Tayy (Arabic: طيء‎) is a large and ancient Arabian tribe belonging to the southern or Qahtanite branch of Arab tribes. Their original homeland was the area of the two mountains Aja and Salma in north central Arabia (currently Ha'il Province, Saudi Arabia), though, like all Qahtanite tribes, it is believed they originally moved there from Yemen. The tribe shared the area with Bani Assad and Bani Tamim, and its members included both nomads and settled town-dwellers.

The tribe is believed to have included a number of Christians before Islam, though most of the tribe's members are reported to have been pagan. The most famous figure from Tayy in that period was the legendary Hatim Al-Ta'i (Hatim of Tayy), said to be a Christian, and renowned among the Arabs for generosity and hospitality. He also figures in the Arabian Nights. There is a famous story about a traveler who stops at a gentleman's tent overnight and experiences the death of his camel. Hatim of Tayy comes to his host in a dream that night, and the guest departs atop a brand-new camel, which is ultimately reimbursed even from beyond the grave due to Hatim of Tayy's generosity.[1] The early Islamic historical sources report that his son, 'Adiyy ibn Hatim, whom they sometimes refer to as the "king" of Tayy, converted to Islam before Muhammad's death. He is particularly revered by the Shi'a, who consider him a partisan of Ali. Another figure from Tayy during this period was Zayd al-Khayr, a prominent member of Tayy who is said to have led Tayy's delegation to Muhammad accepting Islam.

Though sections of Tayy began migrating to neighboring regions such as Iraq and Syria before Islam, Tayy participated heavily in the Muslim Conquests of the early centuries of Islam, with sections or individual members of the tribe settling in many parts of the Islamic Empire, including Lebanon and Egypt. Most of these, however, were later assimilated into the general populations of these areas or into other tribes.

Though no longer existing as an autonomous tribal grouping since the early Islamic era, Tayy has been the progenitor of several other tribes in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Among oral tradition, the Arabian Tribe of Shammar is most associated with being descendants of Tayy. Other tribes that claim descent are the Banu Lam, the Fudhool tribal confederation, and some sections of Bani Khalid. Many individuals in Iraq use the surname "Al-Ta'ii", as well, though they mostly belong to Bani Lam.

Ancient History

The modern tribe of Shammar are descendants of the Tayy tribe of Yemen. The earliest non Arab sources refer to Arabs as Taits, generally thought of as referring to Tayy. Ayas ibn Qabisa, a man from the Tayy tribe, ruled pre-Islamic Iraq for several years. This contact with Persian is reason for the belief that Taits refers to Tayy.[2]

In the Namarah Inscription (the second oldest pre-Islamic Arabic inscription, dating from 328 CE), the name "Shammar" is believed to refer to a city in Yemen. Although, "the city of shammar" may refer to the city where Shammar lives. The currently named Rada City, is said to have been taken by the Himyarite King, Shammar Yahri'sh, as residence. It is located about 100 km from Dhamar it is one of the ancient historic sites. Since Shammar Yahrish ruled during the last decade of the 3rd century AD, it could be referring to the city he lives in or one named after him. IT could also be referring to he city of Hayel, although there is no evidence that Imru alqais fought Tai. Although, By that time, Tai would have been in Ija and salma for 400 years. Jahiliyyah is an Islamic concept referring to the spiritual condition of pre-Islamic Arabian society.

Led by Usma bin Luai in their massive exodus out of Yemen (115 BCE), the Tayy invaded the mountains of Ajaa and Salma from Banu Assad and Banu Tamim in northern Arabia. These mountains are now known as Jabal Shammar. The Tayy became camel herders and horse breeders and lived a nomadic lifestyle in northern Nejd for centuries. Because of their strength and blood relations with the Yemenite dynasties that came to rule Syria (Ghassan) and Iraq (the Lakhmids), they expanded north into Iraq all the way to the capital at the time al-Hirah. Early historical accounts refer to them as Tayy for that period, and it is not clear when the name Shammar became dominant. The Banu Asad are an ancient Arab clan from the tribe of Quraish. Najd (Nejd) is a region in central Saudi Arabia and the location of the nations capital, Riyadh. The Ghassanid kingdom was a Christian Arab kingdom who immigrated from Yemen to the north of Arabia. The Lakhmids, less commonly Muntherids were a group of Arab Christians who lived in Southern Iraq, and made al-Hirah which was a fabulous city with many castles and bath-houses and Palm gardens their capital in (266). A manuscript from the 15th century describing the constructing of Al-Khornaq castle In Al-Hira,The Lakhmids capital city was an ancient city located south of al-Kufah in south-central Iraq.


Although many of their nobles were said to be Christian, Tai also worshipped idols like Alfulus and many others. They later embraced Islam at the hands of Ali ibn Abi Talib. After destroying their idol Alfuls, they sent a delegation headed by Zayd al-Khayr to Mohammad to declare their allegiance to the new religion. Mohammad, the prophet, was impressed by their ambassador and said: ”Whenever someone is praised before me, upon meeting them I see in them less than what was described, except Zayd of Goodness. He rises above all praise."[Sahih al Bukhari, Arabic]

After the death of Mohammad, the Tai remained Muslim. They supported Ali, the fourth Caliph, in his claim to the throne during the ensuing dispute with his rival Muawiya. They also stood against the Kharijites who were essentially anarchists. Later, Ibn Jareer relates that Altarmah bin Adi Alta'i offered to protect Al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib on a mountain called Mana' (the protector). For other uses, see Ali (disambiguation). Muawiyah I (602 - May 6, 680), early Muslim leader and founder of the great Umayyad Dynasty of caliphs.

Time Line

  • 115 BCE Tayy's exodus from Yemen
  • Tayy neigbhors Bani Asad
  • Tayy concurs ija and salam now known as jabal shammar
  • Tayy's internal wars
  • Tayy regains peace brokered by Alharith alaarij bin jibla king of Syria
  • Tayy's knight kills Antar bin Shadad
  • Tayy Resumes fighting after the death of Alharith bin Jibla's death (Youm Alyahamim)
  • Tayy's tribe of Jadila is crippled and enters into a treaty with Kalb
  • Tayy Receives Ali as an emissary from Mohamad he destroys the Fulus Idol
  • Tayy Sends a delegation to Mohamed and enters Islam
  • Tayy back Ali Ibn abi Talib against muawia
  • Tayy's chief altarmah ibn adi ibn hatem offers asylum to Hussein bin Ali
  • Those of the Tayy living in the Mesopotamian Marshes are converted to Shia Islam by the Musha'sha'iyyah during the 15th and 16th centuries.[3]



  • The History of Shmmar by John Frederich Williamson.
  • The Tribes of Iraq by Abbas Alazzawi.
  • The Days of the Arabs before Islam by Alfudaily.
  • A comprehensive history of Shammar by Amer Aladhadh.
  • Tayy (Shammar) tribe official website.

See also

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