In his book "The Arabs in Antiquity: Their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads", Professor Jan Retsö writes:

The conflicts were aggravated by the fact that the tribes identified the tribal federation with the Islamic community, so that only members of those tribes belonging to the federation or their clients could be considered real Muslims.

How does Retsö arrive at this conclusion? What historical sources, if any, state that an individual couldn't be considered a real Muslim in the Umayyad Empire before 750 CE if they neither belonged to an Arabian tribe nor were a client of such a tribe?

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    By no means an expert, but from a quick search it could be related to this (from WP): " Yazid III spoke out against his cousin Walid's "immorality" which included discrimination on behalf of the Banu Qays Arabs against Yemenis and non-Arab Muslims"
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 18, 2020 at 16:33
  • Looking at the preview on Google books, the conclusion seems to be based on the historical summary presented in the preceding paragraphs. Sources for at least some of that appear to be given in the chapter endnotes on pp22-23. Some of those reference later sections of the book that are not included in the preview. Sep 18, 2020 at 18:37
  • @sempaiscuba I have read the entire chapter (including the list of notes at the end), as well as everything that preceded it in this book, and haven't been able to identify a paragraph or reference that elaborates on this point in particular. Sep 20, 2020 at 15:04
  • "... it should be kept in mind that the first Islamic caliphate, ... was a kind of alliance between tribes in Arabia. To be a full citizen in this state it was necessary to be a member of one of these tribes ..." and "From an ideological point of view, however, the first Muslim state continued to consist of a class of tribesmen whose main task was warfare, who were settled in military camps outside Arabia supported by the labour of subjugated peoples not belonging to the tribal community. ..." Sep 20, 2020 at 15:46
  • @sempaiscuba Thanks for the quote, but I had already read that and I don't think it answers the question of what sources (outside of the book itself) these claims are based on. Such historical sources that explicitly mention this were probably written in a later era (the author says there are few Arabic-language manuscripts from the Umayyad era itself) or in a language other than Arabic if contemporary. The author, however, doesn't supply a supporting source for those particular statements, as far as I could see up to this point in my reading. Sep 20, 2020 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


I think the main evidence he used is regarding "algezia" which is taxes paid by non-Muslims as per islamic law "shariaa" and during Ummayad time they keep taking this tax from non-Arabs in spite of their converting to Islam.

  • 2
    I think the more common latinization of الجزية is "jizya"
    – Jan
    Sep 18, 2020 at 17:49

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