Queen Arwa [Archives:1999/42/Culture]

October 18 1999

Saleh Abdulbaqi 
Cultural Editor 
Yemen Times D uring my last visit to Ibb, I felt how important it was to see the traces that one of the most outstanding women in the entire history of the world has left; a woman that successfully ruled Yemen for about 79 years. It is queen Arwa who once settled in Djibla and ruled the whole Yemen from it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Abdu Al-Majeed Mojahed and Mr. Qasem Ali who provided me with the information I needed to know in detail about this outstanding personality. The following account has been extracted from a book entitled “The History of Yemen” by Najmaddin Amarah Al-Hakami Al-Yemeni 
Queen Arwa was born in Sanaa in 440 Hijirah. Since she was a child, people knew her as Assaidah Bent Ahmad Ben Jaafar Ben Mosa Assoalaihi. Her mother was Al-Horrah Arroaah Bent Al-Fare Ben Mosa. 
Her father died very early when she was still a child. Therefore, she was adopted and brought up by Aamer Ben Salman Al-Ziwahi who married her mother. From this marriage, Arwa got a brother named, Salman Ben Aamer A-Ziwahi, who later on was poisoned by Prince Al-Mofadal Ben Al-Barakat Ibn Al-Waleed. Arwa then was adopted by Al-Horrah Asmaa Bent Shihab. It was said that, once Arwa told Asmaa about a dream. In her dream she saw that she was cleaning the castle, to which Asmaa replied ” It is you then, who will “clean” it of the corrupt” 
Queen Arwa was fair and a little bit reddish, tall and buxom. She was pure-hearted and a lover of reading. She was learned and loved poetry and history. 
In 461 Hijirah, she got married to Al-Mokarram Ahmad Ben Ali.They had four children: Mohammed, Ali, Fatima and Oum Hamdan. The two boys died in their early childhood. Aum Hamdan got married to her cousin, the Sultan Ahmad Ben Salman Al-Ziwahi. They got only one child Abdu Al-Mustala. Fatima got married to Shams Al-Maani Ben Ali Al-Dai Saba Ben Ahmad. 
In 519 Hijirah Aum Hamdan died. Fatime also died two years after the death of her mother. 
After the death of Al-Mokaram’s mother, he took to drinking and abdicated the royal the throne to his wife, Arwa. In the beginning, Queen Arwa tried to persuade her husband that she was more suitable for the household work and not for running a country. However, Al-Mokaram did not pay any head for her. After this, Queen Arwa left Sanaa for Dhi Djibla with a big army. She arrived in Djibla in 480 Hijira when she started her new life as a queen. The first thing she did was building her castle which was called Dar Al-Iz Al-Oula (1st). 
As far as the name of the town is concerned, it is said that Dhi Djibla was a name of a Jew who was living in the same place Queen Arwa chose for building her castle. Abdulla Ben Mohammed Assolaihi was the first person to build near the Queen’s castle. 
In 458 Hijirah she gave orders to build the Queen Arwa’s Mosque and Dar Al-Iz Al-Thaniah (2nd), which was a walled field full of trees. The Dar Al-Iz II, was located on a tall mountain overlooking two rivers adjoining her grave. 
In 481 Hijirah, Al-Mokarram joined his wife in Djibla and left Sana’a to be governed by Amran Ben Al-Fadl and Asaad Ben Shihab. In the same year Queen Arwa managed to kill Zabid’s King, Saeed Ibn Al-Ahwal. She asked Al-Habashi Attobai to write to him that Al-Mokarram had become very weak whereas he( Al-Ahwal) was the strongest king in Yemen at that time. In the letter Al-Habashi suggested to Al-Ahwal to surround Djibla till it surrendered. After that the whole country would be led by Al-Ahwal. When Saeed read the letter he felt happy and thought of it seriously. He left Zabid with 3000 soldiers. At the same time, Queen Arwa wrote to Asaad Ben Shihab and Amran Ibn Al-Fadl in Sanaa ordering them to leave Sanaa with 3000 soldiers and follow Al-Ahwal. When Al-Ahwal arrived in Al-Shaeer Castle he was surrounded and killed in the encounter. His head was cut off and presented to Queen Arwa who hanged it on one of the Castle’s windows. 
In 484 Al-Mokarram died. His wife, Queen Arwa outlived him by 48 years after she ruled Yemen for 79 years. Although she is dead, she is still living in the memory do all Yemenis. People in Yemen still remember how she contributed to strengthening the foundations of Islam through her mosque whose minaret is still piercing the sky. May God bless her soul.