The Quraysh Tribe of Mecca

The Arabian peninsula's powerful Quraysh

Illustration of the return to Mecca
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The Quraysh was a powerful merchant tribe of the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century. It controlled Mecca, where it was the custodian of the Kaaba, the sacred Pagan shrine and destination for pilgrims that became Islam's most sacred shrine. The Quraysh tribe was named after a man named Fihr—one of the most important and famous chiefs in Arabia. The word "Quraysh" means "one who collects" or "one who searches." The word "Quraysh" may also be spelled Quraish, Kuraish, or Koreish, among many other alternative spellings.

Prophet Muhammad and the Quraysh

The Prophet Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe, but he was expelled from it once he began preaching Islam and monotheism. For the next 10 years following the Prophet Muhammad's expulsion, his men and the Quraysh fought three major battles—after which Prophet Muhammad seized control of the Kaaba from the Quraysh tribe.

Quraysh in the Quran

The first four caliphs of Muslims were from the Quraysh tribe. The Quraysh is the only tribe to whom a whole "surah," or chapter—albeit a brief one of just two verses—is dedicated in the Quran:

"For the protection of Quraysh: their protection in their summer and winter journeyings. Therefore let them worship the Lord of this House who fed them in the days of famine and shielded them from all peril." (Surah 106:1-2)

Quraysh Today

The bloodlines of the many branches of the Quraysh tribe (there were 10 clans within the tribe) are spread far and wide in Arabia—and the Quraysh tribe is still the biggest in Mecca. Therefore, successors still exist today.

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Tristam, Pierre. "The Quraysh Tribe of Mecca." ThoughtCo, Sep. 9, 2021, Tristam, Pierre. (2021, September 9). The Quraysh Tribe of Mecca. Retrieved from Tristam, Pierre. "The Quraysh Tribe of Mecca." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 28, 2023).