in <<fa-l-yalhaq>) which means ((be
attached to>>. And all this goes well with the concluding sentence the
content of which has not been considered so far. Namely: ((because
God has guaranteed al-sham and its people for me)).
Was the Prophet simply urging people to join some struggle in
the north and giving others who were not willing to do so the con-
cession or advise to become attached to the south, for God has
guaranteed him victory in the north itself? Support to such
possibility comes from a highly unique, albiet isolated, variant
which is brought by the relatively early Fasawl. There, the tradition
was brought in a context which explicitly speaks about the struggle
with the Byzantines, though in a highly mysterious form. Accord-
ing to this variant the Prophet promises his companions that they
will be recruited, have many occupations and abundant booty.
Then Ibn Hawala expresses doubts on who could beat the strong
al-rum in al-shdm, but the Prophet swears by God that it will be con-
quered. Finally Ibn Hawala asks for his choice to which the Prophet
says: "ya ahl al-yaman Calaykum bi-l-shaIm...>> etc.139*
Again, the above suggested interpretation is far from being cer-
tain or final. The'variant reading ((fa-l-yathiqlyattaqi bi-Cudhrihlman
yaCdhurah>l could fit the general meaning as a certain break against
taking the concession too loosely. But to read ((fal-yastaqilyusqa min
ghudurih>> can fit into the general framework of the tradition only if
<<yamanih)> refers to al-sham indicating its southern areas which are
arid and dry.
139
Fasawl, 2/288-9.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 359
However, even if the possibilities suggested above are accepted
as plausible solutions to its syntactical and semantical problems, the
full historical sense the tradition conveys cannot be finally realised
as long as it depends on the cardinal question: where precisely was
it that the Prophet made his statement from? Needless to say that
a direct answer to this question is not expected to be given on a
silver plate by any of our sources. In such case one may turn back
to the numerous instances reviewed in the course of this study,
where yaman-Biblical Teman and Greaco-Roman Felix-point
to south and right, specifically to the area of southern Jordan.
As for al-sha-m, which originally indicated north and left, Muslim
sources usually give only a broad definition of its limits; e.g.: from
the Euphrate in the north to El-'Arsh in the south, and from the
two mountains of Tayy in the east to the Mediterranian in the
west'40.
However, from a definitely earlier geo-political tradition we
learn that Syria and al-shalm were not one and the same and that it
is possible that the latter originally indicated the area of Anatolia-
i.e. to the north of Syria with the Taurus pass (al-darb) as the geo-
political border between them. This tradition is clearly an old
Syrian one as it has the chains: Salama - Ibn Ishaq - Khalid b.
Yasar - a man from the old people of al-sham (rajul min qudamad' ahl
al-shdm). It is brought by some historiographers in the context of the
Prophet's sending of Dihya al-Kalbi in a mission to Hiraql. It was
noted by us on a previous occasion; but, because of its highly uni-
que nature we choose to bring it in full here'41. It explicitly says that
<the land of Syria was the land[s] of Palestine, Jordan, Damascus,
Hims and whatever to the south of al-darb from the land of Syria;
and whatever was beyond al-darb, was for them al-shdm>> (my italics)142.
It is also interesting to see how Yaquit, in his turn, identifies)> al-
darb>> as the mountain pass ((between Tarsus and the land of al-rum>>.
In this context he also brings a verse from Imru' al-Qays which
140
Yaquft, 3/312. Bakri, 3/773, in his turn, only says that: ,it is the well-known
country>>-i.e. in his own time in the fifth century, without giving any infor-
mation.
141 S. Bashear, <<The Mission of Dihya al-Kalbi and the Situation in Syria)),
unpublished paper. Presented at the Third International Colloquium: From Jahiliyya to
Islam, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1985.
142 Tabarl, Tdrikh, 2/651. Compare also with Ibn Kathir, Biddya, 3/268; Ibn
Khalduin, cIbar, 2/223 and Ibn al-Athir, Kdmil, 2/212.
360 s. BASHEAR
explicitly says that al-darb marks the beginning of the territory of
Qaysar:
My companion cried when he saw al-darb in front of him,
and realised that we are joining qaysar.
(baka sdlhibf lammd ra'd al-darba dunahu.
wa-ayqana anna ldhiqdni bi-qayyard'43.
Conclusions
The present inquiry was an indirect contribution to the study of
early Islam through examining some non-tribal, basically geo-
graphic and religio-messianic aspects in the etimology ofyaman and
yamaniyya as two basic concepts in that religion. It has shown how
yaman originally pointed to the south, specifically to Biblical Teman
which, during the Graeco-Roman era, was rendered to Felix,
denoting the lands of Arabia outside the direct influence of those
civilisations. Being as such, this area was connected in some
oppressed currents in Judaism and early pseudo-Christian
gnosticism with the apocalyptic idea of messianic deliverance from
the south; an idea which clearly found its way into early Islam,
became one of the basic concepts of that religion and with which
some national tunes to such deliverance were attached to the south,
being an area of the lands of the Arabs.
From this point of view, Mecca, the future cultic center of Islam,
was called al-yamaniyya-the southern-though its final emergence
as such a center affected a clear shift in the point of reference where
yaman-south-became eventually limited to the extreme south of
Arabia.
We do not know exactly under what historical circumstances did
such shift occur. However, in the numerous traditional instances
where yaman and yamaniyya are referred to, there is also a strong
sense of defensive reliance. On the basis of the present inquiry one
may even suggest that militarily and politically such a look to the
south as a source of relief and support was nourished in difficult cir-
cumstances which the early Muslims had in the area bordering with
the Byzantines. It is only logical to say that in order for that area
to be considered (<south)), one must necessarily stand to the north
of it.
143
Yaquit, op. cit., 2/447.
YEMEN IN EARLY ISLAM 361
No further speculations will be made except for pointing out to
that early geo-political notion which puts the area of central and
northern Israel and Jordan together with modern Syria as the cen-
tral area to which shim in the sense of north is related. However,
it is also plausible to suggest that shifting the central point of
reference to Mecca in the south necessarily affected a deformation
in the meaning of ((the east)) too, which pre-dominates in the tradi-
tional references as a source of evil and error in early Islam with
a clear parallel from pseudo-Christian gnosticism. In several tradi-
tions such ominous references specified also Iraq and the lands of
Rabica and Mudar possibly in upper Mesopotamia which were
known for their prolonged resistance to Islam.
Also important are the strong religious, specifically messianic,
connotations of the term "yamanzyya)) which, to all intents, appears
as a central concept all along the Umayyad and early Abbasid
periods. Muslim historiographic sources heavily connect the
emergence of this term with the upsurge of tribalism at the battle
of Marj Rahit in 64 H. and repeatedly refer to it thenceforth but
only in the contexts of tribal strife and political conflicts. Such a
presentation has undoubtedly affected the damping of the messianic
and other religious elements originally inherent in this concept. In
my view such damping has, to a great extent, determined the way
in which modern scholarship has treated yamanniyya basically as a
tribal-genealogical concept; an approach which the present study
has shown to be, at least partially, unjustified.
The Hebrew University
of Jerusalem