Historic schools, mosques and battles form its historyWest of Taiz: a land of enchantment [Archives:2003/684/Culture]

November 9 2003

West of Taiz, in a places known as al-Silow, al-Awoobeen and al-Rasoolieen are famous monuments such as the Aroos historical school, the Dhurafa al-Nagari al-Shiri Market place, the Hijrat Amq, domes of the saints, and other scientific domes.

School of Aross
This is a historical school that had been mentioned in many books and scripts. Built near Hijrat al-Amaq in al-Ashoob, it is distinguished for its architectural design and the beautiful engravings on the walls.
The school consists of a wide yard at the entrance and a number of arcs that go across to the central yard which contains the chamber for school, the mosque, and a number of stone pillars standing in couples. As well as four chambers, as students' residents, the area includes also a large library of which only the remains are left and a water fountain.
The school has a group of canals linking it with water springs in more than one direction to provide water for the increasing number of students. Some of the engravings indicate the time when the school was built, which reads 742 Hijriya. Some other engravings show different dates, such as 712 Hijriya, 512 Hijriya and 605 Hijriya.
There is also dispute as to who built this school. Sayings tell that Jawhar al-Mu'athami, according to al-Saksaki version, was the founder, and it is also said that Kafoor al-Nabawi, according to instructions from al-malik alMujahid, had built it.
Yet in general this school has been a point of attraction to many scholars in Yemen and in Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula and others. Poet Mohammed bin HUmairat (651 Hijriya) is said to have visited the school and recited in the neighbouring Dhurafa Market Place, one of his most fabulous poems. Also Ibn Hajr al-Aqlani (751Hijriya) who wrote the book Fath al-Bari visited, Ahmed Bin Alwan, al-Maqtari, Al-Sharaji, and al-Ashraf al-Rasooli and many more paid a visit to the place.
Of the most famous people who studied in that school is Mohammed bin Abdulmalik bin Abi al-Falah (537 Hijriya) who is the ancestor for most of the area's local people and who is a well known scholar in linguistics, grammar, Fiqh and science of poetry as mentioned in the Yemeni distinguished personalities encyclopedia published by Ibda establishment for science and culture and the Arab Intelectual Forum in Cairo. Many of his works had been translated such as Discarding Science and its Origins, Islamic schools in Yemen, Layers of the Distinguished, Layers of Yemeni Scholars, Layers of Yemeni Saints, Yemen's Masterpiece tc. His tomb is in al-Rahida in Taiz and he is also know by Sahib al-Tair al-Akhdhar – he of the green bird.
His brother Ahmed bin Abdulmalik and his nephew al-Qasim and Yousif al-Shabi and Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Abbas, and Amran Bin Thawab also studied in the same school. The schools sent a number of its graduate to teach around the country, Egypt, and in the peninsula and the schools also sent some of its students to teach in other schools such as al-Amiriya in Rada'a, al-Iftikhariya, al-Muthafariya, al-Ashrafiya, al-Afdhaliya.
All those such as Wajeeh al-Din, Birdad, Thi Ashraf, Shihab al-Din, Noor al-Din, Shugaa al-Din, and Abdul Kafi, all whose tombs are still present in al-Shoob and other places. Some of them even migrated to Kharasan and beyond the river and Iraq where they excelled and became famous.

School's cultural role
The school has undefeatable roles in spreading education and rising science in the region in a time where the rest of the Arab world was suffering form a cultural downfall. Where the scholars of the school engaged in attracting scientists from all around the Islamic world especially the famous ones with their modern touch. The school was also known for its broadness, that it accommodated scholars of various origins and schools of thoughts.
The schools launched a particular system of education that is only its where domes and chambers were built and spread all over the region something like al-Azhar style. These domes where the branches of the main school where the student would take his lessons in each one of them in a systematic method in a determined period of time, so as to avail as much knowledge as possible.

Legends and superstitions
As scientific remains, the only thing left of the whole structure is the remains of Hijrat Amq, the entrance of Dhurafa marketplace, the wide graveyards, the skeleton of Aroos School with its educational domes and a number of tombs. The whole structure has added a touch of legendry and fictitious superstitions in the minds of the old people such as the schools serpent, the buried treasures in the water wells, the spirits of the school, floods of blood that will pour when extracting the treasures. Especially popular is the story of an old radio that was the first machine arriving at the place brought by one of the locals who used to work in Aden and who used to tell the women that the machine works on eggs and instantly he was the king of eggs which the women gathered for him from all around the village.
The schools as mentioned before used to send its scholars to many other schools and used to attract scientists from many other schools as well. Hence the information exchange was a common aspect of the schools relation with the other schools and institutions.
So, who is Arooss? Nobody knows where the name came from, however stories about the origin of the name were invariably made, such as one archeology lover says that Aroos is a Hadrami king who used to reside in the Fort during wars and in al-Ashoob during piece, he was known as god of strength. “This is what my grandfather told me” he said. The same explanation was given by some of the old men in the place as well.
Abd Ahmed Silwi was one of the old men in the village and an ex-worker in one of the British companies in Aden long ago when he used to work in explosions section at the company. Later he joined the freedom fighters. He says that the name refers back to a queen older in time than the famous queen Arwa and that she used to go on checking the farms in the fields with a basket on her head, and does not come back until the basket is full with fruits falling from the trees.

Old but youngest of the young
This was the title of the Yemeni legend documented in the book “Yemeni Stories and Legends” where the story talks about the old man who deceived the king al-Mansoori who demanded wood from the village people and the old man instructed that the wood is sent to the king broken so that the later does not benefit from it.
The legend said when the king got angry the old man replied “With your mightiness join them back” the story goes that the old man promised the people that he will rescue them from the cruelty of the king by acting stupid and to prove that he was really dumb he asked permission to leave from the king saying that he has to ride on god's camel (the fog) and hence he jumped in a cliff where he know there was a certain bend where he could hang on. But when the king saw him jumping into the fog he believed that the man was an idiot and that there is no good in that village so he left them alone. The youth then swore in the life of this old man who rescued them and hence the saying: “old but youngest of the young.”

Abo bakr al-Bahili
Of the famous kind and generous men in that time and as Abd Ahmed al-Silwi says that he exhausted his money on the people who used to call him Abi bikar and when he was broke they started calling him Abi Bikra (Bakra is single of Bikar in Arabic).

Dynamite feast
One old woman tells this story about a huge feast that took place in that place and the king from the fort was invisted to it with his soldiers and men, and the hosting house and the neighbouring ones were paved with dynamite powder and the rest you can guess.

Aroos al-Jand
They legends also narrate that al-Jand which is the famous school in Yemen after Mua'th bin Jabal's delegation by the prophet (mpbh) to Yemen, it happened that head of scholars and scientists of the school cursed the locals for their behaviors and migrated to al-Ashoob where he established Hijrat Amq and kept cursing the people of Jand from his place with the scholars who accompanied him until the waters became scarce and the people had to leave the place.

Domes and tombs
The saints of the place have their tombs built all around the place sometimes a saint would have two domes and more, of those are: Shuja al-Din al-Hadrami who has a dome in the heart of Aroos and an assembly used to be carried on in his name every 27th of Rajab each year and this assembly lasts for five days and in the place a great market is held. This event was stopped three years ago.
Sons of Shuja al-Din; they have a tomb near their fathers dome and they are: Shihab al-Din who has a dome in MzIbar Village and Noor al-Din who has a tomb and dome in the place as well, and finally Wajih al-Din who has a dome and a huge assembly in al-Zubaira place in Qadas, Arwa Othman the author had made an investigative report on this dome around one year ago for al-Thaqafiya newspaper. One of the tombs is also that of al-Said Abdulkafi (al-Tafeel) and his daughter.

Ibn al-Tafeel
Ibn Abdulkafi al-Tafeel is one of the poets who composed a masterpiece and he has a story that is similar to the poet Ibn Zuraq al-Bagdadi. The story says that Ibn al-Tufail studied in Aroos and tought there. Then he traveled to Makka and studied there and before his departure to Makka he had married a beautiful girl but did not take her with him not wanting to subject her to the troubles of traveling. He came back to her after some time and after staying a while he wanted to leave again yet the day of departure he was found dead in the morning. A long piece of poetry was found with his stuff that starts with:
I leave in the hands of god in al-Ashoob a moon of mine,
for I have left yet my heart won't say good bye,
I feel he knows I am not in my sense to leave
and that I from the time of longing I still cry

Rock of Aroos
This is a grand rock that is located in the center of a number of fields. Nobody knows how it got there. Around this rock, many people live. There used to be the primarily stage of education before joining Aroos school. Some rumors say that the king ordered to transfer the rock there from the fort, and in recent days people used to gather there. Hael Saeed Ana'm Charity built a mosque on the rock and called it the Rock Mosque.

Jews of am-Ashoob: Beyond the rock!
Old people say that Jewish families used to live in al-Ashoob and used to work on weaving silk and linen and another used to work in goldsmithing, and the later used to live beyond the rock in an elevation and people used to question as to why that place and hence the saying: beyond the rock is what is beyond it.

Hujariya and Al-Sabowa, the naming
Abdulrahman Taib Ba'akar said that al-Hujariya was called this name because of a group in the Ayoobi army who accompanied the king Taflateen bin Ayoob used to be called that and because it settled in that place and the group stayed there hence the name (80 years of al-Numan's life; Abdulrahman bin Ba'akar p15.) This is in addition to what the author of Tasliyat al-Qloob fi Ayam al-Ashoob (entertainment of the hearts about the days of al-Ashoob) said, that Tiflateen bin Ayoob did not reach the fort until lots of blood was shed, and a great battle caused lots of dead men who were buried in a graveyard called al-Sabowa, hence the name.

Caravan routs
There scattered the hands of al-Ashoob!