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Yemen

(5,166 words)

Author(s): Robin, Christian Julien
Name derived from the Arabic al- yaman, which indicates the south of the Arabian peninsula. Etymologically, al-yaman means “the south” and is the opposite of al- shām, “the north” (see syria ). These two words are themselves derived from Arabic terms for right and left. Before Islam there is no evidence of the proper name Yaman in the sources, whether they are internal (the inscriptions of south Arabia) or external, to indicate the country. They refer to the Ḥimyarīs, the tribe which ruled south Arabia from the end of the third century c.e. In the list of titles of the fourth, fifth an…

South Arabia, Religions in Pre-Islamic

(6,249 words)

Author(s): Robin, Christian Julien
The religious history of south Arabia is divided into two periods of unequal length: polytheistic from its beginnings (eighth century b.c.e.) until around 380 c.e. (see polytheism and atheism ), then monotheistic thereafter. Only the first is dealt with here; for the second,   see yemen; jews and judaism; christians and christianity. (For other aspects of pre-Islamic religious traditions of which the Qurʾān evinces knowledge, see e.g. abyssinia; magians; mecca; medina; najrān; sabians; sheba; soothsayer; syria.) The main source for understanding the religions of pre-Islamic sou…

[Al-]Ukhdūd

(1,030 words)

Author(s): Robin, Christian Julien
Substantive (or proper name) found in the qurʾānic expression aṣḥāb al-ukhdūd ( q 85:4): [They] were destroyed, the men of the furnace (aṣḥāb al-ukhdūd), a fire (q.v.) abundantly fed, while they were sitting by it, and they were witnesses of what they did to believers (see belief and unbelief ), and they ill-treated them for no other reason than that they believed in God ( q 85:4-9). Islamic tradition is almost unanimous in identifying these aṣḥāb al-ukhdūd with those involved in the persecution at Najrān (q.v.; a large oasis in southern Saudi Arabia, on the border with Yemen [q.v.]), in No…