Ghaliyya al-Wahhabiyya

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Ghaliya or Ghaliyya al-Wahhabiyya (Arabic: غالية الوهابية‎ died 1818) was a Wahhabi woman who led military resistance to prevent the Ottoman recapture of Mecca during the Ottoman–Wahhabi War. She was given the title Amira, which is the female version of the title Emir, in recognition of her acts.[1]

Ghaliyya al-Wahhabiyya was a Hanbali Bedouin from Tarba near Tai'f southeast of Mecca. In the early 19th-century, Mecca was under attack from the Ottoman Empire, and she formed a military resistance movement to defend Mecca against the Ottoman forces.[2] Among her enemies, she was rumored to have the power to make her Wahhibi forces invisible to the enemy by the use of magic.[2]

She was credited with boldness and strategic ability, and chronicles describe her participation: "Never had the resistance of the Arab tribes from the vicinity of Mecca been so strong as was that of the Arabs of Tarba ... . They had at their head a woman who bore the name of Ghaliyya."[3]

Specifically, this was to have taken place at the Battle of Turaba in 1814: "A number of incidents ensued (including a Saudi victory under the command of a woman, Ghaliya, at the Battle of Turaba in 1814)...",[4] and: "Initially, Muhammad Ali suffered a series of military failures. In late 1813 and early 1814, his troops were defeated near Turaba and Qunfudha. In the Turaba battle, the Wahhabis were commanded by a woman, named Ghaliya, to whom the Egyptians immediately ascribed the power of casting the evil eye".[5]


  1. ^ Fatima Mernissi, The Forgotten Queens of Islam, p. 20
  2. ^ a b Guida Myrl Jackson-Laufer: Women Rulers Throughout the Ages: An Illustrated Guide
  3. ^ Mernissi, Fatima; Mary Jo Lakeland (2003). The forgotten queens of Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-579868-5.
  4. ^ Ménoret, Pascal. The Saudi Enigma: A History. Zed Books. p. 76. ISBN 978-1842776056.
  5. ^ Vassiliev, Alexei (2000). The History of Saudi Arabia. NYU Press. ISBN 978-0814788097. (Chapter 5).