Flag of the Emirate of Ha
The flag of Jabal Shammar is used by the Shammar tribe.
Parent tribeTayy
  • Abdah
  • Aslam
  • Zoba

The tribe of Shammar (Arabic: شَمَّر, romanizedŠammar) is a tribal Arab Qahtan confederation, descended from the ancient Yemeni tribe of Qahtan as they originated in Yemen before migrating into present day Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest and most influential Arab tribes. The historical and traditional seat of the tribe's leadership is in the city of Ha'il in what was the Emirate of Jabal Shammar in Saudi Arabia.[1] In its "golden age", around 1850, the tribe ruled much of central and northern Arabia from Riyadh to the frontiers of Syria and the vast area known as Al Jazira in Northern Iraq.

One of the early famous figures from the tribe was the legendary Hatim Al-Ta'i (Hatim of Tayy; died 578), a Christian Arab renowned for generosity and hospitality who figured in the Arabian Nights. The early Islamic historical sources report that his son, Adiyy ibn Hatim, whom they sometimes refer to as the "king" of Tayy, converted to Islam before Muhammad's death. Another figure from Tayy during this period was Zayd al-Khayr, a prominent member of Tayy who is said to have led Tayy's delegation to Muhammad accepting Islam.[2]


The Shammar are a tribal confederation made up of three main branches: the Abdah, the Aslam, and the Zoba. The tribe of Shammar are descendants of the Tayy tribe of Yemen. The earliest non-Arab sources refer to Arabs as Taits, thought of as referring to the Tayy, as Ayas ibn Quasiba, a ruler of ancient Iraq, had contact with both the Byzantine and Persian Empires. Since some sections of Tayy, and most of the Ghassanids and Muntherids, were present in Mesopotamia and the Levant prior to Muhammad's preaching of Islam in the early 7th century. In the Namārah Inscription (the second oldest pre-Islamic Arabic inscription, dating from 328 CE), the name "Shammar" is believed to refer to a city in Yemen, though it may refer to the city where the Himyarite King Shammar Yahri'sh lived, the present-day Rada (located about 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Dhamar, an ancient historic site). Since King Shammar Yahri'sh ruled during the last decade of the 3rd century AD, it could be referring to the city he lived in or one named after him. It could also be referring to the city of Hayel, although there is no evidence that Imru Al-Qays fought the Tayy.

Led by Usma bin Luai the Tayy invaded the mountains of Ajā and Salma from Banu Assad and Banu Tamim in northern Arabia in their exodus from Yemen in 115 CE. These mountains are now known as the Shammar. The Tayy became nomadic camel-herders and horse-breeders in northern Nejd for centuries. Because of their strength and blood relations with the Yemenite dynasties that came to rule Syria (The Ghassanids) and Iraq (The Lakhmids), the Tayy expanded north into Iraq all the way to the capital at the time, Al-Hirah. The area of the two mountains subsequently came to be known as "Jabal Shammar" ("Shammar's Mountain") from the 14th century, the first time that the Shammar as a tribe were noted in literature.


Led by Usma bin Luai, the Tayy invaded the mountains of Ajaa and Salma from Banu Assad and Banu Tamim in northern Arabia in their exodus from Yemen in 115 CE. These mountains were renamed to Jabal Tayy (Tayy's Mountain), and then again in the 14th century, after the tribe changed their name, to Jabal Shammar. There, Tayy, later Shammar, became either city-dwellers in the city of Ha'il, nomadic pastoralists, camel-herders and horse-breeders in northern Najd, or agriculturists in the countryside outside Ha'il or in the surrounding desert oases. These divisions were based on profession, personal interest and skill, and not family or blood-line stratifications within the tribe. It is common for the same nuclear family to have members living each of the three different lifestyles. Because of their strength and blood relations with the Yemenite dynasties that came to rule Syria (Ghassanids) and Iraq (Muntherids), the Tayy expanded north into Iraq all the way to al-Hira, the capital at the time. Oral tradition mentions that the first chiefs of the Shammar tribe, Arar and Omair, were of the 'Abda family of Dhaigham, who ruled Shammar from Jabal Shammar. In the 17th century, a large section of the Shammar left Jabal Shammar under the leadership of the Al Jarba and settled in Iraq, reaching as far as the northern city of Mosul, their current stronghold. The Shammar are currently one of Iraq's largest tribes and are divided into two geographical, as opposed to genealogical, subsections. The northern branch, known as Shammar al-Jarba, is mainly Sunni, while the southern branch, Shammar Toga, converted to Shia Islam around the 19th century[3][4][5] after settling in southern Iraq.

The Shammar that remained in Arabia had tribal territories extending from the city of Ha'il northwards to the frontiers of the Syrian Desert. The Shammar had a long traditional rivalry with the confederation of 'Anizzah, who inhabited the same area. The city of Ha'il became the heart of the Jabal Shammar region and was inhabited largely by settled members of Shammar and their clients. Two clans succeeded each other in ruling the city in the 19th century. The first clan, the Al Ali, were replaced by the Al Rashid.

During the civil war that tore apart the Second Saudi State in the late 19th century, the emirs of Ha'il, from the house of Al Rashid, intervened and gradually took control of much of the Saudi realm, finally taking the Saudi capital Riyadh in 1895 and expelling the Saudi leaders to Kuwait. The Bedouin Shammari tribesmen provided the majority of the Al Rashid's military support. Later, in the first two decades of the 20th century, Al Rashid were defeated by Ibn Saud and his Wahhabi forces when his campaign to restore his family's rule in the Arabian Peninsula culminated in the Conquest of Ha'il in 1921.[6] Following Al Rashid's defeat many Shammar fled to Syria and Iraq.[7] Eventually the clan of their uncles, Al Sabhan pledged allegiance to Ibn Saud in Riyadh. Ibn Saud also married a daughter of one of the Shammari chiefs, who bore him one Saudi King, Abdullah. After the establishment of modern borders, most Bedouins gradually left their nomadic lifestyle. Today, most members of the Shammar live modern, urbanized lifestyles in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and some sections settled in Syria and Jordan. Despite this, the vast majority of Shammar continue to retain a strong tribal identity and loyalty to their tribe. Many also participate in Cultural Festivals to learn about their ancient lifestyles, and to take part in traditional activities such as folk dancing.

House of Rashid

Main article: Rashidi dynasty

The House of Rashid were a historic Shammar dynasty on the Arabian Peninsula. They were the most formidable enemies of the House of Saud in Nejd. They were centered in Ha'il, a city in northern Nejd that derived its wealth from being on the route of the Hajj. The Al Rashid derived their name from the grandfather of Abdullah, the first Rashidi amir of Ha'il, who was named Rashid. The Rashidi emirs cooperated closely with the Ottoman Empire. However, this cooperation became problematic as the Ottomans lost popularity. As with many Arab dynasties, the lack of a generally accepted rule of succession was a recurrent problem with Rashidi rule. The internal dispute normally centered on whether succession should be horizontal (i.e. to a brother) or vertical (to a son). These divisions within the family led to bloody infighting. In the last years of the nineteenth century six Rashidi leaders died violently. Nevertheless, The Al Rashid family continued to rule and fight together against Ibn Saud.

Saudi Arabia- The first twenty years of the 20th century on the Arabian Peninsula featured a long-running series of wars as the Saudis and their allies sought to unite the peninsula. Some members of the Rasheed family left the country and went into voluntary exile, mostly to Iraq.[citation needed]


The Shammar is Iraq's largest Arab tribe, along with the Jubur, with more than 1.5 million members.[8] Under the leadership of Banu Mohamad, known as Al Jarba, there was a massive exodus into Iraq. Most of the Shammar in Iraq gave up their nomadic lifestyles to settle in major cities, especially the Jazirah plain, the area between the Tigris and Euphrates from Baghdad to Mosul. Droughts triggered several migrations of Shammar into Iraq, which, according to the Ottoman census upon its annexation, had only 1.5 million inhabitants. The Shammar took over the Jazirah after displacing Al-Ubaid tribe. According to Sheikh Abdullah Humaid Alyawar, the son of the sheikh of Shammar, in Iraq the total population of Shammar is estimated to be more than 1.5 million. The Shammar Al-Sayeh, a tribal confederation of tribes from Shammar, is the branch of Shammar who were independent of Aljraba's authority. Shammar is composed of groups such as Al-Zuhairy and Al-Towej in Najaf.

The Shammar became one of the most powerful Iraqi tribes, owning vast tracts of land and provided strong support of the Hashemite monarchy. Shammar power was threatened after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958 by Abdul-Karim Qassem, and the Shammar welcomed Ba'athist rule. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Ghazi al-Yawar, from the Al Jarbah clan, was unanimously chosen as interim president. Al-Yawar's uncle is the current Sheikh of Sheikhs of Shammar.


The Shammar tribe have been present in Syria since at least the 1920s when rivalry between Syrian and Iraqi Shammar culminated in violence reported by the League of Nations in 1926. Syrian Shammar Sheikh Diham al Hadi, the paramount Shammar sheikh in Syria,[9] conducted an attack at the end of March 1926 upon 'Ajil al Yawar, a Sheikh of the Iraqi Shammar.[10] In April 1959 however, the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service reported that the Iraqi and Syrian branches of the Shammar were able to bury their differences, both joining an alliance with the Syrian Baath Party against a common enemy.[11]

The current leader of the Syrian Shammar is Sheikh Humaydi Daham al-Hadi.[12][13][14] His son Bandar al-Humaydi is military leader of al-Sanadid Forces, a Shammar militia formed in 2013 nominally to protect the tribe's interests from ISIL.[13][15][14]


Main sections

Al Aslam







  1. ^ The Statesman's Year Book: Statistical and Historical Annual of the World. John Paxton. 1917. p. xliv. ... has its capital at Hail
  2. ^ Al-Jawziyya, Ibn Qayyim (2010-01-01). Zad Al-Ma'ad - Provisions Of The Afterlife Which Lie Within Prophetic Guidance: زاد المعاد [انكليزي] ترجمة. Dar Al Kotob Al Ilmiyah دار الكتب العلمية. p. 498. ISBN 9782745162144.
  3. ^ The Shi'is of Iraq.Yitzhak Nakash, p.27
  4. ^ Haydari, ‘Unwan al-Majd, pg. 110-15, 118
  5. ^ ‘Abdallah Mahmud Shukri (al-Alusi), “Di’ayat al-Rafd wa al-Khurafat wa al-Tafriq Bayn al-Muslimin”, al-Manar 29 (1928): 440
  6. ^ Pfullmann, Uwe (2001). Durch Wüste und Steppe: Entdeckerlexikon arabische Halbinsel : Biographien und Berichte (in German). Trafo. p. 193. ISBN 9783896263285. Am 2. November 1921 erlosch der letzte Widerstand der Schammar-Stämme. (On November 2, 1921, the last resistance of the Shammar tribes died out.)
  7. ^ Suwaed, Muhammad (2015). Historical Dictionary of the Bedouins. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 19, 20. ISBN 9781442254510.
  8. ^ Gregg, Heather; Rothstein, Hy S.; Arquilla, John (2010). The Three Circles of War: Understanding the Dynamics of Conflict in Iraq. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 13. ISBN 9781597974998.
  9. ^ Stirling, Walter Francis (1953). Safety last. Hollis and Carter. p. 225.
  10. ^ a b Iraq, Report on Iraq Administration. H.M. Stationery Office. 1926. p. 58. ... the quarrel between Shaikh 'Ajil al Yawar of the 'Iraq Shammar and Diham al Hadi of the Syrian Shammar. These two shaikhs are rivals with many old scores between them, but the issue of the time was the aftermath of Diham's attack on 'Ajil at the end of March, 1926...
  11. ^ Service, United States Foreign Broadcast Information (1959). Daily Report: Foreign Radio Broadcasts. p. 20. Apr. 8, 1959 The alliance between the leaders of the Syrian Bath Party with Ahmad Ujayl, the Shaykh of Shammar in Iraq, and Daharn al-Hadi, the Shaykh of Shammar in Syria, shows how principles could be sacrificed to plot against Iraq....
  12. ^ Gupta, Rahila (9 April 2016). "Rojava's commitment to Jineolojî: the science of women". openDemocracy.
  13. ^ a b "SDF plays central role in Syrian civil war" (PDF). IHS Jane's 360. IHS. 20 January 2016. pp. 3–4. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  14. ^ a b Gutman, Roy (20 October 2015). "Syrian Arab militias dispute they received U.S. airdrop of ammunition". McClatchyDC. Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Syria: Sunni force takes up arms against IS group". France24. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Williamson, John Frederich (1974). The History of Shmmar (in Arabic).
  17. ^ Al Rasheed, p. 35.
  18. ^ Hail online Arabic reference.[full citation needed]
  19. ^ Al Rasheed.