Monday, 28 January 2013

South Arabia: Himyarite Kingdom

Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

After the Sabaa' Arabs facing their down turn, the Himyarite arise. The Himyarites are the descendants of the Sabaa' or could be known as the second Sabaa'. I am sure that everyone are familiar with these people because they were prominent seafarers who crossed the Indian Ocean and left their foot prints everywhere from East Africa to South East Asia and to further extend in South Western China and England. 

The downturn of the earlier Sabaa' happened around the second century before Christ. A very long history. That is why I decided to return to our Arabian history rather than taking local Malay identity and stopping our further assimilation process. I had already influenced my little sister to return to our Arabian heritage though I am not successful to train them to speak in Arabic which I regret so much. At least when we are aware on our identity, we know that our ancestral religion is Islam. It was inherited from our ancestors, generation by generation and we were non-converted Hindus or Buddhists. From the experience, I have got the other side of knowledge and could see the parallel of the paths followed by man-kind in ancient time.

The newly formed kingdom had facilitated the movement of ships from the West to the East. Seafaring and trading by sea route became developed. Romans ship could easily access the beaches of Red Sea through the Cape of Hope. People could easily reach India. Red Sea became the port for huge ships to unload their products. Himyar kingdom was one of a prominent kingdom at that time. There were three famous seaports where they were located in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the port of Hadramawt.

The Christian religion was introduced in the Himyarite kingdom during the reign of Constantine II who ruled Rome around 337-361 CE. The person responsible for that was known as Theophiles. He is a religious teacher who had build up a church in Yemen. The second wave of Christianity came to Yemen during the period of Anstace around 491-518 CE. The whole Yemen was bounded to Christian influence. During the rise of Muhammad s.a.w, there were Christians who live in Yemenite territories which was in Najran. Najran is now a territory of Saudi Arabia.

Himyarite kingdom had also established diplomatic contact with the Romans. Because of this, the Romans could easily reaching Indian markets. The same thing also happened in British period in 19th century where they had used Yemen as the way for them to reach India. Another thing is that, the Romans were afraid of the Ghassan Arabs in the northern area. They would have to face disasters if those northern Arabs could expand their power into the Himyarite Arabs area.

Himyarite Rebellion against Romans

The Himyarite kingdom had also rebelled against the Roman empire and the Aksumite kingdom which was an agent of Roman empire in Africa. Himyarites were ruled by king Yosef Atar Yatar since 517-525 CE. He is also known as the Zi-Nuwas. This particular king had rebelled against the Romans around 521 CE. He was not a Christian, but a Jew by faith. I am not sure whether he is a pure Israelite from Israel. But I have few notes showing that these people are Himyarite Arabs. They are just different in term of their religion. He commanded Christians who were subjects to Aksumite kingdom and the Roman empire to be burn in a large pyre set in a long hollow dug by his soldiers. It was the result of those Christians rejection to accept Judaism as their path. The story could also be founded in the glorious Quran in surat al-Buruj where the God the Highest condemns this inhumane act.

Historians were conflicting on how many people were burn in the hole. However, it was estimated that around 20,000 souls were dead in the pyre. The reason why he waged war with Najran area was because a Jewish merchant who lived in Najran had pleaded the king to intervene. The merchant's two sons were killed by Najran natives. The place where those people were cast into the fire was in al-Ukhdud which is now Saudi Arabia. This event was also keep in the record in Simon's letter. He is the Bishop of Beth Arasham around 524 CE. He wrote the name of Zi-Nuas as Dimnoon in his letter.

Himyarite kingdom had attacked the border of Najran in Zafar and seized everyone that they could see. Christian churches were burnt down. When Najran was defeated by the Himyarite kingdom, it was handed to the ruler and he commanded that those people should proclaim Judaism as their religion. However, those people were stubborn so they were burnt in the long dug hole. The king later wrote a letter to the Lakhmide kingdom who ruled in Hirah in Iraq. The Lakhmide were under Persian empire protection. He told the Lakhmide king, al-Munzer and emperor Kavadh I in Persia that he had burn those Roman agents. He encouraged al-Munzer and the emperor to do so on all Christians in their kingdom. Coincidentally, Yosef letter's was received by al-Munzer  in Jan 519 CE and at the same time, al-Munzer was also receiving Roman diplomats from Constantinople. These representatives were sent to establish diplomatic ties with Lakhmide kingdom.

Al-Munzer mentioned the letter to those Roman diplomats and they were so surprised when listening to the contents of the letter. The news spread wildly like a raging fire in both Roman and Persian empires. A refugee from Najran, Simon had also went to Constantinople where he wept before the emperor. He pleaded him to revenge on behalf of those burnt Christians. The letter could be founded in the third part of the Chronicle of Zuqneen translated by Amir Harrack, published by Pontificial Institute of Medieval Studies, 1999, pp 78-84. 

The Ethiopian-Aksumite king was enraged with the news. According to Procopius of Palestine: "The Aksumite king, Caleb with his Greek name Hallestheus with the assistance of Justin I had sent a war ship crossing African straits to Yemen". Zi-Nuas was defeated around 520-525 CE. Caleb had appointed, Sumu'apha Ashava' as his governor in Yemen. This person might be a cognate figure to Irbaat who was killed by Abrahah.

Arabian oral tradition mentions that Zi-Nuas managed to run after being defeated but unfortunately he was killed while riding on the horse at the Red Sea. De Maigret reported in the book, "Arabian Felix" that there are possibilities that Zi-Nuas might be killed during his battle with Caleb's army as according to Husn al-Ghuraiyb inscription. De Maigret reported too that they had founded other three inscriptions at the north of al-Ukhdud in 1951. The inscriptions refer to the war campaign by Zi-Nuas with his name Yosef Atar Yatar. The date of the inscription is 633 Himyarite Era equal to 518 or 523 CE.

After this, the story of Abrahah as every Muslim who recite the simple surat al-Feel would know if not all, maybe some details about the incident. And also the rebellion of Saif Ben Zi-Yazan before the rise of Muhammad s.a.w into the world. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w was born around 571 CE. Saif Ben Zi-Yazan had succeeded in his quest to free Yemen from Ethiopian and Roman empire grasp but he was killed by an Ethiopian in his country. He had also prophesied about the rise of prophet Muhammad s.a.w while being a Jew. Yemen was managed by the Persian empire because Persian empire had assisted them to be free from Ethiopian influence.

I heard many Tabligh and Ikhwan Muslim students talked about history and stuffs but not to boast. I do not simply learn something at the surface. These are my notes, hope everyone enjoy. If brothers and sisters find any errors in the chronological dates or facts please contact me. I would be very grateful for errors to be set up into the correct one : ) 

Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace and love, amin!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...