Yemeni Zaidi State

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Zaidi Immamate

Zaidi State under the rule of Al-Mutawakkil Isma'il (1675)
Zaidi State under the rule of Al-Mutawakkil Isma'il (1675)
Zaidiyyah (Shia Islam)
• 1597-1620
Al-Mansur al-Qasim
• 1620-1640
Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad
• 1640-1676
Al-Mutawakkil Isma'il
• 1676-1681
Al-Mahdi Ahmad
• 1681-1686
al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad II
• 1689-1718
Al-Mahdi Muhammad
• 1716-1727
Al-Mutawakkil al-Qasim
• 1727-1748
Al-Mansur al-Husayn II
• 1748-1775
Al-Mahdi Abbas
• 1775-1809
Al-Mansur Ali I
Historical eraEarly modern
• Proclamation
• Takeover of Sanaa
• Seccession of Lahej
• Loss of coastal territories
• Reincorporation into Ottoman Empire
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Yemen Eyalet
Sultanate of Lahej
Other Zaidi sultanates
Yemen Eyalet

The Yemeni Zaidi State, also known as the Zaidi Immamate and the Qasimid State, was a Zaidi-ruled independent state in Greater Yemen region, which was founded by al-Mansur al-Qasim in 1597 and absorbed much of the Ottoman Yemen Eyalet by 1628 and completely expelled the Ottomans from Yemen by 1638. The Zaidi state continued to exist into 18th and 19th century, but gradually fractured into separate small states. The most notable of those states was the Sultanate of Lahej; most of those states (except Lahej) were submitted by the Ottomans and incorporated into the restored Ottoman province of Yemen Eyalet in 1849.


The Zaydi tribesmen in the northern highlands, particularly those of Hashid and Bakil, were a constant irritant to Turkish rule in Arabia.[1] Justifying their presence in Yemen as a triumph for Islam, the Ottomans accused the Zaydis of being infidels.[2] Hassan Pasha was appointed governor of Yemen, which enjoyed a period of relative peace from 1585 to 1597. Pupils of al-Mansur al-Qasim suggested that he claim the immamate and fight the Turks. He declined at first but was infuriated by the promotion of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence at the expense of Zaydi Islam.


Proclamation and expansion[edit]

Al-Mansur al-Qasim proclaimed the Imamate in September 1597, which was the same year the Ottoman authorities inaugurated al-Bakiriyya Mosque.[3] By 1608, Imam al-Mansur (the victorious) regained control over the highlands and signed a 10-year truce with the Ottomans.[4] When Imam al-Mansur al-Qasim died in 1620 his son Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad succeeded him and confirmed the truce with the Ottomans. In 1627, the Ottomans lost Aden and Lahej. 'Abdin Pasha was ordered to suppress the rebels but failed and had to retreat to Mocha.[3] After Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad expelled the Ottomans from Sana'a in 1628, only Zabid and Mocha remained under Ottoman possession. Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad captured Zabid in 1634 and allowed the Ottomans to leave Mocha peacefully.[5] The reasons behind Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad's success were the tribes' possession of firearms and the fact that they were unified behind him.[6]

Mocha was Yemen's busiest port in the 17th and 18th century.

In 1632 CE, Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad sent an expeditionary force of 1000 men to conquer Mecca.[7] The army entered the city in triumph and killed its governor.[7] The Ottomans were not ready to lose Mecca after Yemen, so they sent an army from Egypt to fight the Yemenites.[7] Seeing that the Turkish army was too numerous to overcome, the Yemeni army retreated to a valley outside Mecca.[8] Ottoman troops attacked the Yemenis by hiding at the wells that supplied them with water. This plan proceeded successfully, causing the Yemenis over 200 casualties, most from thirst.[8] The tribesmen eventually surrendered and returned to Yemen.[9]

By 1636, the Zaydi tribesmen had driven the Ottomans out of the country completely.[10]

Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad died in 1644. He was succeeded by Al-Mutawakkil Isma'il, another son of al-Mansur al-Qasim, who conquered Yemen in its entirety, from Asir in the north to Dhofar in the east.[11][12][13][14]

Consolidation (17th-18th centuries)[edit]

During Al-Mutawakkil Isma'il reign and that of his successor, Al-Mahdi Ahmad (1676–1681), the Imamate implemented some of the harshest discriminatory laws (Ar. ghiyar) against the Jews of Yemen, which culminated in the expulsion of all Jews to a hot and arid region in the Tihama coastal plain. The Qasimid state was the strongest Zaydi state to ever exist.

At the death of the imam in 1681, his son Muhammad was prevented from assuming the imamate due to counter-claims by relatives in Rada, Shaharah, Sa'dah and Mansura. Through mediation of the Ulama (religious scholars), one of these, al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad II, took power.

Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad II was not a warlike leader, but rather an ascetic and deeply religious personality who was devoted to learning. The well-known scholar and writer Muhammad ash-Shawkani considered him one of the most righteous imams. He died in 1686 in Hamman Ali in the Anis region, possibly from poisoning. The deceased imam was buried in Jabal Dawran, at the side of his father.[15] Seven contenders claimed the succession after him in a period of only three years; of these, al-Mahdi Muhammad finally gained power in 1689 after a violent struggle.[16][17]

Decline and partition (18th-19th centuries)[edit]

The imamate did not follow a cohesive mechanism for succession, and family quarrels and tribal insubordination led to the political decline of the Qasimi dynasty in the 18th century.[18]

In 1728 or 1731 the chief representative of Lahej declared himself an independent Sultan in defiance of the Qasimid Dynasty and conquered Aden thus establishing the Sultanate of Lahej. In 1740 the 'Abdali sultan of Lahej became completely independent.[19] It became independent thanks to the fracturing of the Zaidi State in north Yemen.[20] The Sultanate of Lahej became an independent entity, from 1728 to 1839.

The rising power of the fervently Islamist Wahhabi movement on the Arabian Peninsula cost the Zaidi state its coastal possessions after 1803 CE. The imam was able to regain them temporarily in 1818, but new intervention by the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt in 1833 again wrested the coast from the ruler in Sana'a. After 1835 the imamate changed hands with great frequency and some imams were assassinated. After 1849 the Zaidi polity descended into chaos that lasted for decades.[21]


During that period, Yemen was the sole Coffee producer in the world.[22] The country established diplomatic relations with the Safavid dynasty of Persia, the Ottomans of Hejaz, the Mughal Empire in India and Ethiopia. The Fasilides of Ethiopia sent three diplomatic missions to Yemen, but the relations did not develop into a political alliance as Fasilides had hoped, due to the rise of powerful feudalists in the country.[23] In the first half of the 18th century, the Europeans broke Yemen's monopoly on coffee by smuggling out coffee trees and cultivating them in their own colonies in the East Indies, East Africa, the West Indies and Latin America.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harold F. Jacob (2007). Kings of Arabia: The Rise and Set of the Turkish Sovranty in the Arabian Peninsula. Garnet & Ithaca Press. p. 70. ISBN 1859641989.
  2. ^ Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Nahrawālī (2002). Lightning Over Yemen: A History of the Ottoman Campaign in Yemen, 1569–71 [البرق اليماني في الفتح العثماني] (in Arabic). OI.B.Tauris. p. 197. ISBN 1860648363.
  3. ^ a b Michel Tuchscherer. "Chronologie du Yémen (1506–1635)', Chroniques yémenites". Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  4. ^ 'Abd al-Samad al-Mawza'i (1986). al-Ihsan fî dukhûl Mamlakat al-Yaman taht zill Adalat al-'Uthman [الإحسان في دخول مملكة اليمن تحت ظل عدالة آل عثمان] (in Arabic). New Generation Library. pp. 99–105.
  5. ^ Amira Maddah (1982). l-Uthmâniyyun wa-l-Imam al-Qasim b. Muhammad b. Ali fo-l-Yaman [العثمانيون والإمام القاسم بن محمد في اليمن] (in Arabic). p. 839.
  6. ^ Musflafâ Sayyid Salim (1974). al-Fath al-'Uthmani al-Awwal li-l-Yaman [الفتح العثماني الأول لليمن] (in Arabic). p. 357.
  7. ^ a b c Accounts and Extracts of the Manuscripts in the Library of the King of France. 2. R. Faulder. 1789. p. 75.
  8. ^ a b Accounts and Extracts of the Manuscripts in the Library of the King of France. 2. R. Faulder. 1789. p. 76.
  9. ^ Accounts and Extracts of the Manuscripts in the Library of the King of France. 2. R. Faulder. 1789. p. 78.
  10. ^ Gabor Agoston; Bruce Alan Masters (2009). Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Infobase Publishing. p. 603. ISBN 978-1-4381-1025-7. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  11. ^ Kjetil Selvik; Stig Stenslie (2011). Stability and Change in the Modern Middle East. I. B. Tauris. p. 90. ISBN 1848855893.
  12. ^ Anna Hestler; Jo-Ann Spilling (2010). Yemen. Marshall Cavendish. p. 23. ISBN 0761448500.
  13. ^ Richard N. Schofield (1994). Territorial foundations of the Gulf states. UCL Press. p. 90. ISBN 1857281217.
  14. ^ Robert D. Burrowes (2010). Historical Dictionary of Yemen. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 295. ISBN 0810855283.
  15. ^ Tomislav Klaric, 'Chronologie du Yémen (1045-1131/1635-1719)', Chroniques yémenites 9 2001, .
  16. ^ Robert W. Stookey, Yemen; The Politics of the Yemen Arab Republic. Boulder 1978, p. 147.
  17. ^ David Solomon Sassoon (ed.), Ohel Dawid (vol. 2), Oxford University Press: London 1932, p. 969, s.v. דופי הזמן - Vicissitudes of Time - being a description of 17th and 18th century chronology written by a Yemenite Jew (Hebrew); a Microfilm of the manuscript is available at the National Library at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Givat Ram Campus), Manuscript Dept., Microfilm reel # F-9103, and where pp. 13-14 mention in great detail the struggles of al-Mahdi Muhammad (Hebrew)
  18. ^ Ari Ariel (2013). Jewish-Muslim Relations and Migration from Yemen to Palestine in the Late Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. BRILL. p. 24. ISBN 9004265376.
  19. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 1984 Edition, Vol. I, p. 11
  20. ^ Yaccob, Abdul (2012). "Yemeni opposition to Ottoman rule: an overview". Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. 42: 411–419. JSTOR 41623653.
  21. ^ R.L. Playfair (1859), A History of Arabia Felix or Yemen. Bombay; R.B. Serjeant & R. Lewcock (1983), San'a': An Araban Islamic City. London.
  22. ^ Nelly Hanna (2005). Society and Economy in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean, 1600–1900: Essays in Honor of André Raymond. American Univ in Cairo Press. p. 124. ISBN 9774249372.
  23. ^ Roman Loimeier (2013). Muslim Societies in Africa: A Historical Anthropology. Indiana University Press. p. 193. ISBN 0253007976.
  24. ^ Marta Colburn (2002). The Republic of Yemen: Development Challenges in the 21st Century. CIIR. p. 15. ISBN 1852872497.

External links[edit]

  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWahab, R. A. (1911). "Yemen". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 913.