Islamic history of Yemen

Islam came to Yemen around 630 during Muhammad's lifetime and the rule of the Persian governor Badhan. Thereafter, Yemen was ruled as part of Arab-Islamic caliphates, and Yemen became a province in the Islamic empire.

Yemeni textiles, long recognized for their fine quality, maintained their reputation and were exported for use by the Abbasid elite, including the caliphs themselves. The products of Sana'a and Aden are especially important in the East-West textile trade.

The former north Yemen came under control of Imams of various dynasties usually of the Zaidi sect, who established a theocratic political structure that survived until modern times.

Egyptian Sunni caliphs occupied much of north Yemen throughout the 11th century, but local control was exerted by families which included the Zayidis, the Najahids, the Sulayhids, the Egyptian Ayyubis and the Turkoman Rasulids. The most important dynasty, founded in 897 by Yayha bin Husayn bin Qasim ar-Rassi, were the Zaydis of Sa'da, whose Shiite dynasty lasted well into the 20th century.

By the mid-15th century the town of al-Moka, on the Red sea coast, became the most important coffee port in the world. For a period after 1517, and again in the 19th century, northern Yemen was a nominal part of the Ottoman Empire, although real power remained with the Zaydi Imams.

The four rightly-guided Caliphs (632 - 750 AD)

The Yemenites started off with the vanguard of invading Islamic Armies and were trusted for important tasks. The Yemenites transferred during their participation in the armies of Islam many of their knowledge and know how and had clear and evident participation in founding towns and building fortresses as well as the construction of castles and other skills. The Yemen involvement in events did not cease during the Caliphates. And in this period Yemen divided into three regions there center was Sana’a, Al-Ganad in Taiz, Hadramote

Umayyad Caliphs (661 - 750 AD)

Abbasid Caliphs (750 - 897 AD)

The dynastic name generally given to the caliph of Baghdad, the second of the two great Sunni dynasties of the Arab Empire, that overthrew the Umayyad caliphs from all but SpainWhen the Abbaside Caliphates weakened in certain of its fringes, Yemen became more of those parts apt or convenient for establishment of independent states from that of the Caliphate.

ulaihid State (1047 - 1138 AD)

Ayubbide State (1174 – 1228 AD)

Rasulide State (1226 – 1454 AD)

The Rasulid era which was the strongest Yemenite states during the Islamic era and was the longest in endurance and the widest in influence and has stronger impact and its rules interest covered all the affairs prevalent in those times. Taiz was their capital and some of them were scientists in astrology, medicine, agriculture, linguistics, and legislation, etc. They built mosques, houses and citadels, roads and water channels. Their projects extended as far as Mecca.

Taheride State (1446 - 1517 AD)

The Tahiride Rulers tried to imitate Bani Rasool. Thus they built schools , mosques and irrigation channels as well as water cisterns and bridges in Zabid and Aden , Yafrus , Rada, Juban, etc..

Ottomans (1538 - 1635 AD)

Ottomans (1872 - 1918 AD)

Mutawakel Kingdom (1918-1962 AD)


*Original text from [ U.S. State Dept. Country Study]
*(1): DAUM, W. (ed.): "Yemen. 3000 years of art and civilisation in Arabia Felix"., Insbruck / Frankfurt am Main / Amsterdam [1988] . pp. 53-4.
* [ History of Yemen]
* [ Yemenite Virtual Museum] - excellent site with many pictures.
* [ A Dam at Marib]
* [ Das Fenster zum Jemen (German)]
* [ Geschichte des Jemen (German)]


Further reading

*Alessandro de Maigret. "Arabia Felix", translated Rebecca Thompson. London: Stacey International, 2002. ISBN 1-900988-07-0
*Andrey Korotayev. "Ancient Yemen". Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-19-922237-1 [] .

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