Qahtan (tribe)

Qahtān (Arabic: قحطان‎, also spelled as القحطاني) to distinguish between the tribe and the Qahtanite peoples, is an Arab tribal confederation. Qahtan is composed of three main tribes: Sanhan, Junb, and Rufaida. Today, members of the tribe and its sub-tribes are based in Yemen (where most of the tribe is congregated), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. The Madh'hiji Qahtan tribe is different from the Qahtanite peoples, because while all members of the Qahtan identify as Qahtanite through their ancestry to Qahtan son of Hud which the tribe is named after, not all Qahtanite tribes (such as Shammar, Sharhan, Harb, etc.) trace their ancestry back to the modern tribe known as Qahtan.

قحطان, القحطاني
Map of Arabia 600 AD.svg
Regions with significant populations
Saudi Arabia500,000 Bedouins (1920s)[1] (Not including settled population)
5-6 million people in GCC and Iraq
southern Najdi dialect[2]
Sunni Islam (Hanbali)
Related ethnic groups
Al Murrah, Bani Hajer, Yam, Ajman

Qahtan's sheikhdom was unanimously agreed by Western historians to be in the hands of the 'Al Qarmalah' family of the Jahader clan in the 19th century, and as early as 1961, the paramount sheikh of Qahtan was reported to be 'Khalil ibn Nasir ibn Qarmalah' (a descendant of Hadi ibn Qarmalah).[2] However today, this subject of whether the Al Qarmalah family or the Ibn Dulaim family of the Sharif clan are the rightful sheikhs of Qahtan is highly controversial and has led to physical confrontations in high-profile tribal Qahtan congregations. Regardless, Abdullah ibn Fahad ibn Dulaim, sheikh of the Ibn Dulaim family, is recognized by the Saudi state as the appointed paramount sheikh of Qahtan and its allied tribe of Wadi'a.


Al QarmalahEdit

The Qahtan tribe enjoyed It settled in one of the Najd regions known as Al-Quwai'iyah and expanded its influence in southern Najd, but Najd is subject to the rule Ibn Saud in the second Saudi state. Several historians have described Qahtan as It became one of the powerful tribes of Najd for a while and then left for its original home in the south.[3][4]

The Jahader branch of the Sanhan sub-tribe of Qahtan migrated to southern Najd from their homelands in Asir Region during the late 18th century and early 19th century under the leadership of Athfar al-Amaaj,Then they fought with an Alawite branch of the Mutair tribe at Jabal Subha in Al-Quwai'iyah, and Qahtan won in the battle and settled in Al-Quwaiyah, where they stayed for a period of time, then they returned to their homeland in the south because of the wars[5] [6] [4]

Migration of Bani HajerEdit


The Qahtan tribe is subdivided into three major branches: Sanhan سنحان, Junb جنب and Rufaida رفيدة each major branch is divided into many clans, each clan is divided into various families.

  • Sanhan The Sanhan tribe are as follows:
    • al-Habab
    • al-Jahader
    • Al al-Sari
    • Al Umar
  • Junb The Junb tribe are as follows:
  • Rufaida


Most Qahtanite tribes in Iraq (such as Shemmar, Dulaim, Juboor, etc.) do not belong to the Madh'hiji tribe of Qahtan. However, few tribes belonging to the aforementioned Madh'hiji tribe of Qahtan are present in Iraq, a prominent example being the Kobaisat tribal confederation. The Kobaisat (al-Kobaisi) migrated from Tathlith, modern southern Saudi Arabia in the 16th century and settled in Iraq. By the 18th century, many of the Kobaisat migrated to the growing pearl towns of northern Qatar and are a prominent tribe today in that country. The Kobaisat today in Iraq are a large tribal confederation that was also joined by non-Kobaisat tribes such as al-Buhaidar and al-Durai'at, and have formed their own town known as Kobaisa.[7] It must be noted that the Kobaisat are entirely independent from Qahtan and the only aspect linking the two tribes together today is ancestry. Some well known members of the Kobaisat tribe are Iraqi religious scholar Mohammed Alkobaisi and Ahmed al-Kobaisi, the latter whom is most famous for participating in anti-Salafist debate shows.


In Kuwait, Qahtan and its sub-tribe Bani Hajir have formed a well known alliance in National Assembly elections, being a part of the tribal bloc.[8] The Bani Hajir are among the largest tribal blocs to participate in the Kuwait National Assembly elections, consisting of 8150 voters in the 2016 election.[9]


Qahtan, specifically the Bani Hajer tribe, has taken a very prominent role in the Qatar peninsula ever since their migration to that country in the 18th century.

The Bani Hajers were infamous in the 19th century for their nomadic lifestyle, political and tribal alliances, and piratical activities in the Persian Gulf.[10] In fact, the vast majority of Bani Hajer inhabited the Qatar peninsula until around 1900 when most of the tribe migrated west to modern day Saudi Arabia in Al-Ahsa and Jubail after a dispute with the ruling Qatari Al Thani family. As a result of their loyalty and military service to Al Saud, in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia, the Bani Hajers were awarded settlement rights in an area known today as "Jawf Bani Hajer".[11] Branches of Qahtan such as al-Habab (known as al-Ehbabi in Qatar) also have a presence in that country but their fame is not nearly as recognized as that of Bani Hajer. One prominent Hajri personality in Qatar is Mozah Al Mesned, the mother of the current Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who belongs to the Al Muhannada branch of the Bani Hajer.[12]


Bahrain is a Gulf country that houses the tiniest number of Qahtanis compared to other Gulf countries, however, some members of the tribe have taken a relatively prominent role in the country. For example, the head of the Sunni Waqf Endowment Directorate is Rashid al-Hajri, a member of the Bani Hajer.[13] Offshoot Hajri families such Almuhannada also take a public role such as former Member of Parliament Hamad Almuhannadi.[14]

United Arab EmiratesEdit

Qahtan takes a noteworthy role in the United Arab Emirates, which however is not as large as Kuwait or Qatar. For example, a member of the Advisory Council to the Government of Sharjah is Abdulqader al-Hajri, a member of Bani Hajer.[15] The Bani Hajer were also historically allied with the al-Manasir tribe, which sometimes may claim descent from Bani Hajer based on their historical alliance.[2] Smaller families of Qahtan such as "al-Ehbabi" are also present in the country.

Notable membersEdit


  1. ^ Bedouin Ethnobotany: Plant Concepts and Uses in a Desert Pastoral World page 50
  2. ^ a b c Bedouin Ethnobotany: Plant Concepts and Uses in a Desert Pastoral World
  3. ^ Alexei Vassiliev The History of Saudi Arabia
  4. ^ a b ^ جامعة الملك سعود / قسم التاريخ - كلية الاداب
  5. ^ المصدر : كتاب تاريخ نجد – لابن غنام – صفحة 82
  6. ^ ج.ج لويمر ج 1 ص 499-500.
  7. ^ Administrator. "قبيلة الكبيسات".
  8. ^ "طلال السهلي: الالتزام في العهد وميثاق التحالف مع الهواجر وبني قحطان والعتبان والمطران".
  9. ^ "بالفيديو – قراءة في السجل الانتخابي للدائرة الخامسة: لأول مرة الرجال أكثر عدداً من النساء - القبس الإلكتروني".
  10. ^ دليل الخليج. الجزء الأول. المواد التاريخية والسياسية.
  11. ^ Bedouin Ethnobotany: Plant Concepts and Uses in a Desert Pastoral World page 48 and 49
  12. ^ "ناصر بن عبد الله المسند - المعرفة".
  13. ^ "صدور أمر ملكي بتعيين الشيخ راشد الهاجري رئيساً لمجلس الأوقاف السنية".
  14. ^ "الكتل النيابية تحت قبة البرلمان".
  15. ^ "إماراتيون يرفعون رسالة لحكام الإمارات تطالب بإصلاح كلي للنظام البرلماني : مواطن إماراتي مغلوب على أمره".
  16. ^