Ghassanids

Last updated

Ghassanids

الغساسنة
220–638
Ghassanid kingdom.jpg
Capital Jabiyah
Common languages Arabic
Religion
Christianity
GovernmentMonarchy
History 
 Established
220
 Annexed by Rashidun Caliphate
638
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Arabia Petraea
Rashidun Caliphate Blank.png

The Ghassanids (Arabic : الغساسنة, romanized: al-Ghasāsinah, also Banū Ghassān "Sons of Ghassān") were a pre-Islamic Arab tribe which founded an Arab kingdom. They immigrated from Yemen in the early 3rd century to the Levant region. [1] [2] Some merged with Hellenized Christian communities, [3] converting to Christianity in the first few centuries AD, while others may have already been Christians before emigrating north to escape religious persecution. [2] [4]

Contents

After settling in the Levant, the Ghassanids became a client state to the Byzantine Empire and fought alongside them against the Persian Sassanids and their Arab vassals, the Lakhmids. [1] [4] The lands of the Ghassanids also acted as a buffer zone protecting lands that had been annexed by the Romans against raids by Bedouin tribes.

Few Ghassanids became Muslim following the Muslim conquest of the Levant; most Ghassanids remained Christian and joined Melkite and Syriac communities within what is now Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria and Lebanon. [2]

Migration from Yemen

Oral tradition holds that the Ghassanids came from the city of Ma'rib in South Arabia and its surrounding cities and towns, modern day Yemen. [5] Tradition holds that their exodus from the area was primarily due to the destruction of the Marib Dam, the story of which is detailed in the eponymous 34th chapter of the Quran. [6] The Arabic proverb “They were scattered like the people of Saba” refers to that exodus in history.[ citation needed ] Migration did also occur in different waves, another prominent wave being the prosecution of Christian Arabs by Dhu Nawas [7] and the mass graves where many who did not escape were buried alive – the same is recited in the Quran and referred to "Aṣḥāb al-Ukhdūd" (أصحاب الأخدود). [8] The date of the migration to the Levant is unclear, but they are believed to have arrived in the region of Syria between 250-300 AD and later waves of migration circa 400 AD. [5] Their earliest appearance in records is dated to 473 AD, when their chief Amorkesos signed a treaty with the Eastern Roman Empire acknowledging their status as foederati controlling parts of Palestine. He apparently became Chalcedonian at this time. By the year 510, the Ghassanids were no longer Miaphysite, but Chalcedonian. [9] They became the leading tribe among the Arab foederati, such as Banu Amela and Banu Judham.

Ghassanid Kingdom

Roman vassal

Near East in 565 AD, showing the Ghassanids and their neighbors. NE 565ad.jpg
Near East in 565 AD, showing the Ghassanids and their neighbors.

After originally settling in the Levant, the Ghassanids became a client state to the Eastern Roman Empire. The Romans found a powerful ally in the Ghassanids who acted as a buffer zone against the Lakhmids. In addition, as kings of their own people, they were also phylarchs, native rulers of client frontier states. [10] [11] The capital was at Jabiyah in the Golan Heights. Geographically, it occupied much of the eastern Levant, and its authority extended via tribal alliances with other Azdi tribes all the way to the northern Hijaz as far south as Yathrib (Medina). [12] [13]

Byzantine–Persian Wars

The Ghassanids fought alongside the Byzantine Empire against the Persian Sassanids and Arab Lakhmids. [4] The lands of the Ghassanids also continually acted as a buffer zone, protecting Byzantine lands against raids by Bedouin tribes. Among their Arab allies were the Banu Judham and Banu Amela.

The tower of the Ghassanid king Arethas son of Jabala Alheeralgharbi.jpg
The tower of the Ghassanid king Arethas son of Jabala

The Eastern Roman Empire was focused more on the East and a long war with the Persians was always their main concern. The Ghassanids maintained their rule as the guardian of trade routes, policed Lakhmid tribes and was a source of troops for the imperial army. The Ghassanid king al-Harith ibn Jabalah (reigned 529–569) supported the Byzantines against Sassanid Persia and was given in 529 by the emperor Justinian I, the highest imperial title that was ever bestowed upon a foreign ruler; also the status of patricians. [14] [15] In addition to that, al-Harith ibn Jabalah was given the rule over all the Arab allies of the Byzantine Empire. [16] Al-Harith was a Miaphysite Christian; he helped to revive the Syrian Miaphysite (Jacobite) Church and supported Miaphysite development despite Orthodox Byzantium regarding it as heretical. Later Byzantine mistrust and persecution of such religious unorthodoxy brought down his successors, al-Mundhir (reigned 569–582) and Nu'man.

The Ghassanids, who had successfully opposed the Persian allied Lakhmids of al-Hirah (Southern modern-day Iraq), prospered economically and engaged in much religious and public building; they also patronized the arts and at one time entertained the Arabian poets Nabighah adh-Dhubyani and Hassan ibn Thabit at their courts. [1]

Islamic conquest

The Ghassanids remained a Byzantine vassal state until its rulers and the eastern Byzantine Empire were overthrown by the Muslims in the 7th century, following the Battle of Yarmuk in 636 AD. At the time of the Muslim conquest the Ghassanids were no longer united by the same Christian faiths: some of them accepted union with the Byzantine Chalcedonian church; others remained faithful to Miaphysitism and a significant number of them maintained their Christian religious identity and decided to side with the Muslim armies to emphasize their loyalty to their Arabic roots and in recognition of the wider context of a rising Arab Empire under the veil of Islam. It is worth noting that a significant percentage of the Muslim armies in the Battle of Mu'tah (معركة مؤتة) were Christian Arabs.[ citation needed ] Several of those Christian Arab tribes in today's modern Jordan who sided with the Muslim armies were recognized by exempting them from paying jizya (جزية). Jizya is a form of tax paid by non-Muslims – Muslims paid another form of tax called Zakah (زكاة). Later those who remained Christian joined Melkite Syriac communities. The remnants of the Ghassanids were dispersed throughout Asia Minor. [2]

Jabalah ibn-al-Aiham's ordeal with Islam

There are different opinions why Jabalah and his followers didn't convert to Islam. Some opinions go along the general idea that the Ghassanids were not interested yet in giving up their status as the lords and nobility of Syria.[ citation needed ] Below is quoted the story of Jabalah's return to the land of the Byzantines as told by 9th-century historian al-Baladhuri.

Nicephorus I is said to be a descendant from Jabalah ibn al-Aiham, the last Ghassanid ruler Nicephorus I Logothetes.jpg
Nicephorus I is said to be a descendant from Jabalah ibn al-Aiham, the last Ghassanid ruler

Jabalah ibn-al-Aiham sided with the Ansar (Azdi Muslims from Medina) saying, "You are our brethren and the sons of our fathers" and professed Islam. After the arrival of 'Umar ibn-al-Khattab in Syria, year 17 (636AD), Jabalah had a dispute with one of the Muzainah and knocked out his eye. 'Umar ordered that he be punished, upon which Jabalah said, "Is his eye like mine? Never, by Allah, shall I abide in a town where I am under authority." He then apostatized and went to the land of the Greeks (the Byzantines). This Jabalah was the king of Ghassan and the successor of al-Harith ibn-abi-Shimr (or Chemor). [17]

After the fall of the first kingdom of Ghassan, King Jabalah ibn-al-Aiham established a Government-in-exile in Byzantium. [18] Ghassanid influence on the empire lasted centuries; the climax of this presence was the elevation of one of his descendants, Nikephoros I (ruled 802-811) to the throne and his establishment of a short-lived dynasty that can be described as the Nikephorian or Phocid Dynasty in the 9th century. [19] But Nikephoros was not only a mere Ghassanid descendant, he claimed the headship of the Ghassanid Dynasty using the eponym of King Jafna, the founder of the Dynasty, rather than merely express himself descendant of King Jabalah. [20] [21]

Kings

Ghassanid King Al-Harith in his tent, speaking with the Abu Zayd to the right. Al-Harith was a popular character of Arab history, folktales, and sagas. Arabischer Maler um 1335 003.jpg
Ghassanid King Al-Harith in his tent, speaking with the Abu Zayd to the right. Al-Harith was a popular character of Arab history, folktales, and sagas.

Earlier kings are traditional, actual dates highly uncertain.

  1. Jafnah I ibn ‘Amr (220–265)
  2. ‘Amr I ibn Jafnah (265–270)
  3. Tha‘labah ibn Amr (270–287)
  4. al-Harith I ibn Tha‘labah (287–307)
  5. Jabalah I ibn al-Harith I (307–317)
  6. al-Harith II ibn Jabalah "ibn Maria" (317–327)
  7. al-Mundhir I Senior ibn al-Harith II (327–330) with...
  8. al-Aiham ibn al-Harith II (327–330) and...
  9. al-Mundhir II Junior ibn al-Harith II (327–340) and...
  10. al-Nu'man I ibn al-Harith II (327–342) and...
  11. ‘Amr II ibn al-Harith II (330–356) and...
  12. Jabalah II ibn al-Harith II (327–361)
  13. Jafnah II ibn al-Mundhir I (361–391) with...
  14. al-Nu‘man II ibn al-Mundhir I (361–362)
  15. al-Nu‘man III ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Mundhir I (391–418)
  16. Jabalah III ibn al-Nu‘man (418–434)
  17. al-Nu‘man IV ibn al-Aiham (434–455) with...
  18. al-Harith III ibn al-Aiham (434–456) and...
  19. al-Nu‘man V ibn al-Harith (434–453)
  20. al-Mundhir II ibn al-Nu‘man (453–472) with...
  21. ‘Amr III ibn al-Nu‘man (453–486) and...
  22. Hijr ibn al-Nu‘man (453–465)
  23. al-Harith IV ibn Hijr (486–512)
  24. Jabalah IV ibn al-Harith (512–529)
  25. al-Amr IV ibn Machi (Mah’shee) (529)
  26. al-Harith V ibn Jabalah (529–569)
  27. al-Mundhir III ibn al-Harith (569–581) with...
  28. Abu Kirab al-Nu‘man ibn al-Harith (570–582)
  29. al-Nu'man VI ibn al-Mundhir (581–583)
  30. al-Harith VI ibn al-Harith (583)
  31. al-Nu‘man VII ibn al-Harith Abu Kirab (583–?)
  32. al-Aiham ibn Jabalah (?–614)
  33. al-Mundhir IV ibn Jabalah (614–?)
  34. Sharahil ibn Jabalah (?–618)
  35. Amr IV ibn Jabalah (628)
  36. Jabalah V ibn al-Harith (628–632)
  37. Jabalah VI ibn al-Aiham (632–638)

Legacy

The Ghassanids reached their peak under al-Harith V and al-Mundhir III. Both were militarily successful allies of the Byzantines, especially against their enemies the Lakhmids, and secured Byzantium's southern flank and its political and commercial interests in Arabia proper. On the other hand, the Ghassanids remained fervently dedicated to Miaphysitism, which brought about their break with Byzantium and Mundhir's own downfall and exile, which was followed after 586 by the dissolution of the Ghassanid federation. [22] The Ghassanids' patronage of the Miaphysite Syrian Church was crucial for its survival and revival, and even its spread, through missionary activities, south into Arabia. According to the historian Warwick Ball, the Ghassanids' promotion of a simpler and more rigidly monotheistic form of Christianity in a specifically Arab context can be said to have anticipated Islam. [23] Ghassanid rule also brought a period of considerable prosperity for the Arabs on the eastern fringes of Syria, as evidenced by a spread of urbanization and the sponsorship of several churches, monasteries and other buildings. The surviving descriptions of the Ghassanid courts impart an image of luxury and an active cultural life, with patronage of the arts, music and especially Arab-language poetry. In the words of Ball, "the Ghassanid courts were the most important centres for Arabic poetry before the rise of the Caliphal courts under Islam", and their court culture, including their penchant for desert palaces like Qasr ibn Wardan, provided the model for the Umayyad caliphs and their court. [24]

After the fall of the first kingdom in the 7th century, several dynasties, both Christian and Muslim, ruled claiming to be a continuation of the House of Ghassan. [25] Besides the Phocid or Nikephorian Dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, other rulers claimed to be the heirs of the Royal Ghassanids. The Rasulid Sultans ruled from the 13th until the 15th century in Yemen. [26] And the Burji Mamluk Sultans in Egypt from the 14th until the 16th century. [27] Even both dynasties being Muslim, they claimed to be heirs and successors of Ghassan. The last rulers to bear the titles of Royal Ghassanid successors were the Christian Sheikhs Al-Azar in Mount Lebanon ruling the small sovereign sheikhdoms of Akoura (from 1211 until 1950 CE) and Zgharta-Zwaiya (from 1641 until 1950 CE). [28]

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 4 Saudi Aramco World: The Kind of Ghassan. Barry Hoberman. http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/198302/the.king.of.ghassan.htm Archived 11 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 31 January 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Bowersock, G. W.; Brown, Peter; Grabar, Oleg (1998). Late Antiquity: A guide to the Postclassical World . Harvard University Press. Late Antiquity - Bowersock/Brown/Grabar.
  3. "Deir Gassaneh".
  4. 1 2 3 bury, john. History of the Later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius I. to the Death of Justinian, Part 2. courier dover publications.
  5. 1 2 Hoberman, Barry. The King of Ghassan. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  6. "Quran Surah Saba with English Translation سبا". IReBD.com. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  7. "DHU NUWAS, ZUR'AH YUSUF IBN TUBAN AS'AD ABI KARIB - JewishEncyclopedia.com". www.jewishencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  8. "Najran and Al-Ukhdud - Richard Wilding". richardwilding.com. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  9. Irfan Shahid, 1989, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century.
  10. Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 1, Irfan Shahîd, 1995, p. 103
  11. Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, Volume 2 part 2, Irfan Shahîd, pg. 164
  12. Through the Ages in Palestinian Archaeology: An Introductory Handbook , p. 160, at Google Books
  13. "History". Sovereign Imperial & Royal House of Ghassan. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014.
  14. Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 2, part 1, Irfan Shahîd 1995, p. 51
  15. Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 2, part 1, Irfan Shahîd 1995, p. 51-104
  16. Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 2, part 1, Irfan Shahîd, 1995, p. 51
  17. The Origins of the Islamic State, being a translation from the Arabic of the Kitab Futuh al-Buldha of Ahmad ibn-Jabir al-Baladhuri, trans. by P. K. Hitti and F. C. Murgotten, Studies in History, Economics and Public Law, LXVIII (1916-1924), I, 208-209
  18. Ghassan Resurrected, Yasmine Zahran 2006, p. 13
  19. Ghassan post Ghassan, Irfan Shahid, Festschrift "The Islamic World - From classical to modern times", for Bernard Lewis, Darwin Press 1989, p. 325
  20. Ghassan post Ghassan, Irfan Shahid, Festschrift "The Islamic World - From classical to modern times", for Bernard Lewis, Darwin Press 1989, p. 334
  21. Tarik, Tabari (Cairo, 1966), VIII, p. 307
  22. Ball 2000 , pp. 102–103; Shahîd 1991 , pp. 1020–1021.
  23. Ball 2000 , p. 105; Shahîd 1991 , p. 1021.
  24. Ball 2000 , pp. 103–105; Shahîd 1991 , p. 1021.
  25. Late Antiquity - Bowesock/Brown/Grabar, Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 469
  26. Ghassan post Ghassan, Irfan Shahid, Festschrift "The Islamic World - From classical to modern times", for Bernard Lewis, Darwin Press 1989, p. 332
  27. Ghassan post Ghassan, Irfan Shahid, Festschrift "The Islamic World - From classical to modern times", for Bernard Lewis, Darwin Press 1989, p. 328
  28. http://www.dev.kataeb.org/events/2012/03/27/tour-in-lebanon

Bibliography

Primary sources

Secondary literature

Related Research Articles

Lakhmids Ancient Arab monarchy

The Lakhmids referred to in Arabic as al-Manādhirah (المناذرة) or Banu Lakhm were an Arab kingdom of southern Iraq with al-Hirah as their capital, from about 300 to 602 AD. They were generally but intermittently the allies and clients of the Sassanian Empire, and participant in the Roman–Persian Wars. While the term "Lakhmids" has also been applied to the ruling dynasty, more recent scholarship prefers to refer to the latter as the Naṣrids.

Al-Harith ibn Jabalah King of the Ghassanids, Roman Patrician and Phylarch of the Saracens

Al-Ḥārith ibn Jabalah, was a king of the Ghassanids, pre-Islamic Arabs who lived on the eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire. The fifth Ghassanid ruler of that name, he reigned from c. 528 to 569 and played a major role in the Roman–Persian Wars and the affairs of the Syriac Orthodox Church. For his services to Byzantium, he was made patrikios and vir gloriosissimus.

The Banu Kalb or Kalb ibn Wabara was an Arab tribe. Prior to the Muslim conquest of Syria in the 630s, the Kalb's territory spanned much of northwestern Arabia, the Palmyrene steppe, the Samawah, the Hawran plain and the Golan Heights. One of their main centers was the desert town of Dumat al-Jandal. The Kalb became involved in the tribal affairs in the eastern frontiers of the Byzantine Empire since the 4th century and were likely the tribe of Mavia, the Bedouin queen of southern Syria. By the 6th century, the Kalb had largely become Monophysite Christians and came under the military authority of the Ghassanids, Arab vassals of the Byzantines.

Tayy, also known as Ṭayyi, is a large and ancient Arab tribe, whose descendants today are the tribe of Shammar, who continue to live throughout the Middle Eastern states of the Arab world and the rest of the world. The nisba (patronymic) of Tayy is aṭ-Ṭāʾī (ٱلطَّائِي). The Tayy's origins trace back to the Qahtanites and their original homeland was Yemen. In the 2nd century CE, they migrated to the northern Arabian mountain ranges of Jabal Aja and Jabal Salma, which then collectively became known as "Jabal Tayy". The latter continues to be the traditional homeland of the tribe until the present day. They later established relations with the Sassanid Persian and Byzantine empires. Though traditionally allied with the Sassanids' Lakhmid clients, the Tayy supplanted the Lakhmids as the rulers of Al-Hirah in the 610s. In the late 6th century, the Fasad War split the Tayy, with members of its Jadila branch converting to Christianity and migrating to Syria where they became allied with the Ghassanids, and the Ghawth branch remaining in Jabal Tayy. A chieftain and poet of the Al Ghawth, Hatim al-Ta'i, is widely known among Arabs until today.

The Tanûkhids or Tanukh were a confederation of Arab tribes, sometimes characterized as Saracens. They first rose to prominence in northern Arabia and south of Syria in the 3rd century BC. Both Lakhmid and Tanukhid inscriptions have been found at Umm el-Jimal in Jordan and Namara in Syria. The ancient Tanukhi tribal confederation was largely taken over by several branches of the large Azd and Quda'a tribe.

Al-Nu'mān III ibn al-Mundhir, also transcribed Na'aman, Nu'aman and Noman and often known by the patronymic Abu Qabus, was the last Lakhmid king of al-Hirah and a Nestorian Christian Arab. He is considered as one of the most important Lakhmid rulers.

Jabalah Ibn Al-Aiham was the last ruler of the Ghassanid state in Syria and Jordan in the 7th century AD. He commanded a Christian Arab army in the Battle of Yarmouk in 636. After the Muslim conquest of the Levant he converted to Islam around the year 638. Any conversion was apparently short-lived, however. Two years after the defeat at Yarmouk and his apparent conversion to Islam, he was punished by the Caliph and ordered to pay a fine. Not wishing to, he absconded, with as many as 30,000 followers, to the Byzantine Empire. He lived in Anatolia until he died in the year 645.

Al-Mundhir III ibn al-Numan King of the Lakhmids

Al-Mundhir III ibn al-Nu'man, also known as Al-Mundhir ibn Imri' al-Qays was the king of the Lakhmids in 503/505–554.

Al-Mundhir IV ibn al-Mundhir was the king of the Lakhmid Arabs in 575–580.

Al-Mundhir ibn al-Ḥārith, known in Greek sources as (Flavios) Alamoundaros, was the king of the Ghassanid Arabs from 569 to circa 581. A son of Al-Harith ibn Jabalah, he succeeded his father both in the kingship over his tribe and as the chief of the Byzantine Empire's Arab clients and allies in the East, with the rank of patricius. Despite his victories over the rival Persian-backed Lakhmids, throughout Mundhir's reign his relations with Byzantium were lukewarm due to his staunch Monophysitism. This led to a complete breakdown of the alliance in 572, after Mundhir discovered Byzantine plans to assassinate him. Relations were restored in 575 and Mundhir secured from the Byzantine emperor both recognition of his royal status and a pledge of tolerance towards the Monophysite Church.

Jabalah IV ibn al-Ḥārith, known also by the tecnonymic Abū Shammar, in Greek sources found as Gabalas (Γαβαλᾶς), was a ruler of the Ghassanids. At first an enemy of the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire, he raided Palestine but was defeated, becoming a Byzantine vassal in 502 until circa 520, and again in 527 until his death a year later.

Al-Nuʿmān ibn al-Mundhir, known in Greek sources as Naamanes (Νααμάνης) was a king of the Ghassanids, a Christian Arab tribe allied to the Byzantine Empire. The eldest son of al-Mundhir III ibn al-Harith, he rose in revolt with his tribe after his father was treacherously arrested by the Byzantines in 581. After two years of revolt, seeking to reconcile himself with the Empire, he visited the new emperor, Maurice, at Constantinople. Refusing to renounce his Monophysite faith, he was arrested and exiled to Sicily, where his father had been banned earlier. This event marked the end of the Ghassanid control over the Byzantines' Arab foederati and the fragmentation of this strong buffer against invasions from the desert.

Amr III ibn al-Mundhir, more commonly known by the matronymic Amr ibn Hind, was the king of the Lakhmid Arabs in 554–569/570. He was a client of the Sasanian Empire. Around 550 he clashed with Aksumite Empire over southern Arabia and was instrumental in the downfall of Aksumite power in Arabia around 570. He was famous for his bellicosity and his patronage of poets. He was assassinated over an insult to a poet's mother.

Al-Numan I ibn Imru al-Qays king

Al-Nu'man I ibn Imru' al-Qays, surnamed al-A'war and al-Sa'ih, was the king of the Lakhmid Arabs.

Huwwarin Village in Homs, Syria

Huwwarin is a village in central Syria, administratively part of the Homs Governorate, south of Homs. Situated in the Syrian Desert, the village is adjacent to the larger town of Mahin to its south and lies between the towns of Sadad to the west and al-Qaryatayn to the east. Its inhabitants are predominantly Muslims.

Yawm Halima is the name given to a battle fought between the rival Ghassanid and Lakhmid Arabs in the 6th century.

Jabiyah Town of political and military significance in the 6th–8th centuries

Jabiyah was a town of political and military significance in the 6th–8th centuries. It was located between the Hawran plain and the Golan Heights. It initially served as the capital of the Ghassanids, an Arab vassal kingdom of the Byzantine Empire. Following the Muslim conquest of Syria, it early on became the Muslims' main military camp in the region and, for a time, the capital of Jund Dimashq. Caliph Umar convened a meeting of senior Muslim figures at the city where the organization of Syria and military pay was decided. Later, in 684, Jabiyah was the site of a summit of Arab tribes that chose Marwan I to succeed Caliph Mu'awiya II. Jabiyah was often used by the Umayyad caliphs as a retreat. Its significance declined when Caliph Sulayman made Dabiq the Muslims' main military camp in Syria.

The Salīḥids, also known simply as Salīḥ or by their royal house, the Zokomids were the dominant Arab foederati of the Byzantine Empire in the 5th century. They succeeded the Tanukhids, who were dominant in the 4th century, and were in turn defeated and replaced by the Ghassanids in the early 6th century.

The Bahra' were an Arab tribe that inhabited the middle Euphrates valley around Rusafa during the late Byzantine era and later the Homs region of central Syria during the Islamic era. After converting to Christianity and becoming part of the Ghassanid-led tribal federates of the Byzantines in the late 6th century, the Bahra' were tasked with guarding the trade center and Arab Christian holy city of al-Rusafa. They were part of Byzantine–Arab coalitions against the nascent Arab Muslims in 629, 633 and 634 before ultimately converting to Islam after the Muslim conquest of Syria. In the following centuries they mostly inhabited central Syria, lending their name to the area's Jabal Bahra' range.

The Iyad were an Arab tribe which dwelt in western lower and upper Mesopotamia and northern Syria during the 3rd–7th centuries CE. Parts of the tribe adopted Christianity in the mid-3rd century and came under the suzerainty of the Lakhmid kings of al-Hirah, vassals of the Sasanian Empire. From this period onward, parts of the tribe became settled in towns and villages along the Euphrates, while other parts remained nomadic and dwelt in the neighboring desert steppes. The Iyad played a significant role among the Arab tribes in the Fertile Crescent before the advent of Islam, as allies and opponents of the Sasanians and later allies of the Byzantine Empire. As the early Muslim conquests were underway, parts of the tribe in lower Mesopotamia embraced Islam, while those established in northern Syria and Upper Mesopotamia fled with the retreating Byzantine armies into Anatolia. They were expelled by Emperor Heraclius to Muslim territory after pressure by Caliph Umar. Little is heard of the tribe afterward, though a number of Iyad tribesmen served as qadis in different provinces of the Abbasid Caliphate in the 9th century and a family of the Iyad, that of Ibn Zuhr, grew prominent in Muslim Spain.