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The Articulation of Power in Medieval Iberia and the Maghrib$

Amira K. Bennison

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265697

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265697.001.0001

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The Genealogical Legitimization of the Naṣrid Dynasty: The Alleged Anṣārī Origins of the Banū Naṣr*

The Genealogical Legitimization of the Naṣrid Dynasty: The Alleged Anṣārī Origins of the Banū Naṣr*

(p.60) (p.61) 4 The Genealogical Legitimization of the Naṣrid Dynasty: The Alleged Anṣārī Origins of the Banū Naṣr*
The Articulation of Power in Medieval Iberia and the Maghrib

Bárbara Boloix-Gallardo

British Academy

Abstract and Keywords

The fabrication of a distinctly prestigious genealogy was among the measures adopted by the Banū Naṣr to justify their right to govern al-Andalus. Several Arabic textual and epigraphic sources emphasise the Anşārī family origins of the Naşrids, connecting them with Sa‘d b. ‘Ubāda (d. 14/635). This chapter's aim is to trace, link by link, the connection of the eastern Anşār with the Banū Naşr from the sixth to the thirteenth centuries, in order to demonstrate the impossibility of reconstructing a complete genealogical chain, and, therefore, the lack of veracity of the Banū Naşr assertion which effectively legitimated the Naşrid dynasty. Attention will also be paid to the attempted Naşrid claim to the caliphate, a legitimist intention that seems to be confirmed by virtue of having chosen Sa‘d b. ‘Ubāda as their ancestor, since this figure was proclaimed caliph by his tribe upon the death of the prophet Muḥammad.

Keywords:   Naşrids, Anşār, genealogy, political legitimacy, religious legitimacy


THE METICULOUS MAINTENANCE OF PROMINENT familial lineages has always been of utmost importance in Islamic culture, with the ultimate goal of tracing family history back as close as possible to the Prophet Muḥammad. Such connections were made preferably with the Prophet's family, the group of the Ṣaḥāba (‘the Companions’ of Muḥammad), the Anṣār (‘the Helpers’ of the Prophet) or the Tābiʿūn (a broad group including the second and third generations of the original Muslims). Sometimes, those legitimist intentions went even further and linked entire families to remote figures such as Abraham (Ibrāhīm) through his son Ismāʿīl, considered the supreme father of the Arab people in the same way the Jewish community considered his brother Isaac (Isḥāq) the progenitor of their line.

According to Manuela Marín, the tendency to look for distant genealogical origins in the eastern Islamic aristocracy became very commonplace in al-Andalus.1 Owing to the remoteness of this enclave from the cradle of Islam, the Arabian peninsula, it became imperative for the Andalusīs to seek convincing anthropological roots in order to stress their real Arab identity (or ‘Arabness’) by belonging to celebrated Arab tribes of the east, considered the most ‘orthodox’ of the Arab peoples. The strategy of attaching themselves to specific nisba s also allowed the Andalusī population to lay the foundations of their own Muslim identity within the context of the entire Islamic community (p.62) (al-umma).2 This need became even more important for those Berbers who participated in the conquest of the Iberian peninsula; although completely foreign to Arab civilization, this specific group showed a marked interest in demonstrating ‘pure’ Arab origins, in order to be considered full-fledged members of Andalusī society, which in reality was characterized by a rich, continuing mixture of bloodlines. This common social phenomenon was reflected not only in the carefully created — or re-created — genealogical chains (nasab s) that can still be found in biographical repertoires, but also in the emphasis within those nasab s on identifying the ancestor who entered al- Andalus in the eighth century during the Islamic conquest, usually nicknamed al-dākhil (‘he who entered’).

If demonstrating that they belonged to the Arab and the Islamic community was important for individuals, it was significantly more so for ruling Muslim dynasties, as a large part of the legitimization of their power lay in the possession of a worthy genealogy. This necessity stemmed from two primary motives. First, leaders were compelled to demonstrate their ‘pure’ Arabic roots to their subjects, which was only possible through the creation of a complete chain connecting the ruler with the alleged ancestor. Considering the great territorial expansion that Islam experienced during its first centuries of military conquest, this strategy became vital in order to keep their ‘Arabness’ intact, so that it could not be altered by the daily influence of the subjugated peoples. The second reason was the need for new political or religious leaders to justify their right to rule, linking themselves to respected religious figures of the Islamic past. This strategy often proved to be very beneficial for the triumph of a political cause.

As with other prominent figures of their era, Naṣrid leaders also felt the necessity of legitimizing their authority through the fabrication of a prestigious genealogy. Having seized power by force, the Banū Naṣr did not inherit their authority from a previous dynasty in al-Andalus or elsewhere in the Islamic world. Therefore, construction of a convincing family origin was even more fundamental in laying the foundations of their new rule, to justify their ascension to power and to assuage any concerns of the populace about the takeover.

According to the descriptions available in both the Arabic3 and the Castilian4 chronicles, the founder of the kingdom of Granada, Muḥammad I (p.63) (r. 629–71/1232–73), was a peasant devoted to agriculture and the defence of his natal village, Arjona (in the province of Jaén), from the Christians, since this enclave became a town on the border with the kingdom of Castile in the first half of the thirteenth century. The chronicler Ibn al-Khaṭīb (d. 776/1374) offers the most complete picture of this amīr, with the following words:

He was raised in Arjona, in the countryside of Cordoba, the best of the villages of the country and that of most abundant crops, which was his land and that of his grandfather. [He grew up] under the wing of welfare, devoted to agriculture, and in an atmosphere of bravery and fame… [He was] a warrior, an energetic, strong, and extremely firm frontier man, who refused the calm and tranquillity and preferred austerity and courage to comfort, being easily satisfied. Indifferent to affectation, he was rough in his arms and a very decisive person, feared for his braveness and extremely diligent.5

It could seem inconceivable to reconcile this humble occupation with the noble ancestry borne by the Banū Naṣr. However, Francisco Vidal stated that they were not incompatible, since what medieval authors ascribe to the Naṣrid dynasty is a prestigious genealogy and a high social and religious status, which did not necessarily involve possession of wealth at the outset.6

The Anṣār, Qays, and Saʿd b. ʿUbāda: the ancestors of the Banū Naṣr

The Arabic sources, particularly those composed by the Naṣrid vizier Lisān al-Dīn b. al-Khaṭīb (d. 776/1374) in the fourteenth century, trace the Banū Naṣr's lineage7 to Saʿd b. ʿUbāda b. Dulaym b. Ḥāritha (d. 14/635), an important member of the Khazraj tribe and one of the most outstanding (p.64) Medinese Anṣār of the Prophet Muḥammad.8 The Khazraj9 tribe was one of the two most important groups inhabiting Medina, the other being the Aws.10 Both factions, which belonged to the tribal group of the Azd and were from Yemen, came from the bigger tribal confederation of Qaḥṭān, the ancestor of all South Arabian peoples, sometimes referred to as ‘the father of all Yemen’.11 According to tradition, these two tribes migrated from Yemen led by one of their number called ʿAmr Muzayqiyā, after which they fought against other members of the Ghassān coalition, separating permanently from them and settling down in the city of Yathrīb (later called Medina) around the year 500 bce.12 Here they were initially subordinated to the Jews inhabiting the city, over whom they gained the upper hand as a result of their increasing numbers and wealth, becoming masters of the political affairs of Medina once a member of the Khazraj, Mālik b. al-Ajlān, secured their independence.13

The confederation of which both the Aws and the Khazraj were part was originally known in pre-Islamic times as the Banū Qayla, after their feminine antecedent Qayla bint al-Arqam b. ʿAmr b. Jafna b. ʿAmr Muzayqiyā. However, their common denomination fell into disuse in Islamic times, being substituted by that of the Anṣār (meaning ‘the Helpers’), derived from the expression anṣār al-nabī (‘the Helpers’ or ‘the Defenders of the Prophet’), owing to the critical assistance they lent Muḥammad on several occasions. Therefore, the respective descendants of both tribes, Aws and Khazraj, received the honorary common nisba of al-Anṣārī, together with al-Awzī or al-Khazrajī respectively.

According to Montgomery Watt, the Arabic verb naṣara entails the connotation of ‘helping a person wronged against the enemy’.14 This name (p.65) could have been influenced by the term naṣārā, used in Arabic to refer to the disciples of Jesus. The Qurʾān says,

O ye who believe! Be Allah's helpers (anṣār), even as Jesus son of Mary said unto the disciples (anṣār), ‘Who are my helpers for Allah?’ They said, ‘We are Allah's helpers (anṣār).’15

But when Jesus became conscious of their disbelief, he cried, ‘Who will be my helpers (anṣār) in the cause of Allah?’ The disciples said, ‘We will be Allah's helpers (anṣār). We believe in Allah, and bear thou witness that we have surrendered (unto Him).’16

In a compelling article, Maribel Fierro provides a comprehensive selection of examples extracted from the Qurʾān using the term anṣār to refer to different religious matters, primarily concerning the Manichaean god's help against the evildoers in support of the Muslim believers and prophets, in order to stress the theme of God being the ultimate helper and protector (nāṣir) of human beings in this life and the afterlife.17

The first effective contact established by the Prophet with the Aws and the Khazraj took place during his pilgrimage of the year 620, when he met with six men of the Khazraj. Both tribes then chose Muḥammad as arbitrator of the feuds between them, which were finally resolved through the Prophet's mediation. This precipitated the participation of the Aws and the Khazraj in the two ‘Pledges of alʿAqaba’.18 The historian alṬabarī (d. 310/923) relates that twelve Anṣārī men went on the pilgrimage to Mecca and met Muḥammad at nearby alʿAqaba,19 where they took part in the first pledge of alʿAqaba (621). The second pledge took place the following year. According to al- Ṭabarī, several Muslim Anṣār conducted the ḥajj,

with polytheist pilgrims from their people, and when they came to Mecca they agreed to meet the Messenger of God [the Prophet Muḥammad] at alʿAqaba in the middle of the days of al-tashrīq. Thus Allah wished to honour them, to aid his Prophet, to make Islam and its followers mighty, and to humble polytheism and its followers.20

(p.66) The Anṣār again demonstrated their improved internal relations and steadfast commitment to the Prophet in year 2/624 by providing threequarters of the troops for the famous Islamic battle of Badr.21 Years later, the Anṣār once again ‘assisted’ the Prophet during his ḥajj of 9/632. Although the Anṣār, as indicated by these textual references, were prominent in the early days of Islam, their significant influence soon began its decline when the tribe did not support the ‘rightly guided’ (rāshidūn) caliph ʿUthmān b. ʿAffān (r. 23–35/644–56). The Anṣār strongly opposed the Umayyad family to which ʿUthmān belonged and defended his adversary, the fourth Islamic caliph ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (r. 35–40/656–61), later supporting the ʿAbbāsids.22

Within the Anṣār, the Naṣrids claimed to be descendants of one specific figure of the clan of the Khazraj, Abū Thābit/Abū Qays Saʿd b. ʿUbāda b. Dulaym b. Ḥāritha al-Khazrajī (d. 14/635).23 He was born in Medina to ʿUmra bint Masʿūd b. Qays (d. 5/626), a woman who was quick to recognize the spiritual authority of Muḥammad.24 Saʿd b. ʿUbāda, an early convert to Islam like his mother, was a prestigious figure within the Anṣār in both pre-Islamic and Islamic times, eventually becoming the leader of the Khazraj.25 During the Jāhiliyya (the pre-Islamic era), he was referred to as ‘the perfect one’ (al-kāmil) and was considered a wealthy and extremely generous person.26 Indeed, it is reported that every day he would bestow a gift of fine food on the Prophet.27 Muḥammad was fond of him, trusting his sound advice and unconditional support, as Saʿd b. ʿUbāda participated in most of the early Muslim skirmishes,28 (p.67) carrying the Prophet's flag on the day of the conquest of Mecca29and witnessing the aforementioned second pledge of alʿAqaba (1/622).30

Saʿd b. Muʿādh was replaced upon his death by Saʿd b. ʿUbāda as the main leader of the Anṣār.31 In this capacity, Saʿd b. ʿUbāda presided over the tribe's meetings and aspired to be the caliph of Islam after the Prophet's death in 9/632, taking advantage of his closeness to Muḥammad. The fact that nobody led the prayers during Muḥammad's burial was symbolic of the dilemma about his succession created by his death, as pointed out by Maribel Fierro.32 To fill this gap, the Anṣār met at their saqīfa (roofed building or portico) and decided to appoint Saʿd to the caliphate, but Abū Bakr alṢiddīq and ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb thwarted the decision.33 When Abū Bakr was ultimately chosen as the successor of Muḥammad, Saʿd b. ʿUbāda did not recognize his authority, rejecting the proposed prerequisite of having to belong to the Prophet's Quraysh clan for eligibility to the caliphate.34

During the reign of the second rāshidūn caliph, ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (r. 13–23/634–44), Saʿd b. ʿUbāda moved to Ḥawrān, Syria, where he stayed until his death in 11/632–3, 14/635–6 or 15/636–7.35 According to Ṭāhir al- Akla, he may have been murdered by the Quraysh for his refusal to accept the authority of the first two caliphs.36 His tomb, now a much-visited shrine, is located at al-Manīḥa, a village close to Damascus. Over the grave there is a small, nicely built mosque, and at its head is a stone with an inscription, as the celebrated Maghribī traveller Ibn Baṭṭūṭa (d. 770/1368–9 or 779/1377) described.37 More recently, the adventurous Arabist traveller Carolyn McIntyre personally visited the sepulchre of Saʿd b. ʿUbāda, where ‘a new, large (and rather unattractive) mosque is now built over this tomb’.38

(p.68) The Naṣrids linked themselves to Saʿd b. ʿUbāda through his son Abū’l- Faḍl39 Qays (d. 59/678–9 or 60/679–80),40 who, according to his biographers, inherited the generosity and economic solvency of his father.41 Qays was the chief of the police (ṣāḥib al-shurṭa) in Medina during the time of the Prophet42 and, like Saʿd, he initially supported the rāshidūn caliph ʿAlī,43 and was appointed governor of Egypt in 36/656–7.44 However, after ʿAlī's murder in 41/661, Qays recognized Muʿāwiya, the first Umayyad sovereign, until he died in his hometown in 59/678–9 or later.45 A thorough study of the family branches in al-Andalus derived from Qays is fundamental to determine whether the Banū Naṣr possibly could be descendants of this early Islamic figure. The next section will be devoted to this exhaustive task.

Reconstructing Naṣrid genealogy: an impossible task?

Like many other Islamic dynasties, the Naṣrids established their own ideology of kingship,46 including the adoption of a nasab,47 a prestigious genealogy which ‘helped them both to assert the legality and legitimacy of their reigns, and maintain their claims to rule in the eyes of various, often overlapping audiences, frequently in opposition to the claims of others’.48 According to Franz Rosenthal, ‘for dynasties, genealogy also provided the historical validation of kingship and all that it involves… Kinship continued to remain a most important factor in Muslim society, for reasons such as the enduring determination of “nobility” with its attending privileges on the basis of tribal descent (and descent from the Prophet and ʿAlī).’49

The obsession among Muslim families with the need to be constantly connected to ‘orthodox’ Arab ancestors led to the composition of numerous genealogical works in both the Islamic east and west. The genre of genealogy became, therefore, ‘one of the richest literary genres in Arabic, Persian, and (p.69) Turkish, and therefore the modern historians of Islamic civilization have always recognized the importance of genealogical sources’, in the opinion of İlker Evrim Binbaş.50 Borrowing from Franz Rosenthal,51 Maribel Fierro stresses that the ‘great interest in genealogy developed in Islamic societies has left traces everywhere in Muslim historiographical genres. These traces can also be found in literary genres other than historical’,52 such as genealogical treatises. Genealogy became a subject of great interest in al-Andalus owing to the Iberian peninsula's geographic isolation from the Islamic east. Intellectuals such as Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456/1064) offered in their works exhaustive expositions of the genealogical chains of the several tribes from the Arabian peninsula that were present in al-Andalus, identifying which Andalusī families were descended from them.53

One of the major difficulties found when trying to reconstruct the nasab of the Banū Naṣr has to do with its opacity, to which two main facts contribute: the lack of certain links in the family sequence, which is, therefore, incomplete; and the contradictions existing between Arabic chroniclers who offer information about the predecessors of the Naṣrids. The first step in verifying the Yemeni Anṣārī ascendance of the Banū Naṣr is to determine exactly when in the eighth century, and precisely where in al-Andalus, the first Khazrajī Anṣār descendants of Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda settled, in order to track their development through to the thirteenth century when, allegedly, one of his family lines is found in Arjona (the Banū Naṣr).

The Islamic conquest of the Iberian peninsula was undertaken during two virtually simultaneous but ethnically distinct phases: the mostly Berber campaign of 711, led by Ṭāriq b. Ziyād, and the mainly Arab wave conducted by Mūsā b. Nuṣayr in 712. Each ethnic group settled in a different area of al- Andalus.54 The combined information provided by al-Iṣṭakhrī (fl. fourth/tenth century), Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456/1064) and Ibn Khaldūn (d. 808/1406) provides the approximate locations of the settlements of these first tribes. From the Jamharat ansāb al- ʿArab by Ibn Ḥazm, it is possible to establish in a very precise way the composition of the first main tribal groups that accompanied (p.70) Mūsā b. Nuṣayr to al-Andalus, and to reconstruct the map of their geographical distribution.

One of the main clues to understanding the first decades of Andalusī history is tribal affiliation. According to Pièrre Guichard, those who settled in the south-east of the Iberian peninsula and Saragossa were mainly Yemenis (southern Arabians from the tribes of Lakhm, Judhām, Yaḥṣub and Tujīb).55 It is also textually proven that there were families in al-Andalus descended from the Medinese Anṣār, through the presence of its two tribal factions, the Aws and the Khazraj. Evariste Lévi-Provençal states that,

In the Spain of the eighth century, there was likely a very weak proportion of ethnic Arabs, amongst whom some representatives of the recent religious aristocracy of the ‘Defenders’ (Anṣār) and the Successors (Tābiūn) of the Prophet stood out. If this proportion was increased later, it was due to the restoration of the Umayyad dynasty in this isolated land of the Arabic empire and the prestige that very soon started to surround this province of Islam within the area of the Arabic speaking world.56

According to the testimonies of Ibn Saʿīd (d. 685/1286) and Ibn Ghālib (d. after 565/1169–70), the Anṣār were very numerous in al-Andalus and were established in Toledo and the east and west regions of al-Andalus. Ibn Saʿīd adds,

What is curious is that the [Anṣār] lineage is absent in Medina [its hometown], however, you find it in the majority of the cities of al-Andalus in unusual quantity. An individual told me he had asked about this nisba [of al-Anṣārī] in Medina and could not find in the city any more than one old man and one old woman from the Aws tribe.57

However, Maribel Fierro mentions the curious testimony of Ibn Diḥya (d. 633/1235), according to whom the al-Anṣārī nisba ‘was used by those Andalusīs who lacked a[n Arabic] nasab, to the extent that anyone visiting al-Andalus should not give any credit to the genealogical affiliation of those Andalusīs called “al-Anṣārī”’. This social phenomenon led Ibn Diḥya to denominate it ‘an “ample genealogy” (al-nasab al- wāsi ʿ) precisely because of its (apparently) indiscriminate use’.58Analysis of the Andalusī biographical repertoires confirms the considerable increase of the nisba throughout the centuries of the history of al-Andalus.59

(p.71) The Anṣār seem to have settled down in the Andalusī cities located on prairies, close to the best lands. Ibn al-Khaṭīb (d. 776/1374) states that after they conquered (with Mūsā b. Nuṣayr) Saragossa and the bordering lands, that fertile enclave became their most concentrated settlement (manāzil al- Anṣār).60 The Arab Yemenis in Saragossa outnumbered even the Berbers. More members of the Anṣār tribes could have arrived along with the constant trickle of Arab immigrants to al-Andalus, which lasted until the second half of the eighth century. A considerable number of the Khazraj who arrived in the peninsula remained in their first settlements, constituting, in Pedro Chalmeta's words, a ‘stable ethnical contribution’ to Andalusī society.61

The Arabic sources, above all the chronicles and the biographical repertoires, provide interesting data concerning Andalusīs of the Anṣārī tribe of the Khazraj directly descending from Saʿd b. ʿUbāda through two of his sons, Saʿīd62 and Qays. When mentioning the Anṣārī ascendance of the Naṣrids, Ibn al-Khaṭīb states that two descendants of Saʿd b. ʿUbāda entered al-Andalus in the eighth century; one of them established himself in Ronda (Takurunna), while the other settled down in an enclave known as the ‘village of the Khazraj’ (qariyat al-Khazraj) at Saragossa.63 Below, however, we will focus on the descendants of Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda, the alleged ancestor of the Banū Naṣr.

In his Jamhara, Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456/1064) identifies a family in Sidonia descending from Qays: the Banū ʿAramram b. Jamīl b. ʿIṣām b. Qatāda b. Wattād b. Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda. According to the Muslim geographer al- Yaʿqūbī (d. after 292/905),64 the city was populated mainly by Yemenis. Another descendant of the same eponym was the renowned poet Abū Bakr ʿUbāda b. ʿAbd Allāh b. Muḥammad b. ʿUbāda b. Aflaḥ b. alḤusayn b. Yaḥyā b. Sulaymān b. Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda al-Anṣārī al-Khazrajī (d. 419/1028, or 422/1030–1), better known by his nickname Ibn Māʾ al-Samāʾ (Son of the ‘Water of Heaven’).65 Possibly born in Cordoba, he was a panegyrist of the Jaḥwārids of Cordoba and the Ḥammūdids of Malaga.

There are also references to another family tracing its origins to Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda: the Banū ʿĪsā al-Anṣārī al-Khazrajī. From Jérica (currently (p.72) in the eastern province of Castellón), one of its members migrated to Denia. Data provided by Arabic sources identify several members of this broad family; chronologically, the first is Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad b. Ṭāhir b. ʿAlī b. ʿĪsā (b. Muḥammad b. Ishtariminnī b. Ruṣayṣ b. Fākhir b. Faraj/Faraḥ b. Walīd b. Walīd b. ʿAbd Allāh b. Nuʿm al-Khalaf b. Ḥassān b. Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda).66 Probably born in Denia in the second half of the eleventh century, he was a grammarian who lived in Damascus and Baghdad, where he died in 519/1125–6.

Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad had a brother, Abū’lʿAbbās Aḥmad (d. 532/1138). Also born in Denia, he became a jurist (faqīh) and traditionalist after studying Islamic law in both al-Andalus and the Maghrib. Arabic texts identify one of his sons and even a great-grandson. His son, Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad, was also born in Denia, where he was a lawyer, and died in Murcia in the year 566/1170–1.67 Abū’lʿAbbās Aḥmad's great-grandson, named Abū’lḤusayn Yaḥyā,68 was born in Denia and worked as a poet, secretary and governor in Jativa for the local leader Ibn Hūd al-Mutawakkil; he died in Denia in the year 634/1237. Finally, a nephew of Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad and Abū lʿAbbās b. Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda, called Aḥmad, was the son of the third brother, named Sulaymān; according to the scarce preserved information, he was alive in the year 520/1126–7.69 As a final note, it is known that some members of this extended family continued practising law in eastern al-Andalus, until James I of Aragon (1213–76) conquered the region in the middle of the thirteenth century.

Another Qays descendant was Abū’l-Qāsim Muḥammad b. ʿĀmir b. Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Khalaf b. Sulaymān b. Shāhid b. alḤasan b. Yaḥyā b. Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda al-Anṣārī al-Khazrajī, who was a reciter of the Qurʾān (al-muqri ʾ) in both Saragossa and Seville. According to his biographers, he left for the Islamic east, where he devoted himself to commerce in Aleppo (Syria). After returning to al-Andalus, he settled down permanently in Fes, where he died in the year 580/1184.70

(p.73) There are noteworthy references to another family group, also explicitly descended from Saʿd b. ʿUbāda through Qays, characterized by bearing the nisba al-Saʿdī alʿUbādī or al-Sāʿidī after that of al-Khazrajī. Amongst its members was Abū Jaʿfar Aḥmad b. ʿAbd alṢamad b. Abū ʿUbayda Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad b. ʿAbd alḤaqq al-Anṣārī al- Khazrajī al Sāʿidī (d. 582/1187), an anti-Christian religious scholar (ʿālim) and Ḥadīth expert born in Cordoba.71

Another family branch using the nisba al-Sāʿidī was the Banū Ṭalḥa al-Anṣārī al-Khazrajī, of which there are several recorded members. Most noteworthy was Abū’lʿAbbās or Abū Jaʿfar Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Khalaf b. Yūnus b. Ṭalḥa al-Khazrajī al-Sāʿidī.72 Born in Alcira (Valencia), he was a scribe, poet, panegyrist and secretary of the Almohad dynasty and, later, of Ibn Hūd al-Mutawakkil. He was murdered in Ceuta in 632–3/1235. There is textual evidence of another member of the same family, Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf b. Muḥammad b. Khalaf b. Yūnus b. Ṭalḥa, who may have been originally from Játiva, where he died in 584/1188–9. According to Arabic sources, he had a son, called Abū Muḥammad Ṭalḥa, who also died in Játiva in 618/1221. Finally, there are references to another contemporary man of letters documented under the nisba of al-Sāʿidī: Abū’l- Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Muḥammad b. Yūsuf b. ʿAfīf, known as Ḍiyāʾ al-Dīn.73 Born in Priego (Cordoba), he travelled to Alexandria and Cairo, dying in the Islamic east after 680/1281–2.

Approaching the thirteenth century, when the Naṣrid dynasty — also allegedly descendants of Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda — assumed power in al- Andalus, the trail of the descendants of Saʿd b. ʿUbāda in the Iberian peninsula vanishes in the political arena, the references to them becoming less and (p.74) less frequent. The only descendant of the eponym of the Banū Naṣr in this period (of which we have proof) is a man named Abū’lḤasan Sahl b. Ṭalḥa (d. 652/1254–5), who — though not related — was curiously linked to the Naṣrid family as panegyrist of the amīr Muḥammad I (r. 629–71/1232–73). This lack of information could be explained by the hypothesis put forward by Pièrre Guichard, which asserts that the Anṣār, being tired of the numerous civil wars in which they were involved during the first centuries of the history of al-Andalus, decided to withdraw to a quieter life. Indeed, the Arabic biographical repertoires are dotted with names of Anṣārīs devoted to study and meditation in lieu of war and political intrigue.

The frequent population movements which naturally took place in al- Andalus as centuries went by — due to the territorial reduction of the Islamic area of the Iberian peninsula as Christian kingdoms advanced southwards — is another factor to consider. Constant migrations dispersed Arab families, making it more difficult to locate Anṣārīs during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This weakened the tribal links (ʿaṣabiyya) among factions of the same tribal confederation, as a new more recent geographic sense of belonging was becoming stronger. This evolving social reality was reflected in the emergence of geographical nisba s, which further covers the genealogical trail.

Given all the previous information regarding family branches derived from Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda in al-Andalus, is it possible to verify the Anṣārī ancestry of the Naṣrids? It appears that the Banū Naṣr were completely unconnected with the several groups descending from the alleged progenitor. The Arabic chronicles that mention their Anṣārī origin appear rather ambiguous, and those composed by Maghribī and eastern chroniclers outside of the Naṣrid kingdom openly question its veracity. Indeed, the Tunisian Ibn Khaldūn (d. 808/1406) cautiously observed that the Banū Naṣr ‘considered themselves (yunsabūna ilā) descendants of Saʿd b. ʿUbāda’.74 This is identical to al-Maqqarī's testimony in the seventeenth century that the Naṣrids ‘were known as the Banū Naṣr and said to descend from Saʿd b. ʿUbāda’.75 A very similar declaration is also reproduced by the secretary al-Qalqashandī (d. 821/1418).76

The only historians that assert the Anṣār ascendancy of the Naṣrids are al-Bunnāhī (d. after 792/1390)77 and Ibn al-Khaṭīb,78 and it is no coincidence (p.75) that both authors worked as viziers and secretaries for the Naṣrid court, writing their chronicles within the context of the kingdom of Granada. Both chroniclers developed, essentially, propaganda supporting the political and religious interests of the Naṣrid dynasty. However, despite their evident intentions, neither al-Bunnāhī nor Ibn al-Khaṭīb offers a convincing genealogy of the Banū Naṣr. Although both reproduce the entire nasab of the first Naṣrid amīr step-by-step, their contradictory, inaccurate versions differ, as will be illustrated.

At the end of the fourteenth century, al-Bunnāhī assigned the founder of the Naṣrid kingdom the following genealogical chain: ‘Muḥammad b. Yūsuf b. Naṣr b. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Khamīs b. ʿUqayl ‘al-Aḥmar’ b. Naṣr… Ibn Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda b. Dulaym b. Ḥāritha b. Abī Ḥuzayma b. Thaʿlaba b. Ṭarīf b. al-Khazraj’.79 Although his version seems to be more precise than that suggested by Ibn al-Khaṭīb, al-Bunnāhī's testimony is not sufficiently credible. On one hand, it only reaches al-Khazraj; on the other, it is incomplete, as there are missing links between Naṣr and Qays.80 Available pre-Naṣrid Arabic sources do not fill that gap, offering no information on the unknown Andalusī ancestors of the Naṣrids that al-Bunnāhī omits. Although we have textually proved the existence of family branches derived from Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda in al-Andalus from the eighth century onwards, those families cannot be linked to the Naṣrids, being considered parallel lineages. María Jesús Rubiera has interpreted al-Bunnāhī's work as ‘political writing’ serving to legitimatize the Banū Naṣr's claim to the caliphate in the time of the amīr Muḥammad V, which will be analysed below.81

Ibn al-Khaṭīb offers a longer, but different, nasab of the Naṣrid amīr Muḥammad I in the fourteenth century: ‘Muḥammad b. Yūsuf b. Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Khamīs b. Naṣr b. Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda b. Sulaymān b. Ḥāritha b. Khalīfa b. Thaʿlaba b. Ṭarīf b. al-Khazraj b. Ḥāritha b. Thaʿlaba b. ʿUmar b. Yaʿrūb b. Yashjūb b. Qaḥṭān b. Humays b. Yuman b. Nabt b. Ismāʿīl b. Ibrāhīm’.82 Although more ambitious than al-Bunnāhī's version, his genealogical chain could be considered even less reliable for several reasons. First of all, the names of early links appear to be erroneous: Sulaymān should be Dulaym; Khalīfa is in fact Abū Ḥuzayma; and ʿUmar may have been mistaken for ʿAmr (Muzayqiyā). Second, the sequence of names provided by Ibn al-Khaṭīb from ʿUmar backwards is clearly erroneous. Considering that Ibn Ḥazm83 and Ibn (p.76) al-Athīr84 provide the exact genealogy of Saʿd b. ʿUbāda, and, therefore, of the al-Khazraj tribe, the lineage could be reconstructed as follows: al-Khazraj b. Ḥāritha b. Thaʿlaba b. ʿAmr Muzayqiyāʾ b. ʿĀmir Māʾ al-Samāʾ b. Ḥāritha al- Giṭrīf b. Imrū’ l-Qays b. Thaʿlaba b. Māzin b. al-Azd. Comparing this nasab to that offered by Ibn al-Khaṭīb, from al-Khazraj backwards, there are glaring differences from ʿUmar until the end. Ibn al-Khaṭīb also makes one mistake when he changes the order of the names Yaʿrūb b. Yashjūb b. Qaḥṭān, which should be Yashjūb b. Yaʿrūb b. Qaḥṭān, according to Ibn Ḥazm.85At one point of the chain Ibn al-Khaṭīb veers off course from the accepted nasab to link the Naṣrids directly to Qaḥṭān, the tribe to which all the Yemeni groups belong, omitting a significant portion of the actual sequence. He even connects the Naṣrid genealogy with Abraham, clearly trying to stress the Yemeni origin of the Banū Naṣr.

This analysis clearly reveals serious complications in establishing a complete and authentic genealogy of the Naṣrids which irrefutably links them to the Medinese Anṣār and, more specifically, to Saʿd b. ʿUbāda through his son Qays, as was the Naṣrids’ intention. There are strong reasons to doubt the authenticity of their far-fetched family origin, which appears to be a calculated strategy of fabricated legitimacy. Perhaps a clearer conclusion could have been drawn if non-Andalusī works, such as the Shajara-yi ansāb by the Persian Fakhr-i Mudabbir (d. c.626/1228), had included a detailed genealogy of the Naṣrids.86

What motivated the Banū Naṣr to claim an Anṣārī tribal origin, and when did they decide to do so? These are actually difficult questions to answer, and they have generated different opinions among specialists. Most scholars, including María Jesús Rubiera87 and Francisco Vidal Castro,88 think that the adhesion of the Naṣrids to the Anṣār began at the peak of the Naṣrid dynasty, in the fourteenth century, arguing that the first sources that reflect the Anṣārī origin — amongst them those composed by al-Bunnāhī and Ibn al- Khaṭīb — date from this point onwards. On the contrary, the Arabic sources composed in the thirteenth century, when the Naṣrid kingdom was created, do not make any explicit reference to the Anṣārī origin of the Banū Naṣr. To give an example, the secretary of Muḥammad I, Abū Bakr Ibn Khaṭṭāb al-Mursī (d. 686/1287),89 once wrote an official document entirely devoted to praise of (p.77) the Naṣrid dynasty, using all kinds of epithets.90 Although an ideal occasion to allude to the prestigious Anṣārī origin of the Banū Naṣr, tellingly nothing is said in this regard.

Another text that could lead one to think that the Anṣārī genealogy of the Naṣrids may have been established in the thirteenth century and, more specifically, at the very beginnings of the kingdom is a work on genealogy composed by the Granadan author Abū Bakr ʿAtīq Ibn al-Farrāʿ al-Ghassānī (d. 696/1297).91 The title of this treatise is precisely Nuzhat alabṣār fī nasab (or fī faḍā ʾil, according to other versions) al-Anṣār (Pleasure of the glimpse of the genealogy (or merits) of the Anṣār).92 As reflected in the title, this treatise dealt with the genealogical origin of the Anṣār from Medina and its content is divided into five chapters: (1) On the mention of their genealogy; (2) On the praise of them by God; (3) On the praise of them by the Messenger of God also; (4) On the virtues of some of them — may God be satisfied with all of them!; and (5) On the excellences of their country. Although at first glance, this treatise seems to be a literary excuse to both spread and extol the Anṣārī origin of the Banū Naṣr, it is really just praise of the Medinese Anṣār, without any other second intention. It does not mention the Anṣārī genealogical origin of the Naṣrids.

Maribel Fierro calls our attention to another important detail: the singular of the expression Anṣār is anṣārī, according to the Qurʾānic text.93 Considering the Qurʾānic nuances of the expression alanṣār and the fact that it was subsequently assigned to an entire tribal confederation, Fierro draws the following intriguing conclusion:

the [Qurʾanic] context… allows ‘Al-Anṣārī’ to function both as an Arabic tribal affiliation (referring to tribesmen who belonged to Aws and Khazraj) and as a ‘pseudo–tribal’ affiliation when applied to persons or groups who are seen as helpers of God, the Prophet, and the Muslim community. In the later sense, it is a religious nisba or appellation.94

This insight could explain why the Banū Naṣr ‘awarded’ themselves the collective name of Anṣār in the thirteenth century, without originally intending to claim descent from the emblematic tribe. Indeed, there must (p.78) be similar cases in other areas and periods of the Muslim world and history illustrating the use of al-Anṣārī as a religious and non-tribal nisba.95 In this regard, the Naṣrids were not alone among Andalusī rulers in using the Arabic root nṣ-r for legitimating purposes; Maribel Fierro mentions the adoption of the honorific title of ‘Nāṣir al-Dīn’ (‘the helper of the religion’) by the first Andalusī Umayyad caliph, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III (r. 300–50/912–61), whose soldiers fighting against the Christian enemies of the north of the Iberian peninsula were referred to, precisely, as anṣār dīn Allāh (defenders of God's religion).96

All the texts that assign this questionable genealogy to the first Naṣrid amīr s of the thirteenth century — Muḥammad I (r. 629–71/1231–73), Muḥammad II (r. 671–701/1273–1301), Muḥammad III (r. 701–8/1302–9) and Naṣr (r. 708–13/1309–14) — were composed in the fourteenth century, when the legitimation of the Banū Naṣr by linking them to the Anṣār may have been politically motivated. If the Naṣrids of the thirteenth century ever considered themselves part of the Anṣār, it was only in their capacity as ‘helpers’ or ‘defenders’ of the religion of God in the threatened lands of al- Andalus. However, in the fourteenth century, the Naṣrid amīr s of the second dynasty inaugurated by Ismāʿīl I (r. 713–25/1314–25) possibly decided to take advantage of this ambiguous denomination by turning it into a tribal nisba with simple word play (both the eponym of the Naṣrids, ‘Naṣr’, and the expression ‘anṣār ’ come from the same Arabic root, nṣ-r). On this basis, they could have intentionally transformed their ‘honorific’ religious nomenclature of alanṣār into a social affiliation.

The first Naṣrid amīr to be described — in his epitaph — as a descendant of the Khazraj tribe was Naṣr (r. 708–13/1309–14), who passed away during the rule of Ismāʿīl I.97 It is significant that the first allusions to the Khazrajī origin of the Naṣrids were made in those texts written in the middle of the fourteenth century, a period which coincides with the peak of the Naṣrid kingdom. Indeed, this noble lineage is mentioned in most of the poems that were engraved on the walls of the Alhambra palace, in honour of the amīr s Ismāʿīl I (r. 713–25/1314–25) and Yūsuf I (r. 733–55/1333–54) and during the interrupted rule of Muḥammad V (r. 755–60/1354–9 and 763–93/1362–91).98 Another significant detail supports the same thesis: not until the fourteenth century did the Naṣrid amīr s start to assign their sons the names of Qays and (p.79) Saʿd, their illustrious ancestors.99 The first sultan to adopt this tradition was Yūsuf I, who named one of his children Qays.100 Muḥammad V called one of his sons Saʿd,101 a name that was also borne by both the father and one of the sons of the amīr Mawlay Ḥasan in the fifteenth century.102

The Naṣrid quest for the caliphate

A final question: why did the Naṣrid dynasty choose Saʿd b. ʿUbāda as their original ancestor? The great importance of this figure, the closest companion of Muḥammad from within the Anṣārī community, was discussed earlier. Although Saʿd was not officially appointed as first caliph of the young Islamic community, he was chosen as the candidate for the caliphate by the Anṣār as a consequence of his social influence.

Despite the fact that the Naṣrid amirate was created in the thirteenth century as a kingdom (mamlaka), its positive evolution throughout the fourteenth century brought other political needs. In the time of the first Naṣrid amīr, Muḥammad I, the ʿAbbāsid caliphate, although by then debilitated, still existed. The thirteenth century was devoted to laying the foundations of the solitary Muslim territory which inexplicably survived — centuries after the other Muslim states had fallen — in a peninsula crowded with menacing Christian kingdoms. This process forced the consolidation of the emirate, in every sense, which was achieved in the fourteenth century by the second ruling branch of the Banū Naṣr, inaugurated by Ismāʿīl I (r. 713–25/1314–25), awaking the aspirations of the Naṣrids to the caliphate itself.

María Jesús Rubiera developed this hypothesis based on a curious reference to the caliphate made in a poem by Ibn Zamrak, engraved in the Lindaraja outlook of the Lions Court at the Alhambra of Granada, built by the Naṣrid sultan Muḥammad V.103 In one line, the Naṣrid palace is referred as the ‘throne of the caliphate’ (kursī al-khilāfa), instead of being mentioned with the usual expression of ‘throne of the kingdom’ (kursī al-mulk), reproduced in the central hall of the Palace of Comares, constructed by the amīr Yūsuf I. (p.80) This terminological difference opened a debate about the possible implication of an upgrade of the Naṣrid dynasty's political status (whether achieved, proclaimed or merely desired), which could have taken place in the transition between the rule of Yūsuf I and that of his heir, Muḥammad V.

While there are no known textual or epigraphic references alluding to the Naṣrid amīr s of the thirteenth century as ‘caliphs’, plenty of them can be found accompanying the names of several sultans of the fourteenth century, from Ismāʿīl I onwards, although he shared the same secretary, Ibn al-Jayyāb (d. 749/1349), with the previous amīr s Muḥammad III and Naṣr. This led María Jesús Rubiera to conclude that the claim for the caliphate was a manoeuvre undertaken by Ismāʿīl I during the second ruling dynasty of the Banū Naṣr, who, following the example of other contemporary Islamic sovereigns, decided to adopt the title of amīr al-mu ʾminīn.104 In this sense, the Naṣrids styled themselves as khalīfat al-Raḥmān or directly as khalīfat Allāh, as the Ottomans would do later, instead of adopting the alternative formula of khalīfat rasūl Allāh. However, the people truly responsible for the official diffusion of these denominations were the secretaries working at the Naṣrid dīwān al-inshā ʾ (chancery) who recorded the caliphal titles of the Naṣrids in official letters, praise poems and on tombstones.

The first Naṣrid amīr to be called caliph was Ismā‘īl I, who is referred to as khalīfat al-Raḥmān in a poem engraved in the portico of the Generalife palace.105Therefore, he was considered the ‘the eponym of the caliphs’ (munjib al-khulafā ʾ) for having inaugurated this ambitious tradition. Yūsuf I was also referred to as caliph on several occasions: when praising him, his poet Ibn al-Jayyāb mentions Yūsuf I's ‘companions, the caliphs’ and his caliphal court (wa-qad a ʿlā bābi alkhalīfati Yūsuf), while Ibn al-Khaṭīb is grateful to the same ruler for having ‘brought back the lights to the caliphate’.106 His son Muḥammad V is also addressed as khalīfat Allāh in several poems composed for him by Ibn Zamrak, since he ‘succeeded Yusuf I to the caliphate’,107 according also to the testimony of al-Bunnāhī.108 Another author legitimizing the same right is the historian Ibn Sīmak (d. 787/1381) who, in the preface of his work al-Zaharāt al-manthūra, states that Muḥammad V is descended from the ‘Khazrajī caliphate’.109 Yūsuf II was, according to his gravestone, ‘the most generous of the caliphs’ (akramu alkhalā ʾif). His son, Yūsuf III, (p.81) who bore the honorific title of al-Nāṣir li-Dīn Allāh, was also referred to by his court poet, Ibn Furkūn (d. after 820/1417), as caliph, a title which is re-created with periphrastic expressions in the funereal praise of his tombstone, where he is described as being ‘adorned with patience and mildness amongst the caliphs of Islam (al-mutaḥallā bi’l-anāti wa’lḥilmi fī khulafā ʾ al-Islām)’.110

These and other quotations collected by María Jesús Rubiera reflect one central idea: the prevailing motive of the Banū Naṣr of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries for claiming to belong to the tribal — and not solely religious — Anṣār, by ‘direct’ descent from Saʿd b. ʿUbāda, was to inherit the right to the caliphate. Rubiera also suggested that, as a covered meeting place, the Hall of Comares at the Alhambra could be seen as a re-creation of that portico, or saqīfa, where Saʿd b. ʿUbāda should have been rightfully appointed caliph many centuries before.


As with any other medieval Islamic dynasty, the Banū Naṣr based an important part of their religious and political authority on a distinguished genealogical origin. This strategy was crucial in the process of the legitimization and consolidation of their power, not only inside al-Andalus, but in the rest of the Iberian peninsula and the Islamic world, since their rise to power was achieved by force and not inherited from a previous ruling family. For the purposes of the Naṣrids, the Anṣār, a group of early converts to Islam belonging to the close circle of the Prophet Muḥammad, represented an ideal candidate, since their denomination shared the same etymological origin, both linguistically asserting defence of the Islamic religion from enemies. Within the Anṣārī community, the Banū Naṣr linked themselves to Saʿd b. ʿUbāda through his son Qays, probably because this figure was the leader of the tribal group and was nearly appointed the first caliph of Islam.

With the textual information currently at our disposal, it is impossible to demonstrate the authenticity of the Anṣārī origin of the Banū Naṣr. The available Arabic sources should be used prudently, since those which entail more information about the Naṣrid genealogy — above all, those written by al-Bunnāhī and Ibn al-Khaṭīb — were composed by order of the Naṣrid dynasty, and their contents are therefore hardly objective. Considering that there were several families descended from Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda in al- Andalus from the eighth century, it is entirely conceivable that the Naṣrids might have had immediate Anṣārī ancestors in the Iberian peninsula; however, (p.82) the lineage that they reproduce does more to discredit their assertion than prove it, as it does not coincide with any of the known Andalusī families of the same ancestry that are registered in the Arabic biographic repertoires. The available Arabic sources do not include the biography of any of the alleged Andalusī ancestors of the Naṣrids.

As it cannot be textually proved and appears rather suddenly, the Anṣārī ancestry of the Banū Naṣr seems to have been invented in the first half of the fourteenth century, coinciding with the inauguration of the second ruling branch of the Naṣrid dynasty led by Ismāʿīl I. This legitimizing resource was thoroughly exploited by Yūsuf I and Muḥammad V, owing to their need to justify their right to stake a claim to the Islamic caliphate that they supposedly inherited from their ancestor Saʿd b. ʿUbāda. Although this is just a hypothesis, I am confident that the discovery of currently unknown Arabic texts will shed new light on this enigmatic issue. (p.83)

The Genealogical Legitimization of the Naṣrid Dynasty: The Alleged Anṣārī Origins of the Banū Naṣr*

Figure 4.1 Families descending from Saʿd b. ʿUbāda in al-Andalus (eighth to thirteenth centuries).

The Genealogical Legitimization of the Naṣrid Dynasty: The Alleged Anṣārī Origins of the Banū Naṣr*

Figure 4.2 Genealogy of the Banū Naṣr according to al-Bunnāhī and Ibn al-Khaṭīb.

Note: drawn from al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, p. 111; and Ibn al-Khaṭīb, Iḥāṭa, vol. II, p. 92, and Lamḥa, p. 42.

The Genealogical Legitimization of the Naṣrid Dynasty: The Alleged Anṣārī Origins of the Banū Naṣr*

Figure 4.3 Reconstruction of the genealogy of the Banū Naṣr according to al-Bunnāhī, Ibn al-Athīr and Ibn Ḥazm.

Note: drawn from al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, p. 111; Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, vol. II, pp. 356–8; Ibn Ḥazm, Jamhara, pp. 331–2, 365–6.



(*) This chapter has been composed within the research project that I am currently conducting at the Department of History, Washington University in St Louis, thanks to the Postdoctoral Fellowship I was awarded by the University of Granada.

(1) Manuela Marín, ‘Ṣaḥāba et Tābi ʿūn dans al-Andalus: histoire et légende’, Studia Islamica 54 (1981): 5–49.

(2) See Maribel Fierro, ‘Las nisba al-Anṣārī en al-Andalus y el cadí Mundhir b. Said’, Al-Qanṭara 25: 1 (2004): 233–7.

(3) Ibn al-Khaṭīb, Al-Iḥāṭa fī akhbār Gharnāṭa (The encompassing knowledge of the tales of Granada), ed. Muḥammad ʿAbd Allāh ʿInān, 4 vols. (Cairo: Maktabat al-Khānjī, 1973–7), vol. II, p. 93 (henceforth Iḥāṭa); al-Lamḥa al-badriyya fī l-dawla al-naṣriyya (The moon-like gleam concerning the Naṣrid dynasty), ed. Muḥibb al-Dīn al-Khaṭīb (Beirut: Dār al-Afāq al-Jadīda, 1980), p. 42 (henceforth Lamḥa).

(4) Primera crónica general de España, ed. Ramón Menéndez Pidal, 2 vols. (Madrid: Gredos, 1977), vol. II, p. 722; Crónica de veinte reyes, ed. José Manuel Ruíz Asencio and Mauricio Herrero Jiménez (Burgos: Ayuntamiento, 1991), p. 304; Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, Historia de rebvs Hispanie sive Historia Gótica, ed. Juan Fernández Valverde (Turnhout: Brepols, 1987), p. 294; ‘La Historia de la Casa Real de Granada. Anónimo castellano de mediados del siglo XVI’, Miscelánea de Estudios Árabes y Hebraicos 6 (1957): 7–56.

(5) Ihata, vol. II , pp. 93–4; Lam?a, pp. 42–3.

(6) Francisco Vidal Castro, ‘Historia política’, in M. J. Viguera Molíns (ed.), El Reino Nazarí de Granada (1232–1492): Política, instituciones, espacio y economía, vol. VIII /3 of Historia de España, ed. Ramón Menéndez Pidal (Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 2000), p. 78; see also Vidal, ‘Frontera, genealogía y religión en la gestación y nacimiento del Reino Nazarí de Granada. En torno a Ibn al-A?mar’, in Actas del III Estudios de frontera. Convivencia, defensa y comunicación en la frontera (Jaén: Diputación Provincial, 2000), pp. 793–810.

(7) I give an in-depth study of the genealogical origin of the Ban? Na?r in chapter 2 of De la Taifa de Arjona al Reino Nazarí de Granada (1232–1246). En torno a los orígenes de un estado y de una dinastía (Jaén: Instituto de Estudios Giennenes, 2005), pp. 85–121.

(8) For the history of this tribal confederation, see W. Montgomery Watt, ‘Al-Anṣār’, EI2, vol. I, pp. 514–15; Ṭāhir al-Akla, Al-Anṣār: Ramz alīthār waḍaḥiyyat alatharah: Dirāsa tawthīqīya li-masīrat Anṣār Rasūl Allāh ṭīlat qarn min al-zamān yataḍammanu ʿ Ahd al-Nubūwah waʿAhd al-Rāshidīn wa’lʿAhd al-Umawī (Beirut: Dār al-Hādī, 2001); Muḥammad al-Faruque, ‘Emigrants and helpers’, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur ʾān, ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe, 6 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2001–6), vol. II, pp. 14–18.

(9) See W. Montgomery Watt, ‘Al-Khazraj’, EI2, vol. IV, p. 1187.

(10) See W. Montgomery Watt, ‘Al-Aws’, EI2, vol. I, pp. 771–2. See also Isaac Hasson, ‘Contribution à l’étude des Aws et des Ḥazrag’, Arabica 36 (1989): 1–35.

(11) A. Fischer and A. K. Irvine, ‘Kaḥṭān’, EI2, vol. IV, pp. 447–9.

(12) Medina was the name received by the town of Yathrib after the hijra or migration there from Mecca of the Prophet Muḥammad in 622. It consists of a shortened version of the expression madīnat al-nabī (the city of the Prophet). For the history of this town, see R. B. Winder, ‘Al-Madīna,’ EI2, vol. V, pp. 994–1007.

(13) Boloix-Gallardo, De la Taifa de Arjona, p. 88; Al-Faruque, ‘Emigrants and helpers’, p. 16.

(14) Montgomery Watt, ‘Al-Anṣār’, p. 514.

(15) Qurʾān 61: 14.

(16) Qurʾān 3: 52.

(17) Maribel Fierro, ‘The Anṣārīs, Nasir al-Din and the Naṣrids in al-Andalus’, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 31 (2006): 232–47.

(18) The Pledges of alʿAqaba consisted of two secret meetings between Muḥammad and men from Medina, most of them belonging to the Anṣār, during the pilgrimages of 621 and 622. In both assemblies, the participants promised to defend Muḥammad, with arms if necessary, in future military conflicts. See W. Montgomery Watt, ‘AlʿAqaba’, EI2, vol. I, p. 314.

(19) AlṬabarī, Ta ʾrīkh al-rusūl wa’l-mulūk wa’l-khulafāʾ, vol. VI, trans. and annot. W. Montgomery Watt and M. V. McDonald in Muḥammad at Mecca (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), p. 126.

(20) Ibid., p. 130.

(21) Muḥammad b. Saʿd, Kitāb alṭabaqāt al-kabīr (Book of great biographies), trans. De S. Moinul Haq and H. K. Ghazanfar, 2 vols. (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 1990), vol. II, p. 20.

(22) Boloix-Gallardo, De la Taifa de Arjona, p. 90.

(23) Several medieval sources include information about this important figure of the Khazraj: al- Bunnāhī, Nuzhat al-baṣā ʾir wa-l-abṣār (The pleasure of discernment and sight), partial edition by Marc Joseph Müller, Die letzten Zeiren von Granada (Munich: Christian Kaiser, 1863), pp. 101–7; ʿIzz al-Dīn Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba fī ma ʿrifat alṢaḥāba, vol. II (The lion of the thicket concerning knowledge of the Companions) (Cairo: Kitāb al-Shaʿb, n.d.), pp. 356–8, number 2,012; Ibn Hishām, Sīrat al-nabī (Biography of the Prophet), ed. ʿAbd alḤamīd (Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, n.d.); Ibn Saʿd, alṬabaqāt al-kabīr, vol. II, pp. 20ff. Amongst the modern studies devoted to this figure, see Khayr al-Dīn al-Ziriklī, al-A ʿlām: Qāmūs tarājim li-ashhār al-rijāl wa’l-nisāʾ min alʿarab wa’l-mustaʿrabīn wa’-l-mustashriqīn (Biographical dictionary of the most famous men and women among the Arabs, the Arabists and the Orientalists), vol. III (Beirut: Dār alʿIlm li’l-Malāyīn, 1984), p. 135; W. Montgomery Watt, ‘Saʿd b. ʿUbāda’, EI2, vol. VIII, p. 698; Ṭāhir al-Akla, al-Anṣār, pp. 236–43; Boloix-Gallardo, De la Taifa de Arjona, pp. 90–3.

(24) Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-Ghāba, vol. II, p. 356.

(25) Montgomery Watt, ‘Al-Anṣār’, p. 514.

(26) Al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, p. 102.

(27) Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-Ghāba, vol. II, p. 356; Al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, p. 103.

(28) Although it is textually confirmed that Saʿd b. ʿUbāda took part in the battles of Uḥud (3/625) and the Khandaq (4/626), historians diverge on his participation in the celebrated battle of Badr (2/624). Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-Wāqidī, Kitāb al-maghāzī (Book of campaigns), ed. Marsden Jones, 3 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), vol. I, p. 101, al-Madāʾinī, Ibn al-Kalbī and Ibn Ḥazm confirm his presence in this military encounter, while Ibn al-Athīr ignores whether he was there or not. Ibn Ḥazm, Jamharat ansāb al- ʿarab (Collection of the lineages of the Arabs), ed. ʿAbd al-Salām Muḥammad Hārūn (Cairo: Dār al-Ma‘ārif, 1977), p. 365.

(29) Al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, pp. 104–5.

(30) Ibid.; Montgomery Watt, ‘Saʿd b. ʿUbāda’, p. 698.

(31) Montgomery Watt, ‘Al-Anṣār’, p. 514 and ‘Saʿd b. ʿUbāda’, p. 698.

(32) Fierro, ‘The Anṣārīs’, p. 337.

(33) A detailed account of the failed attempt at Saʿd b. ʿUbāda's appointment is offered by alṬabarī, Ta ʾrīkh, vol. X, trans. and annot. Fred M. Donner, The Conquest of Arabia (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), pp. 1–10; al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, pp. 104–5; Montgomery Watt, ‘Saʿd b. ʿUbāda,’ p. 698; Ṭāhir al-Akla, Al-Anṣār, pp. 230–5, under the epigraph ‘Al-Anṣār wa-l-khilāfa’.

(34) AlṬabarī, Ta ʾrīkh, p. 10.

(35) Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-Ghāba, vol. II, p. 358.

(36) Al-Akla, Al-Anṣār, pp. 242–3.

(37) Tuḥfat al-nuẓẓār figharā ʾib alamṣār waʿajāʾib alasfār (The observers’ treasure concerning the curiosities of the cities and the wonders of travel), ed. ʿAlī al-Muntaṣir al-Kattānī (Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Risāla, 1985), p. 113; Travels of Ibn Battuta, ed. and trans. H. A. R. Gibb, 5 vols. (Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1958), vol. I, pp. 141–2.

(39) He also bore the kunya s Abū ʿAbd Allāh and Abū ʿAbd al-Malik.

(40) For his biography, see Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-Ghāba, vol. II, pp. 424–7; Ṭāhir al-Akla, Al-Anṣār, pp. 364–9, 389–91; Boloix-Gallardo, De la Taifa de Arjona, pp. 93–6.

(41) Montgomery Watt, ‘Saʿd b. ʿUbāda’, p. 698.

(42) Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-Ghāba, vol. II, p. 425; Ibn Ḥazm, Jamhara, p. 365.

(43) Ibn Ḥazm, Jamhara, p. 137.

(44) Ziriklī, al-A ʿlām, vol. VI, p. 56.

(45) Ibid.

(46) Defined as ‘the set of ideas by which a ruler defines himself as a sovereign’ by Anne F. Broadbridge, Kingship and Ideology in the Islamic and Mongol Worlds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 6.

(47) For this concept, see Franz Rosenthal, ‘Nasab’, EI2, vol. VII, pp. 967–8.

(48) Ibid.

(49) Ibid., p. 967.

(50) İlker Evrim Binbaş, ‘Structure and Function of the Genealogical Tree in Islamic Historiography’, in Horizons of the World: Festschrift for Isenbike Togan, ed. İlker Evrim Binbaş and Nurten Kiliç– Schubel (Istanbul: Ithaki, 2011), pp. 465–544.

(51) Franz Rosenthal, A History of Muslim Historiography (Leiden: Brill, 1968), p. 100.

(52) Fierro, ‘The Anṣārīs’, p. 232.

(53) Jacinto Bosch Vilá, ‘La ciencia de los linajes y los genealogistas en la España musulmana’, Miscelanea de Estudios dedicados al Profesor Antonio Marín Ocete, vol. I (Granada: Universidad- Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad, 1974), pp. 63–77.

(54) For the Islamic conquest of the Iberian peninsula, as an extension of the Muslim occupation of North Africa, see Pedro Chalmeta, Invasión e islamización. La sumisión de Hispania y la formación de al-Andalus (Madrid: Mapfre, 1994).

(55) Pièrre Guichard, Al-Andalus. Estructura antropológica de una sociedad islámica en Occidente (Granada: Archivum, 1976), p. 338.

(56) Evariste Lévi-Provençal, trans. Emilio García Gómez in España musulmana hasta la caída del Califato de Córdoba (711–1031 de J. C.), vol. IV of Historia de España, ed. Ramón Menéndez Pidal (Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1957), p. 50.

(57) Both included by al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ alṭīb min ghuṣn al-Andalus al-raṭīb (The fragrant scent of the green branch of al-Andalus), ed. Iḥsān ʿAbbās, 8 vols. (Beirut: Dār Ṣādir, 1968), vol. I, p. 294.

(58) Fierro, ‘The Anṣārīs’, pp. 232–3.

(59) Ibid., 233.

(60) Iḥāṭa, vol. I, p. 182.

(61) Chalmeta, Invasión e islamización, p. 224.

(62) For detailed information on family branches descending from Saʿīd b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda in al-Andalus, see Boloix-Gallardo, Taifa de Arjona, pp. 99–106.

(63) Iḥāṭa, vol. II, p. 93.

(64) Al-Yaʿqūbī, Kitāb al-buldān (Leiden: Brill, 1967), p. 354.

(65) For his biography, see Ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī, Kitāb Rāyāt al-mubarrizīn. El libro de las banderas de los campeones de Ibn Sa ʿīd al-Maghrībī, ed. and Spanish trans. Emilio García Gómez (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1978), number 66; al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ alṭīb, vol. I, p. 295; Fernando de la Granja, ‘Ibn Māʾ al-Samāʾ’, EI2, vol. III, p. 855.

(66) For his biography, see V. C. Navarro Oltra, ‘Ibn ʿIsà al-Anṣārī, Abū ʿAbd Allāh’, in Biblioteca de al-Andalus, ed. J. Lirola Delgado and J. M. Puerta Vílchez, 8 vols. (Almeria: Fundacíon Ibn Tufayl de Estudios Árabes, 2009), vol. III, pp. 526–8, number 649.

(67) For his biography, see Ibn al-Abbār, al-Takmila li-kitāb alṣila (The continuation of ‘The continuation’ [by Ibn Bashkuwāl]), ed. ʿAbd al-Salām al-Harrās, 4 vols. (Casablanca: Dār al-Maʿārif, 1990–6), vol. II, p. 37, number 100; Ibn ʿAbd al-Malik, Al-Dhayl wa’l-takmila li-kitabay al-Mawṣūl wa’lṢila (The appendix and completion of the two books, ‘History of the scholars of al-Andalus’ [by Ibn al-Faraḍī] and ‘The continuation’ [by Ibn Bashkuwāl]), ed. Iḥsan ʿAbbās, 5 vols. (Beirut: Dār al- Thaqāfa, 1965), vol. V, p. 647, number 1233.

(68) For his biography, see Navarro Oltra, ‘Ibn ʿIsà al-Anṣārī, Abū ʿAbd Allāh’, in Biblioteca de al- Andalus, vol. III, pp. 528–9, number 650.

(69) Ibn ʿAbd al-Malik, Dhayl, vol. I, p. 127, number 183.

(70) Ibn al-Abbār, Takmila, vol. II, p. 57, number 156; Ibn ʿAbd al-Malik, Dhayl, vol. VI, pp. 425–6, number 1133.

(71) For his biography, see Cristina de la Puente, ‘Ibn ʿAbd alṢamad al-Khazrajī, Abū Jaʿfar’, in Diccionario de autores y obras andalusíes, vol. I, ed. J. Lirola Delgado and J. M. Puerta Vílchez (Seville: Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Cultura; Granada: Fundación el Legado Andalusí, 2002), pp. 329–32, number 166.

(72) For his biography, see Ibn al-Abbār, Tuḥfat alqādim, ed. Iḥsān ʿAbbās (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al- Islāmī, 1986), pp. 222–3, number 96; Ibn ʿAbd al-Malik, Dhayl, vol. I, pp. 377–81, number 531; Iḥāṭa, vol. I, pp. 235–9; Ibn Saʿīd, Ikhtiṣār al-Qidḥ al-mu ʿalla, ed. Ibrāhīm al-Abyārī (Cairo: Dār al-Kitāb al-Miṣrī; Beirut: Dār al-Kitāb al-Lubnānī, 1980), pp. 114–17, number 18; Ibn Saʿīd, al-Mughrib fī ḥula al-Maghrib, vol. II, ed. Shawqī Ḍayf (Cairo: Dār al-Maʿārif, 1955), pp. 364–5, number 577; alṢafadī, Kitāb al-wāfī bi’l-wafayāt (Book of completeness in obituaries), ed. Wadād al-Qāḍī et al., 22 vols. (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1974–83), vol. 8, pp. 46–7, number 3457.

(73) Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Miknāsī known as Ibn al-Qāḍī, Durrat alḥijāl fī asmā ʾ al-rijāl (The pearl-like bridal canopy of the names of men), ed. Muḥammad al-Aḥmadī Abū’l-Nūr, 3 vols. (Tunisia: al-Maktaba alʿAtīqa and Cairo: Dār al-Turāth, 1970–1), vol. III, pp. 213–14, number 122; Ibn al- Zubayr, Kitāb ṣilat alṢila (The book of the continuation of ‘The continuation’ [by Ibn Bashkuwāl]), vol. IV, ed. ʿAbd al-Salām al-Harrās and Saʿīd Aʿrab (al-Muḥammadiyya, Morocco: Wizārat al-Awqāf wa’l-Shuʾūn al-Islāmiyya, 1994), p. 150, number 306.

(74) Ibn Khaldūn, Kitāb al- ʿibar wadīwān al-mubtadaʾ wa’l-khabar fī ayyām alʿArab wa’lʿAjam wa’l- Barbar (The book of admonitions and the collection of causes and effects in the days of the Arabs, Persians and Berbers), vol. IV (Beirut: al-Muʾassasa alʿĀlamī li’l-Maṭbūʿa, 1971), p. 170.

(75) Al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ alṭīb, vol. I, p. 447.

(76) Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ ala ʿshā fī kitābat al-inshāʾ (Dawn of the blind, about the art of composition), ed. M. A. R. Ibrāhīm, 14 vols. (Cairo: Dar al-Kutub al-Khadiwiyya, 1913–19), vol. V, p. 260.

(77) Al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, p. 111.

(78) Iḥāṭa, vol. II, p. 92; Lamḥa, p. 42.

(79) Al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, p. 111.

(80) As can be seen in the suspension points between both links reproduced in the genealogical tree included in this study.

(81) María Jesús Rubiera Mata, ‘El califato nazarí’, Al-Qanṭara 29: 2 (2008): 293–305, p. 302.

(82) Iḥāṭa, vol. II, p. 92; Lamḥa, p. 42.

(83) Ibn Ḥazm, Jamhara, pp. 331–2, 365–6.

(84) Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, vol. II, p. 356.

(85) Ibn Ḥazm, Jamhara, p. 329.

(86) Binbaş, ‘Structure and function’, pp. 468–82.

(87) Rubiera, ‘El califato nazarí’, pp. 293–305.

(88) Vidal, ‘Historia política’, pp. 78–9.

(89) For an updated version of his biography, see Bárbara Boloix-Gallardo, ‘Ibn Jaṭṭāb, Abū Bakr Muḥammad’, in Biblioteca de al-Andalus, vol. III, pp. 712–18, number 710.

(90) Ḥassān El-Ghailanī, ‘Edición y estudio del “Faṣl al-jiṭāb” de Abū Bakr Ibn Jaṭṭāb al-Mursī’, unpublished doctoral dissertation supervised by María Jesús Viguera, University Complutense, Madrid, 1994, pp. 162–3.

(91) For his biography, see Bárbara Boloix-Gallardo, ‘Ibn al-Farrāʿ, Abī Bakr’, in Biblioteca de al- Andalus, vol. III, pp. 157–8, number 466.

(92) Ibn al-Farrāʿ, Nuzhat alabṣār fī nasab (or fī faḍā’il) al-Anṣār (The pleasure of looking at the lineage (or virtues) of the ‘Helpers’), ed. ʿAbd al-Razzāq b. Muḥammad Marzūq (Rabat: Maktabat al-Aḍwaʾ al-Salaf, 2004).

(93) Fierro, ‘The Anṣārīs’, p. 239; Qurʾān 3: 52 and 61: 14.

(94) Fierro, ‘The Anṣārīs’, pp. 240–1.

(95) Fierro, ‘The Anṣārīs’, p. 241; Rubiera, ‘El califato nazarí’, p. 297.

(96) Fierro, ‘The Anṣārīs’, pp. 242–3.

(97) Rubiera, ‘El califato nazarí’, p. 293.

(98) Some of the poems where the Anṣār are mentioned were edited and translated into Spanish by Emilio García Gómez, Poemas árabes en los muros y fuentes de la Alhambra (Madrid: n.p., 1996), pp. 98–9, 111–13, 122–3, 129–32, 137–9, 141–3.

(99) On this phenomenon, see the recent study of the women of the Naṣrid dynasty by Bárbara Boloix- Gallardo, Las sultanas de la Alhambra. Las grandes desconocidas del Reino nazarí de Granada (siglos XIII–XV) (Granada: Comares–Patronato de la Alhambra y del Generalife, 2013), pp. 74, 78, 125, as well as the family tree, including for the first time all the women of the Naṣrid family that is offered at the end of this work, p. 279.

(100) Al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, p. 135.

(101) Iḥāṭa, vol. II, p. 36; Ibn Zamrak cited in Emilio García Gómez, Ibn Zamrak, el poeta de la Alhambra (Granada: Patronato de la Alhambra y del Generalife, 2006), p. 107; al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ al- ṭīb, vol.IV, pp. 308, 311.

(102) Mawlay Ḥasan's son Saʿd was baptized in Christian times as Fernando of Granada.

(103) Rubiera, ‘El califato nazarí’, p. 293.

(104) Rubiera, ‘El califato nazarí’, p. 294.

(105) Ibid., p. 296.

(106) Ibid., p. 299.

(107) Ibid., p. 294.

(108) Al-Bunnāhī, Nuzha, p. 135.

(109) Ibn Sīmak, Al-Zahrāt al-manthūra fī nukat alakhbār al-ma ʾthūra (The scattered blossoms in anecdotes in transmitted tales), ed. Maḥmūd Alī Makkī (Madrid: Instituto Egipcio de Estudios Islámicos, 1984), pp. 51–4, cited in Rubiera, ‘El califato nazarí’, pp. 300–2.

(110) Rubiera, ‘El califato nazarí’, p. 299.