The Prophet’s Family Line No. 4 – Amr (Hashim), the Founder of the Hashimites




Sr. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood

(Material adapted from her forthcoming seerah the Life of the Prophet)



Abdu’l Manaf’s line


Abdu’l Manaf (Mughirah) was the youngest son of Qusayy b. Kilab, Guardian of the Ka’bah shrine, by the Khuza’ah heiress Hubbah bint Hulayl. When Qusayy died, the role of Guardian of the Ka’bah had gone to Qusayy’s eldest son Abd ad-Dar, despite Abdu’l Manaf being the most popular of Qusayy’s four sons.


Abdu’l Manaf married several wives of influential tribes, including Atikah bint Murrah b. Hilal of the Banu Hawazin,[1] Raytah of Taif, and Waqida bint Amr.[2] Raytah had only the son Abd or Abdu’l Amr, who died childless; Waqida also had one son, Nawfal. The Hawazin heiress Atikah, however, bore him three sons and six daughters. The boys were twin sons called Amr (meaning ‘life, or spiritual well-being’), and Abdu’l Shams (‘son of sunshine’), and Muttalib. The daughters were Tumadir/Tamadur, Qilaba, Hayya, Raytah/Rita, Umm Akhtham, and Umm Sufyan.




Abdu’l Manaf’s mother Hubbah never gave up ambitious hopes for the line of her favourite son. Her two favourite grandsons were the twin sons of Atikah, born in c464CE. The discomforts of pregnant women carrying more than one baby in the womb inevitably gave rise to legends and speculations, and like their famous ancestor-twins ‘Isa (Esau) and Yaqub (Jacob pbuh),[3] it was said that Atikah’s twins had struggled in the womb seeking to be firstborn. Their birth was remembered for the elder twin being born with one of his toes pressed into the younger twin’s forehead. When they were separated, blood flowed. People said this would surely signify wars between their progeny.[4] Hubbah hoped that the opportunities missed by Abdu’l Manaf would surely be made up for in these grandsons, especially Amr - who seemed so much more suitable for the role than any of the sons of Abd-ad-Dar. He became the darling of grandmother Hubbah’s eye.


It was Amr who first realised the potential for his family of taking part in the lucrative trade between Syria and Egypt that passed through Arabia. Trading was the most important means of livelihood for the inhabitants of Makkah, a barren ‘valley without cultivation’ (Surah 14.137). This was the time when the Sassanian kingdom of Persia had control over the international trade carried out between the northern lands, the eastern countries and the Byzantine Empire through the Persian Gulf. Amr commenced by going in person to Aden in Yemen to meet the ships coming from India, purchased the stock and transported it first to Makkah and then on to Syria, Gaza or Egypt. There he bought up goods of local manufacture and brought them back to Makkah, mainly selling them at the various Arab markets and fairs.


Amr becomes Hashim


Amr was generous to a fault, and it was his practical compassion in one year of drought that earned him his famous nickname of Hashim, ‘the Crusher’. This was not for crushing or oppressing anyone, but because when the people were starving and emaciated he provided food at his own expense for the entire population of Makkah, personally fetching an immense stock of flour from Syria by camel-caravan, then slaughtering the camels and crushing the bread and meat to provide a soup-kitchen for his people. His descendants are still proudly called Hashimites to this day.[5]


Hashim’s Household


Amr/Hashim had a fine household in Makkah, with at least four wives and eight children. His first three wives were Hubbah’s niece Qaylah (or Hind) bint Amir b. Malik of the Banu Khuza’ah, Halah (Hind) bint Amr b. Thalabah al-Khazrajiyah, and a woman from the Banu Quda’ah, the people of Qusayy’s stepfather who had been so supportive of his cause. For his fourth wife he married one of his father’s widows, Waqida bint Amr (Abu Adiy) al-Maziniyyah, the mother of his half-brother Nawfal.


By Qaylah, he had a son Asad; by Halah he had the son Sayfi and daughter Hayyah (or Hannah), by Waqida he had the daughters Khalidah and Daifah, and by the Quda’ah woman he had the son Nadala (or Nadh) and daughter Shifa; and there was another daughter, Ruqaiyyah, and a son Sayfayyah.


Hashim the Trader


Hashim’s ventures, taking advantage of the fact that he was held in high esteem amongst the tribes because of his status as Keeper of the Ka’bah, and also because they felt indebted to him for the great generosity with which they were treated in the Hajj season, boosted the trade activity on the route leading along the Red Sea coast. In fact, Hashim and his brothers became known as al-mujirun (‘the Protectors’) and Ashab Al-Ilaf (‘the generators of love and affection’), for negotiating friendly relations and safe conduct for the Quraysh with the rulers of neighbouring lands to facilitate their trading.


Hashim obtained privileges from the Ghassanid king of Syria, and even went in person to Byzantium and procured a written guarantee from the Roman Caesar that he could travel in safety anywhere in al-Sham, and carry his goods duty-free. Caesar also wrote to the Negus of Abyssinia to admit the Quraysh there for trade, and Hashim’s brother Abdu’l Shams had a special permit with him. Muttalib had his treaty with the Himyarites of Yemen,[6] and their half-brother Nawfal with the Persian governments of Iraq and lran.


Thus Hubbah’s grandsons all earned fortunes as prominent traders, sending huge caravans south in the winter to Yemen, and north in the summer to Palestine and Syria, along the old incense routes. The Quraysh were so respected and popular that they felt no fears for their caravans being robbed or harmed along the way, and the various tribes did not even attempt to charge them the usual heavy transit taxes they demanded from other caravans.


The Quraysh Split


Eventually, however, the Quraysh split openly over who they would support for the leadership and Guardianship of the Ka’bah – the line of Abd ad-Dar, or the line of Abdu’l Manaf. The clans of Makhzum, Sahm, Jumah and Adiy remained loyally supportive of Abd-ad-Dar’s line, but those of Asad, Zuhrah, Taym and Harith b. Fihr demanding that the rights be transferred to Abdu’l Manaf’s line through Hashim, even though he was not yet twenty years old at the time (c480 CE).


The Scented Ones and the Confederates


The two sides had even got so far as agreeing to go outside the sanctuary of the sacred area in order to battle it out, when a compromise was at last reached. The womenfolk of Abdu’l Manaf concocted a bowl of liquid strongly perfumed with nutmeg powder and brought it to the Ka’bah. All those who agreed to pledge their support to Hashim came and dipped their hands in it, and rubbed the scent on the Ka’bah. They thus become known as the ‘Hilf al-Mutayyabun’ or ‘Alliance of the Scented Ones’.[7] Their rivals also organised themselves into a pact and became known as the ‘Hilf al-Ahlaf’ or ‘Alliance of the Confederates’. The Confederates were left in control of the charity tax and the food and drink for pilgrims, and the Scented Ones had the keys to the Ka’bah and the running of the House of Assembly. So the descendants of Abd ad-Dar kept the hijabah, liwa’ and nadwah, and the descendants of Abdu’l Manaf were granted the siqayah and rifadah.


Hashim was accepted as the overall leader, with the responsibility of providing for the pilgrims in the Ka’bah precincts, with the support of his brothers Abdu’l Shams and Muttalib, and his half-brother Nawfal. The only person who challenged Hashim’s authority was Umayyah, the son of his brother Abdu’l Shams, but he had no real support and shifted to live out his life in Syria. Makkah became the acknowledged capital of Arabia, and markets were established around the city to deal with all the business.


Hashim marries Salmah of Yathrib


The vast oasis of Yathrib was the first major stop on the northern route, a journey of some 230 miles from Makkah. Perhaps through the influence of the matriarchal traditions of wealthy Jewish women there, the womenfolk of Yathrib were particularly independent and powerful, none more so than the beautiful and feisty Salmah bint Amr of Banu Adiy b. Najjar,[8] a woman who traded and dealt with the caravans on her own behalf.  In c495 CE Hashim – who used to pass through Yathrib every year and hold a market at Suq al-Nabt – had his attention caught by this lady’s jovial and authoritative manner of trading, and began to make tactful inquiries about her.


He soon found out Salmah was well-known and respected, and much sought-after – so much so that she had previously chosen husbands and divorced them as she pleased, and she chose only the best.[9]  Salmah was one of these powerful women who enjoyed her own position and tribal prestige, and had no intention of abandoning her home establishment and family group. She remained in her own household, and formed liaisons with those of the men who sought her out that she admired.


One of Salmah’s husbands was the warrior-chief Uhayhah b. Julah of Banu Jahjaba, a leading celebrity in the tribal fighting of the pre-Islamic period, who possessed one of the largest fortresses in Quba on the outskirts of Yathrib, the Utum ad-Dihyan. Salmah had two sons by him, Amr and Mabad. Another of her husbands was her relative Malik b. Adiy of the Banu Najjar, by whom she had two daughters, Mulaykah and Nuwwar.[10] Yet another was Awf b. Abdu’l Awf b. Abd b. Harith b. Zuhrah, by whom she had the daughter Shifa bint Awf.


Hashim’s own reputation was such that he did not expect Salmah to be anything other than honoured and pleased by his proposal. However, he soon discovered to his chagrin that although she was certainly prepared to consider him, she would only marry him on her own terms, the chief being that he consented to let her remain in her own home in Yathrib, controlling her own business as she was used to, and not going with him to Makkah to join his household.[11]


Hashim accepted, and the wedding took place, with the arrangement that both of them should continue to conduct their lives as before, but Hashim would visit and stay in her house whenever he came to Yathrib. The arrangement suited both of them, and it was not long before she became pregnant.


The Birth of a Man of Visions


When their baby was born, a beautiful boy, they were surprised to see that amidst his jet-black hair was a streak of white. Thus, with the characteristic Arab passion for descriptive names, the newborn infant got the name ‘Shaybah’, meaning ‘the ancient one’ or ‘white-haired’.[12] The year was 497 CE.


Once again, discussions took place. Hashim longed to have his son with him in Makkah as soon as he was weaned, but Salmah neither wished to be parted from him, nor for herself to go and live in a polygynous[13] household, so she insisted that his education should remain her responsibility, and that he should stay in the Yathrib oasis. Once again, Hashim consented. Shortly after this Salmah bore Hashim a second child, a daughter, Ruqaiyyah.


The Death of Hashim


Tragically, like his father Abdu’l Manaf before him, Hashim was not destined for a long life but died on a trading trip to Gaza in Palestine before he had reached the age of forty (ie. before 504). His business passed to none of his sons, but to his brothers, the sons of Atikah of the Hawazin.


Muttalib becomes Guardian of the Ka’bah


Hashim’s position as Guardian of the Ka’bah with all its responsibilities went to his brother Muttalib, who was younger than his other brother Abdu’l Shams, but more popular. The Quraysh nicknamed Muttalib ‘Mr Abundance’  (al-Fayd) for his generosity. He also got ‘the Moon’ (al-Qamar) nickname for his good looks. Abdu’l Shams continued to concentrate on the trade with Yemen, and Hashim’s half-brother Nawfal (whose mother Waqida had also been a ‘mother’ to Hashim before she became his wife), took over Hashim’s business with Syria.[14] Hashim’s Yathribi widow Salmah and their two children continued in Yathrib.


Nawfal seems to have been the relative who acted as guardian for Hashim’s Makkan household, overseeing the inheritance of his children. He acted fairly towards those in Makkah, but kept in his own custody that part of the inheritance that should have gone to Salmah’s children. He may well have thought it possible that Hashim’s Yathribi boy might either not live, or never come to Makkah. However, fate – or rather, the will of God – was to intervene. Since Salmah had her own means of support, she bided her time.





[1] The mother of Atikah bint Murrah was Safiyyah bint Hauza b. Amr b. Salul b. Sa’sa’ah b. Mu’awiyyah b. Bakr b. Hawazin. Safiyyah’s mother was Bint Aidh Allah b. Sa’d al-Ashira b. Madhhij.

[2] Waqida bint Amr (Abu Adiy) al-Maziniyyah b. Mansur b. Ikrimah.

[3] Genesis 25.22.

[4] Ibn Kathir 1.132, Tabari 6.17. It is quite possible there were twins in this line – Abdu’l Muttalib’s daughter Umm Hakim al-Bayda was said to have been the twin of  Abdullah.  Some traditions suggest that the Prophet (pbuh) fathered two sets of twins on Khadijah, and that his daughter Fatimah gave birth to two sets of twins. Later, Ali had twins amongst his offspring.

[5]Lata’if al-ma’arif, Tha’alibi, Edinburgh, 1968, p.42; Ibn Kathir 1.132, from Ibn Ishaq; Ibn Sa’d vol 1 p.77.

[6] Himyar was one of the last southwest Arabian tribes to rule Yemen before its conquest by the Muslims. They claimed Qahtani descent.

[7] Ibn Kathir 1.186. Hilf, or tahalluf, comes from halafa, to form a confederacy, for mutual help and protection.

[8] Salmah bint Amr  b. Zayd b. Labid  b. Haram b. Khidash b. Amir (or b. Jundub) b. Ghanm  (or b. Khindaf) b. Adiy b. Najjar (Taym Allah) b. Thalabah b. Amr b. Khazraj of Banu Najjar. She was sometimes called Salmah bint Zayd, missing out her father Amr. Her mother was Umayrah (Amirah) bint Sakhr b. Habib b. Harith b. Thalabah b. Mazin b. Najjar, and her mother’s mother was Salmah bint Abdu’l Ashhal b. Harithah  b. Dinar  b. Najjar. (The four main subdivisions of the Banu Najjar were Mazin, Adiy, Dinar and Malik, from Najjar’s four sons. Najjar was also known as Taym Allah). Salmah was the Prophet’s (pbuh) great-grandmother. 

[9] In pre-Islamic matrilineal circles a powerful woman might have several visiting husbands, some of them concurrently. Some women formed this kind of relationship with as many as half a dozen men (apparently up to the limit of ten - Bukhari 67.37.1, recorded by Aishah). There was, of course, all the difference between an influential woman who enjoyed a more-or-less permanent relationship with several noble chiefs and regarded herself as the servant of none, and the women who were available to all comers for pay, known as baghaya (prostitutes). Many of the former had very stable relationships and sometimes bore five or six children to one man. If they were not certain of the parentage of a particular child, they would consult a qa’if – an expert in determining lineage from the observation of similarities in physical attributes.

[10] It is possible that she married Malik after the death of Hashim, and not before. There were two Nuwwar bint Maliks, this one - Umm Sulaym’s aunt Nuwwar bint Malik b. Adiy, a daughter of the Prophet’s (pbuh) great-grandmother Salmah, and Nuwwar bint Malik b. Sirma, the mother of Zayd b. Thabit b. Dahhak the Prophet’s (pbuh) scribe.

[11] Ibn Kathir 1.131, from Zuhri, suggests Hashim stayed in her father’s house.

[12] It was also said that Shaybah meant ‘one praised for his generosity’.

[13] Polygamous is the general word for ‘multiple marriage. Polgynous means a man with more than one wife, and polyandrous means a wife with more than one husband.

[14] It was said that no family from one father were so far removed from each other at their deaths; Hashim died in Gaza, Abd Shams in Makkah, Nawfal in Iraq and Muttalib in the Yemen. (Tha’alibi).