ʿARAB iv. Arab tribes of Iran

Estimates of the Arabic-speaking population of Iran range from 200,000 (1957) to 650,000 (1960). In present-day Iran there are still many families and tribes whose Arab origin can be traced.



iv. Arab Tribes of Iran

1. General. Since ancient times Iranians and Arabs have lived in neighboring areas. During the Sasanian period several large Arab tribes, including the Tanūk, the Asad, the Nezār, the Bakr, the Tamīm, and the Taḡleb, moved into the Fertile Crescent and established their grazing grounds on the western fringes of the Persian empire (W. Caskel, “al-ʿArab,” EI2 I, pp. 528). Further Arab tribes were forcibly moved into the Persian hinterland because of their predatory activities in the Persian Gulf: Šāpūr II (r. A.D. 309-79), after a punitive expedition across the Gulf early in his reign, transplanted several clans of the Taḡleb to Dārzīn (Daharzīn) near Bam, several clans of the ʿAbd-al-Qays and Tamīm to Haǰar (the Kūh-e Hazār region) southeast of Kermān, several clans of the Bakr b. Wāʾel to Kermān, and several clans of the Ḥanẓala to Tavvaz, near present-day Dālakī in Fārs (Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 529). The Lakhmids (q.v.), a powerful Arab dynasty that emerged in Ḥīra, were vassals of the Sasanians, and their nation acted as a shield against incursions from Arabia (see G. Rothenstein, Die Dynastie der Laḫmiden in al-Ḥīra, Berlin, 1899).

Arab victories in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt during the caliphate of ʿOmar (13-23/634-44) precipitated a mass movement of tribes from all parts of the Arabian peninsula to these frontier areas, where booty was plentiful. ʿOṯmān (r. 24-35/644-56) shrewdly harnessed this vast human tide to carry out a series of well-planned campaigns along the coast of North Africa, on the southern reaches of the Byzantine empire, and into the heartland of the already moribund Persian empire. Expeditions were launched from Kūfa into the Caspian provinces and from Baṣra into Khorasan and Sīstān. The surrender of Marv in 31/651 completed the conquest of Sasanian Persia.

The Arabs originally had not planned to settle in their Persian colonies. In the spring they launched new expeditions from their bases in Baṣra and Kūfa to raid regions that had not yet concluded peace treaties with them; in the fall they returned to Iraq with their booty and with treaties guaranteeing the newly subjugated territories’ yearly tribute to the Arab state. Only a garrison of 4,000 would remain behind, quartered in the Marv oasis, to secure the continued loyalty of the inhabitants of northeastern Persia to their new masters. This system broke down during the reign of Moʿāwīa I (r. 41-60/661-80), when an acute population problem in Iraq and growing unrest in the garrison towns of Baṣra and Kūfa led Zīād b. Abīhi, the governor of the eastern provinces, to send some of the excess population of Iraq to Khorasan. Accordingly, the military expedition that reached northeastern Persia in summer, 47/667 remained there, and in 52/672 Zīād relocated some 50,000 Arab families from Baṣra and Kūfa in that area. An additional group of Arab immigrants reached Khorasan in 63/683. Among those transplanted from Iraq were substantial parts of the Tamīm and Qays tribes from the Dīār Możar and of Dīār Bakr, the Azd and ʿAbd-al-Qays tribes, from the Dīār Rabīʿa (M. A. Shaban, Islamic History: A New Interpretation, A.D. 600-750, Cambridge, 1971, pp. 66, 67, 84-88; B. Spuler, “al-ʿArab,” EI2 I, pp. 529). According to Baḷʿamī, when Qotayba b. Moslem, the conqueror of Transoxiana, was governor of Khorasan in the early 80s/700s, the garrison of that province comprised 40,000 warriors from Baṣra and more than 47,000 from Kūfa. The Basrans included 10,000 Tamīm, 10,000 Azd, 7,000 Bakr, and 4,000 ʿAbd-al-Qays (Chronique IV, p. 211).

The settlement of Arab fighting men and their families in Khorasan also furnished the manpower necessary for expansion into Inner Asia. However, the transplantation of clans from all the major tribal groups in Baṣra and Kūfa made it inevitable that the intertribal feuds and rivalries that were undermining the stability of the Omayyad regime would spread to Khorasan. In fact, they were magnified there, and the province quickly became the storm center of the Kingdom. For the authority of the central government was almost nonexistent, and survival meant constant struggle with natural forces, such as snowstorms, to which the Arabs were unaccustomed, as well as with unpacified Iranian and Turkish elements of the local population (cf. J. Wellhausen, The Arab Kingdom and Its Fall, tr. M. G. Weir, Calcutta, 1927, pp. 397-491). It is not surprising that the revolution that toppled the Omayyad dynasty in 132/750 started in Khorasan.

The Arabs who immigrated to Khorasan settled both in the towns and in the countryside. As time passed they gradually intermarried with the local inhabitants, most of whom were Iranians, and shed their cultural identity; most of the Arabs in Abū Moslem’s army spoke Persian (Spuler, EI2 I, p. 530).

Although Khorasan remained the principal focus of Arab colonization in Persia during the Omayyad period, Arab settlers established themselves in other Persian provinces is well. During the second Islamic civil war (6l-65/680-84), large groups of nomads from the Ḥanīfa, Tamīm, and ʿAbd-al-Qays tribes crossed the Persian Gulf and occupied some of the richest Basran territories around Ahvāz and in Fārs, and other tribes followed them. But later the Azd and their allies, who had sided with Baṣra, defeated them, and they were forced to retreat into the arid wastes of Kermān and Sīstān (Shaban, Islamic History, pp. 97-98).

By 77/696, Arabs from the tribes of Rabīʿa and ʿEǰl were residing in Hamadān (R. N. Frye, “Hamadhān,” EI2 III, pp. 105). The population of Qazvīn seems to have been mainly Arab in the mid-3rd/9th century (A. K. S. Lambton, “Ḳazwīn,” EI2 IV, pp. 859). Qom too became a predominantly Arab town: The Banū Asad moved to the Qom region during the revolt of Moḵtār b. Abī ʿObayda (67/687); a branch of the Qays tribe, which formed part of the army of ʿAbd-al- Raḥmān b. Moḥammad b. Ašʿaṯ, sought refuge there when their commander was defeated in the course of his uprising against Ḥaǰǰāǰ (85/704). It was soon joined by a branch or the ʿAnaza, and in 94/712-13, by the Ašʿarīs of Kūfa, who were fleeing persecution because of their Shiʿite beliefs (Ḥasan Qomī, Tārīḵ-e Qom , ed. S. J. Ṭehrānī, Tehran, 1313 Š./1934-35, pp. 38, 240f.; A. A. Faqīhī, Tārīḵ-e maḏhabī-e Qom, Qom, 1350 Š./1971-72, pp. 40-44). Some of the Tamīm established themselves in Jay (today Isfahan; Tārīḵ-e Qom, p. 264). In about 146/763, the Arab governor of Ṭabarestān, Abu’l-ʿAbbās Ṭūsī, settled garrisons of Arab and Iranian Muslims in more than forty towns and strategic locations in the province but most of these were massacred in 166/783 during an uprising led by Vendād Hormozd of the house of Qārenvand (W. Madelung, “The Minor Dynasties of Northern Iran,” in Camb. Hist. Iran IV, pp. 200-02).

During the ʿAbbasid period many more Arabs moved into the eastern caliphate, especially into southern Persia. In the second half of the 4th/10th century a group of the Asad, taking advantage of quarrels under the Buyids, penetrated into Ḵūzestān, where a group of Tamīm had been living, perhaps since pre-Islamic times (Caskel, EI2 I, p. 528). The Buyid ruler ʿAżod-al-dawla (r. 338-72/949-83) is said to have moved some Syrian Arabs to Tavvaz, in western Fārs, where a group of ʿAbd-al-Qays also settled (G. Le Strange, Lands, p. 259; W. Caskel, “ʿAbd-al-Ḳays,” EI2 I, p. 73). Meanwhile, more Arab tribes were crossing the Persian Gulf and establishing themselves on Persia’s southern littoral. Among these, the Moẓaffar occupied an area south of the Šāpūr river, the Zohayr pitched their tents around the port of Sīrāf, and the ʿOmāra took over a stretch of seacoast east of the island of Qays (Le Strange, Lands, pp. 256, 257). Some of the newcomers made their way inland. According to tribal legend, the ancestors of the ʿArab Jabbāra and ʿArab Šaybānī of eastern Fārs moved there during the ʿAbbasid period (P. Oberling, Field notes, 1957). Moreover, by the 4th/10th century most of the population of the town of Māhān, near Kermān, had become Arab (Le Strange, Lands, p. 307).

Following the fall of the ʿAbbasid dynasty, the flow of Arab immigrants into Persia gradually diminished, but it nonetheless continued. In late 929/1522-23, Shah Esmāʿīl Ṣafawī gave lands in Khorasan and Fārs to refugees from the Ottoman empire, including a group of Ḡazālī Arabs (G. Sarwar, History of Shāh Ismāʿīl Ṣafawī, Aligarh, 1939, p. 93). At the end of the 16th century the Kaʿb tribe settled down in Ḵūzestān (J. R. Perry, “The Banū Kaʿb: An Amphibious Brigand State in Khūzistān,” Le monde iranien et l’Islam I, 1971, p. 133). During the succeeding centuries many more Arab tribes moved from southern Iraq to Ḵūzestān; as a result, Ḵūzestān, which until recently was called ʿArabestān, became extensively arabized. The Shaikhs of the Kaʿb tribe and later those of the Moḥaysen were for two centuries the most powerful chieftains of southwestern Persia and enjoyed near-complete independence by playing the Ottomans, the Persians, and the British against one another in a clever game of political intrigue. The last of the great tribal chieftains of Ḵūzestān, Shaikh Ḵaẓʿal of Moḥammara, was forced to surrender his semi-independent realm to Reżā Shah in 1924 (see Perry, “The Banū Kaʿb,” pp. 131-52; J. G. Lorimer, Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, ʿOmān, and Central Arabia, Calcutta, 1915, I, pp. 1625-1749; G. N. Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, London, 1892, II, pp. 322-26; D. N. Wilber, Riza Shah Pahlavi, Hicksville, N.Y., 1975, pp. 86-91, 100, 123, 126).

Recent estimates of the Arabic-speaking population of Iran range from 200,000 (H. H. Vreeland, ed., Iran, New Haven, 1957, p. 44) to 650,000 (S. I. Bruk, Naselenie Peredneĭ Azii, Moscow, 1960, p. 27). According to the November, 1956 census, there were then approximately 380,000 Arabic speakers (J. Behruz, Iran Almanac, Tehran, 1963, p. 555; but Iranian censuses are often unreliable, especially as regards ethnic minorities).

In present-day Iran there are still many families and tribes whose Arab origin can be traced. According to H. L. Rabino, the following Lorī-speaking tribes of the Pīš(-e) Kūh region in Lorestān are of Arab origin: The Selsela group of tribes, the Delfān group, the Sagvand tribe of the Bālā Gerīva group, and the Āzādbaḵt and Kūmānī clans of the ʿAmala (Les tribus du Louristan, Paris, 1916, pp. 12, 15, 19, 27, 28; see also Kayhān, Joḡrāfīā II, pp. 62-67; H. Īzadpanāh, Āṯār-e bāstānī o tārīḵī-e Lorestān II, pp. 182-86, 249-59, 296-99). In the Pošt(-e) Kūh region of Lorestān, the Ṣayfī and Malḵatāvī tribes, which dwell in the baḵš of Mehrān, are said to be of Arab origin, but there is very little information about them (Rabino, Les tribus, p. 42; Razmārā, Joḡrāfīā-ye neẓāmī-e Īrān: Pošt Kūh, Tehran, 1320 Š./1941, p. 20). In the early 1900s, there was a third tribe of Arab origin in the Pošt Kūh, the Gāvīs (Rabino, p. 42), but today only a ruined village by that name remains in the baḵš of Mehrān (Razmārā, Farhang V, p. 392).

J. Malcolm wrote that there are some Arab tribes in Kurdistan and that “several of the principal Kurdish chiefs boast a descent from Arab families (History of Persia, London, 1815, II, p. 207). J. P. Ferrier described the Jāfs of Kurdistan as Arabs (Voyages en Perse, etc., Paris, 1860, p. 13), but B. Nikitine strongly disagrees, arguing that they are Kurds (Les Kurdes, Paris, 1956, p. 172). In his list of the tribes of Kermānšāh, Rabino mentions only one Arab tribe, the Samara, which he describes as a “small group of 100 families of Shiʿite sayyeds which came from Baghdad a little over a century ago and established itself in the plain of Māhīdašt” (“Kermanchah,” Revue du monde musulman 38, March, 1920, p. 36). But place names, such as ʿArabābād, ʿAraboḡlū ʿArabšāh, ʿArabša, ʿArablang and ʿArablū in Kurdistan (Razmārā, Farhang V, p. 297) suggest at least a past association with Arab tribes.

There are not many Arabs in Azerbaijan, although there are more villages with names relating to Arabs than in Kurdistan (see Razmārā, Farhang IV, pp. 329-30). Two tribes of the Šāhsavan tribal confederacy of Mešgīn and Ardabīl have names that suggest Arab descent: The ʿArablū and the Sayyedlar (P. Oberling, The Turkic Tribes of Iranian Azerbaijan, New York, 1961, pp. 18, 24). There is also a small clan of the Qarāpāpāq tribe of western Azerbaijan by the name of ʿArablū (ibid., p. 75). However, all these groups have become thoroughly Turkicized and now speak Āḏarī.

According to H. L. Rabino, a few Arabs were brought to eastern Māzandarān by Āqā Moḥammad Khan Qāǰār (r. 1193-1212/1779-97); they are said to have introduced buffaloes into the province (Māzandarān and Astarābād, London, 1928, p. 13). There are also sayyeds in Gorgān and Fenderesk (ibid., pp. 76, 82).

There are several groups of Arabs in central Persia. In the late 1890s, A. Houtum-Schindler wrote that certain families of Qom and Kāšān call themselves Arabs, “but have now very little Semitic blood” (Eastern Persian Irak, London, 1896, p. 48). In his list of the tribes of the Tehran region (see below) M. Kayhān included six of Arab origin: ʿArab Ḥāǰǰī Āqā Solṭānī (700 families), ʿArab Kotī (600 families), ʿArab Mīšmast (q.v., 200 families), ʿArab Ḥalwāʾī (250 families), ʿArab Ṣaḥnānī (150 families), and ʿArab Kūškalī. These tribes, which spoke Persian, had their summer quarters in the mountains north of Tehran and their winter quarters on the flatlands south of the capital (Joḡrāfīā II, pp. 111-12). Further south, there is a tribe of the Haft Lang branch of the Baḵtīārī tribal confederacy by the name of ʿArab; it has two sections (tīra), Kangarīz and Awlād-e ʿAlī Beg (ibid., p. 73). According to J. M. Jouannin, in the early 1800s there was an Arab tribe by the name of Ardestānī that lived in the Ardestān area, midway between Kāšān and Nāʾīn, and comprised some 6,000 individuals, but the name of this tribe does not appear on any other list of the tribes of central Persia. (See A. Dupré, Voyage en Perse, Paris, 1819, II, pp. 466-67).

Khorasan has a large Arab population. Many Arabs have settled down near Šāhrūd, where the inhabitants are designated as ʿArab o ʿAǰam (Arabs and Iranians). By 1292/1875 they had intermarried so extensively with Iranians and even Turks that the three groups were “undistinguishable in feature and language” (C. M. MacGregor, Narrative of a Journey through the Province of Khorassan, London, 1879, p. 141). This is undoubtedly the tribe which Jouannin called Basṭāmī and which was said to comprise some 12,000 to 15,000 individuals in the early 1800s (Dupré, Voyage II, p. 466).

Further east, there are Arabs in the dehestān of Taḥt-Jolga, west of Nīšāpūr (Razmārā, Farhang IX, pp. 84, 267), and there is a tribe by the name of Īl-e ʿArab in the dehestān of Kandaklī, west of Saraḵs. According to C. E. Yate, the Arabs of Saraḵs were moved there in 1874 (ostensibly from some other area in Khorasan); in the 1890s, they numbered some 150 families (Khurasan and Sistan, London, 1900, p. 34), and in the 1940s, 240 families (K. Gūdarzī, “ʿAšāʾer-e Īrān,” 1327 Š./1948, p. 41). In the 1950s there were still two villages in that district in which Arabic was spoken (Razmārā, Farhang IX, pp. 309, 350).

In addition there are Arabs around both Toršīz (Kašmar) and Torbat-e Jām, most of whom are ʿArab Mīšmast. In the 1890s, the Arabs of Torbat-e Jām totaled some 4,000 families, all of whom made their living from agriculture (Yate, Khurasan and Sistan, pp. 36-37). There are also Arabs in the vicinity of Torbat-e Ḥaydarī, between Toršīz and Torbat-e Jām; according to local tradition, they are the descendents of some 1,000 Arab families that Nāder Shah transplanted to Khorasan. In the 1950s some of them still spoke Arabic (Farhang IX, p. 86).

Further south, a large group of Arabs resides in the vicinity of Tūn (Ferdows). Jouannin called these Arabs Tūnī and estimated their number at upwards to 20,000 (Dupré, Voyage II, p. 466). Lady Sheil called them “Arab-e Reigoonee.” She estimated their number at 7,000 houses and tents and indicated that they spoke Persian (Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia, London, 1856, p. 400). Some Arabs dwell in the dehestān of Zīr Kūh, between Qāyen and the Afghan border; according to Yate, this tribe is an offshoot of the Ḵozayma tribe that was forced to move from Arabia to Khorasan during the reign of Hārūn al-Rašīd (r. 170-93/786-809). One of the leaders of this prosperous tribe, Mīr ʿAlam Khan, became amir of Qāyen towards the end of the 17th century. His son, Mīr Maʿṣūm Khan, is said to have been in the service of Nāder Shah, and his grandson, Mīr ʿAlam Khan II, is claimed to have been the man who blinded Šāḵroḵ, the grandson of Nāder Shah, at Mašhad in 1161-62/1748. During the years that followed, Mīr ʿAlam Khan greatly extended his sway, proclaiming himself amir of Khorasan, but he was defeated and put to flight by Aḥmad Shah Abdālī (A. Golestāna, Moǰmal al-tawārīḵ, ed. M. Rażawī, Tehran, 2356 [1356 Š.]/1977, passim). His descendants continued to serve as amirs of Qāyen for several generations; one of them, Mīr ʿAlī-Akbar Khan, was appointed governor of Sīstān in 1891 (Yate, pp. 65, 66). Lady Sheil estimated the number of Arabs in the Qāyen region at 12,000 houses and tents (Glimpses, p. 400). In the 1330s Š./1950s, Arabic was still spoken in three villages in the area (Razmārā, IX, pp. 227, 345, 418). Finally, most of the inhabitants of the dehestān of ʿArabḵāna (pop. 10,598 in 1951), southwest of Bīrǰand, are Arab. Accord­ing to Razmārā, these Arabs were moved there from Ḵūzestān by Nāder Shah (ibid., p. 266). In the 1920s they were described as “extremely impoverished,” many of them being employed as coolies in Bīrǰand (W. Ivanov, “Notes on the Ethnology of Khurasan,” The Geographical Journal 67, January-June, 1926, p. 156). In the 1950s Arabic was still spoken in eighteen villages in the dehestān of ʿArabḵāna, and in two villages in the neighboring dehestāns of Nahārǰānāt and Nehbandān (Razmārā, IX, pp. 55, 92, 105, 115, 118, 121, 129, 133, 136, 147, 158, 171, 197, 349, 356, 373, 405).

G. N. Curzon asserted that the Tīmūrī who live in northwestern Afghanistan and in the rural districts (baḵš) of Jannatābād, Torbat-e Jām, Ṭayyebāt, and Kᵛāf on the Persian side of the Afghan border, are of Arab origin, Tīmūr-e Lang (Tamerlane) having “deported them from their native country in a rage because they had plundered his mother when on a pilgrimage to Mecca” (Persia and the Persian Question I, p. 199). But Yate’s argument that they were Turks whom Tīmūr transplanted from Syria to Balḵ and who later moved to Afghanistan and Khorasan (Khurasan and Sistan, p. 38) seems more plausible.

In Sīstān, the Mīr ʿArab and Sayyed tribes are of Arab origin. In the 1930s, the Mīr ʿArab comprised some 40 families, whereas the Sayyed comprised some 200 families. The Sayyed claim descent from the prophet Moḥammad through his grandson Ḥosayn (H. Field, Contributions to the Anthropology of Iran, Chicago, 1939, pp. 246-47). According to Jouannin, the Sīstānī tribe is of Arab origin (Dupré, Voyage II, p. 466), but this is disputed by H. W. Bellew (From the Indus to the Tigris, London, 1874, p. 248).

There are numerous Arab tribes in Ḵūzestān, all of which still speak Arabic. The most important ones at the turn of the century included: (1) north of Ahvāz: the Āl-e Kaṯīr tribe between the Karḵa river and the Šoṭayṭ branch of the Kārūn river (8,000 people, according to J. G. Lorimer, Gazetteer II, pp. 121, 994-97); the Banū Lām tribe between the Iraqi border and the Karḵa river south of Šūš (ca. 45,000 people; pp. 121, 1081-85); the ʿAbd-al-Ḵān tribe around Ḵayrābād on the Karḵa river, some 70 km northwest of Ahvāz (no number indicated); the Salāmāt tribe east of the Gargar river between Haddām and Āb-e Gonǰī (1,600; pp. 123, 1652-53); the Bayt-e Saʿd tribe on both banks of the Dez river above the territory of the ʿAnāfeǰa, around Mīānāb and on the left bank of the Gargar river (14,100; p. 123); the ʿAnāfeǰa tribe on the lower course of the Šoṭayṭ, on the banks of the Dez river close to its mouth and on the right bank of the Kārūn river (5,000; pp. 71-73, 119); the Ḥamayd tribe in an area stretching from the Kārūn river to Raḡeyva, south of the territory of the ʿAnāfeǰa (6,000; pp. 120, 620-21); the Āl-e Bū Rawāya tribe around Ḡoreyba on the Karḵa river, some 35 km northwest of Ahvāz (700; p. 122); the Banū Ṭorof tribe on the southern loop of the Karḵa river, as well as most of the marshy area watered by the Karḵa west of Kūt Nahr Hāšem (20,000; pp. 124, 1909-11); the ʿEkreš tribe between Howayza and Ahvāz, and around Sayyed ʿAbbās and Zovīya on the Kārūn river, north of Ahvāz (5,000; pp. 120, 758-59); the Ḥardān tribe around Dūb-e Ḥardān and Čārṭāq, west of Ahvāz, and on the right bank of the Kārūn river, north of that city (2,500; pp. 120, 637-38); and the Zarqān tribe around Garāna and Ṯedīn, northeast of Ahvāz, and in a tract east of Ways (1,500; pp. 124, 1937-38). (2) South of Ahvāz: the Banū Sāla tribe in a twenty-mile-long territory stretching from Howayza to Šayḵ Moḥammad, southwest of Ahvāz, and part of the Karḵa-Tigris marshland (15,000; pp. 123, 1654-55); the Bāvīya tribe in the dehestān of Bāvī, south of Ahvāz (20,000; II, pp. 119, 293-96), the Banū Tamīm tribe in an area from Howayza to Ahvāz and toward the south as far as Qāǰārīya on the Kārūn river (10,000; pp. 123, 1858); the Āl Ḵamīs tribe in an area southwest of Rāmhormoz (2,500; pp. 121, 1017-18); the Moḥaysen tribe in a large area between the Iraqi border and the Kārūn river, from the territory of the Banū Tamīm in the north all the way to the Šaṭṭ al-ʿArab and the northwestern half of Ābādān island in the south (12,000; pp. 122, 1249-53); the Banū Kaʿb tribe in a large area stretching from the Šaṭṭ al-ʿArab and the southeastern half of Ābādān island to Bandar Maʿšūr (55,000; pp. 121, 947-62); the Šarīfāt tribe along the left bank of the Jarrāḥī river near Ḵalafābād (1,000; pp. 123, 1757); and the Qanawātī tribe around Bandar Maʿšūr and Hendīān to the east of the territory of the Banū Kaʿb (5,250; p. 122). (For additional information on the tribes of Ḵūzestān, see Field, Contributions, pp. 184-99; J. Qāʾem-maqāmī, “ʿAšāyer-e Ḵūzestān,” Yādgār 1, 1323-24 Š./1945, no. 7, pp. 18-24, no. 10, pp. 19-26; 2, 1324-25 Š./1946, no. 4, pp. 58-68, no. 8, pp. 22-28; 3, 1325-26 Š./1947, no. 1, pp. 71-74, no. 3, pp. 40-47, no. 5, pp. 8-12, no. 9, pp. 10-12, no. 10, pp. 26-37; M. Żarrabī, “Ṭawāyef-e Mīānāb,” FIZ 10, 1341 Š./1962-63, pp. 394-407; 11, 1342 Š./1963-64, pp. 281-92; Military Report on Arabistan, Area no. 13, Simla, 1924; Great Britain, Naval Intelligence Division, Persia, Oxford, 1945­, pp. 379-80.) According to Kayhān, (Joḡrāfīā II, pp. 90-92), a large part of the urban population of Ḵūzestān is also Arab.

There are Arab tribes all along Iran’s southern littoral; the most important are the Domūḵ, Roʾūsa, ʿAmrānī, ʿObaydelī, Āl-e Ḥaram, Āl-e ʿAlī, Marzūqī, and Qawāsīm. The Domūḵ, a branch of the Dawāsīr tribe of Bahrain, inhabit seven villages in the dehestān of Čāh Kūtāh between Borāzǰān and Būšehr. In the early 1900s, they comprised some 150 households (Lorimer, Gazetteer II, pp. 351, 383-88). The Roʾūsa inhabit fourteen villages in an area extending from 11 km northwest of Ḵormūǰ to beyond the mouth of the Mūnd river. In the early 1900s, they numbered some 1,500 individuals (ibid., pp. 369-77). The ʿAmrānī live in the village of Bardestān, northeast of Dayyer, and in four other villages northwest of Bardestān; they are said to have emigrated from the neighborhood of Sūq-al-šoyūḵ, in Iraq. In the early 1900s, they numbered some 600 individuals (ibid., pp. 369-78). The ʿObaydelī live in the seaport of Čīrū and on Hendarābī island, in the dehestān of ʿObaydelī on the Šībkūh coast. They claim to be a branch of the Aḥmada tribe and to be related to the ʿAbda Šammar tribe of Naǰd. In the early 1900s, they numbered some 1,500 individuals (ibid., pp. 355, 1784). The Āl-e Ḥaram settled down around Bīdḵūn, on the Šībkūh coast, long ago and built the seaport of ʿAsalūya; in the early 1900s, they numbered some 2,000 individuals and dwelled mostly in ʿAsalūya and nearby Nāyband. They claim to be a branch of a tribe called Rażīya and to have come from the vicinity of Mecca in the 18th century, but it is more likely that, like most of their Arab neighbors, they emigrated from ʿOmān (ibid., pp. 177-78, 1293-94, 1783, 1786, 1787; Fasāʾī, II, pp. 291-92, 330-31). The Āl-e ʿAlī, a branch of the Āl-e ʿAlī tribe of ʿOmān, live in the small seaports of Tāvūna, Čārak, and Dovvān, and on Qays island, on the Šībkūh coast west of Lenga. In the early 1900s, they numbered some 3,500 individuals (ibid., pp. 62, 354-55, 493, 1782). The Marzūqī live in the small seaports of Moḡū, Ḥasīna, Kondorān, and Bostāna, in the dehestān of Marzūqī west of Lenga; they claim to be a branch of the ʿAǰmān tribe of Naǰd. In the early 1900s, they numbered some 1,800 individuals (ibid., pp. 1248-49, 1783). The Qawāsem, a branch of the Qawāsem tribe of ʿOmān, live in the small seaports of Bostāna and Dovvān, in the dehestān of Marzūqī (ibid., pp. 493, 1091, 1548; Fasāʾī, II, p. 332). Many Banū Kaʿb and Banū Tamīm have also settled down on the north shore of the Persian Gulf; there are Banū Kaʿb in the dehestāns of Līrāvī, Rūd-Ḥella, and Angālī (ibid., pp. 81, 11O4, 1105, 1595, 1598) and Banū Tamīm in the dehestāns of Ḥayāt Dāwūd, Šabānkāra, Rūd-Ḥella, and Angālī (ibid., pp. 81, 82, 699, 701, 1122, 1595-98, 1688-90), and there is a dehestān by the name of Tamīm midway between Būšehr and Bandar ʿAbbās (Razmārā, Farhang VII, p. 54). Finally, much of the urban population on that shore is of Arab origin; in the early 1900s, 43 percent of the population of the port of Lenga was Arab (ibid., p. 1097). Most of the Arabs of Iran’s southern littoral speak Arabic along with Persian.

In the Fārs hinterland, there is a large Arab tribe, the Īl-e ʿArab of the Ḵamsa tribal confederacy. Its two branches, the ʿArab Jabbāra and the ʿArab Šaybānī, have their summer quarters in the dehestāns of Bavānāt, Qonqorī, and Saṛčahān, northeast of Shiraz, and their winter quarters in an area stretching all the way from Sarvestān to Fūrg and Lārestān, in southeastern Fārs. In the 1940s, the tribe comprised some 11,100 families (Great Britain, Naval Intelligence, Persia, p. 375; Fasāʾī, II, pp. 311-12). The Īl-e ʿArab speak a mixture of Arabic, Persian, and Lori (O. Garrod, “The Nomadic Tribes of Persia To-Day,” Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society 33, 1946, p. 44; for additional information, see Fasāʾī, II, p. 312; A. G. Tumansky, “Ot Kaspiĭskago morya k hormuzdskomu prolivu i obratno,” Sbornik mater. po Azii, 65, 1896, pp. 76-81; A. T. Wilson, Report on Fars, Simla, 1916, pp. 45-47; G. Demorgny, “Les réformes adininistratives en Perse: les tribus du Fars,” part 1, Revue du monde musulman 22, March 1913, pp. 103-05; Field, Contributions, pp. 213-14; M. S. Ivanov, Plemena Farsa, Moscow, 1961, pp. 53-55, 87, 97, 98, 153). Two formerly independent Arab tribes in Fārs province, the Bahāʾ-al-dīnī and the Šīrī, have by now been absorbed by larger groups, the first by the Qašqāʾī tribal confederacy and the second by the Arab tribe of the Ḵamsa tribal confederacy. Jouannin mentions an Arab tribe by the name of Āqāḵānī which, in the early 1800s, comprised some 20,000 individuals (Dupré, Voyage II, p. 467), but no other source mentions this tribe.

There are several Arab tribes in Kermān province. In the Sīrǰān region dwell the ʿAṭāʾallāhī. Once numerous, they totaled some 6,000 individuals in the early 1800s (ibid.), but by the 1930s they had dwindled to a mere 100 families (Field, Contributions, p. 234). In the Bardsīr (Mašīz) region are the ʿArabḵānī Sorḵī, who numbered some 250 families in the 1930s (ibid., p. 235), and three Badūʾī tribes: the Badūʾī-e Kūh-e Panǰī, the Badūʾī-e Qaḷʿa Sangī, and the Badūʾī-e Ḥāǰǰī Kākāʾī, each of whom numbered approximately 100 families in the 1930s (Kayhān, Joḡrāfīā II, pp. 93-94). In the Pārīz region are the ʿArab-e Ḥāǰǰī Ḥosaynī who, in the 1920s, numbered some 200 families (G. Stöber, Die Afshār: Nomadismus im Raum Kermān, Marburg, 1978, p. 279), and a fourth group of Badūʾī that comprised some 60 families in the 1930s (Field, Contributions, p. 235). Some of the Arabs of Kermān province still spoke Arabic in the 1930s (Kayhān, loc. cit.). Jouannin cites an Arab tribe by the name Kermānī that comprised some 7,000 or 8,000 individuals in the early 1800s (Dupré, Voyage II, p. 466-67), but no other source mentions them.

There are Arabs in Makrān and Persian Balūčestān, but because of intermarriage with the Baluchis they have lost most of their Arab cultural traits. The Rend, who live around Pīšī and Mand on the Pakistani border, for example, claim to be of Arab origin and to have come from Aleppo, but already in the early 1900s they were described as “to all intents and purposes Baluchis” (Lorimer, Gazetteer II, p. 1590). The Kalmatī, who are related to the Rend, are also of Arab origin (ibid., p. 1135). P. M. Sykes claimed that Jadgāl and the Gūrgīǰ are of Arab origin (Ten Thousand Miles in Persia, London, 1902, p. 97) but this was disputed by Lorimer (II, p. 1134).

See also ʿAšāyer.

Bibliography: Given in the text.

2. The Arabs of Tehran Province. Sedentary peasants and some 19th-century travelers have given the name ʿAraba to the majority of semi-nomadic tribes in the Tehran region. The Arabs seem to have established themselves long ago near the capital, as is shown by the existence of a dehestān to the south of Varāmīn (Jalīlābād) named Behnām-e ʿArab. In winter families of the tribe are dispersed among several villages to the south of Varāmīn, in the Šahrīār plain and further east as far as Eyvān-e Key. In summer they gather in a number of small encampments of two to five tents, once of black goat hair but now made of cotton or nylon. With the expansion of the capital, the ethno-cultural characteristics and means of subsistence of these stockbreeders have been destroyed. Formerly numerous in the upper valleys of Karaǰ and of the Jāǰrūd, they were the first to be affected by the curbs on pasturing introduced since 1965 to check upstream erosion of the barrages. Their present summer quarters are in the high valley of Ṭālaqān, in Lārīǰān, and in the mountains of the Damāvand (B. Hourcade, “Les nomades du Lar face aux problèmes de l’expansion de Teheran,” Revue de géographie de l’est 1-2, 1977, pp. 37-51). About a hundred families still undertake short pastoral migrations, sometimes with dromedaries.

Sedentary peasants and a number of 19th-century travelers have mistakenly given the name ʿAraba to a heterogeneous amalgam of tribal fractions, Arab in origin but Persian-speaking, who were deported at different times to the environs of Tehran. Some of them (the Bāqerī) call themselves Baḵtīār of Shiraz and could be a splinter of the Ḵamsa deported by Karīm Khan Zand. The Mīšmast (see ʿArab Mīšmast) are the best known splinter group, moved under Moḥammad Shah Qāǰār (see A. K. S. Lambton, Landlord and Peasant in Persia, Oxford, 1953, pp. 158f.; J. R. Perry, “Forced Migrations in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in Iran,” Iranian Studies 8/4, 1975, pp. 199-215; M. Bazin, La vie rural dans la région de Qom (Iran Central), Paris, n.d. [1974]) from Ḵūzestān to Fārs, and later to the neighborhood of Qom and Tehran. These are probably the “arabes de Chouchtar” mentioned by Chodzko in 1835 (“Une excursion de Téhéran aux pyles caspiennes en 1835,” Nouvelles annales de voyages 13, 1850, pp. 280-308).

There is also another Arabic-speaking tribe in the region of Tehran, that of the Kotī. Up to the middle of the 20th century this tribal group, originating from Shiraz, wintered in the region of Sīāḥ Kūh near Eyvān-e Key, but it is now dispersed among several villages to the east of Varāmīn. Some 300 families still move to summer pastures in the upper valley of the Lār, but most of them no longer possess any livestock and are simply shepherds in pay of the army. Several families have settled down on hill slopes in the Damāvand region (see Anti Alborz).



See also H. Field, Contribution to the Anthropology of Iran, Anthropological series, Field Museum of Natural History, 29/1, 15 December 1939.

A. K. S. Lambton, “Ilāt,” EI2 III, pp. 1095-1110.

B. Hourcade, “L’Anti-Alborz, un espace marinal aux portes de Téhéran,” Revue géographique de l’est 1-2, 1982, pp. 61-97.

(P. Oberling and B. Hourcade)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 10, 2011

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Vol. II, Fasc. 2, pp. 215-220