Literary CornerYemen: The People and Culture (VIII) [Archives:2006/962/Culture]

July 10 2006

Abu Al-Kalmah Al-Tayyibah
Author: Qadhi Abdullah Abdul-Wahhab Al-Shamahi

Language: Arabic

Publisher: Dar Al-Hana Printing

Year Published: 1973

No. of Pages: 370

We now come to a period of Yemeni history in which Turkomen or affiliate conquerors had an active part in Yemeni history and the wave of invasions began with the Kurdish followers and descendants of Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi (Saladin). Upon hearing of the vast turmoil that had engulfed Yemen during the latter part of the Sixth Century, Saladin decided Yemen was ripe. He allied the Ayyubids with the Rassieen and Suleiman Alawis and sent his brother, Torah Shah with a force of 3,000 men to back them up.

After some fighting the Himyari Mahdis were defeated and Zabid was taken in 569 AH. It was said that the Mahdis had stockpiled the weapons and ammunitions of 25 other states in Yemen they had fought with. Then Torah Shah went on to take Aden. When he head North, he met little resistance until he reached the withering heights of Summara, where he was confronted by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Janby, the Sultan of Janb. After fierce fighting, Torah Shah was reconciled to a settlement. He proceeded further north to be only confronted by the tribes around Dhamar. He entered the city of Dhamar and proceeded northward to Sana'a.

There he was unable to confront Sultan Ali Bin Hatim and the tribes around Sana'a were able to loot and plunder his forces as they retreated to Zabid. Torah Shah left Yemen on 571. This was might be considered the first Egyptian invasion of Yemen, since the Ayyubids had taken control of Egypt.

However, the Ayyubids were not let to rest in Yemen, for the successors to Torah Shah confronted fierce fighting with some of the local rulers, especially Al Hatim, who fiercely fought against Torah Shah's brother. In addition, the Ayyubids fought with each other for the governorship of Yemen. The brother of Torah Shah (Daghtakeen Bin Ayyub) was able to control a sizable part of the country. He is noted for having constructed the Wall of the City of Sana'a and founded the City of Al-Mansoura in Al-Hugariah region, where he died in 590 AH. His son Al-Aziz Ismael Bin Daghtakeen ruled from hence to 598 AH, when he was killed in Zabid, but was a strange ruler as the author states, with most of the authority laying with his mother. The latter then married Suleiman Bin Sa'ad Al-Din and turned over the authority to him. The latter was cruel and probably had homosexual tendencies and he ruled to the Year 612 A. He was followed by King Masoud. By the end of the Ayyubid rule, the Ayyubid influence in Yemen ended when Nur al-Din Amro Bin Ali Bin Rasul declared himself king

The Bani Rasuls ruled from 628 – 858 AH. They are actually followers of the Ayyubids only being Arabs who had emigrated to the Levant in pre-Islamic times (they established a vassal state of the Byzantines known as Ghassan).

The second wave of Turcoman invasions of Yemen came with the Circassian Dynasty of janissaries that were under the Turkish flag. They were able to gain a foothold in Yemen, according to the author because they possessed firearms, which were then unknown in Yemen. These included shotguns, and artillery. They also allied themselves with Imam Sharaf Al-Din and the Ashraf of Jaran. The Circassian state was a mixture of Circassian and Ottoman rulers and lasted from 923 AH to 945 AH.

Their period of rule in Yemen was rife with internal squabbling amongst themselves and internal rebellion. The end of their period of rule left two competing forces in Yemen: the Yemenis led by Imam Sharaf Al-Din and his son Al-Mutahhar and the Ottoman Turks

The First Ottoman rule of Yemen (945 AH to 1045)

This was a period of difficulty for the Turks in Yemen and the brief periods were they dominated Yemen were met by fierce resistance of the Yemenis led by the Hashemites, which the author says went on for hundreds of years to the point that Yemen was called the graveyard of the Turks. Thus the Yemenis and the Hashemites found themselves in perpetual alliance, which was primarily set off by foreign invasions. Here the author delves into the great influence of the Zeidi sect in Yemen which he considers a sect that brings Islam back to the piety and purity of the Orthodox Caliphs that followed the Prophet Mohammed (PBAUH), which is why many Yemenis followed them, especially when turmoil prevailed in the land and the country was left with a vacuum of authority to be only filled in by these pious Imams who produced a fine example of justice and advocacy for the discontent.

There was one period of female Fatimid rule under Fatima Bint Al-Hassan Bin Salah, who deviated from the normal Zeidi doctrinaire along with her son. We were not given the date of her rule.

Among the leading Zeidi Imams of this period was Imam Mutahhar Bin Sharaf Al-Din, who was able to overtake most of the internal small states that had evolved alongside the Turkish rule and eventually kicked out the Turks from Aden and were left with a small foothold in Zabid. The author notes that this was at the time that the Turks were at the zenith of their power, yet they found inhospitality in Yemen that was not easy to reckon with.