'Amru ibn Abu Kariba As'ad

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'Amru ibn Abu Kariba As'ad

Immediate Family:

Son of Tubb'a Abu Kariba As'ad and ? bat Mar Kahana I
Brother of Hassan Yuha'min Tubba', King of Himyar and Zorah (Yusuf), Prince of Anjuvannam

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About 'Amru ibn Abu Kariba As'ad


“The people of Tubbaʿ” ( qawm tubbaʿ), an extinct community mentioned twice in the Qurʾān. Among other pre-Islamic groups, they were punished because they refused to believe God or obey God's prophets (see belief and unbelief; obedience; prophets and prophethood ). q 44:37 compares Muḥammad's detractors (see provocation; opposition to muḥammad ), who challenged him to prove resurrection (q.v.) by himself reviving the dead (see death and the dead ), with the people of Tubbaʿ, who were destroyed for their sins (see sin, major and minor; punishment stories ): “Are they better, or the people of Tubbaʿ and those before them? We destroyed them, for they were sinners.” In q 50:14, the people of Tubbaʿ are listed along with other lost communities (see geography ): the people of Noah (q.v.), those of al-Rass (q.v.), and the Thamūd (q.v.), the ʿĀd (q.v.), Pharaoh (q.v.) and the brethren of Lot (q.v.): “And the dwellers in the wood (see people of the thicket ), and the people of Tubbaʿ: all denied the messengers (see messenger; lie ), so [my] threat took effect.”

Arab lexicographers (see arabic language; grammar and the qurʾān ) define the term tubbaʿ as a title of rulership among the kings (see kings and rulers ) of Yemen (q.v.) and specifically among the ¶ Ḥimyar. The title is explained from the root meaning “to follow”: every time one tubbaʿ died, he was followed immediately by one who took his place. Specifically, tubbaʿ was the royal title of the kings of the second Ḥimyarite kingdom (ca. 300-525 c.e.). According to Ibn Isḥāq (d. ca. 150/767), Ibn al-Kalbī (d. ca. 205/820), al-Yaʿqūbī (fl. third/ninth cent.), al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) and others (with differences in detail), the Tubbaʿ Asʿad Abū Karib returned from Iraq (q.v.; or Yathrib [see medina ]) with two rabbis ( ḥabrayn min aḥbār al-yahūd; see jews and judaism ), who convinced him to destroy the image of the idol (see idols and images ) or place of sacrifice (q.v.) called Riʾām, located in Medina, Mecca (q.v.) or in Yemen (see also south arabia, religions in pre-islamic ). “Thereupon they demolished it, and the Tubbaʿ, together with the people of Yemen, embraced Judaism” (Faris' translation of Ibn al-Kalbī). Beeston questions whether the Ḥimyar actually became Jewish or practiced some heterodox indigenous pre-Islamic expression of monotheism. The Ḥimyar are known in legend to have remained Jewish for a century until the time of their last great king, Yūsuf, also known as Dhū Nuwās, who was killed according to legend after his massacre of the Christians of Najrān (q.v.) and the subsequent invasion of the Christian Abyssinians to destroy him (see abyssinia; christians and christianity ).

According to most commentators, the Tubbaʿ referenced in the Qurʾān was good and a believer but his subjects were not. They (the qurʾānic “people of tubbaʿ ”) are destroyed while he is saved. The role of the two Jewish learned men includes (1) proving the future coming of Muḥammad through the esoteric knowledge of the Jews and thus convincing the Tubbaʿ not to destroy Yathrib, the future home of the Prophet, and (2) proving the original ¶ monotheistic purity of the Kaʿba (q.v.) even before Muḥammad. They affirm that “it is indeed the temple (see sacred precincts ) of our forefather Abraham (q.v.)… but the local people… set up idols around it.” They instruct the Tubbaʿ how to perform the pilgrimage (q.v.) rituals at the Kaʿba and he subsequently learns in a dream (see dreams and sleep ) that he should make for it a beautiful kiswa or covering. In an oft-repeated legend, when the Tubbaʿ returns to Yemen with the two Jewish learned men, the people of Ḥimyar refuse him entry because he abandoned their ancestral religion. The Tubbaʿ calls them to his new religion and the Ḥimyarites propose that the conflict should be settled by their traditional ordeal of fire (q.v.), through which the guilty are consumed while the innocent remain unscathed. The idolaters (see idolatry and idolaters ) came with their idols and offerings (see consecration of animals ) while the (Jewish) learned men came with their texts ( maṣāḥif) hanging from their necks (see scrolls; sheets ). The idolaters are consumed along with their idols but the wise men are not. The Ḥimyarites are convinced and thus accept Judaism, the Tubbaʿ's religion. The Ḥimyarites were said to have claimed that there were seventy Tubbaʿ kings.

Tubbaʿ is a name as well as a title. Al-Thaʿlabī (d. 427/1035) cites Wahb b. Munabbih (d. ca. 114/732), who narrates how Solomon (q.v.) married Bilqīs (q.v.) to Tubbaʿ the great, king of Hamdān, and brought him back to Yemen, and conflates this with Dhū Tubbaʿ, who ruled over Yemen with the support of King Solomon and the help of the Yemeni jinn (q.v.). In al-Kisāʾī's Qiṣaṣ, Kaʿb al-Aḥbār (d. 32/652-3) is made to include a Tubbaʿ among the twelve male children of ʿĀd b. ʿŪṣ b. Aram b. Sām b. Nūḥ.

¶ A pre-Islamic alabaster stele made by “ Layaʿathat the Sabaean” (see sheba ) on behalf of “ Abibahath wife of Tubbaʿ son of Subh” for the goddess Shams depicts a male figure with bow, spear and dagger, presumably Tubbaʿ, making an offering with his wife to the goddess. See also pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān.

Reuven Firestone



Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, 2 vols., Beirut n.d., i, 19-28

Ibn Isḥāq-Guillaume, 6-12

Ibn al-Kalbī, Hishām b. Muḥammad b. al-Sāʾib, Kitāb al-Aṣnām, trans. N.A. Faris, Princeton 1952

Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, Beirut 1985

Kisāʾī, Qiṣaṣ

trans. W.M. Thackston, Jr., The tales of the prophets of al-Kisāʾī, Boston 1978, 109

Lisān al-ʿArab, viii, 31

Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, Beirut 1984, xiii, 128-9, 154-5

id., Taʾrīkh, ed. de Goeje, 684, 901-10

trans. M. Perlmann, The history of al-Ṭabarī. iv. The ancient kingdoms, New York 1987, 79

C.E. Bosworth, The history of al-Ṭabarī. v. The Sāsānids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen, New York 1999, 164-76

Thaʿlabī, Qiṣaṣ, 286

trans. W.M. Brinner, ʿArāʾis al-majālis fī qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ or “Lives of the prophets”, Leiden 2002, 536

Wahb b. Munabbih, Kitāb al-Tijān fī mulūk Ḥimyar, Sanʿāʾ 1979

Yaʿqūbī, Taʾrīkh, 222-4


A.F.L. Beeston, Ḥimyarite monotheism, in Studies in the history of Arabia. ii. Pre-Islamic Arabia, Riyadh 1984, 149-54

Horovitz, ku, 102-3

R. Hoyland, Arabia and the Arabs. From the Bronze Age to the coming of Islam, London 2001

M. Lecker, The conversion of Ḥimyar to Judaism and the Banū Hadl of Medina, in wo 26 (1995), 129-36

id., Judaism among Kinda and the ridda of Kinda, in jaos 115 (1995), 635-50

C.A. Nallino, Raccolta di scritti editi e inediti, 6 vols., Rome 1941, iii, 88-9

Citation Firestone, Reuven. " Tubbaʿ ." Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān. Brill Online , 2013. Reference. Jim Harlow. 10 January 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-the-...>

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