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16. Who Started Islam: Abraham or the Arabs?
Chapter 4. Who were the Arabs that started Islam?

4.4. Who were the first ancestors of the Arabs?

In addition to these non-Arab elements in the Islam that was started by the Arabs, we now look at the first ancestors of the Arabs to appreciate another problem concerning the origin of Islam. In the Koran there are no verses, in which we could find an answer to this question as to who the first ancestors of the Arabs were. The Arabs are taken for granted and therefore the Koran came primarily in Arabic, because the language of the Arabs is thought to have dominated Arabia at the time of Muhammad.

4.4a) Where can we find an answer to this question about the first Arabians? Of course, in the oldest scripture available to us today: in the Tawrat Musa (the Hebrew Torah of Moses), which was written around 2200 years before the Arabic Koran (i.e. around the year 1600 BC when Moses lived). In addition to the Suhuf Musa (sacred pages of Moses in Exodus 1 to Deuteronomy 32) and the Suhuf Ibrahim (sacred pages of Abraham in Genesis 11 to 25), which we have mentioned above, we find in this Hebrew Tawrat Musa the Suhuf Adam (sacred pages of Adam in Genesis 2 to 5), the Suhuf Nuuh (sacred pages of Noah in Genesis 6 to 11), the Suhuf Ishaaq (sacred pages of Isaac in Genesis 24 to 26), the Suhuf Ya'quub (sacred pages of Jacob in Genesis 26 to 36), as well as the Suhuf Yuusuf (sacred pages of Joseph in Genesis 37 to 50). If we turn to the Suhuf Nuuh we will find hints about who the first Arabs were.

There were two main events in the life of Nuuh (Noah): the flood (called tuufaan in the Ara­bic Koran and which is actually a Hebrew word) and the emergence of languages.

According to the Suhuf Nuuh (Genesis 6 to 11) there is no doubt that the flood was a global flood (the details are recorded in Genesis 6:9 to 8:19). This greatest catastrophe, which the earth has seen so far, changed the face of the earth completely, first through the incredible water masses, which flooded the surface of the earth, and then through the incredible forces of the huge amounts of water, which receded into the basins of present-day oceans. This means that the Arabian Peninsula did not exist before the flood and its form as well as most of its rocks were formed during the one-year global flood. This Noah and his family escaped, because they had obeyed God and had built an ark, in which they and some animals were saved from the destruction of all human and animal life on earth.

4.4b) The first Arabians in the Suhuf Nuuh of the Tawrat Musa: The second most important catastrophe among humans was the emergence of differing languages among them (for details see Genesis 11:1-9). In the beginning all the family of Noah and all their descendants spoke one and the same language. But then Noah's descendants wanted to build a tower, which reached to heaven, so as to become like God. Therefore, God in a different kind of judgment on the descendants of Noah descended to earth and confounded the language of the people, so that they could no longer understand each other. This is how the first differing languages on earth came about. It is not sure if Arabic was among them, or if Arabic later developed from its precursors like so many other languages in our world today. The name of this language "Arabic" does not appear in the Hebrew Suhuf Nuuh (sacred pages of Noah), however we have an indirect way to find out, who the first inhabitants of Arabia were. This we find in Genesis 10, where the first descendants of Noah's sons Shem, Ham and Japheth are listed from the time after the global flood.

In this list we read about the sons of Shem, the first son of Noah: "21 And to Shem also (offspring) were born, the father of all the children of ‘Eber, the elder brother of Japheth. 22 The sons of Shem: ‘Elam and Asshur and Arpachshad and Lud and Araam. 23 And the sons of Araam: ‘Uz and Hul and Gether and Mash. 24 And Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered ‘Eber. 25 And to ‘Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joqtaan. 26 And Joqtaan fathered Almodaad and Sheleph and Hazarmaaweth and Jaarah 27 and Hadoram and Uzaal and Diqlaah 28 and ‘Ubaal and Abimaael and Shebaa 29 and Ophir and Hawilaah and Joobaab; all these were sons of Joqtaan. 30 The territory in which they lived extended from Meeshaa in the direction of Sephaar, the mountains of the east. 31 These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, by their languages, in their lands, and by their peoples." (Genesis 10:21-31) Shem is the father of the Semites with their Semitic languages, of which Hebrew and Arabic are two member languages. Among the descendants of Shem, we here highlight especially two, because of their links to the Arabian Peninsula: Hazarmaaweth and Shebaa. The name of the first of these two descendants in the fifth generation after Shem, namely Hazarmaaweth, is used to call the region in the extreme south of the Arabian Peninsula, today called Hadramawt. This region today is in the border area connecting Oman with Yemen. The name of the second of these two, namely Shebaa, was used to name one of the pre-Islamic peoples of south-western Arabia including their region of settlement, which today is located in Yemen. They had a famous kingdom and their queen, the queen of Sheba, visited Solomon more than 1000 years later (see 1 Kings 10:1-13 and Sura al-Naml 27:22-43). So at least for these two descendants of Shem in the Suhuf Nuuh (scripture pages of Noah) we can indirectly infer, that the earliest residents of the extreme south of the Arabian Peninsula not long after the flood were descendants of Shems great-great-grandson Yoqtaan. But the Suhuf Nuuh give no information about whether they spoke Arabic or not.

More than 2400 years later this information from the Hebrew Suhuf Nuuh (scripture pages of Noah) in the Tawrat Musa (Torah of Moses) was taken up by Muslim Narrations after the advent of Arab Islam (starting in 610 AD). We will again restrict our attention to the three Muslim Narrations that we used above: the collections by Ibn Sa'd, Bukhari and Tabari.

4.4c) The first Arabians in KITAB AL-TABAQAT by Ibn Sa'd (who died in 845 AD): Most of the names of the sons and descendants of Noah (found in the Suhuf Nuuh as listed above) have been adopted by Ibn Sa'd in his collection of historical Muslim Narrations (Hadith). This was wise of him to do, because he lived around 2400 years after the Suhuf Nuuh were written by Moses. For it would have been impossible for Ibn Sa'd to report trustworthy information, if he only would have relied on Narrations of his time or even of the time of Muhammad, who died 200 years before him. However, Ibn Sa'd did not mention that these names appear in the Hebrew Suhuf Nuuh and his informants Arabicized and expanded the lists of names of the Suhuf Nuuh to include those names, which were believed to have led to the first Arabs. Here is what he compiled: "He (Ibn Sa'd) said: Khalid Ibn Kidash Ibn 'Ijlan informed us: 'Abd Allah Ibn Wahb informed us on the authority of Mu'awiyah Ibn Salih, he on the authority of Yahya Ibn Sa'id, he on the authority of Sa'id Ibn al-Musayyig; he said: Nuh (Noah) begot three sons Saam (Shem), Haam (Ham) and Yaafith (Japheth). And Jurhum, Jurhum's name was Hadhuram (Hadoram) Ibn 'Aamir (?) Ibn Sabaa (Shebaa) Ibn Yaqtan (Joqtaan) Ibn 'Aabir (‘Eber) Ibn Shaalikh (Shelah) Ibn Arfakhshad (Arpachshad) Ibn Saam (Shem) Ibn Nuuh (Noah); and Hadramawt (Hazarmaweth) was Ibn Yaqtan (Joqtaan) Ibn 'Aabir (‘Eber) Ibn Shaalikh (Shelah); and Yaqtan (Joqtaan) is the same as Qahtan Ibn 'Aabir (‘Eber) Ibn Shaalikh (Shelah) Ibn Arfakhshad (Arpachshad) Ibn Saam (Shem) Ibn Nuuh (Noah) according to the narration of those who assign a different lineage than that of Isma'il to him. 'Imliq (the same as 'Arib) and Tasim and Amim are the sons of Ludh (Lud) Ibn Saam (Shem) Ibn Nuuh (Noah) It is said that 'Imliq was the first person to speak Arabic when his people had migrated from Babil (Babylon). They along with the Jurhumites were known as the al-'Arab al-'Aaaribah (i.e. the true or original Arabs). …" (Quoted from: Ibn Sa'd's Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir. English translation by S. Moinul Haq. Volume 1, pages 32-33. Additions in brackets are by us.) -- According to this narration by founders of Arab Islam after the time of Muhammad, the first Arabs were sons of Shem through two of his sons: through Shem's third son Arpachshad (for the Jurhumites, who ruled northwestern Arabia, including Hijaz) and through Shem's fourth son Lud (for the Imliqites, literally meaning in Arabic the "giants", who ruled southwestern Arabia, including Yaman). Ibn Sa'd does not give us any pre-Islamic sources for these names. Most of his names are from the Hebrew Suhuf Nuuh in the Tawrat Musa and therefore can be trusted as much as one can trust the Tawrat Musa. However, the descendants of Sheba (son of Joqtaan) as the forefathers of the Jurhumites and the descendants of Lud (son of Shem) as the forefathers of the Imliqites are additions in Ibn Sa'd's book to what we find in the Hebrew Suhuf Nuuh of the Tawrat Musa. How can you trust information written 200 years after the death of Muhammad about events more than 3200 years before, without having reliable sources, like the Tawrat Musa? This is the reason, why Ibn Sa'd himself is aware of the fact that the details connected with the earliest Arabs were viewed differently by other authorities. We will come to these, because they are connected with the question about whether Abraham and Ishmael were Arabs or not (see section 4.5. below).

4.4d) The first Arabians in the SAHIH BUKHARI (who died in 870 AD): Of all these names Bukhari only mentions Nuuh, i.e. Noah (see the beginning of his chapter 60 on Prophets). This way Bukhari remained faithful to the Koran, which has no information about the names of the sons of Noah or of their descendants and no information about the earliest Arabs. This is understandable, because Bukhari was more concerned with legal matters of the Shari'a than with historical matters.

4.4e) The first Arabians in the HISTORY OF TABARI (who died in 923 AD): Contrary to Bukhari, but similar to Ibn Sa'd, all the names quoted from the Hebrew Suhuf Nuuh of the Tawrat Musa above were adopted by Tabari. And like Ibn Sa'd, Tabari equally had to add new names to the list from the Hebrew Suhuf Nuuh in order to present those descendants of Noah, who were believed my Arab Muslims as being the first to be called Arabs. Here is what he compiled: "We have mentioned earlier that Allah's messenger (i.e. Muhammad), (commenting on Sura al-Saffat 37:77 that Noah's descendants are those who survived the flood) said that' they (Noah's descendants) are Shem, Ham and Japheth. 'According to Ibn Humayd from Salamah from Ibn Ishaq in the Hadith: The wife of Shem ibn Noah was Salib bint Batawil ibn Mehujael ibn Enoch ibn Cain ibn Adam, who bore him several male offspring: Aspachshad ibn Shem, Asschur ibn Shem, Lud ibn Shem, and Elam ibn Shem. Shem also had Aram ibn Shem. I (Ibn Ishaq) do not know whether Aram was from the same mother as Arpachshad and his brothers or not. Returning to the account of Ibn Ishaq: Lud ibn Shem ibn Noah married Sakbah bint Japheth ibn Noah, and she bore him Faris and Jurjan, and the races of Faris (Persians). In addition to the Persians, Lud begat Tasm and 'Imliq, but I do not know whether the latter was by the mother of the Persians or not. 'Imliq was the progenitor of the Amalekites, who were dispersed throughout the land. The people of the East and those of 'Uman (Oman), of the Hijaz, of Syria, and of Egypt are all descended from him. From them, too, came the giants in Syria who were called Canaanites, the Pharaos of Egypt, and the people of Bahrayn and 'Uman from whom the nation (ummah) called the Jasim is descended. The inhabitants of al-Madinah are descended from them The people of Najd were from them and the same is true for the people of Tayma' According to al-Harith from Muhammad bin Sa'd from Hisham bin Muhammad his father: Jurhum's name was Hadhram ibn Eber ibn Siba ibn Joktan ibn Eber ibn Shelah ibn Arpachshad ibn Shem ibn Noah. Joktan was Qahtan ibn Eber ibn Shelah ibn Arpachshad ibn Shem ibn Noah, according to the words of whoever ascribed him to someone other than Ishmael. It is said that 'Imliq was the first to speak Arabic when they departed from Babylon. They and Jurhum were called the 'aribah Arabs (i.e. the true or original Arabs)." (Quoted from: The History of al-Tabari. Volume 2: Prophets and Patriarchs, translated and annotated by William M. Brinner, New York, 1987, pages 10-18.) -- Again according to these narrations from the Arab founders of Islam after Muhammad, the first Arabs were regarded as descendants from two different sons of Shem: from Shem's fourth son Lud (for the Imliqs, who spread to the whole Arabian peninsula and even to Syria and Egypt according to Tabari's sources) and from Shem's third son Arpachshad (for the Jurhumites, whose area of settlement is not described here by Tabari). Notice that some details differ significantly between what Tabari and what Ibn Sa'd compiled. An example is that Tabari quoted Narrations, according to which both the Arabs and the Persians were descended from Shem, because Noah's grandson Lud (from Shem) is said to have married Noah's granddaughter Sakbah (from Japheth), thus uniting the two lineages of Shem and Japheth to produce both the Arabs (Shem's lineage) and the Persians (Japheth's lineage). This was convenient at a time, when the Arab Muslim Empire of the Abbasids in Tabari's time united both the Arab and the Persian heartlands. Thus, what we said about Ibn Sa'd must be repeated here. How can you trust information written by Tabari 300 years after the death of Muhammad about events more than 3300 years before, without having reliable sources, like the Hebrew Tawrat Musa? This was the reason that Tabari, like Ibn Sa'd, had to admit that there were authorities, who had different ideas about the earliest ancestors of the first Arabs. And Tabari again connects them with the question as to whether Abraham and Ishmael were Arabs or not.

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