Politics, economy and religion in a Near Eastern Periphery: the Region of Baḥrayn in East Arabia c. 1050 – c. 1400 CE
Alwazzan, Faisal Adel Ahmad
The region of Baḥrayn in eastern Arabia during the post-Qarmāṭian era has received little attention from scholars because of the scarcity of local written sources and the daunting task of gathering scattered small pieces of information from other sources in more than one language. This thesis focuses on the politics, geopolitics, economy, literature and religion of Baḥrayn from c. 1050 to c. 1400 CE. It consists of eight chapters in addition to an introduction and a conclusion. The introduction presents the research framework of the thesis. World-systems Analysis in a pre-capitalist setting is used to analyse Baḥrayn’s hierarchical position in the Near East according to its economic, political and cultural characteristics. It also sets out the historical background and context of the region, presents the thesis’ questions and structure, reviews modern studies and summarises the extant literary and archaeological evidence. Chapter One describes the historical geography and economy of Baḥrayn and analyses the impact of the region’s geography and the wider economic context on its history. Chapter Two studies the two rebellions against the Qarāmiṭa on the island of Uwāl and in the city of al-Qaṭīf, which led to the establishment of the emirate of Āl al-Zajjāj and the emirate of Āl ʿAbbās. Chapters Three and Four deal with the rise and decline of the ʿUyūnid emirate (1077-1230s CE) and study the ʿUyūnids’ institutions, including their administration and army formation. Chapter Five concentrates on the powers that ruled the region of Baḥrayn after the fall of the ʿUyūnid emirate in 1230s CE: the ʿUqaylid emirate in al-Aḥsāʾ and the deserts of Baḥrayn and Najd, and the Iranian-based polities that ruled Uwāl and al-Qaṭīf. Chapter Six focuses on literature produced in Baḥrayn, presenting biographies of its poets and analyses of the commentary of the poetry collection of the poet ʿAlī ibn al-Muqarrab al-ʿUyūnī and Abū al-Buhlūl’s letter. It also examines the relationship between the poets and the emirs of the ʿUyūnid emirate. Finally, Chapters Seven and Eight shed light on religion in Baḥrayn. They examine the region’s communities of Shīʿites and Sunnis which appear to have adhered to popular forms of Ismāʿīlism, Twelverism, Ḥanafism and Shāfiʿism. The question of scholars and scholarship in Baḥrayn from the twelfth to the fourteenth century is revisited. It is argued that the current consensus that attributes a number of 12th-14th century Twelver scholars who held the nisba of al-Baḥrānī to Baḥrayn lacks early evidence, appeared in a Safavid context and indeed contrasts with the evidence for the region’s peripherality and other evidence that suggests a lack of scholars in the region.
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