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The political condition of the Arabs

Sunday 28/06/2009

The inhabitants of Arabia were divided into two sections: Bedouins and town dwellers. The tribal system was dominant among them, even in the civilized kingdoms that arose in Arabia such as the kingdom of Yemen in the south, the kingdom of Al-Heerah in the north-east and the kingdom of Al-Ghasaasinah in the north-west. The groups did not dissolve as one people in these kingdoms. Rather, the tribes remained as cohesive units.

The Arab tribes include groups of people who are connected together through the unity of blood (kinship) and group. Within the framework of this connection, a traditional law emerged to regulate the relations between the individual and the group on the basis of consolidation in terms of rights and duties. Each tribe would adhere to the traditional law in its political and social system.
The chief of each tribe was nominated based on his tribal position, qualities and characteristics like his courage, magnanimity, and generosity. The chief enjoyed certain moral and material rights. The most important of the moral rights were respect, veneration, obedience and the acceptance of his ruling and judgment. As for material rights, he would get one fourth of the war booty which he would choose for himself from the booty before it was distributed. This was as well as him getting what was taken from the enemy's wealth before fighting in addition to what could not be distributed from the booty.
However, the chief of the tribe was assigned certain duties and responsibilities. At times of peace, he was required to be generous, and at times of war, he was required to be in the front rows, concluding reconciliations and treaties.
Freedom was one of the dominant characteristics in the tribal system. The Arabs were brought up in a free atmosphere and environment. Hence, freedom was one of their most distinguishingcharacteristics. They had a passion for freedom and rejected oppression and humiliation. Each member of the tribe would contribute to the victory of his tribe, applaud its pride and victories, and support all its members whether they were right or wrong. One of their principles was “Support your brother, whether he is an oppressor or oppressed”.
The individual in the tribe was a follower of the group. He exalted the group's opinion to the extent that his personality would melt with that of the group.
Each of the Arab tribes had its political spokesperson, with whom it would conclude treaties with other tribes and wage wars against them. One of the most famous treaties which was concluded among the Arab tribes was the Treaty of Al-Fudhool (or Al-Mutayyibeen).
Wars among the tribes were in full swing. One of the most famous wars was the War of Al-Fijaar. Apart from the large battles, there were individual raids among the tribes due to personal reasons or seeking provision. The sustenance of some tribes was most probably solely gained by the sword. Hence, a tribe was never secure from being attacked by other tribes at any time, night or day. It was always threatened by having its cattle and provisions seized and its houses emptied as if they had never been inhabited.

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