Hadaramaout: Vast, Promising, yet Ignored.. [Archives:1999/40/Culture]

October 4 1999

Vast, Promising, yet Ignored..
Ridhwan Alawi Al-Saqqaf,
Aden Bureau Chief
Hadaramaout governorate is one of the most important historical cities through out the history of the Arabian Peninsula. Its strategical geographical location made it one of the most renowned cities for it is located on the cross-road of the commercial path between India and the Mediterranean Sea shores. There are many Pre-Islamic ruins which show that this path passed through which was at that time part of Shiba’s and Hemiar’s kingdoms. This city is also well-known from the stories of Aad and Thamood, Saleh, Hood and the people of Loot that are mentioned in our Holy Qura’an. Hadaramaout was also one of the first regions which embraced Islam in Yemen when the prophet Mohammed (God’s mercy and peace upon him) send Ali Ibn Abi Talib to them in 631 AD. Its also known that the Mohammed (God’s mercy and peace upon him) was engaged to Al-Ashaath’s sister, Fotailah Bint kais, who was originally from Hadaramaout. However , she did not get married to the prophet (God’s mercy and peace upon him). Later, she got married to Ikrimah Ibn Abi Jahl and her brother, Al- Ashaath, married the sister of Abu Bakr.
Historians stated that the original name of this land was Wadi Al-Ahkaf which is mentioned in the Holy Qura’an. Later on, it was named after the King who ruled that land in that epoch. One of the Islamic writers , Al-Masoudi, said in his book ( Mourooge Al-Dahab) this name came from the king Hadaramaout Ibn Kahtan Ibn Aabed who established his kingdom 18 centuries BC. The name Hadaramaout was given to the old kingdom which extended all the way from Shabowah to Dhofar and Oman. Yet , this name was also granted to other distinctions through out history for it once represented the big arid valley which is 160 Km far from the shore.
Hadaramaout had always been a target for invaders. One of them was Toran Shah Al-Ayoubi who set an army, composed mainly of Turks, under the leadership of Othman Al-Zangebly. This leader conquered Aden and Hadaramaout in 1180 AD. There, he killed many of their scientists like the two famous Shaiks Yahya Ibn Salem and Ahmad Akdar. He also slew some of their Sultans like the Sultan of Aal Rashed, the Sultan of Al-Dagar and the Sultan of Ikbal and he arrested others and sent them to Aden. Then in 1194 AD the sultans came back to rule Hadaramaout but under the name of the Ayoubian kingdom. These Sultans continued to rule in Hadaramaout until it was subdued by Ibn Mahdi in 1220 AD. Years later Hadaramaout was unified in 1228 AD during the epoch of Masoud Ibn Yamani but, after that, Hadaramaout became a site for battles for many years between Sultanate Al-Kathiri and Al-Taherieen and other tribes as well. Some historians had also confirmed that Hadaramaout was also unified during the epoch of Badr Ibn Abdullah Ibn Ali who is known by Abi Towairik.
During the era from 1853-1967 AD Hadaramaout was in its nadir. It was divided and ruled by many governments and in many cases there were cities which were ruled by two governments at a time. In addition to that, some tribes started ruling their lands and establishing their own government forcing the people to work for them. Therefore, large numbers of the inhabitants of Hadaramaout emigrated to India, South Asia and East Africa.
At that period of time there were two Sultanates, Al-Katheriah and Al-Kaeytiah. Al-Katheriah Sultanate was established by Galib Ibn Mohsin Al-Kathiri in 1865 AD who was a descendant of the previously mentioned Abi Towairik. He was one of the greatest rulers of this Sultanate. He was able to conquer all Hadaramaout and he had brought a lot of scientists and rich people to his land. After his death his descendant Al-Hosain Ibn Ali Mansour succeeded him to the thrown. During this period the Sultanate started decaying and finally this latter was laid off by the socialists after Aden’s dependence in 1967.
Al-Kaeytiah Sultanate was established by Omar Ibn Awath in the middle of the 13th Hijri century. He was one of the soldiers of Aal Yafi’i who settled in Hadaramaout after the Sultan Badr Ibn Towairik Al-Kathiri and his cousin Ali Ibn omar Ibn Jafar the Sultan of Shibam had brought them. This ruler was one of the elite of Haydar Abad’s army and when he knew that his tribe was a target of attack for other tribes. He set an army with the aid of the British to face Al-katherieen. Unfortunately, he was defeated in Al-Mahayeil battle and then the British made both sides sign a compromise in Aden. This Sultanate kept ruling until 1967 AD when Aden gained its independence.