Aws and Khazraj
|Era||Before and after Islam|
|Lineage||Haritha b. Tha'laba b. 'Amr b. 'Amir|
|Naming||Aws and Khazraj were two sons of Haritha b. Tha'laba|
|Figures||Hanzala b. Abi 'Amir, Sa'd b. Mu'adh, 'Asim b. Thabit from Aws and Sa'd b. 'Ubada, Zayd b. Thabit, Mu'adh b. Jabal and Ubayy b. Ka'b from Khazraj.|
|Literates||Hassan b. Thabit|
|Features||These two tribes played a significant role in the history of Islam.|
Aws (Arabic: اوس) and Khazraj (Arabic: خزرج), are the two important Arab tribes from Yemen, who migrated to Medina long before Islam. After emigration of the Prophet (s) to Medina they became named as Ansar (the helpers). The role of these two tribes is significant in the history of Islam, especially in hijra and in battles.
Some historians believe that some of Qur'an verses are revealed about Ansar.
Bloodline of Aws and Khazraj reaches the great tribe of Azd in Yemen. Most of genealogists and historians of the first centuries of Islam have mentioned the lineage of the two tribes through Banu Mazin b. Azd.
The great ancestor of the two tribes, 'Amr b. 'Amir is known as Muzayqiyya, and Aws and Khazraj were the two sons of Haritha b. Tha'laba b. 'Amr b. 'Amir. Their bloodline reaches to the tribe Banu Quda'a through their mother, named Qayla bt. Kahil; so Aws and Khazraj also had named themselves as "Banu Qayla".
Residence in Yathrib
The most common narration in old sources shows that the destruction of the Ma'rab Dam because of a flood caused the migration of Azdite groups from Yemen, Some other narratives say that they migrated before the destruction of the Ma'rab Dam. There's no agreement among current historians about the cause of the migration and its date. Most probably the migration of Azdites from Yemen didn't happen all at once.
Later, these immigrants in the north of the Arabian Peninsula formed the little state of Ghassanids, close to Syria. And some other groups established Al Mundhir or Lakhmids government in some parts of Iraq (Hira). Ghassanids was a client state of Rome, and Lakhmids were allies of Iran.
Maybe, after the formation of these states, migration of Azdite tribes, including Aws and Khazraj-or their ancestors- to different parts of the Arabian Peninsula gained speed. According to some authors, maybe the movement of Aws and Khazraj happened later than other Azdite tribes, and probably in late 4th century CE. They chose Yathrib, which was suitable for agriculture.
When this group of Azdites reached Yathrib, a group of Jews was living there, and political and economic control of the place was in their hands.
Relation with Jews
The Jews and the migrants began with cooperation, however, the more the immigrants, the less the dominance of the Jews. It's likely that the procedure of separation of the two tribes began by the formation of different clans and branches.
Some signs show that Aws and Khazraj were feeling themselves closer to Ghassanids who were descendants of Azd. As some authors guessed, the representative of Sasanid empire ruled Yathrib, but after the entrance of Aws and Khazraj to Yathrib, the situation changed in favor of Ghassanids. According to a narration, Jews were paying tribute to the representative of Sasanid empire, and in return, they supported the rule the Jews over Yathrib. Aws and Khazraj got tired of the oppression of the Jew governor and sought help from Ghassanids. So Malik b. 'Ajlan came to help them, and the superiority of Aws and Khazraj in Yathrib began.
The conflict began between the two tribes leading to long and bloody battles, and indeed, the Jews were actively involved in the situation. Each tribe tried to gain superiority by making alliances with the Jewish tribes of Yathrib. Aws was allied with Banu Qurayza, and Khazraj with Banu Nadir. This competition resulted in bloody wars between branches of the two tribes; every battle has a unique name in the age of ignorance, but most of these narrations are mixed with myth.
In the first battle, named Sumayr, Aws won, but in most of the later battles, Khazraj was the victor.
In the last battle, named Bu'ath, which occurred after bi'tha of the Prophet (s), some Awsites went to Mecca to ally with Quraysh, but they didn't show any interest. Then a connection established between some of them and the Prophet (s). (see: Pledge of al-'Aqaba)
Apparently, Khazrajites wanted to make 'Abd 'Allah b. 'Ubay ruler of the city.
After Accepting Islam
Islam had united them under one belief and title; yet, their long rivalry broke out in some occasions, as they had disagreement and pride over who had pledged allegiance sooner in the pledge of al-'Aqaba. Also, there was a competition over their presence in other Islamic events.
It seems that in the Islamic period, Khazrajites have the upper hand, as among the Twelve Naqibs three of them were from Aws and nine were from Khazraj; also, in the Battle of Badr Khazrajites were more than Awsites.
In the battles of Muraysi' and Banu Qurayza, and the story of Ifk, discord between Aws and Khazraj appeared, but the Prophet (s) extinguished the flame. After the demise of the Prophet (s), Abu Bakr and his supporters took advantage of the competition of Aws and Khazraj for gaining the succession of the Prophet (s).
Each one of Aws and Khazraj had five clans. Each of these clans had multiple branches, which number reached up to 40. And other tribes and groups were allied with the tribes.
Aws and Khazraj were famous for their bravery. Each one had important poets; among Aws, Qays b. Khatim, known as "the tongue of Aws", and Abu Qays b. Aslat are famous. Hassan b. Thabit, whose eulogy about the Prophet (s) is famous, and Ka'b b. Malik are from Khazraj.
Some of great Companions of the Prophet (s) were from the two tribes. From Aws, Hanzala b. Abi 'Amir, 'Asim b. Thabit, Sa'd b. Mu'adh; and from Khazraj, Zayd b. Thabit, Mu'adh b. Jabal, and 'Ubay b. Ka'b could be noted.
Amongst historians, Abu 'Ubayda Mu'ammar b. al-Muthanna, al-Waqidi (d. 207/822), and 'Allan al-Shu'ubi (d. late 2nd/seventh century), wrote books dedicated to Aws and Khazraj, their genealogy, battles, and vices.
- Ibn Manzur, under the word "Khazraj"
- Sharif, p.315
- Al-Shaykh al-Tusi, Vol.2, PP. 545-6
- Ibn Manzur. Lisan al-'Arab. n.d.
- Sharif, Ahmad Ibrahim. Makka wa Madina fi l-jahiliyya wa 'ahd al-Rasul. Cairo: Dar al-fikr al-'arabi, n.d.
- Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Hasan al-. Al-Tibyan, Ed. Ahmad Habib Qasir al-'Amili. Beirut: Dar al-turath al-'arabi, n.d.