The Hejaz, also Al-Hijaz (Arabic: اَلْـحِـجَـاز, al-Ḥiǧāz, literally "the Barrier"), is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. The region is so called as it separates the land of the Najd in the east from the land of Tihamah in the west. It is also known as the "Western Province." It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by Jordan, on the east by the Najd, and on the south by Asir. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As the site of Islam's holiest places, the Hejaz has significance in the Arab and Islamic historical and political landscape.
Historically, the Hejaz has always seen itself as separate from the rest of Saudi Arabia. The Hejaz is the most populated region in Saudi Arabia; 35% of all Saudis live in Hejaz. Hejazi Arabic is the most widely spoken dialect in the region. Saudi Hejazis are of ethnically diverse origins.
The Hejaz is the most cosmopolitan region in the Arabian Peninsula. People of Hejaz have the most strongly articulated identity of any regional grouping in Saudi Arabia. Their place of origin alienates them from the Saudi state, which invokes different narratives of the history of the Arabian Peninsula. Thus, Hejazis experienced tensions with people of Najd.
Prehistoric or ancient times
The Hejaz includes both the Cradle of Gold at Mahd adh Dhahab (23°30′12.96″N 40°51′34.92″E / 23.5036000°N 40.8597000°E) and a potential water source now dried out that used to flow 600 miles (970 km) north east to the Persian Gulf via the Wadi Al-Rummah and Wadi Al-Batin system. Archaeological research led by of Boston University and the University of Qassim indicates that the river system was active in 8000 BCE and 2500–3000 BCE.
Al-Hijr Archaeological Site
Saudi Arabia's first World Heritage Site to be recognized by UNESCO is that of Al-Hjir. The name "Al-Hijr" (Arabic: اَلْـحِـجْـر, "The Stoneland" or "The Rocky Place") occurs in the Qur’an, and the site is known for having structures carved into rocks, similar to Petra. The construction of the structures is credited to the people of Thamud, a member of whom was a Monotheistic preacher called 'Salih', after whom the site is also called "Mada’in Saleh" (Arabic: مَـدَائِـن صَـالِـح, "Cities of Saleh"). After the disappearance of Thamud from Mada’in Saleh, it came under the influence of other people, such as the Nabataeans, whose capital was Petra. Later, it would lie in a route used by Muslim Pilgrims going to Mecca.
Era of Abraham and Ishmael
According to Islamic sources, the civilization of Mecca started after Ibrahim (Abraham) brought his son Isma‘il (Ishmael) and wife Hajar (Hagar) here, for the latter two to stay. Some people from the Tribe of Jurhum settled with them, and Isma‘il reportedly married two women, one after divorcing another, at least one of them from this tribe, and helped his father to construct or re-construct the Ka‘bah, which would have social, religious, political, historical implications for the site and region. For example, during the Period of Jahiliyyah, up to the days of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, who was reportedly a descendant of Isma‘il, the often-warring Arab tribes would cease their hostilities during the time of Pilgrimage, and go on pilgrimage to Mecca, as inspired by Ibrahim. It was during such an occasion that Muhammad met some Medinans who would allow him to migrate to Medina, to escape persecution by his opponents in Mecca.
Era of Muhammad
As the land of Mecca and Medina, it was where Muhammad was born, and where he lived, created a Monotheistic Ummah (Arabic: أُمَّـة, Community) of followers, preached or implemented his beliefs, migrated from one place to another, and died. Given that he had both followers and enemies here, a number of battles or expeditions were carried out in this area. They involved both Meccan companions such as Hamzah ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, `Ubaydah ibn al-Harith and Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, and Medinan companions. The Hijaz fell under Muhammad's influence as he emerged victorious over his opponents, and was thus a part of his empire.
Due to the presence of two holy cities in the Hijaz, the region went under numerous empires throughout its Islamic history. Al-Hijaz was at the center of the Rashidun Caliphate, in particular whilst its capital was in Medina from 632 to 656. The region was then under the control of regional powers such as Egypt and the Ottoman Empire throughout much of its later history.
In 1916, Sharif Hussein ibn `Ali proclaimed himself King of an independent Hejaz, as a result of the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence. The ensuing Arab Revolt overthrew the Ottoman Empire. In 1924, however, ibn `Ali's authority was replaced by that of Ibn Saud of the Najd.
In modern Saudi Arabia
At first, Ibn Saud ruled the two as separate units, though they became known as the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd. Later they were formally combined as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Flags of entities that have dominated the Hejaz
- Flag of the Rashidun Caliphate (632–661).
- Flag of the Umayyad Caliphate (661–750).
- Flag of the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258).
- Flag of the Fatimid Caliphate (909–1171).
- Flag of the Ayyubid dynasty (1171–1254).
- Flag of the Mamluk Sultanate (1254–1517).
- Flag of the Ottoman Empire (1517–1916).
- Flag of the Kingdom of Hejaz (1916–1925).
- Flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1925–present).
The region is located along the Red Sea Rift. The region is also known for its darker, more volcanic sand. Depending on the previous definition, the Hejaz includes the high mountains of Sarawat which topographically separate the Najd from Tehamah. Bdellium plants are also abundant in the Hijaz.
People of the Hejaz
The people of Hejaz have never fully accommodated to Saudi rule and their Wahhabi religion. They continue to be Sunni of Maliki rite with a Shia minority in the cities of Medina, Mecca and Jeddah. Many consider themselves more cosmopolitan because Hejaz was for centuries a part of the great empires of Islam from the Umayyads to the Ottomans.
- Musa al-Kadhim ibn Ja‘far al-Sadiq, descendant of Muhammad
Pre-6th century ACE
- Qusai ibn Kilab ibn Murrah ibn Ka'b ibn Lu'ayy ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr ibn Malik ibn An-Nadr ibn Kinanah ibn Khuzaymah ibn Mudrikah ibn Ilyas ibn Mudar ibn Nizar ibn Ma‘ad ibn ‘Adnan the descendant of Isma‘il ibn Ibrahim ibn Azar ibn Nahor ibn Serug ibn Reu ibn Peleg ibn ‘Eber ibn Shelakh, Chief of the Tribe of Quraysh, and an ancestor of Muhammad
- Qusai's son ‘Abd-al-Dar the father of ‘Uthman the father of ‘Abdul-‘Uzza the father of Barrah the maternal grandmother of Muhammad
- ‘Abd Manaf ibn Qusai, paternal ancestor of Muhammad
- ‘Abdul-‘Uzza, son of Qusai, and an ancestor of Barrah bint ‘Abdul-‘Uzza
- Hashim, son of ‘Abd Manaf, paternal great-grandfather of Muhammad, and the progenitor of Banu Hashim in the Tribe of Quraysh
6th–7th centuries ACE
- Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib
- Abu Bakr ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Uthman Abu Quhafa ibn ‘Amir ibn ‘Amr ibn Ka‘b ibn Sa‘d ibn Taym ibn Murrah ibn Ka‘b, father-in-law of Muhammad, and Caliph
- ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab ibn Nufayl ibn ‘Abdal-‘Uzza the descendant of ‘Adi ibn Ka'b ibn Lu'ayy, father-in-law of Muhammad, and Caliph
- ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, and Caliph
- Hamzah, son of ‘Abdul-Muttalib, and a paternal uncle of Muhammad, and other Muhajirun or Meccan followers of Muhammad, including ‘Ubaydah and Sa‘d
- Abu Talib, son of ‘Abdul-Muttalib, Chief of Banu Hashim, paternal uncle of Muhammad, and the father of ‘Ali
- ‘Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim, Chief of Bani Hashim, and the paternal grandfather of Muhammad
- Khadija bint Khuwaylid ibn Asad ibn ‘Abdal-‘Uzza ibn Qusai, and other Meccan wives of Muhammad
- Fatimah, other daughters of Muhammad, and other Muhajir women
- Umm ‘Ammar Sumayyah bint Khayyat, wife of Yasir ibn ʿAmir ibn Malik al-ʿAnsi, believed to be the first martyr from the followers of Muhammad
- Daughters of Abu Talib, and other female followers of Muhammad
- Aminah bint Wahb ibn ‘Abd Manaf ibn Zuhrah ibn Kilab ibn Murrah, wife of ‘Abdullah, and the mother of Muhammad
- Wives of ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Pre-6th century ACE
- Salmah, daughter of ‘Amr, wife of Hashim, and a great-grandmother of Muhammad
6th–7th centuries ACE
- Caliph Al-Hasan, and other sons of ‘Ali and grandsons of Muhammad born in Medina
- Caliph ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz ibn Marwan ibn Al-Hakam ibn Abi al-'As ibn Umayyah ibn ‘Abd Shams ibn ‘Abd Manaf ibn Qusai, great-grandson of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab
- Ansari men
- Al-Hasan of Basra
- Muhammad al-Baqir ibn ‘Ali Zaynul-‘Abidin, grandson of Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn the grandsons of Muhammad
- Zayd ibn ‘Ali Zaynul-‘Abidin ibn Al-Husayn ibn Fatimah bint Muhammad, half-brother of Muhammad al-Baqir
- Medinan wives of Muhammad
- Ansari women
8th century ACE
- Ja'far al-Sadiq ibn Muhammad al-Baqir
- Sons of Ja‘far al-Sadiq born in Medina
- Malik the son of Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir al-Asbahi (not Anas the companion of Muhammad)
- ‘Ali al-Ridha ibn Musa al-Kadhim ibn Ja‘far al-Sadiq
- Fātimah bint Mūsā ibn Ja‘far, sister of ‘Ali al-Ridha
9th Century ACE
6th–7th centuries ACE
- ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan ibn Abu al-'As ibn Umayyah ibn ‘Abd Shams ibn ‘Abd Manaf, son-in-law of Muhammad, and Caliph
- ‘Urwah ibn Mas'ud, Chief of Banu Thaqif
- Nafi‘, son of Al-Harith, Physician
Post-7th century ACE
- Sharif ‘Ali ibn ‘Ajlan ibn Rumaithah ibn Muhammad, son-in-law and successor of Sultan Ahmad of Brunei, father of Sultan Sulaiman, and a descendant of Muhammad
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