Tarim he town of mosques and schools [Archives:2005/897/Culture]

November 24 2005

Tarim is a town situated about 22 miles northeast of Sayun. It was anciently the capital of Hadramout Kingdom, when it had been named after king Tarim Hadramout ibn Sheba in the tenth century. History books have recorded that in Tarim there were once 365mosques, and over 300 clerics and preachers! People of Hadramout call this town “the agriculture splendor ” given the profuse quantity of palm trees that are giving shelters to the number of palaces built all over the town of Tarim. As soon as the visitor arrives Tarim, the feelings of ancient eras of Yemeni civilizations struck him with owe. He begins to let go of his rein while his eyes wander around the majestic edifices, the walls of which are “crowned” by the chromes of ripped dates, with decorations drawn through usage of “Al-Noora”- a white plaster-like substance, covering them.

The Sayun-Tarim road is rugged, and has not been maintained for many years, but on its two sides the lofty palm trees grow high, thus bestowing on the whole area of Wadi Hadramout an eternal pleasant green color. The town had been founded between two hilly-plateaus, and had in the past been encircled by a wall made of muddy-clay. The wall had two gates for entrance and exit. Moreover, the town had once its fame by being famous as a center for scholastic enlightenment. However, currently there is a renown scientific institute called “Rabat Tarim”.

Many students, particularly from East Asia and Latin America, are coming annually to study in this institute. Some citizens of Tarim had also graduated in various scientific, and religious fields of study. A number of them have themselves become authors and publishers in the Tradition , Interpretation of Quraan and other branches of religious knowledge. The most famous scholar among them was probably Abdul Rahman Al-Mash'hoor. He provided all local mosques of Tarim one single timetable for prayers that are calculated according to sunrises and sunsets around the year.

It is true that Tarim can be ranked one of the most beautiful Yemeni towns in the Republic due to the existence of the palaces, and particularly for the fact that the local citizens built them from three local building materials: hay clay and Al-Noora. These materials gave the constructions the look of an indescribable charm and an architectural uniqueness. The craftsmen and builders of the town were so skilled that they were able to integrate the Islamic architectural arts with Greek and East Asian influences in them into the traditional system of building.. The most famous of such palaces are known to belong to the “Al-Ahqaf” dynasty, including Al-Quba and Al-Munaisoora palaces that are surrounded by two beautiful gardens.

At the heart of Tarim, Al-Mahdhar minaret is built of clay stands proudly. It is undoubtedly the landmark of this town. It was designed by the local poets Abubakr bin Shihab and Alawi Al Mash'hoor. The building was completed in 1915, with a height of 175 feet, and 140 stair-steps. It is considered one of the most famous Islamic architectural works by virtue of the fact that its unique design of construction made it over the last 83 years withstand all adverse weather conditions.

Al-Ahqaf Library of Manuscripts is also located in Tarim featuring some seven thousand titles. In fact the library is the second in size of contents after Sana'a Library of Manuscripts. In 1996, the estimated number of visitors to Al Ahqaf Library hit the mark of 4780 persons. The manuscripts themselves are on various aspects of Islamic cultures. Some of them are on philosophy, logic, medicine, and the eight-volume of Al-Hamadani's “Al-Iklil”.

What distinguishes these manuscripts is the fact that most of them belong to Yemeni authors and editors who resided in Wadi Hadroamout area. Nevertheless, there are others that belonged to scholars from Morocco, Kurasan, and other Islamic regions.