Sunday, May 1, 2011

Attitudes of Some Bedouin Tribes

Although many Arab tribes became Muslim, it is difficult to say that Islam spread among the Bedouin tribes; in particular the Banu Ghatafan and its various branches, the Banu Hanifa and Banu Asad did not become Muslim. In the Holy Quran, the Bedouins who were hostile against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Muslims were criticized and the negative attitudes shown by many of them were referred to as a whole under the word a'rab (See Al-Tauba, 9/90, 93-99, 101-102, 107-110, 120; Al-Ahzab, 33/20; Al-Fath, 48/11-17; Al-Hujurat, 49/14-18). The Bedouins began to oppose Islam from the time of the Battle of Badr (Al-Ahzab, 33/20). When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was about to perform the lesser pilgrimage (6/628), he sent messages to the Bedouin tribes around the city, such as the Juhayna, the Muzayna, the Ascha and the Aslam, telling them to join him. However, they did not obey Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)'s order because they were not loyal to Islam or Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); after the umrah they apologized for this (See Al-Fath, 48/11-12, 16). A similar condition was experienced during the Battle of Tabuk (See Al-Tauba, 9/90, 97, 101, 120). Various branches of the Bedouin Ghatafan tribe were involved in several raids and killings, starting from the 3rd year after the migration (624). They accepted Islam in the year of the delegations (9/630-631), but did not follow it very strictly. As a matter of fact, after the death of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Uyayna ibn Hisn, the leader of the Fazara branch, apostatized and joined Tulayha ibn Huwaylid al-Asadi, who claimed that he was a prophet. Apart from this, the Banu Hanifa, most of whom lived a Bedouin life, tried to keep away from Islam. The delegation of Banu Hanifa led by Salama ibn Hanzala became Muslim when they came to Medina in the 10th year of the hijrah (631). However, the people of Banu Hanifa had political and economic interests and they apostatized, joining Musaylimat al-Kadhdhab who claimed that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) shared in his prophethood.

On the other hand, the Banu Asad thought that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Muslims had lost power after the Battle of Uhud and thus they planned to make a sudden attack. During the Battle of the Trenches they were involved with an alliance of enemy groups which were led by Tulayha ibn Huwaylid. In year 9 (630), they came to Medina with a delegation, one of whom was Tulayha, and they pretended to be Muslims, requesting financial support during the famine and asking permission to gather and distribute their zakats among themselves. Since they were rude during these talks, and they were so intent on their own interests, and were merely pretending to have faith and oblige Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the verses of Surah Al-Hujurat were revelaed (49/14-18). During the illness of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Tulayha declared his prophethood, and then during the caliphate of Abu Bakr he revolted after gaining the support of some Bedouin tribes, like the Fazara, Zubyan, Tay and Abs.

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