Ancient South Arabia: From the Queen of Sheba to the Advent of Islam

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Sources of modern knowledge

The Arabian peninsula has long been accepted as the original Urheimat of the Semitic languages by a majority of scholars. The seventh century saw the rise of Islam as the peninsula's dominant religion. The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca in about and first began preaching in the city in , but migrated to Medina in From there he and his companions united the tribes of Arabia under the banner of Islam and created a single Arab Muslim religious polity in the Arabian peninsula.

Muhammad established a new unified polity in the Arabian peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Arab power well beyond the Arabian peninsula in the form of a vast Muslim Arab Empire with an area of influence that stretched from the northwest Indian subcontinent , across Central Asia , the Middle East , North Africa , southern Italy , and the Iberian Peninsula , to the Pyrenees. Muhammad began preaching Islam at Mecca before migrating to Medina , from where he united the tribes of Arabia into a singular Arab Muslim religious polity.

With Muhammad's death in AD, disagreement broke out over who would succeed him as leader of the Muslim community. Umar ibn al-Khattab , a prominent companion of Muhammad, nominated Abu Bakr , who was Muhammad's intimate friend and collaborator.

Nature and significance

Others added their support and Abu Bakr was made the first caliph. This choice was disputed by some of Muhammad's companions, who held that Ali ibn Abi Talib , his cousin and son-in-law, had been designated his successor. Abu Bakr's immediate task was to avenge a recent defeat by Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire forces, although he first had to put down a rebellion by Arab tribes in an episode known as the Ridda wars , or "Wars of Apostasy".

Under the Rashidun Caliphs, and, from , their Umayyad successors , the Arabs rapidly expanded the territory under Muslim control outside of Arabia. In a matter of decades Muslim armies decisively defeated the Byzantine army and destroyed the Persian Empire , conquering huge swathes of territory from the Iberian peninsula to India. The political focus of the Muslim world then shifted to the newly conquered territories. Nevertheless, Mecca and Medina remained the spiritually most important places in the Muslim world. The Qur'an requires every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, as one of the five pillars of Islam , to make a pilgrimage, or Hajj , to Mecca during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah at least once in his or her lifetime.

Despite its spiritual importance, in political terms Arabia soon became a peripheral region of the Islamic world , in which the most important medieval Islamic states were based at various times in such far away cities as Damascus , Baghdad , and Cairo. However, from the 10th century and, in fact, until the 20th century the Hashemite Sharifs of Mecca maintained a state in the most developed part of the region, the Hejaz.

Their domain originally comprised only the holy cities of Mecca and Medina but in the 13th century it was extended to include the rest of the Hejaz.

Yemen & Saudi Arabia - The Descendants of the Queen of Sheba

Although, the Sharifs exercised at most times independent authority in the Hejaz , they were usually subject to the suzerainty of one of the major Islamic empires of the time. The provincial Ottoman Army for Arabia Arabistan Ordusu was headquartered in Syria , which included Palestine, the Transjordan region in addition to Lebanon Mount Lebanon was, however, a semi-autonomous mutasarrifate.

The Damascus Protocol of provides an illustration of the regional relationships. Arabs living in one of the existing districts of the Arabian peninsula, the Emirate of Hejaz , asked for a British guarantee of independence. Their proposal included all Arab lands south of a line roughly corresponding to the northern frontiers of present-day Syria and Iraq. They envisioned a new Arab state, or confederation of states, adjoining the southern Arabian Peninsula. In the modern era, the term bilad al-Yaman came to refer specifically to the southwestern parts of the peninsula. Arab geographers started to refer to the whole peninsula as 'jazirat al-Arab', or the peninsula of the Arabs.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottomans embarked on an ambitious project: the construction of a railway connecting Istanbul , the capital of the Ottoman Empire and the seat of the Islamic Caliphate , and Hejaz with its holiest shrines of Islam which are the yearly pilgrimage destination of the Hajj. Another important goal was to improve the economic and political integration of the distant Arabian provinces into the Ottoman state, and to facilitate the transportation of military troops in case of need.

It was originally planned to reach the holy city of Mecca , but due to the interruption of the construction works caused by the outbreak of World War I, it eventually only reached Medina. The railway was started in at the behest of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II and was built largely by the Turks , with German advice and support. A public subscription was opened throughout the Islamic world to fund the construction.

The railway was to be a waqf , an inalienable religious endowment or charitable trust. The major developments of the early 20th century were the Arab Revolt during World War I and the subsequent collapse and partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The Arab Revolt — was initiated by the Sherif Hussein ibn Ali with the aim of securing independence from the ruling Ottoman Empire and creating a single unified Arab state spanning from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen.

In , Ibn Saud had captured Riyadh. The Saudis absorbed the Emirate of Asir , with their expansion only ending in after a war with Yemen. Two Saudi states were formed and controlled much of Arabia before Ibn Saud was even born. Ibn Saud, however, established the third Saudi state. The second major development has been the discovery of vast reserves of oil in the s. Its production brought great wealth to all countries of the region, with the exception of Yemen.

Rahmanan (RHMNN) - An Ancient South Arabian Moon God?

The Imam escaped to the Saudi Arabian border and rallied popular support. The royalist side received support from Saudi Arabia, while the republicans were supported by Egypt and the Soviet Union.

Both foreign irregular and conventional forces were also involved. The Egyptian President , Gamal Abdel Nasser , supported the republicans with as many as 70, troops. Despite several military moves and peace conferences, the war sank into a stalemate. Egypt's commitment to the war is considered to have been detrimental to its performance in the Six-Day War of June , after which Nasser found it increasingly difficult to maintain his army's involvement and began to pull his forces out of Yemen. By , King Faisal of Saudi Arabia recognized the republic and a truce was signed. Egyptian military historians refer to the war in Yemen as their Vietnam.

In , Iraq invaded Kuwait. Displays of support for Iraq by Jordan and Palestine resulted in strained relations between many of the Arab states. After the war, a so-called "Damascus Declaration" formalized an alliance for future joint Arab defensive actions between Egypt, Syria, and the GCC member states. The Arab Spring reached Yemen in January People of Yemen took to the street demonstrating against three decades of rule by President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

After numerous attempt Saleh accepted the Gulf Cooperation Council mediation.


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He eventually handed power to Vice President Hadi. He was sworn in as President of Yemen on Feb 25, He launched a national dialogue to address new constitution, political and social issues. The extraction and refining of oil and gas are the major industrial activities in the Arabian Peninsula. The region also has an active construction sector, with many cities reflecting the wealth generated by the oil industry. The service sector is dominated by financial and technical institutions, which, like the construction sector, mainly serve the oil industry.

Traditional handicrafts such as carpet-weaving are found in rural areas of Arabia. The old city of Sana'a , Yemen. Peninsular Arabs trace their lineage to Qahtan , who was reportedly based in Yemen.


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A map of the peninsula made in by the German publisher Christoph Weigel. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Arabia disambiguation.


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  • See also: Geography of Saudi Arabia. AR-Arabian Plate, velocities with respect to Africa in millimeters per year. Terraced fields in the Haraz subrange of the Sarawat Mountains in western Yemen. Mountains in the Arabian Peninsula.

    ARABIA, PRE-ISLAM

    Jebel Akhdar [b] Jebel Shams H [c]. Jabal Al-Oraif [g]. Jabal Al-Amud? Salma range Jabal Shammar. Jabal Aja Jabal Al-Samra'? Jabal Tuwaiq? List of mountains in the United Arab Emirates. Jebel Al-Heben. Jebel Hafeet [n]. List of volcanoes in Yemen. Jabal Ar-Rays? Jabal Husn Ghuraf Jebel Shaqb? Note: Mountains are sorted in alphabetical order, unless where it concerns ranges.

    The highest confirmed mountains in each country are indicated with 'HP', and those with the highest peak are indicated with 'HP', bearing in mind that in the UAE, the highest mountain and the mountain with the highest peak are different. Volcanoes are indicated with 'V'. Main article: Arab etymology.

    Early International Relations

    Play media. Merriam Webster's Geographical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Third ed. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia of World Geography. Infobase Publishing. Simon and Schuster. Retrieved Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. Alsharhan, Z.

    Arabia, Pre-Islam

    Rizk, A. Nairn [et al. Archived from the original on Central Intelligence Agency.