The Omani people have deep-rooted Arab origins. It has been established that a large Arab migration took place in the early stages of Islam, from the northern parts of the Arabian Peninsula to Oman and its shores, as a result of drought. No accurate date is known for this migration, neither is it known whether it was single migration occurred or in phases. Those migrants belonged to the Nizar and Adnani tribes from the Arabs of the North.
Arab sources provide proof of Oman being subjected to heavily numbered Yemeni migrations since the early stages of history. The best known of the Yemeni migration waves into Oman was the one that came after the bursting of the Ma’rib Dam and its collapse in the first century AD. As a result, the tribes of Lakhm and Azd left Yemen to remote parts of the Arabian Peninsula, some of the Azdis settling in the eastern part of Oman, while the Aws and the Khazraj tribes went to Yathrib, currently known as Al Madina in Saudi Arabia. The descendents of Amr bin Amer, whose family tree goes to Mazen bin Al Azdi, settled in hilly areas in the Levant, specifically in modern-day Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Al Bulazri mentions that the Azdis, after leaving their homeland, became scattered, one group of them coming to Oman, another going to Al Sarat, another to Al Anbar, another to Al Heerah, and another to the Levant.
In fact there is no accurate record of the migration of the Azdi tribes to Oman, nor is there a description of the route of this migration, either through Hadramaut, starting from Ma’rib, or through Al Yamamah and Bahrain, starting from Al Sarat (Asir in Saudi Arabia). But some sources point out that the Azdi tribe that lived in Ma’rib at the end of the first century AD, had migrated through Ma’rib across the Hadarmaut valley and settled in Sihut (Shahar). They came under the leadership of Malik bin Fahm, who moved by sea to Qalhat, and liberated Oman from Persian occupation in a fierce battle, thus becoming master of all of Oman.
The confrontation between Oman’s Arabs and the Persians in the Gulf made Omanis strive to keep their independence. Taking great pride in their Arab origins, they completed their victory by entering Persia itself. Sulaima bin Malik bin Fahm managed to take the land of Karman from the Persians and kept it under Omani rule till his death. Sulaima ibn Malik bin Fahm left his children in feud, which enabled the Persians to regain control over Karman, and thus the dynasty of Bin Malik dwindled. Some it remained in Karman, while a branch of them returned to the land of Oman.
The Azdis were therefore able to dominate Oman, as confirmed by Al Bulazri: ‘They said the vast majority in Oman are Azdis; Oman had also many people in the countryside’.
The inhabitants of Oman were not only Azdis. At the time of the arrival of Islam, Oman was inhabited by well known tribes, such as Sama bin Lua’y, which can be traced back to the famous tribe of Quraish. Banu Sama maintained their tribal integrity, not mixing with the Azdis, but they were allies.
Al Bakri says: ‘Banu Sama became a strong power in Oman, with influence, wealth and force’. Some of them migrated to Basrah, in modern-day Iraq, after the advent of Islam.
Some of the Abd Al Qays tribes shared life in Oman with the Azdis, although their initial settlements date back further. Ibn Durayd says: ‘The Atlads are part of Abd Al Qays, and they had lived in Oman since ancient times.
A special lexicon on the movement and migration of tribes says: ‘Tribes of Abd Al Qays entered deep into Oman, and became partners to the Azdis; those were Atlads, “Oman’s Atlads”, and some sections of the Qudha’aa tribes also inhabited Oman at the time of Islam’s arrival’.
As it has been established, the majority were of Omani or Yemeni origin, as they migrated mainly from Yemen, or from Yemen initially to other destinations and back to Oman. But geographical proximity in the and the common characteristics concerning the environment, civilization, and human physical make up between Yemen and Oman, have led to endless similarities within the framework of historical and human integration, and common interests. Sea and land have facilitated mutual influence and led to economic integration in sea and land products, such as fish, pearls, incense, frankincense, coffee, and trade in livestock, which strengthened contacts between Oman and Yemen, and led to many Yemeni migrations into Oman; hence the prevailing Yemeni elements in the demography of Omani tribes.
When Islam came, these tribes, and others of Adnanite origins, had already been settled in Oman. They responded to the call of Islam and interacted immediately, sending their delegations and leaders to Hijaz to ascertain what the new religion was. Mazen bin Ghaddouba Al Tai’ Al Sama’ili was the first to head for Al Madina, and the first Omani to embrace Islam. He went to the Prophet Muhammad and said to him: ‘Oh you, descendant of the blessed and nobles, Allah has guided people from Oman to the right path of your religion. The land has become fertile and there has been an abundance of benefits and game’. The Prophet is reported to have replied: ‘My religion is Islam, and the people of Oman will be granted more fertility and game. Blessedness is guaranteed for those who believe in me and saw me, and to those who believe in me without seeing me. Allah will strengthen Islam in the hearts of Omanis’. Indeed, the Omanis lost no time in embracing Islam, and the Prophet sent his messages and messengers to the people of Oman and invited the rulers of Oman Jaiffar and Abd, sons of Al Julanda, to embrace Islam.
Islam spread extensively in Oman. This was helped by the fact that the Prophet had promised to maintain the rule of the sons of Al Julanda if they embraced Islam, and also by the fact that they delegated Ibn AlAs to collect alms tax (Zakat) money from the rich of the land after accepting Islam, and distribute the money to the needy and poor instead of forwarding them to the capital of Islam in Al Madina Al Munawwarah. This merciful policy pursued by the Prophet affected the people of Oman’s decision to embrace Islam without hesitation,
The capital of Islam in Al Madinah Al Munawwarah was the scene for visits by several delegations from Oman. One of the main historical sources speaks of two Omani delegations visiting Al Madina, one of them headed by Asad bin Yabruh Al Tahi and the second by Salamah Ibn Ayyaz Al Azdi, declaring their decision to embrace Islam and pledging allegiance to the Islamic Authority in Al Madina.
The gracious Prophet then expressed his good wishes for the people of Oman: ‘God bless the people of Al Ghubairaa (i.e. the people of Oman), as they believed in me without seeing me’. This is evidently because he was convinced that the embracing of Islam by the two kings of Oman was true and free of any suspicion or evil. This is proven by historical sources that all agree on the kings’ response to the call by the Prophet without hesitation, fear, or weakness; they called upon the people of Oman to embrace Islam.
Jaiffar and Abd continued as rulers of Oman, while Amr Ibn Alas remained as a governor of the Prophet, collecting alms tax money, until hearing the news of the Prophet’s death. He then returned to Al Madina in a delegation of Omanis led by Abd bin Al Julanda, Jaafar bin Jasham Al Atki, and Abu Sofrah Sareq bin Dhalim; when they came to Abu Bakr Al Siddiq, the Caliph of the Prophet, Sareq bin Dhalim stood up and said: ‘Oh you Caliph of Allah’s messenger, oh prominent figure of Quraysh, this was a deposit from the Prophet that was between our hands and in our custody. we return it to you’. (the reference here is probably to Ibn Alas)
Abu Bakr then thanked them, and they were praised by the speakers who said: ‘It is a great honour to you, Azdis, what the Prophet Muhammad has said about you, and his praise for you. As to Amr Ibn Alas, he spared no word of praise for the people of Oman’.
Then came the figures of the Azdi Ansars (those who supported the Prophet when he was persecuted by Quraysh into migration to Al Madina) to greet King Abd bin Al Julanda and his entourage. The following day, Caliph Abu Bakr gathered muhajireens (migrators) and Ansars, and made the following statement, after thanking Allah and praising the Prophet:
‘Oh people of Oman, you willingly embraced Islam. You obeyed him and you caused no division or strife, so God has strengthened you for the purpose of good. Then when Amr Ibn Alas was dispatched to you without army or armour, you responded despite being remote, and abided despite your great number; there is no favour better than your favours, no more honest actions than yours, and what the Prophet has said about you is honour enough until judgement day. Then Amr Ibn Alas resided in your land in a dignified manner, and left it safely. You were blessed with Abd and Jaiffar sons of Al Julanda, God made you stronger by him, and he is stronger with your support.‘You had been good, until the news came of the Prophet’s death, when you showed yourself to be even more praiseworthy. I give council, and I share my spirit and my money with you, in order to make you, by the will of Allah, wise in what you say and guide your minds and hearts to the path of righteousness. People have their chances, so do not disappoint me. I am not worried that you will be beaten in your land, or that you might renounce in your religion. God bless you’
In fact, Abu Bakr Al Seddiq’s speech to the Omani delegation led by Abd bin Al Julanda, and that group of Mouhajireen and Ansars, is an important and serious document on the good conduct and generosity of the Omanis, as well as their true and steadfast belief in Islam.
Abu Bakr followed his great stance against that Omani delegation with a letter to the people of Oman, thanking and praising them. He confirmed Jaiffar and his brother Abd in their posts as kings of Oman, and assigned them with collecting charity money and carrying them to him.
There are Omani reports of Jaiffar and his brother Abd remaining in power till their death, when Abbad bin Abd Al Julanda took over as king, in the days of the Caliphs Othman bin Affan and Ali bin Abi Taleb.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sultanate of Oman