Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Arab Crows

The Arab Crows (أغربة العرب) are the famous Arab poets of the past who were so dark-skinned that their color resembled the color of a crow. Some of the Arab Crows lived in Pre-Islamic times and others lived during the period between Pre-Islamic times and Islamic times. Ibn Mandhour says in his book Lisan Al-Arab that the Arab Crows are Antarah, Khafaf ibn Nadba from the tribe of Sulaym, Abu Umair ibn Al-Hubaab from the tribe of Sulaym, Sulaik ibn Sulaka, Hisham ibn Uqba ibn Abi Mu'eet, Abdellah ibn Khaazim from the tribe of Sulaym, Umair ibn Abu Umair ibn Al-Hubaab from the tribe of Sulaym, Hammaam ibn Mutarraf from the tribe of Taghlib, Muntashir ibn Wahb Al-Baahili, Matar ibn Awfaa Al-Mazini, Taabbata Sharra, and Al-Shanfara. Many people today make the mistake of assuming that since these "Arab Crows" are so black-skinned, they must be descended from "Africans". For example, read what was said about Khaffaf ibn Nadba from the tribe of Sulaym:

قال خفاف بن ندبة - وهي أمه، وكانت حبشية..."

"Khafaf the son of Nadba - and Nadba was an Ethiopian slave-girl - said..."

This is what they say about Khafaf's mother, but the reality is his mother was a pure Arab from the tribe of Bani Al-Harith ibn Ka'ab. Ibn Sa'ad says in his book Al-Tabaqaat:

خفاف بن عمير

ابن الحارث بن شريد واسمه عمرو بن رباح بن يقظة بن عصية بن خفاف بن امرئ القيس بن بهثة بن سليم وكان شاعرا وهو الذي يقال له خفاف بن ندبة وهي أمة بها يعرف وهى ابنة الشيطان بن قنان سبية من بني الحارث بن كعب ويقال إن ندية كانت سوداء وشهد خفاف فتح مكة مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وكان معه لواء بني سليم الأخر‏.‏

"Khafaf the son of Umair the son of Al-Harith the son of Amru (Shuraid) the son of Rabbah the son of Yaqidha the son of Asiyya the son of Khafaf the son of Imr Al-Qais the son of Bahtha the son of Sulaym. He was a poet and was called Khafaf the son of Nadba and Nadba is a slave-girl and Khafaf was known by her. She (Nadba) is the daughter of Al-Shaytan the son of Qanan and she was captured from the tribe of Bani Al-Harith ibn Ka'ab. It is said that Nadba was black-skinned. Khafaf was present with the Prophet (SAWS) during the conquest of Mecca and he carried the flag of the tribe of Sulaym."

Ibn Hajar says in his book Al-Isaaba Fi Tamyeez Al-Sahaaba:

خفاف بن عمير بن الحارث بن الشريد

بن رياح بن يقظة بن عصية بن خفاف بن امرئ القيس بن بهثة بن سليم وهو المعروف بابن ندبة بنون وهي أمه قال بن الكلبي شهد الفتح وكان معه لواء بني سليم وكان شاعرًا مشهورا وقال الأصمعي شهد حنينًا وثبت على إسلامه في الردة وبقي إلى زمن عمر وقال أبو عبيدة أغار الحارث بن الشريد يعني جد خفاف هذا على بني الحارث بن كعب فسبي ندبة فوهبها لابنه عمير فولدت له خفافا فنسب إليها قال المرزباني هي ندبة بنت أبان بن شيطان بن قنان بن سلمة.

Khafaf the son of Umair the son of Al-Harith the son of Shuraid the son of Rabbah the son of Yaqidha the son of Asiyya the son of Khafaf the
son of Imr Al-Qais the son of Bahtha the son of Sulaym. He was a famous poet. Al-Asma'ee said that he was present at the battle of Hunain and that he remained a Muslim during period of apostasy and he was still alive during the reign of Umar. Abu Ubayda said that Al-Harith the son of Shuraid - the grandfather of Khafaf - raided the tribe of Bani Al-Harith ibn Ka'ab and captured Nadba and gave her to his son Umair and she gave birth to Khafaf through Umair and Khafaf was called the son of Nadba. Al-Mirzbaani says that she is Nadba the daughter of Abaan the son of Al-Shaytan the son of Qanan the son of Salama. Bani Al-Harith ibn Ka'ab is a large Arab tribe and Al-Harith ibn Ka'ab is the son of Amru the son of 'Illa the son of Khalid the son of Midhhaj.

Read what is said about another Arab Crow - Shanfara:

ويعني اسمه (غليظ الشفاه ) ، ويدل أن دماء حبشية كانت تجري فيه

"And his name means 'thick-lipped', which shows that Ethiopian blood ran through his veins."

Read what another person said is a reason that he hopes that Al-Shanfara is not from the Arab tribe of Shihr:

انه كان اسودا ونحن جميعا لآدم ولا فضل لاحد على احد الا بالتقوى ولكنه كان كافرا وفوق هذا من اصول افريقية اما من ناحية الاب او الام والعرب ليس فيهم السواد الوارد في الشنفرى

"...Because he (Al-Shanfara) was black-skinned - we are all from Adam and no one is any better than the next except according to piety - but he was an unbeliever and to make matters worse, he was of African origin either from his father or from his mother and the Arabs are not black-skinned like Al-Shanfara was described".

This is what they say about Al-Shanfara, but the truth of the matter is that his father was from the pure Arab tribe of Al-Azd and his mother was from the pure Arab tribe of Fahm. Read what Al-Shanfara said about himself:

"انا من خيار الحجر بيتاً ومنصباً ** وامي ابنة الاحرار لو تعرفينها"

"I am from the best of the clan of Hujr (a clan of the tribe of Al-Azd) in origin and status. And my mother is the daughter of the freemen - if you only knew her!"

There is also the Arab Crow Taabbata Sharra. His real name is Thaabi the son of Jaabir the son of Sufyan the son of 'Umaythil the son of 'Udayy the son of Ka'ab the son of Hazin the son of Tamim the son of Sa'ad the son of Fahm the son of Amru the son of Qais 'Ailan the son of Mudar the son of Nizaar. His mother - Umayma - was from the Bani Qain branch of the Arab tribe of Fahm the son of Amru the son of Qais 'Ailan the son of Mudar the son of Nizaar.

As you can see, Taabbata Sharra, too, was a pure Arab from the pure Arab tribe of Fahm.


  1. Salaams Tariq,

    Great post, the misconceptions are quite sad and dangerous. Invaluable information! I will keep on circulating this information.



  2. Salaams Yao. Yes. Very serious misconceptions. Thanks!

  3. The Arab as Known to the Greeks and Romans

    In the days of Mohammed and the Roman colonisation’s of Palestine, North Arabia and Africa, the term Arab was much more than a nationality. It specifically referred to peoples whose appearance, customs and language were the same as the nomadic peoples on the African side of the Red Sea. In fact, the term included the populations of the Red Sea in Africa. Some now think that the word Arab is a word literally meaning nomad, although the word has never been used to refer exclusively to nomads.
    According to ancient southern Arabian inscriptions the word Araab or Arribi, was a name of the Himyarite tribes of the Yemen in the Bab el Mandeb area.
    Before the spread of Islam, there lived in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, Northern Syria, Iraq and Hadramaut, nomads who were nearly as “black’’ as the Moors they later conquered and converted to Islam.
    Because the word Mauri had come to signify a man of black or nearly black complexion, the Arab who invaded Northern Africa came also to be referred to as “Moorish.” These lesser modified occupants of Arabia were and are described in Arabic as “akhdar” or “black”.
    This word originally signified that which is like the colour of a type of iron which was greenish black. Thus, such things that are black or very dark like iron, or like the night, are often described in early Arab writings as “akhdar” which literally means “green” but signifies something black. The peoples of Chad, until the Europeans colonised the area sang of Tunis, the “akhdar” in memory of the presence of the dark Complexioned Arabs who once ruled there.

  4. According to Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman general of the 4th century A.D., the Bedouin populations of southern Syria and the Arabian peninsula, whom the Romans called Saracens (derived from Sarah or Sahra meaning desert nomads), were peoples “whose primary origin was derived from the cataracts of the Nile on the borders of the Blemmyes.” The Blemmyes or Bedja are a people located then and now in the deserts east of the Nile in Sudan.
    They rode on camels and like the Moors were particularly notorious for their hit and run raids from the desert fringes. They were lightly clad, dressed in tunics only to the waist, and were experts at pillaging for which reason Ammianus claimed they were “not good to have as, friend or foe.”
    A stratum of peoples of relatively recent African origin extended into Asia. The evidence of linguistics, archaeology, physical remains and ethnohistory support the observations and descriptions we find in the histories of the Greeks and Romans and in later Iranian documents about the nomadic Arabians of that early era. The Arabs were the direct progeny and kinsmen of the dark brown, gracile and kinky haired “Ethiopic peoples that first spread over the desert areas of Nubia and Egypt.

  5. Before the middle of the 2nd millennium they were located along the Mediterranean coast in Turkey, Europe and the Arabian Peninsula. In their least modified form they may be found now settled in the Horn of Africa, the southern Sahara and remote parts of Arabia.
    These people spoke languages belonging to a group that linguists now call Eritrean or Afro Asiatic (formerly called “hamito semitic”). The dialects are spoken predominantly in the Horn of Africa, North Africa and the Middle East. They include the dialects called Cushitic, Omotic, Ethiopic or Ethio-Semitic. The latter grouping is descended from ancient dialects of Arabia, which in turn have their roots in Africa. In North Africa the dialects include the Berber and Arabic (which is a late comer to Africa and the last evolved of the African Asiatic dialects). They also include the ancient Semitic dialects of Syria and Mesopotamia as well as the language of ancient Egypt, which some scholars considered to be “proto semitic.”

    The early Semitic dialects include those called Akkadian, Amorite, Armenean, Canaanite, Hebrew and South Arabic. Other North Syrian peoples indigenous to Asia, however, also adopted the language of the original Semitic speakers. These latter seem to have been predominantly fairskinned; broad headed, prominent nosed people who came to predominate in Northern Syria, Northern Armenia and Mesopotamia, especially those populations of the areas anciently called Assyria and Elam. They were in custom and origin much different from the people of the desert, who could claim an African origin when the Romans fought them in Syria and Arabia centuries after Christ.

    Some of the most prominent linguists today have suggested that the Semitic languages and culture originated in Ethiopia and spread from there to South West Asia.’ It was long ago pointed out that Egyptian seemed to be a proto-Semitic dialect and that the Cushitic languages of the area of Sudan and Ethiopia possessed the seeds for the Semitic dialects. And although modern Ethio Semitic dialects seem to be descended from those of the Abyssinian, Sabaean and Himyaritic immigrants who colonised parts of Ethiopia and Somalia, about 500 B.C., recent studies show that Semitic languages have been spoken in Ethiopia for at least four thousand years.

  6. Rock art and the stone or lithic industry of the Rub al Khalil or Empty Quarter (Central desert in Saudi Arabia) seem to point also to Somalia and the Horn of Africa as the area from which a wave of sheepherding people emigrated to Arabia during the period between 5,000 and 4,000 B.C.

    The people portrayed in this art have been described by Emmanuel Anati, an archaeological specialist, who has written on the drawing, as “Negroid.” The extent of this rock art however, stretched to the Persian Gulf area in the west and to the Asia region areas along the Red Sea south of Mecca in the East, and has some affiliation with certain early cultures of Mesopotamia.

    The art also shows some elements of similarity with rock art of the Chalcolithic period in the south Syrian desert and the Gerzean paintings in Southern Egypt.

    One early specialist in Egyptian rock art and glyphs suggested they were essentially the same as the art of peoples dwelling in the hills and deserts East of the Nile.’ Similar depictions of dark skinned men and other elements reminiscent of the early predynastic Egyptian culture appear in the Jebel Kara area where several of the tribes still resemble the peoples of the Nubian desert called Bedja as well as other Cushitic and Ethiopic speaking peoples in Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea.

    The Sahara or Sahra whose name was made famous through the story of Sha’razad, still live in Jebel Kara and the hills of Dthufar in Oman. These Afro Semitic people, according to Sir Richard Burton the famous “Orientalist” explorer, are a people with low brows and black skins, with frail and slender frames. According to Bertram Thomas these people, who speak some of the oldest living Arab dialects, resemble the Cushites called Bedja, now living in the deserts east of the Nile in Sudan and Ethiopia.

    Such people appear in isolation further to the North of the peninsula as well as in Iran where they apparently called themselves Lam.

    The men in the Arabian rock art wore small beards like those in Sahara rock art. They also wore headdresses and used throwing sticks. The ostrich, the shield, the staff and the phallus are often portrayed. These were apparently sacred symbols, which often have totemic significance today among pastoral people in Africa especially in the Sahel and Cushitic areas. They carried on ceremonies, associated with the ox and the phallus. They practised mock battle similar to that of the Cushitic and the Nilo-Saharan peoples of east Africa. The men portrayed in the art of the Arabian Desert, in fact, bear great resemblance to the slender and lightly bearded nomads, which appeared in the same epoch in the Sahara.

  7. G. Elliot Smith, who early recognised the ancient prevalence of the “Nubian” or “Abyssinian” type of man in the Near and Middle East which he named the “brown race” was a specialist in physical anthropology and had studied the osteological remains of the Middle East and Africa. Smith asserted that there was good reason to believe that the early inhabitants of Arabia and southern Syria were essentially the same, osteologically speaking, as the A group population of Nubia. He was also adamant about his belief that the modern Cushitic speakers of Ethiopia and the early inhabitants of ancient Egypt were genetically related.”

    Though still inhabiting the southern deserts and some of the mountainous areas of Oman, these slender “dark brown” pastoral tribes are not very numerous in Arabia today. It is this small, African type that Kramer, the founder of Sumerian studies, talked about when he spoke of the “brown” man that occupied Sumer.

    In Jebel Djezan, in modern day Saudi Arabia people indistinguishable from modern Eritreans live. The houses they build are also similar to those found in Eritrea.

    In modern day Yemen live the Murad, mentioned as a Himyarite tribe in early inscriptions. Several other tribes of this ancient Afro Semitic stock-still dwell in the desert and coastal areas of the peninsula. Their customs in many cases are like those of the Abyssinians.
    Such types in Arabia are represented in tribes like the Harb who dwell North of Mecca.

    Not long ago Sir Richard Francis Burton in his travels to Arabia met men from the Harb tribe, who were the ruling clan of the Hejaz. He describes them in the personal narrative of his pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, as having attenuated limbs, a “chocolate brown” complexion and “bushy hair” with “screaming voices.”

    He called them the ruling clan of the Hejaz area, which is the area of Mecca, an early Muslim town.

    The Harb, who dwelt in the Northern Hejaz when visited by explorer Burton, are by tradition the descendants of the Ghassan or Assanite Saracens described by Roman writers like Ammianus Marcellinus.

    The Hamida, the largest clan of the Harb, are mentioned in ancient South Arabic inscriptions. Hamida are also found in modern Sudan.
    The Beni Harb, according to Arab genealogy, were also related to those Arabs that invaded North Africa in the llth century called Qays, Ailan, Banu Suleman and Hilalieen.

    Thus it was that a few centuries after Ammianus Marcellinus wrote, men of this sort proclaiming themselves followers of Mohammed left the Arabian peninsula, the area of the Hejaz and Yemen, lands which they had inhabited for some 4,000 years.

    They invaded the countries to the North and North East of them, turning the speech of those lands to the speech that is called Arab, and the culture of those lands in part to the Afro Semitic culture. Ever since then most Muslims who speak the language of the “akhdar” Mohammedans, have been referred to as Arab.

  8. In the 1500s, Jews called Anaiza lived in the hills of Khaibar (ancient capital of Judaism in Arabia). They are now found in both North and South Arabia and were described by an Italian explorer as “black, though some are blacker than others,” with voices like women. They “flayed alive” any Muslim who came within their midst.’ ‘

    They are by tradition descendants of those who fled Judaea at the time of Bukht al Nasur or Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldeo Babylon king who invaded their land.

    The early desert population’s of Arabia and Africa were for the most part derived from Africans who seem to have undergone a specialised physical development having evolved in hot, dry regions in, the late stone age.
    Many of the Eritrean looking men of Arabia and those in Africa inappropriately named “hamites” by European academia are often found, in areas where Temperatures soar, above 120 degrees.

    They tend to be very Slender with gracile bones and attenuated limbs skin, though dark brown or black Brown, tends to have a strong reddish hue which is thought, also to be due to the ecological pressures of the environment in pentaganoid shaped faces are common. Narrow noses and little or no Prognathism, are typical and associated with the modified aspect of their facial and cranial morphology. These characteristics, once presumed to be a legacy of a non Negroid or Caucasoid intermixture, are now attributed, by some population biologists and geneticists, to the ancient adaptation of Africoids to certain specific, ecological factors including the change to the Neolithic diet in combination with dwelling in exceedingly hot, dry habitats.

    Thus the indigenous or “black” tribes of Arabia were those who in ancient times emigrated from Africa during the Neolithic era, approximately four to five thousand BC., and were the earliest purveyors and disperses of the Semitic dialects especially of the early Semitic which prevailed in the area of Syria and Mesopotamia as well.

    This is to say, the “Saracens” that Ammianus Marcellinus saw were dwelling in Arabia for at least three to four thousand years before he encountered them. They were not only familiar with the desert but had been involved in the creation of some of the earliest so called “Semitic” civilisations.

    Some like the Thamudenioi or Temaii are mentioned as desert dwellers in Assyrian texts of the 7th century BC.

    They are mentioned along with a tribe called Sabaai, who were in fact the Sabaeans of southern Arabia and Masaai who were perhaps the Macae Saracens of Mesopotamia mentioned by the Romans of centuries later. Their cattle and camels were “without number.”

  9. The Agareni or Hagar whom Ammianus, St. Jerome and others spoke of, were probably the same tribe mentioned thousands of years earlier in an inscription of the Persian Gulf area on an island called Dilmun. There were those of the Saracens who had emigrated North from the southern parts of Arabia after some ecological catastrophe had caused the breaking of the dam in the Sabaean civilisation. Such people were the Assanites or the “akhdar” Ghassanids and Lihyanites of early texts. Others like the Nabataeans of Petra were in fact known as Amorites until a late period.
    By Arabic historical tradition they were descendants of Nimrod and Kush who were said to have come to Jordan after having left the ‘Chatt el Arab’ area of present day Iraq or what was then known as Babylon.

    It must be said here that early Greeks and Romans did not usually distinguish ethnically between the people called Saracens and the inhabitants of southern Arabia (the Yemen) which was called India Minor or Little India in those days, nor southern Arabians from the inhabitants of the Horn of Africa.

    What differences there were between them were more cultural and environmental than anything else.

    Strabo, around the Ist century BC, Philostratus and other writers, speak of the area east of the Nile in Africa as “Arabia” and the people are persistently and indiscriminately and sometimes simultaneously referred to as either Arabs, Indians or Ethiopians, just as native Americans in Central and North America are characteristically grouped under a single term as “Indians.”

    Strabo even went so far as to say that the peoples called “Troglodytes” the indigenous of the ancient Horn should not be called “Ethiopians” as they were really “Arabs.”
    Although the ancients were aware of the movement of peoples like the Habeshan (Beshmat) and Sabaeans from the Arabian peninsula to the Horn a few centuries before the Christian era (a movement fairly well documented by archaeologists), it is clear from the ancient writings on the “Arabs” that the peoples of the Arabian peninsula and the non-immigrant, indigenous nomads Of the Horn were considered ethnically one and the same and thought to have originated in areas near the cataracts of the Nile. Trogodytes (Bedja) were said to have lived on both sides of the Red Sea.

  10. Several southern Arab peoples like the Himyarites of Yemen who are sometimes referred to as Ethiopians and the Maddenioi or Madiei of the Hejaz Asir, were considered Saracens by Procopius. Such people had strong commercial ties with Africa through the Red Sea trade.
    It is hard to imagine that the people on the Arabian coast on the western side of the Red sea called in ancient inscriptions Madiei were not in some way related to those men called in ancient times Madjai or Madjayu (the Egyptologists’ rendering of the name) on the eastern or African side of the Red Sea.

    The Medjayu are mentioned before 2,000 BC and appear as late as Roman times in Egyptian texts as truculent desert nomads.

    They are presently considered to be ancestral to modern Bedja or Cushites.

    The latter (Madjai) carried on a great caravan trade with Egypt as late as the days of the Romans and the former (Madiei) were considered incense traders. According to Josephus, Cleodemus and later writers, a Madan gave birth to the founders of tribes called Afran or Afra, and Abida and Havila, ludadas and Raama whose descendants crossed over into Libya.

    In fact, these could be none other than the Abida, Afren, sons of Midian of Genesis fame. Josephus makes Madan, the brother of Midian, father of the two tribes.

  11. According to later traditions, Afra also known as Ifrikus or Fariq crossed over the Nile and conquered the indigenous of North Africa, founding many tribes of Berbers and naming Africa. Interestingly enough, the tribe of Abida inhabits the south Arabian area and directly across from Yemen in the Horn of Africa, a Cushitic tribe called Afar dwells in Djibouti and Eritrea. Avalis or Havila was known as the country of the Troglodytes and is now known as Zeila. It is located in modern Somalia. (More will be said about these traditions and the Troglodytes and the Bedja later.)

    The Berbers of the Romans

    The word Berber is utilised to describe present day inhabitants of North Africa who speak a pre Islamic North African dialect. They represent highly amalgamated peoples varying in appearance and morphology. Modern day “Berbers, however modified by racial intermixture, still speak a language related to other indigenous dialects of Northern and Eastern Africa. Their language has been suggested to have some Semitic elements and Indo-European words as well. But while many of the modern day tribes denoted by scholars as “Berbers” have a strong “Caucasoid” element biologically speaking (especially those in the northern regions of North Africa), the ancient Berbers were evidently more African than they were European and as such, were often spoken of as “Ethiopians.”


    Compiled by Runoko Rashidi

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  14. you mean Arabised Arabs..get a life and ID and be proud of you African origin from Africa.

    You have a complex and need help

  15. Arabised balck African ex slaves who are considered as Ara as you wish Thanx to Mohammad.

    Some of the oldest and purest mixed Arabs, obvious difference:

    purest Arabs;interesting you see a man with strait hair that is plated

    Get over it and accept these people are the true Arabs NOT YOU

  16. The following appears in the foot note of an article by a Professor at a Ankara University in Turkey. The published article is entitled Al-Shanfara Lamiyyatu’l Arab and the Horrors of Desert Traveling "Little is known about al-Shanfara of Azd beyond what his surviving poems tell. It is, however, certain that the poet belonged to a stock of the Yemenite tribe called al-Azd , and probably to the clan of it called al-Hijr. His father's name is not mentioned, although according to a verse attributed to him in al-Aghani by al- Isbahani, he claimed to be of noble parentage on the side of both father and mother. This seems unlikely; probably he had African blood in his veins, since one of the interpretations given of his name is that it means 'thick-lipped'.

    Note that even though Shanfara is from the Azd tribe of al Hajr (Hagar) which is notoriously black in Western tradition (like the Azd were in the Hadiths) a the Professor doubts whether Shanfara is purely Arab.

    Most Azd tribesin Arabia including the Bayt Kathir (Keturah who became Hagar) still resemble the Ethiopians.

  17. Vixi,

    Why don't you come to our forum and discuss this. Please do.

  18. Vixi,

    Why did you run away and not respond here: