29 January, 2013

Hadhramout: What It Could Have Been and What It Can Be

Hadhramout: its name and civilization extends so way back into antiquity that the history of Arabia or Islam, or even the Middle East, can never be completely told without mentioning Hadhramaut. Both the Noble Qur'an and the Holy Bible mention it. Some times in the first millennium BC, Hadhramout was formed and for over 1,300 years it would exist as one of the main powers in Arabia. A power that at one time was the center for the incense trade in the region; a power that not only at one time its forces marched west and took over Sana'a, but continued marching northwards all the way to Makkah and Medina and taking over them from the then very powerful Umayyad rulers; and thereby threatening the Umayyad main base in Syria. Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan, the last Umayyad to rule from Damascus - managed to drive out the Hadhrami lead forces from Makkah and Medina and then took Sana'a from them.

The Hadharem were some of the earliest converts to Islam during its very early years. And they formed a major part of the Arab armies that conquered North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. Ibn Khaldoon was a descendant of the Hadharem. Many believe that Yamani Shah Jala ad-Din, the celebrated Sufi Muslim leader who very much helped in the spreading of Islam in Bengal and Bangladesh - was born in Hadhramout. In recent times, it is the Hadharem too, who have most lead and managed the spreading of Islam in India, South-East Asia and Eastern Africa; and they have had a most profound impact in these places - religiously, economically and politically. Today, within the Arabian Peninsular, in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in particular where many have become citizens of - the Hadharem are major players. And yet back home in Hadhramout, the Hadharem have seemingly been rather passive and apathetic. Present day Hadhramout is not what it could have been or can be.

Since Southern Yemen, which Hadhramawt was a part of, became independent from the British in 1967 - Hadhramaut has been immobile. Time seems to have stood still. The Hadharem who, from time immemorial, have been known for their ingenuity, creativeness , versatility, tenacity and orderliness have failed in their own homeland. Out of Hadhramout, the Hadharem have done wonders; they have lead and very much helped in building many societies. They have thrived and excelled. But back home, they have been so inactive that most of its people's main thought and wish is to leave or even migrate to other lands. And whenever they have the opportunity, they leave.

With the present ongoing revolutionary changes taking place in the region and with Yemen being one of the main focus regionally and internationally; very hopefully the winds of change will bring better times for Hadhramout and its people. Very hopefully discussions, decisions and agreements made by local, regional and international leaders will restore Hadhramuat to a powerhouse that it once was. A powerhouse, mainly, economically and culturally as it once was and as it should be. Not a threatening one, but an economic and cultural hub and powerhouse that will be of benefit and be of advantage not only to/for those within it, but also to/for its neighbors. With its abundant natural resources; with its many wealthy and well educated progenies within and mainly out of it, given the right conditions and good, enlightened and right leaders from its own, Hadhramawt can rise. Its people can develop, create, flourish, excel and rise as they have done in foreign lands. And as they have done, within, before.

+ Detailed Map of Hadhramout
+ Hadhramout on Google Maps