History of Bahrain

From Academic Kids

Bahrain was once part of the ancient civilization of Dilmun and served as an important link in trade routes between Sumeria and the Indus Valley as long as 5,000 years ago. For the history of Bahrain until the arrival of Islam in the 7th century, see Dilmun.

In the first century AD, Bahrain was referred to by the Greeks as "Tylos", the centre of pearls trading. Muharraq was referred to as "Arados" (now there is "[Arad]]" in Muharraq). In the 4th century AD, Bahrain was annexed to the Sassanian Empire (now Persia). Christianity left its traces in Muharraq, and Christian names, like the village of Dair (ie parish), Samahij (used to be the name of a bishop) remain until today.

During the emergence of Islam in the sixth century (until early in the sixteenth century) Bahrain included a wider region stretching on the Gulf coast from Basrah to the Strait of Hormuz. This was "Iqleem Al-Bahrain", ie Province of Bahrain, and the Arab inhabitants of the province were all called Baharnah, descendants of the Arab tribe Bani Abd al-Qais. The then Bahrain comprised three regions: Hajar (nowadays Al-Ahsa in Saudi Arabia), Al-Khatt (nowadays Al-Qatif in Saudi Arabia) and Awal (nowadays Bahrain). The name Awal remained in use, probably, for eight centuries. Awal was derived from the name of an idol that used to be worshipped (before Islam) by the inhabitants of the islands.

Bahrainis were amongst the first to embrace Islam. Prophet Mohammed (SAW) ruled Bahrain through one of his representatives, Al-Ala'a Al-Hadhrami. Bahraini embraced Islam in the eighth year of hijra.

Captain Ahmad bin Majid described Bahrain in 1489 as follows: "In Awal (Bahrain) there are 360 villages and sweet water can be found in a number of places. A most wonderful al-Qasasir, where a man can dive into the salt sea with a skin and can fill it with fresh water while he is submerged in the salt water. Around Bahrain are pearl fisheries and a number of islands all of which have pearl fisheries and connected with this trade are 1,000 ships".

Bahrain became a principal centre of knowledge for hundreds of years stretching from the early days of Islam in the sixth century to the eighteenth century. Philosophers of Bahrain were highly esteemed. A postgraduate (MA) dissertation submitted in 1952 by M. G. Guriawala to the University of London described one of the great philosophers of Bahrain, Sheikh Maitham Al-Bahrani (died in 1299), as follows. "When Bahrani discusses the views of the opponents, he generally reproduces them with definite fairness. This is shown by comparing his account of these views with the original versions of such views as set forth by the authors in these classical works on Muslim theology and philosophy, such as Al-Asha'ari, Al-Baghdadi, Al-Ghazali, Ibn Sina, etc. He sets these views in order numbering in an exact way. Then he replies to them one by one in accordance with their numerical order. In his replies to the objections and doubts raised by his opponents, he may seldom write with passion, but rather proceeds to prove the falsity of these views with logical coolness". The mosque of Sheikh Maitham together with his tomb can be visited in the outskirts of the Capital, Manama, near the district of Mahooz.

Bahrain historical sights are the scenes of tombs and remnants of schools that explain the importance of knowledge and knowledgeable persons in the history of Bahrain. This part of history is of great pride to the Bahrainis, but not to the present [Al-Khalifa]] rulers.

In 1521, the Portuguese invaded Bahrain to take control of its wealth created by the pearl industry. The Portuguese commander Antonio Correia beheaded the then King Muqrin of Bahrain. The latter attacked Bahrain on the front that defended Bahrain coast (nowadays Karbabad) and took control of the fort "Qala'at Al-Bahrain". The bleeding head of King Muqrin was later depicted on the Coat of Arms of Antonio Correia. The Portuguese continued to use brutal force against the inhabitants for eighty years, until their demise from the island in 1602. An uprising by the inhabitants coincided with regional rivalry between the Portuguese and their rival European powers. The Persian Empire under Shah Abbas-I was gaining strength and Bahrain's external boundaries became under the Persian Empire control. Inside Bahrain, the inhabitants re-arranged their internal rule in accordance with their practice.

Since the late 18th century, Bahrain has been governed by the Al Khalifa family, which created close ties to Britain by signing the General Treaty of Peace in 1820. A binding treaty of protection, known as the Perpetual Truce of Peace and Friendship, was concluded in 1861 and further revised in 1892 and 1951. This treaty was similar to those entered into by the British Government with the other Persian Gulf principalities. It specified that the ruler could not dispose of any of his territory except to the United Kingdom and could not enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without British consent. The British promised to protect Bahrain from all aggression by sea and to lend support in case of land attack.

After World War II, Bahrain became the center for British administration of treaty obligations in the lower Persian Gulf. In 1968, when the British Government announced its decision (reaffirmed in March 1971) to end the treaty relationships with the Persian Gulf sheikdoms, Bahrain joined the other eight states (Qatar and the seven Trucial States, which are now called the United Arab Emirates) under British protection in an effort to form a union of Arab emirates. By mid-1971, however, the nine sheikhdoms still had not agreed on terms of union. Accordingly, Bahrain sought independence as a separate entity and became fully independent on August 15, 1971, as the State of Bahrain.

Based on its 1971 constitution, Bahrain elected its first parliament in 1973, but just 2 years later, in August 1975, the Amir disbanded the National Assembly because the Parliament attempted to legislate the end of Al-Khalifa rule and the expulsion of the U.S. Navy from Bahrain. Political unrest broke out in December 1994 and included sporadic mass protests, skirmishes with local law enforcement, arson, and property attacks. In June 1995, the first Bahraini cabinet change in 20 years took place, producing mixed public response. In 1996, the Amir increased the membership of the Consultative Council, which he created in 1993, from 30 to 40, to provide advice and opinion on legislation proposed by the cabinet and, in certain cases, suggest new laws on its own. In 1998 Shaykh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa became Amir after the death of his father, Shaykh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

Bahrain's small size and central location among Persian Gulf countries require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors. Possessing minimal oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining, and has transformed itself into an international banking center. The new amir is pushing economic and political reforms, and has worked to improve relations with the Shi'a community.


Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website. as well as the Voice of Bahrain (put by Alsalman)

See also

de:Geschichte Bahrains fr:Histoire du Bahre´n


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