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3. Pre-Islamic period

Warfare in pre-Islamic Arabia was waged regularly for a certain part of each year as an ordinary part of the routine of tribal life, the ostensible motive being the desire for plunder or revenge. In the Meccan oligarchy the clan of Abdul Dar of Qoraish enjoyed the privilege of holding the tribal standard. Before the advent of Islam, the Qoraish waged a war on another tribe; they received from the hands of Qassi (d. 480) the liwa, a piece of white cloth, which Qassi himself had attached to a lance. In those days, the banner of war, offensive or defensive was hoisted in the dar al-nadwah (council chamber); this was the chief prerogative of Qassi. The dar al-nadwah was a kind of town hall on the north of Kaba in Mecca. It was a gathering place of the nobles (mala), built by Qassi, the ancestor of the Qoraish. It is also known that the champions who offered themselves for single combat wore distinctive signs on their armour, but nothing more specific is known of these signs or emblems. The Arab poets enjoyed to compare the flowers of the garden with the flags of different tribes, and also composed couplets to dignify the banners. For instance, S.M. Husain quotes Dajajah bin Abd al-Qais al-Tamimi in "Early Arabic Odes" Delhi, 1938, p. 161) as saying in a poem that:-

And when we found that the water of Munabid
was (our) safety, we did not tremble and we did
not foresake one another.
But we all came under the shade of our banner (7-8)

In Arabs, the principal offices in connection with the Kaba were five altogether, viz. sicaya and rifada (the exclusive privilege of supply of water and food to the pilgrims), kiyada (the command of the army), hijaba (the guardianship of Kaba), nadwa (the right of presidency of the council), and siva (the right of becoming standard bearer). Soon after the death of Abd Munaf, a family strife arose among his sons, on which account the offices were divided. Hashim (d. 510) was invested with the charge of sicaya and rifada, while the descendants of Abdul Dar retained the offices of kiyada, hijaba, nadwa and siva.


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