Once upon a time, there was a queen (part 1) [Archives:2007/1050/Reportage]

May 14 2007

By: Yemen Times staff and extracts from Al-Sulaihi Kingdom
Ahmed Hamoud Al-Dahmash

In the small museum in Jibla at the far end of Ibb governorate, laid neatly were the costumes and furniture of a Yemeni queen known as Queen Arwa bin Ahmed Al-Sulaihi. Most interesting were the dishes and earth wear confirmed by the museum's keeper, the late queen used to eat in.

As we toured the museum, the history of Al-Sulaihi Kingdom was posted on the walls. A line of one citation reads: “A woman destined to rule is no good to bed her husband, said queen Arwa to her husband Al-Makram, so let me be to attend to my tasks as a queen”

It all started with a dream. Arwa bin Ahmed was living in the shelter of her later to become father in law King Ali Al-Sulaihi and his wife queen Asma. One day when she was yet a young lady she dreamed that she was sweeping Al-Sulaihi castle. When she told queen Asma of her dream, the later made a prophecy that Arwa would rule Al-Sulaihi Kingdom one day.

Arwa was born in Aden in 440 Hijria, daughter to the ruler of Aden. When her father died she moved to live in Al-Sulaihi castle, where she learnt the various sciences and Quranic studies.

Ali Al-Suleihi, as Ibn Al-Jowzi, an Islamic historian said, was a young man with fair beard and blue eyes, there was no Yemenis like him. His father Judge Mohammed was obeyed by his people and family. He lived in Katr village. And his son Ali grew up according to his father's way of life.

Ali Al-Suleihi grew up in a good environment. During his youth, he was noticed by many wise people who told him that he would rule all Yemeni cities one day. Ali fell in love with and married his beautiful cousin Asma' bent Shihab. He was an active politician and created a revolution through which he gained power in 455 Hijriah. Ali Al-Suliahi was a loved king who tried to sustain a stable and developed country.

One day, Al-Suleihi prepared to go to Mecca for Haj. He left the country's affairs to his son Al-Makram. He ordered him to lead every thing properly. He ordered him to be just, wise and a real. Al-Sulaihi left Sana'a leaving every thing to his son to be assisted by Sultan Ahmed ben Mothafar Al-Sulaihi, taking his other son Al-Muwafak and his wife and brothers with him to Macca.

Naturally, such as success does is not complete and there must be enemies and jealous people. Historians wrote that Saeed Al-Ahowal leaders of Bani Al-Najah's hated Ali and wanted to ruin Al-Sulaihi kingdom. On the king's way to Mecca, his slaves who were friends of Al-Ahwal betrayed the king and murdered all the men and captured queen Asma.

Following his father's death in 459 Hijriah, Al-Makram became king. He realised that in order for him to remain in power he needed to gain the support of the many powerful leaders in Yemen. He built many castles for them and when he went for Haj, he took them with him. After several attempts and battles he managed to rescue Queen Amsa and retrieve his father and uncle's dead bodies and had a royal funeral for them. Al-Makram stayed in Sana'a, and he ruled the country from there until his mother's death in 467 A.H.

Queen Arwa bin Ahmed

Queen Arwa, Al-Makram's wife, found that Jibla is the best place for her and her husband to live. So she talked to the king about that. She wanted to show the king the difference between life in Sana'a and in Jibla, So she asked him to order people to be gathered, and she asked him to get out to see them. When he got out he found people with swords and spears. And then when they went to Jibla, she asked him the same thing. When he got out to see people and the queen's family in Jibla, he found them dressed nicely and presenting gifts to the royal family. He got the feelings of peaceful life. Then she said, “Living with these is better because life here is easier for you. It is in the middle between the north and the south of the country.””

Al-Mokrem was persuaded that Jibla is the best place for living. He left Sana'a and moved to Jibla and settle in Dar Al-E'z Castle