What is a Gabyala (Tribalism)? Pro’s and Con’s! [Archives:2000/05/Culture]

January 31 2000

1st in a series of 3
Ali Muhamed
“We created you male and female and divided you into nations and tribes so you can know one another. Of you the most blessed by Allah is the most pious.” – Holy Qu’ran.
This is what is mentioned in the Holy Qu’ran however, this isn’t practiced. I wonder why?
In these series of articles I plan to first describe what Gabyala (Tribalism) is according to the Yemeni culture, as well as the pro’s and con’s. Second, I plan to describe what is being practiced in reality.
Third, I plan to describe what we need to keep Gabyala practiced in its purest form, as well as its importance in the Yemeni culture.
Despite the fact that Gabyala has been associated lately with kidnapping, according to the Yemeni culture is a traditional set of values , customs, laws, attitude and dress that distinguishes Yemen from the rest of the Arab world and the world in general.
Gabyala has given Yemen the honor that has reached a level of respect unattainable by others. Gabyala has given Yemen its righteous respect because it is associated with mainly positive characteristics such as the demand for respect and honor, generosity, hospitality, Yemeni pride, wise judgement, fair laws and a gabili (one who follows gabyala) is judged and respected according to the extent of how much they follow the above code.
Although I have talked about what Gabyala is and its positive aspects, I feel I have to be truthful in giving the negative aspects of it in general , since I will get into the negative aspects in part II.
In general, I feel certain traditions such as the high dowry to get married, the extravagance of gatherings and the stubbornness to make peace with other tribes is very negative and gives Gabyala a bad name.
However, I feel the most negative aspect of Gabyala that has given it a bad reputation is not only the hypocrisy in the way it is practiced , but the unbalance of power among the tribes. The might makes right attitude is not what Gabyala is all about , but it has pushed its nose in.
What I have written here today is a brief description of what Gabyala is and in the next two parts I plan on analyzing the hypocrisy in the way it is practiced and why we need to maintain it to maintain our righteous and deserving spot in the Arab world and the world in general.
The hypocrisy in the way Gabyala is practiced is the reason for the destruction of Yemen, when in reality if Gabyala was practiced in its purest form Yemen would be the model to the world socially, politically, economically, morally; as our ancestors were before us.
It was faith and Gabyala that fought the oppression from others on Yemen and freed Yemen from its oppressors.
It was also the reason why the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) respected Yemen so much. He said “Faith is Yemeni and Judgement is Yemeni.”
This is an important tradition and the next two parts will analyze the problems and solutions.