Once upon a time, there was a great queen (Part 3/3) [Archives:2007/1052/Reportage]
Passing away at age 92 in Hijra year 532, as per her request, Queen Arwa of Jibla was buried in a small room adjacent to the famous mosque bearing her name, which she built during her lifetime.
Knowing the dispute that might arise from her burial within the mosque area, the queen instructed a parchment buried atop her grave validating her position that it's not forbidden for her grave to be there because it's not directly inside the mosque.
Historians narrate that upon seeing her tomb at the mosque, more than one sultan ordered transferring her grave elsewhere, but upon reading the parchment, they left it as is. Thus, not only did she rule during her life, Queen Arwa of Jibla also ruled years after she was gone.
During her 65 years in power, Queen Arwa attempted to make her people happy by ensuring prosperity and development. She sought to develop the nation's economy, working hard to promote agriculture, industry, trade and transportation, among other sectors.
Understanding the link between trade development and a good transportation system, Queen Arwa took great interest in road construction, both paving and repairing them. For example, she constructed a road in three stages from atop Sumara Mountain to Al-Sayani. This road is considered the first agricultural road in Yemen and remains in use today. Additionally, she paved the roads of Jibla, which was the capital at that time, with stone and built five bridges surrounding Jibla.
The queen also gave importance to education, building numerous schools to teach the tenets of Islam, the Qur'an, the Hadith and other sciences, as well as building mosques such as Jibla's Queen Arwa Mosque. Additionally, she granted several areas as an endowment for scholars and the poor and for teaching her people.
At Jibla Mosque, she organized seminars to teach religion, linguistics, astronomy and legal sciences. She also awarded certificates equal to university certificates and endowed areas for writing the Qur'an.
Additionally, if a stranger died in Jibla, she ordered the body washed in a room at the mosque and enshrouded at her expense. She also endowed areas for burying the dead.
Other achievements included bringing water from Jibla's mountains via brooks for drinking and mosques.
Finally, she sought the help of counselors from other nations when she sent a message to the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mostanser in Egypt asking him for counsel.
The queen's last will and testament
A year before her death, Queen Arwa wrote her will, wherein she designated her jewelry and gems, the royal crown and the golden keys be given to the caliph in Egypt. The contents of her will comprised more than 17.5 kilos of gold, an impressive quantity at that time. She wanted the caliph to use the gold for the sake of the poor and the needy and to dedicate it in her name for charity's sake.
As the famed Yemeni historian Sahib Al-Qiyoun narrated about Queen Arwa: “The free modest queen, the lady of the Yemeni king, brought all of her valuables and asked Sultan Ahmed Bin Al-Sulaihi to be the executor of her will. She wanted him to take all of those things with a trustworthy man to Caliph Al-Mostanser in Egypt after her death and make a document from Al-Mostanser attesting that he received her legacy. She also said, 'May Allah punish and destroy anyone who tries to change anything in it by intention, force or trickery.'”