The Jurhum legend serves the role of assimilating Ishmael into Arab culture from that of the Biblicist world, and at the same time establishes his prominent role in traditional Arab genealogy. Consequently, its significance cannot be fully understood without understanding the basic thrust of the classic Arab genealogical world view. The genealogists agree that all Arab tribes are derived from one of two great ancestors, Qaān or 'Adnān. The former is generally associated with the True or Original Arabs (al-'arab al-'āriba), ancient tribes such as 'Ād, ThamūD, Āasm, and Iram, most of which had disappeared long before the beginning of Islam and are therefore designated also as the Lost Arabs (al-'arab al-bā'ida). The descendants of Qahtān are the southern Arabs (qabā'il al-yaman) and include such famous groupings as the Ḥimyar, Kahlān, Ṭayyi', and the famous Aws and Khazraj of Medina, who figured so prominently in Muhammad's emigration there from Mecca.
'Adnān is associated with the Arabised Arabs (al-'arab al-muta'arriba or al-'arab al-musta'riba), those non-indigenous tribes who became Arabized when they migrated into the Arabian Peninsula. The descendants of 'Adnān are the northern Arabs, including such well known groupings as the Thaqī, Tamīm, Kināna, and most important, the Quraysh, from which Muḥammad, the Umayyad and 'Abbasid imperial dynasties, and the Imāms of the Shi'ites all derive. Ishmael is considered an ancestor of the tribal descendents of 'Adnān. He is the progenitor of the northern Arabs, those who re-established the new-old religion of Islam and who led the faithful in its great conquests. 1
Arab genealogical tradition considers the Jurhum one of the ancient True Arab tribes derived from Qahtān. The Jurhum migrated from Yemen to Mecca, where they are assumed to have controlled the religious rites of the Ka'ba or even to have built it, but were eventually forced to concede control of the holy city and then died out long before the beginning of Islam. 2
Ibn 'Abbās is the only consistent authority for the Jurhum legend, with eleven narratives attributed directly to him. 3 Three additional renditions of