Histories & Culture

The Tayy are a southern Arabian tribe, who journeyed north from Yemen after the collapse of the Ma’rib Dam. They are the descendants of Tayy ibn ‘Adad, with the name “Tayy” derived form the word “al-Ta’ah”, meaning “Exile from the Pastures”.

When the Tayy migrated north from Yemen they settled near the Asad, then took possession of the two mountains of Aja’ and Salma from them. The twin peaks became known as the Tayy Mountains.

The qabilah dispersed into a number of different nations following the Islamic expansion. Today, they form one of the largest Arab qabilahs, with a presence in the Levant, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Egypt.

Among the Tayy are Hatim al-Ta’ii, an exemplar of hospitality and generosity. He was a prolific poet, as generous with verses as he was magnanimous and liberal with money.

He had one son, called ’Uday, who like his father was Christian, but converted to Islam at the hand of the Prophet Mohammad, and proved his devotion throughout the Riddah Wars. Later, he joined the side of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib throughout his wars: the Battle of the Camel and Siffin and Nahrawan. Mu’awiyya tried to draw ‘Uday to his side after the death of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, but he was unsuccessful.

Some prominent Tayy men included the poet ‘Antarah ibn ‘Akbarah, and Abu Zubayd al-Ta’ii, who encountered Islam late in life and did not convert and so died a Christian. He was a companion of the Wali of Kufa, al-Waleed ibn ‘Aqbah.

There was also Jubair al-Ta’ii of the Qadisiyyah knights, and K’ab ibn al-Ashraf the Jew, who was one of the fiercest enemies of the Messenger and of Islam until the Prophet ordered his death.

Source: الطيئ
Translated from the Arabic by Andrew Leber, Brown University, Class of 2012.