LEHUN NEWS
Issue 1 - December 2002 Homepage

AL-SALAITAH CLAN OF THE BENI SAKHR TRIBE
by Dr. Raouf Abujaber


Al-Salaitah at Al-Lahun, are the descendants of Sulaiman Al-Qutaifan who originally came from the Arabian peninsula.


Genealogy books seem to agree that the ancestry of the Salaitah goes back to the Fawadhleh from the tribe of Bili which is of the large Qudha’a confederation of the Qahtan Tribe of Himyar. Qudha’a was the son of Malik, bin Amre, bin Murra bin Zayd bin Malik bin Hamid bin Saba'. It is related in the book “Sabaik al-Dhahab fi Ma’arifat Qaba’il Al-Arab” written by Al-Suwaidi, that the tribe’s grandfather is descended from Amre bin Al-Hafi from Qudha’awhen their domain was in Najran and later in Hijaz and Bilad Al-Sham. Ibn Khaldun States that they had leadership over the area between Al-Sham and Al-Hijaz extending to Iraq from Ayla and the area of Al-Karak to the Boundaries of Bilad Al-Sham.  In this he was referring to the Emirate of Al-Ghasasina the allies of the Roman Empire in Syria and western Iraq in the sixth and seventh centuries.

Most probably the ancestors of Al-Salaitah moved to the eastern domain of Jordan before few centuries. During the seventeenth century or a little before “they joined Bani Sakhr and became their allies and right hand in their raids” as related in the book “Transjordan and its Tribes” by Peake Pasha.  Another book “Clans of the Bani Sakhr” by Mifleh Al-Nimr Al-Fayiz, States that Al-Salaitah joined Bani Sakhr in old times and became a clan of Al-Tuwaqah and that in 1911, the Ottoman Government levied on them a fine of one hundred gold pounds for participating in the revolt of Al-Karak.  A third book by Khalid Al-Rudeini Al-Mutairat called “Bani Sakhr Tribe” mentions that Al-Salaitah stood firm with Bani Sakhr when their domain was being attacked by the hordes of the Ruwala during the Shiha Campaign. They composed what came to be known as the “Mobilized Army” and their alliance with the Bani Sakhr was so strong that their domain was not considered a place of refuge amongst the Bani Sakhr and vice versa for the Salaitah in the Beni Sakhr domains.

The traveler Alois Musil mentioned them in detail in his book “Arabia Petraea” published in 1908. He visited them in 1897 and confirmed that previously they resided east of Al-Shobak but the movement of the Huweitat tribe northwards forced them to the areas in which they reside now. This stretches between Al-Lahun in the south and Wadi Al- Thamad in the north. They were camel-breeders and still revered Humoud whom their grandfathers used to worship. Presently at the start of the twenty first century, they live in Al-Lahun, Al-Mushairfeh
and Al- Rama in the Dhiban district and Al-Damikhi between Qatrana and Swaqa in the district of Al-Karak where they settled probably at the start of the nineteenth century.

Musil also mentioned that they number 280 tents (around 1500 people) and that they belong to two grand branches Al-‘Imairat which includes the Ghathian, Zuraikat, Shubaikat, Na’amin and Al- Qutaifan who all seek their water supply at Al-Mushairfeh and Al-Thamad. The second branch, Al-Madalsheh which includes Al-Rujailat, Al-Jararin, Al-Dawanmih, Al-Ghiath, Al-Zuhailat, and Al-Karazmih, seek their water supply at Umm Al-Rassas and ‘Ain Saida.  It is worth mentioning here that some error may have happened in the translation of Arabic names and writing them in German script.

It was noticeable that Traveler Musil was greatly irritated by the shortage of water in the Salaitah area where there is no running water or even wells. This forced him and his companions to move towards the Plateau at Sarbut where they acquired water from a pond in the Wadi Alwala east of the Roman bridge before the mill that was run by water drawn through a canal from the Wadi. Water conditions in the area remain the same at the start of the twenty first century when Al-Salaitah bring water in tanker trucks from the wells at Suwaqa for their needs and those of their livestock. Presently they have no camels or horses but maintain flocks of sheep and Goats that may exceed 10000.  Presently Al-Salaitah at Al-Lahun, as per their tradition are the descendants of Sulaiman Al-Qutaifan who originally came from the Arabian peninsula and settled in the area. His son Musallam had three sons, Hamad, ‘Agil and Saleem and they are the direct grandfathers of the clan that lives in the area nowadays.      

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Local people who worked with us during the excavations
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Islamic Mosque
In 2002 the Islamic mosque at al-Lahun was restored by the Department of Antiquities.
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In our next issue:
Follow up on the exhibition "al-Lahun and the King's Highway. 20 years of Belgian Excavations in Jordan"


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