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Rival Empires of Trade and Imami Shiism in Eastern Arabia, 1300-1800

Rival Empires of Trade and Imami Shiism in Eastern Arabia, 1300-1800

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Rival Empires of Trade and Imami Shiism in Eastern Arabia, 1300-1800
Author(s): Juan R. I. Cole
International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, (May, 1987), pp. 177-203
Rival Empires of Trade and Imami Shiism in Eastern Arabia, 1300-1800
Author(s): Juan R. I. Cole
International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, (May, 1987), pp. 177-203

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Published by: ba7raini on Jun 30, 2008
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I n t.J . M id d leE a st S tu d . 1 9(1 9 8 7 ),1 7 7 -2 0 4 P r in te d in the U nited Stateso f A m e r ic a
J u a n
R .
I .
C o le
R IV A L
E M P IR E S
O F
T R A D E
A N D
IM A M I
SH IC ISM
I N
E A S T E R N
A R A B IA ,
1 3 0 0 -1 8 0 0

T h eh i s t o r y o f theS h i'i M uslim s in the isleso f B ahrain a n d the oases of Q a tif a n d al-H asa has beenl i t t l e studied d e sp ite th e e c o n o m ic and p o litic a l im p o r ta n c e le n t th e mb y th ela r g e p e tr o le u m d e p o s its in th eir r e g io n . T he s ig n ific a n c e o f th is

c o m m u n ityh a s b e e nf u r t h e rm a g n ifie db yth e r i s ei n t h e G u lf r e g io no fS h i'i r a d ic a lis m ,a si n th eI r a n ia n R e v o lu tio no f 1 9 7 8 -1 9 7 9 a n d th e fa ile d 1 9 8 1S h i'i c o u p attem pt inB a h r a in .T he stu d y o fS h i'is m

i nth e G u lf h a s a d v a n c e d s o little
that even
ab a s i cc h r o n o lo g y
a n d
o v e r v ie w
o fin s titu tio n a ldevelopm ents a r e
la c k in g for all but the m ost recent decades. A full h is to r yo f T w e lv e rS h ic is m in
th e
G u lfw o u ld
r e q u ir e archival researchi n
P o r tu g u e s e ,
I r a n ia n , O ttom an,
D utch,
F ren ch ,a n d
B r itishr e p o s i t o r i e s ,i n
a d d itio n
t o
e x te n s iv e
m anuscript
w o r k in eastern A rabia itself. U ntil thisd a u n tin g task is ta c k le di nat h o r o u g h -
g o in gm anner,i t m a yb e u se fu l tom ake a p r e lim in a r ys u r v e yo fT w e lv e rS h ic i
h is t o r yinth e G u lf ini t s fo r m a tiv e prem odern periodo f 1 3 0 0 -1 8 0 0 o n th eb a s i s
of m orea c c e s s i b l es o u r c e s , such as p u b lis h e d travela c c o u n ts andT w e lv e rS h i'i
b io g r a p h ic a l d ic tio n a r ie s .
T h e fo llo w in go v e r v ie w h a s th e lim ited a m b itio n o fshow ing sh ift fromIsm acili
S h i'is m
t o
th e
U su li school of TwelverS h i'is m ;
a n d
fin a llyt o
th eA khbar
s c h o o l
o fT w e lv e rS h i'is m ,
a s th e
m a jo r id e o lo g ic a l
o r ie n ta tio n
o f
B a h r a in
T w e lv e r s .I n a d d itio nt otr a c in g in s titu tio n a l a n did e o lo g ic a l developm ents, th is
stu d yh a ss e v e r a la n a ly tic a l c o n c e r n s . T h e s e q u e stio n sin c lu d e th er e la tio n s h ip o f
d y n a s tic ,s o c ia l,a n de c o n o m ic c h a n g e st oS h icism ,th e s h iftin ge c o n o m icb a s e s
o fr e lig io u sin stitu tio n s, a n d th es p e c ific socialo r ig in s of the Twelverc le r ic a l
c o r p s (u la m a ).
Eastern Arabia hasb e e n
a n
arena of contention
b etw een
S u n n i M u slim s,
p a r tis a n so f th e o r th o d o x c a lip h s ,a n dS h i'is , p a r tis a n so f th eP r o p h e t'sc o u s i n
a n dso n -in -la w ,'A lI. T h em a jo r branches ofS h i'is m
o f concern here areth e
S e v e n e r so rIsm a 'ilis,
w ho
fo llo w
o n e
o fs e v e r a ls t i l l - e x i s t i n g
lin e so f'A ll's
d e s c e n d a n tst h r o u g h
Ism icil
b .J a c f a ra s-S a d iq ; a n d th eT w elvers.T w e lv e r s
fo llo w e d
Ism acil'sb r o t h e r K azim
a n d h isd escen d a n ts,h o ld in g th a t th e la te r
e le v e n th
Im am
h a d
a sm allso n
w ho
went into
s u p e r n a tu r a l o c c u lta tio n
a n d
w o u ld r e tu r n in th e fu tu r e .
T he
g e o g r a p h ic a lis o la tio n
a n d
e c o n o m ic
richness ofe a s t e r n
A r a b ia
h e lp
e x p la inw hy it som etim est h r e w u p r e g io n a l states. B ut thatw e a lth ,c o m b in e d
w ithitsr e la tiv e ly s m a llp o p u la tio n , a ls o a c c o u n ts fo rth em any attem pts th a t
?
1 9 8 7 C a m b r id g eU n iv e r s ity P ress 0 0 2 0 -7 4 3 8 /8 7
$ 5 .0 0+.0 0
1 7 8
J u a nR .I . C o le

n e a r b yg r e a t p o w e r s m adet o in c o r p o r a teth isr e g io nin to th e ir territories. Its p r o x im ityt ou n d e r s e a p e a r l fie ld s e n r ic h e d its m erchants a n d n o ta b le s w h ile a ls o a ttr a c tin gc o n q u e r o r s ;d iv e r s a n d

p e a s a n tss e l d o m

s h a r e dm uch, how ever,i n B ahrain's fabledp r o s p e r i t y .T he area benefitted fr o m th e tr a d e ins p i c e s betw een A sia

a n d
E u r o p e , som eo f w hich p a s s e dt h r o u g hth e G u lf.T heB a h d r in a o r
in d ig e n o u sA r a b S h i'iin h a b ita n ts o f e a s te r n A r a b ia a r e s tilla m a jo r ityo n th e

is le so f B a h r a in a n do n c e c o n s titu te d an eveng r e a t e r p r o p o r tio no f thep o p u la - tio n .'O th er a r e a so f S h i'is e ttle m e n t in c lu d e th ep o r t c ity a n d o a s iso f Q a tif, a n d th e oases of a l-H a sa , b o thn o wi n S a u d i A r a b ia .2 A l-H a sa c o n sists of ag r o u p o f oases in a 180sq . km

" L "s h a p es o u t h e a s t o fQ a tif, w h ic h ta k eth e irc o lle c tiv e
nam e from
p o o ls of w ater (h isy )c o lle c tin g above a s to n ysu b stra tu mi n sa n d y
s o il. T he r e g io n h a s tr a d itio n a lly p r o d u c e dd a t e s ,h o r s e s , a n d fin e tex tiles.
T h e w e a lth o fth isr e g io n o fte ng a v e it a n autonom yf r o m surroundingpow ers
e x p r e s s e din a lo c a lid e o lo g y
o fS h i'is m . T h eS h i'ip a s t o r a l i s t s ,p e a s a n t s a n d
p e a r l d iv e r s w e r e d o m in a te db y their ow ne lite o f c la ne l d e r s , u r b a n m erchants,

a n dla n d h o ld e r s . B u tS u n n i b e d o u in s a n dd is ta n t n a v a l pow ers o fte n conquered the Shi'itr ia n g le . Eastern A rabia form edp a r t of th em e d ie v a l Islam ic em pires. F r o m

th e
la te
n in th
c e n tu r y
A .D .,
how ever,a
lo c a l
b r a n c h
o f th e
Ism a 'ili
m ovem ent,th e
C a r m a th ia n(Q arm atT )s e c t,s e tu p
ap o lity
th e r e .A
r a d ic a l
r e lig io u s g r o u p encom passing p a s to r a lis ts ,p e a s a n tsa n d tow nsm en,i t e s ta b lis h e d
am oree g a lita r ia n socials y s t e m
th a n w a sn o r m a l in th e1 0 thc e n t u r y M id d le
E a st.3T he
C a r m a th ia n s ta te c o n tr o lle d
fo r
a
w h ileth e
A r a b ia n
p e n in s u la 's
o v e r la n dt r a d e a n dp ilg r im a g er o u t e s , b u tf r o m
th em id d leo f th e1 1 thc e n t u r y
th eyl o s tp o litic a l c o n t r o lt o l o c a lS u n n i tr ib e slo y a lt o th eS u n n iS a lju q s. A
s u c c e s s io no f tr ib a ldynasties a n d G u lf n a v a l pow ersth e r e a fte re x e r c is e dv a r y in g
d e g r e e sof c o n tr o l. In1 3 3 0 , the forceso f H urm uz, ruled inth ee a r ly 1 4 thc e n t u r y
b y Q u tb u 'd -D in
T a h a m ta m ,c o n q u e r e d B a h r a in .4
T h e B a h a r in ag r a d u a lly traded ther a d ic a l, e g a lita r ia n Ism a 'ilism
o f th e n in th
th r o u g h
1 1 thc e n t u r yC arm athian m ovem entfo r
a
m oreq u ie tistv e r s i o n
o f
S h i'is m -th e
T w e lv e ror Im am i branch-w hich
Sunni rulers considered
le s s
o b je c tio n a b le .5 T h isc h a n g e is n o w d iffic u ltto trace. C a r m a th ia ntr ib e s r e m a in e d
p o litic a llyim p o r ta n ta tl e a s t in to th e 1 5 thc e n t u r y . B utf r o m
th e1 3 thc e n t u r y
T w e lv e rb io g r a p h ic a ld ic tio n a r ie sb e g in
m e n tio n in g
u la m af r o m
B a h r a in a n d
a l-H a sa .F or
in s ta n c e ,M a y th a m
b .'A li
a l-B a h r a n i(d .1 2 8 0
A .D .)
w rote
o n
T w e lv e rd o c t r i n e , affirm in gfr e e w ill,th ein fa llib ility o fp r o p h e t s a n d im am s, th e
a p p o in te dim a m a te o f 'A li, a n dth e o c c u lta tio no f th e T w elfth Im a m .6 B y tr a c in g
theh i s t o r yo f T w elver Shi'ism
th r o u g h b io g r a p h ic a ld ic tio n a r ie s , w e cang a in
som ep ic tu r e o fin d ig e n o u s c u ltu r a l a n dr e lig io u s d e v e lo p m e n ts .
JA R W A N ID
B A H R A IN
A N D
T H E IM A M I U L A M A

S u n n i r u le in theS h i'ir e g io n so f eastern A r a b iar e m a in e dt e n u o u s , a n db y th e e n do f th e 1 3 thc e n tu r yh a dg r e a tlyd e c lin e d , a llo w in gS h i'it r i b a l f o r c e st o a s s e r t th e ira u to n o m y .A m ong

t h e s eIsm a 'ilip o p u la tio n ssom eT w e lv e rS h i'is
a ls o
e x is te d ,a n d
T w e lv e rc le r ic a l expertise provedu sefu lt o
th er e ig n in gIsm a 'ili
chiefs. T w elvere x p e r t s inS h i'i la w(m u jta h id s) tr a in e di n I r a q w ere recru itedt o
Im am i S h itism
in Eastern A rabia
1 7 9
sta ffju d ic ia l a n d
a d m in is tr a tiv ep o sts.T w e lv e r a n d
Ism a 'ili
la w
w as sim ila r
e n o u g h
t o
a llo w
th issym b iosis, a n d th eIsm a 'ili tribespeople appeart oh a v e
la c k e dth e s e m in a r ie sa n d c le r ic a l tr a d itio n st o
produce enough
o f their own
ju d g e s and clericaladm inistrators.
A tth e
o p e n in g
o f th e
1 4 thc e n t u r y th elo c a l C a r m a th ia n c h ie fta in
S a c id
b . M u g h a m is dom inatede a s t e r nA r a b ia ,p r o b a b ly asa vassal of the .T b im er-
c h a n tp r in c e s o f th e is leo f Q ays, tr ib u ta r ie s o fth eI l-K h a n id M ongols.I n 1 3 0 5 -
1 3 0 6
A .D .
(7 0 5
A .H .)
S a 'c d
th e
C a r m a th ia n
w as
d e fe a te d
i n
Q a tif
b y
b e d o u in
forcesle db y Jarw ana l-M a lik i,o fth eQ uraysh tr ib e . T heB a n i
Jarw anr u le d
" th ela n d s o f
B a h r a in "(Q a tif,a l-H a sa ,a n d
th e
B a h r a ini s l e s ) fo r
n e a r lya

c e n tu r y and a h a lf,r e n e w in gS h i'ipow er th ere.Jarw an w as fo llo w e d by h is s o n N asir, th e nb y h isg r a n d so nI b r a h i m (stilla liv e in1 4 1 7 ). A l-S a k h a w i called the Jarw anids "rem nantso f th eC a r m a th ia n s ,"s u g g e s tin g thatth ey w erea n Ism acili tr ib e .7

F r o m
th e1 3 3 0 s th e B a n uJarw anb e g a np a y in g tr ib u tet oth e S u n n ik in g so f
H urm uz. L ocalS h ic ir u leg a v e a certain freedom
to theIm am i u la m a ,th o u g h

Im am is w erep r o b a b lystillam in o r ity . T he N o rth A frican traveler IbnB a ttu ita v i s i t e dQ a tifa r o u n d1 3 3 1 , fin d in g i t in h a b ite db y A r a btr ib e s w h o m h ed e s c r i b e d a s "extrem istS h i'is "

(r a fid iy y a g h u la ).
T h is ish o w
aS u n n i w o u ld
d e s c r ib e
Ism a 'ilis. H e n o ted th a t in Q a tif th e m osques c a lle d top r a y e r ina no p e n lyS h ic i
m anner, in c lu d in g p h r a s e sa b o u t 'A ll.Ib nB a ttiu tadescribed theg r e a t w ealth of
th ea r e a , w ritin gth a t th eJ a r w a n id r u le r to o k o n e fifth of thep e a r lr e v e n u e si n
ta x e s , a n ds a y i n g th a t a l-H a sag r e wm o r e d a te s th a na n y p la c ee l s e in th ew o r ld .8
T he m a jo r Im am i Shici fig u r e inB a h r a in d u r in g th is e r a w as S h e ik h Ahm ad b.
'A b d u 'lla h

Ib na l-M u ta w w a ja l-B a h r a n i, c a lle db y o n ee a r ly s o u r c e" th ele a d e r o f th e Im am is in h is tim e." 9 Am u jta h id , h is le g a lr u lin g s w ere renow ned in the e a s t and the w est. S h e ik h Ahm ad Ibna l-M u ta w w a jstu d ie di nI r a qa t a l-H illa w ithcA lla m aF a k h r u 'd -D in

M uham m ad a l-H illi(d . 1 3 6 9 ),the son ofth ec e le -
brated U suli in n o v a to r'A lla m aa l-H illi,r e c e iv in g d ip lo m a sf r o m
h im
a n do t h e r
I r a q is c h o la r s . S h e ik h Ahm ada d o p t e d the new U suli school from
h ist e a c h e r ,
b u th ehadd i f f e r e n c e s with som e U su lis, d e b a tin gS h a m s u 'd -D in

M uham m adb . M a k k i, th e Im am i " F irstM artyr" (d. 1384),several tim es. InB a h r a in , th elo c a l Ism a 'ilir u l e r s ,th eB a n uJarw an,p u tS h e ik h A hm ad Ib n a l-M u ta w w a ji nc h a r g e o f p o lic in g m arket p r ic e s (h isb a )a n d d e c id in gle g a l q u estio n s.

As an U s u li,S h e ik hA hm adb e lie v e d th a tle g a lr u lin g sc o u ld b e derived from th eQ u r 'a nandth e Im am i oral s a y in g s ,n o t sim p ly th r o u g h fin d in gas c r i p t u r a l source andin te r p r e tin gi tlite r a lly ,b u t th r o u g hth ein d e p e n d e n te x e r c i s e (ijtih d d ) o fle g a lr e a s o n in g (C a q l,b a s e do n

G reek rationalism ). H ere,a s elsew here, th e
w illin g n e s so fU su li c le r ic st o
c o o p e r a te
w ith
a n d
leg itim a teth es t a t eu n d e r

w h ic hth eyliv e d ,p e r fo r m in g ju d ic ia la n da d m in is tr a tiv e fu n c tio n s , m ade them m ore usefult o the state thanw ere th ec o n s e r v a t i v e A k h b a r is . A k h b a r isi n s i s t e d o n a lite r a lin te r p r e ta tio no f th eQ u r 'a na n do r a lr e p o r t s ,a n do fte nd is a llo w e d th ec e n t r a lfu n c tio n s o f th e Islam ics t a t e in th ea b s e n c e o f th e T w e lfth Im am .

T he1 3 0 0 s w itn essedim p o r ta n ta d v a n c e s inin s titu tio n a liz in gth ep o s itio nof at
least som e Im am i u la m a , w h ic hw o u ldh a v e h e lp e d m e nlik e S h e ik h Ahm ad Ibn
a l-M u ta w w a j b r in g m a n yin toth e T w e lv e rb r a n c h .In d eed ,a tle a s t o n e m em ber

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