Episode 31: Aus and Khazraj
The two great Arab tribes of Madinah, Aus and Khazraj, traced a common descent from the tribe of Azd belonging to Yemen from where successive waves of emigrants inundated the northern regions from time to time. The exodus was brought about by a variety of reasons, some of which were the unstable political conditions in Yemen, Abyssinian aggression and disruption of irrigation system supporting agriculture after the destruction of Ma’rib dam. However, both the Aus and Khazraj came down to Madinah after the Jews. The Aus settled down in ‘Awali, an area in the south-east of Madinah while the Khazraj occupied the lands in the central and northern parts of it. With the northern part of the city being low-lying, nothing intervened between the abode of the Khazraj and Harrata Wabrah in the West. (Makkah wal Madinah, p. 311). The Khazraj consisted of four clans: Malik, ‘Adiy, Mazin and Dinar, all co-laterals to Banu Najjaar and also known as Taym Al-Lat. Banu Najjaar took up residence in the central part of the city where the Prophet peace be and blessings upon him’s mosque now stands. The Aus, who have settled in the fertile, arable lands were the neighbors of the more influential and powerful Jewish tribe. The lands occupied by Khazraj were comparatively less fertile and they had only Banu Qaynuqaa as their neighbors. (Makkah wal Madinah, p. 311). It is rather difficult to reckon the numerical strength of Aus and Khazraj with any amount of certainty, but an estimate can be formed from different battles in which they took part after the Prophet’s peace be and blessings upon him departure to Madinah. The combatants drafted from these two tribes on the occasion of the conquest of Makkah numbered four thousand. (Al-Imta, Vol. I, p. 364).
When the Prophet peace be and blessings upon him migrated to Madinah, the Arabs were powerful and in a position to play the first fiddle. The Jews being disunited had taken a subordinate position by seeking alliance either with the Aus or the Khazraj. Their mutual relationship was even worse for they were more tyrannical to their comrades in religion in times of clashes than to the Arabs themselves. It was due to the antipaYour and bitterness between them that the Bani Qaynuqaa were forced to abandon their cultivated lands and resorted to working as artisans. (Makkah wal Madinah, p. 322).