Getting to the roots of family trees
According to Mr al Matroushi, Arabic family trees were kept diligently during the pre-Islamic period, between the time of Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed; with the expansion of Islamic influence beyond the Arabian peninsula, however, there was a lot of mixing and it became increasingly difficult to keep track of the various branches of far-flung families.
However, he says all Arab tribes can trace their origins to two main ones, the Qahtaniya and Adnaniya, that are direct descendants of Ismail, son of the Prophet Ibrahim. Prophet Mohammed’s ancestry is from the Adnaniya tribe.
Mr al Shehhi has published a book about the outcome of DNA testing on some of the main tribes in the UAE; he concluded that all the Emirati tribes come from “three fathers”, tens of thousands of years ago.
The UAE tribes, he says, “are the same as the rest of the Arabian tribes as there was no UAE or Saudi Arabia or any specific country; it was all open land and the tribes moved around.”
In genetics, the various major branches of the family tree of the human race are defined as “haplogroups”. According to genetic theory, says Mr Shehhi, the entire human race came from one man and one woman, labelled as “Adam” and “Eve”, and both came from Africa.
The samples taken by Mr al Shehhi from UAE tribes show about 70 per cent of them are from haplogroup J1 and the rest are from J2 and E1B1. The “father”, labelled by genetic science as J1, came from an area we know now as Iraq; J2 came from the area north of modern-day Syria and E1B1 from Syria itself.