Ahmad bin Said al-Busaidi
|Ahmad bin Said Al Bu Said|
|Imams and Sultans of Oman|
|Predecessor||Saif bin Sultan II|
|Successor||Said bin Ahmad|
|Died||15 December 1783 (aged 73)|
Ahmad bin Said al-Busaidi (1710 – 15 December 1783) was the first ruler of Oman of the Al Said dynasty. He came to power during a period when Oman was divided by civil war, and the Persians had occupied large parts of the country. During his long rule as Imam the country prospered and regained its leading position in the Persian Gulf.
Ahmad bin Sa'id bin Muhammad bin Khalaf bin Sa’id Al-Busaidi Al-Azdi Al-Ammani Al-Ibadhi was born in Adam, Oman in 1710, the son of Sa’id bin Muhammad Al-Busaidi. Ahmad bin Saìd came from the Al Bu Saìd, a small Hinawi tribe from the interior of Oman. He was great great grandson of Mubarak al-Saidi al-Azdy of the Banu Hiba, a clan belonging to the Hiwani tribe of Yemen. It was said that he began as a wood vendor and worked his way up. He became a leading merchant of the port city of Sohar. In 1737 he was appointed governor of this city.
The sixth Imam of Oman of the Yaruba dynasty was Saif bin Sultan II, who came to power during a period of civil war and lost popularity due to his indulgent lifestyle. Saif called for military help from Persia, and in 1737 Persian troops arrived led by Nader Shah. They began to conquer the country. The Persians left in 1738 but returned from 1742 to 1744. By 1742 the Persians were in control of much of the country. Saif was tricked into letting them take the key forts of al Jalali and al Mirani in Muscat while drunk at a banquet. He died soon after, the last of his dynasty. The Persians took Muscat and then attacked Sohar to the north. After enduring nine months of siege, Ahmad bin Sa'id negotiated an honorable surrender. The Persian commander Taqi Khan confirmed him as governor of Sohar and Barka in return for payment of tribute.
Assumption of power
By late 1744 Ahmad had control over large parts of Oman. Bal'arab bin Himyar of the Yaruba had been elected Imam in 1743, and retained the support of some of the Ghafiri of Dhahireh and the Semail. Bal'arab bin Himyar raised a strong force and advanced on Muscat, but was unable to take that town. He then attempted to take Sohar. Ahmad went to town's aid but was deserted by his troops at the Battle of Bitnah around the start of 1745 and forced to flee. Ahmad used excuses to delay paying tribute, and as a result the Persians could not pay their troops in Muscat and many deserted. In 1747 Ahmad invited the remaining Persian troops to a banquet at his fort in Barka. There he massacred them.
For several years Bal'arab bin Himyar was recognized as the true Imam, fully controlling the interior, while Ahmed remained on the coast. On the coast of East Africa, Ahmad bin Sa'id was recognized as Imam only by the governor of Zanzibar. In 1749 Ahmad gathered an army and moved against Bal'arab, who was encamped near Jebel Akhdar with inferior forces. In the final battle, in the second half of 1749, Bal'arab was defeated and killed. This was the end of Yaruba power. Ahmad was now the undisputed ruler of Oman. In 1749 the Ibadi tribes of Oman elected Ahmad bin Said as their Imam. He election took place on 9 June 1749 at Rustaq.
Ahmad bin Said had widespread popular support as the person who had liberated the country from the Persian occupiers. He quickly consolidated his power through whatever techniques were expedient. A ship owner and trader in outlook, he saw the economic potential of Oman's position on the trade routes, and gained allegiance from the tribal leaders by engaging them in commercial ventures. Ahmad bin Said made his seat at Rustaq. From there he ruled for 39 generally peaceful years, although he had to deal with intrigues by members of the deposed Ya'Aruba family, by other tribes and by two of his sons.
Ahmad bin Said encouraged the development of agriculture and maritime trading. For the first time in the history of Oman Ahmad bin Said maintained a permanent army and navy. In the late 1770s he attempted to gain control of the Strait of Hormuz between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, a key position. Ahmad bin Said reestablished the leading position of Oman among the Persian Gulf states.
Ahmad bin Said had seven sons and three daughters. His eldest son Hilal was disqualified from the succession since he was blind. His second son Said bin Ahmad was his heir. His third son Qais bin Ahmad later became governor of Sohar. His fourth and fifth sons were Saif and Sultan bin Ahmad, both children of his fourth wife, a sister of Shaikh Muhammad bin Nasir al-Jabry al-Ghafiry, of Zhahirah. Shaikh Abdallah Rocky Amir Muhammad was a strong leader of the Nizariya faction, and under the Yarubi had once been governor of Bahrain. His two youngest sons were Talib, later governor of Nakhal and then of Rustaq, and Muhammad, later Governor-General of Mombasa and Oman's East African possessions. The eldest of his three daughters, Moza, became a power in family affairs and acted as guardian and supporter of her nephews Salim and Sa'id.
On 1 February 1775 Ahmad turned over responsibility for routine administration to his son, Said bin Ahmad, while retaining the title of Imam. Ahmad bin Said's sons Sultan and Saif rebelled in 1781, and took control of the forts of al-Mirani and al-Jalali that guarded the harbor of Muscat. They kidnapped their brother Said bin Ahmad and imprisoned him in al Jalali. Ahmad returned to Muscat early the next year, captured al-Mirani, and after bombarding al-Jalali from al-Mirani and from ships on the other side managed to regain control.
Ahmad bin Said died on 15 December 1783 at Al-Batinah Fort, Rustaq. He is buried there at the Western Fort, near the Great Mosque. Said bin Ahmad was elected Imam as his successor. His descendants continued to rule Oman, although they did not have the religious authority of the Imams of the Ibadi Muslim tradition. Ahmad bin Said was the only ruler of his dynasty who was clearly an Imam, elected in the traditional way. His son was also elected, but abdicated soon after, although retaining the title of Imam. After that, members of the dynasty were sultans of Muscat, with until 1959 only limited authority over the interior of Oman.
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