Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān

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Tribes and Clans
(3,046 words)

The social units that constituted Arabian society in pre-Islamic and early Islamic times (see pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān ). As the Muslim polity developed, Muslim society became more complex and tribes ceased to be the sole constituent element. Nonetheless, Arab tribes did not disappear altogether (see arabs; bedouin). Modern historians of Islam understand the word “tribe” as a social unit larger than a “clan,” but there is no consensus about the definition of either of these terms. Other words are occasionally used as synonyms of “clan,” such as “sub-tribe,” “branch,” …

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Landau-Tasseron, Ella, “Tribes and Clans”, in: Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān, General Editor: Johanna Pink, University of Freiburg. Consulted online on 23 March 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1875-3922_q3_EQSIM_00427>

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