Bani Ziad in Yemen [Archives:1999/48/Culture]

November 29 1999

Saleh Abdulbaqi 
Cultural Editor 
Zabid is situated to the south of Al-Hodeidah. It is one of the Yemeni cities with historic, political and cultural significance. It is known as the city of knowledge and knowledgeable people. Hadiths tell us that this city and its inhabitants were blessed by the Prophet Mohammed (May peace and prayers be upon him) when they went to him after being converted to Islam. 
When Al-Mamoon appointed Ibn Ziad to rule Yemen, he asked him to build a city near Al-Ashaa’er (a strong Yemeni tribe in Wadi Zabid bounded by the Red Sea to the West, the Haraz mountains to the East, Maqbanah to the South and Beit Al-Faqih to the North). They were among the first people to convert to Islam. 
Today, there are many cities and tribes descended from Al-Ashaa’er including; Zabid, Heis, Beit Al-Faqih, the Al-Jamaher tribe, Al-Rakab, Al-Zaraniq, etc. 
When Ibn Ziad arrived in Yemen, he was involved in many wars until he conquered the Tihamah. Many other cities surrendered to him. In 204 Hijrah, Ibn Ziad settled in Zabid and made it his capital. He planned the city and built it. Jafar, who was famous for his sharp intelligence, was one of Ibn Ziad’s servants. It was said that even Ibn Ziad himself used to depend on him very much. It was he who prohibited inhabitants of the Tihama from riding horses. In 205 Hijrah, Jafar was sent to Mamoon with a lot of gifts. He came back during the next year with 1,900 knights from Khorasan. 
Gradually, Ibn Ziad’s control spread to most Yemeni land. When he died, his son, Ibrahim succeeded him. Ibrahim followed in the footsteps of his father and kept Yemen under his control until he died. He, too, was succeeded by his son Ziad although his regime did not last for a long time. He was soon replaced by his brother, Isaac who ruled Yemen until he was 80. As he grew old, Isaac became unable to control and defend the country. Western tribes and cities soon declared their independence. Zabid was soon invaded by Solaiman Ben Tarf. During the invasion, about 4 thousand people from Zabid were killed while Isaac was able to flee. In 361 he died. 
The decline of the state of Bani Ziad did not continue for a long time. It was restored by the coming of Al-Hussaini Ibn Salamah. Following his victory, Al-Hussaini gave instructions to build ‘Al-Kadara’ in Wadi Siham and ‘Al-Maqad’ in Wadi Dhawal. 
He was very generous and kind. He built many mosques and tall houses in Zabid, Hadhramaut, Tarim, Aden and other places. He was the first person to fence Zabid. His name is still carved on the wooden gates of most of the mosques he built. In fact, it is impossible to talk about him and his achievements in this short piece of writing. After he died, Abdullah Ibn Ziad took the responsibility of controlling the country with the help of his minister, Morjan. Morjan had two servants: Najah and Nafees. He brought them up and looked after them until they became adults. 
As the two servants grew up, their hatred for each other grew. In the course of time, Morjan preferred Nafis to Najah. When Nafis heard that Ibn Ziad’s aunt, Hend, loved Najah, he told Morjan who then killed her and her nephew Ibn Ziad. This marked the end of Bani Ziad in Yemen.