Bahrain

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Map of Bahrain

Bahrain is a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is an archipelago with Bahrain Island the largest land mass at 55 km long by 18 km wide. The second largest island is Muharrak where the airport is located.

Location

Saudi Arabia lies to the west and is connected to Bahrain by the King Fahd Causeway while Iran lies 200 km to the north across the Persian Gulf. The peninsula of Qatar is to the southeast across the Gulf of Bahrain. The planned Qatar Bahrain Causeway will link Bahrain and Qatar and become the world's longest marine causeway.

Etymology

In Arabic, Bahrayn is the dual form of bahr ("sea"), so al-Bahrayn means "the Two Seas" although which two seas were originally intended remains in dispute. The term appears five times in the Qur'an, but does not refer to the modern island—originally known to the Arabs as Awal—but rather to the oases of al-Katif and Hadjar (modern al-Hasa). [1]It is unclear when the term began to refer exclusively to the Awal islands, but it was probably after the 15th century.

History

Map of Bahrain in Middle East Countries

Bahrain is believed to be the site of the ancient land of the Dilmun civilization[2] and later came under the rule of successive Parthian and Sassanid Persian empires. The country was one of the earliest areas to convert to Islam in 628 AD.

Inhabited since ancient times, Bahrain occupies a strategic location in the Persian Gulf. It is the best natural port between the mouth of the Tigris, Euphrates Rivers and Oman, a source of copper in ancient times. Bahrain may have been associated with the Dilmun civilisation, an important Bronze Age trade centre linking Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.[3] It was later ruled by the Assyrians and Babylonians.[4] It came under the control of Persians,[5] and then Arabs, under whom the island first became Nestorian Christian and then Islamic.

From the 6th to 3rd century BC, Bahrain was added to the Persian Empire by the Achaemenian dynasty. By about 250 BC, the Parthians brought the Persian Gulf under its control and extended its influence as far as Oman. During the classical era, the island's Hellenic name was Tylos, named when Nearchus discovered it while serving under Alexander the Great during Alexander's Asia campaign.[6] In order to control trade routes, the Parthians established garrisons along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf.[7]In the 3rd century AD, Ardashir I, the first ruler of the Sassanid dynasty, marched on Oman and Bahrain, where he defeated Sanatruq the ruler of Bahrain.[8]At this time, Bahrain comprised the southern Sassanid province along with the Persian Gulf's southern shore.

The Sassanid Empire divided their southern province into the three districts of Haggar (now al-Hafuf province in Saudi Arabia), Batan Ardashir (now al-Qatif province in Saudi Arabia) and Mishmahig (which in Middle-Persian/Pahlavi means "ewe-fish") which is present-day Bahrain.[9] Early Islamic sources describe the country as inhabited by members of the Abdul Qais, Tamim, and Bakr tribes who worshipped the idol Awal, from which the Arabs named the island of Bahrain Awal for many centuries.[10]However, Bahrain was also a center of Nestorian Christianity, including two of its bishoprics.

Connections with Dwarka

The seal (mudra) found in underwater excavation at Bet Dwarka corroborates the use of seals by citizens when Dvaraka was attacked by Salva, king of Saubha (Ref: Harivamsa, Bhavishaya Parva). It was used as a sort of identity card for citizens and to prevent the enemy from entering the city. The text says that it was the duty of the guards to check the identity. The seal also suggests trade and cultural contacts with Bahrain where Indus weights and Bahrain seals with Indus


[p.64]: motif and script as well as Lustrous Red Ware are found. The protohistoric sites in Bahrain were swallowed by the sea during the same period as Dvaraka was submerged (Larsen in Bahrain Through the Ages).

The inscription on the votive vessel confirms that the citizens of Dvaraka were literate and spoke Sanskrit. The occurrence of the Old Persian word "shah" may indicate the presence of foreigners at this important town. It further suggests that the Sea God Varuna was worshipped as there is a reference to him in the Epic etc. The various types and sizes of stone anchors with three holes found in large numbers in Dvaraka waters and the mooring station, at Dvaraka, discovered in the Arabian Sea prove beyond doubt the extensive overseas trade of the port of Dvaraka. The triangular 3-holed stone anchors of Dvaraka are similar to those of the 14th-12th century BC. Anchors of Cyprus and Syria (Rao S.R. 1990, 59-98 and Frost H. 1985). Such anchors must have had a much earlier origin in the Indian ports of Late Harappan days as attested by a Harappan seal depicting a triangular anchor (Konishi, M.A. 1985, 148). The triangular Lothal anchor had a single hole. By 1800 or 1700 B.C. three-holed anchors must have been invented in India. What is rather baffling is that while triangular anchors are found in Dwarka waters we are yet to find them in Bet Dwarka waters. They may be lying buried deep in the mud flats which are yet to be excavated.[11]

Jat settlements in Islamic countries

Giving an account of the Jats’ settlement in Persia, Qazi Athar Mubarakpuri had stated that they had been living in this region since a long time and they had developed many big and flourishing towns of their own as we are informed by Ibn-i-Khurdazbeh (d.893AD) that at about sixty miles away from the city of Ahwaz, there is a big city of the Jats, which is known after them as al-Zutt. [12] Another geographer of the same period had also observed that in the vicinity of Khuzistan there was a grand city Haumat al-Zutt. [13] These evidences given by the eminent author are enough to suggest that the Jats who settled in Persia gradually built up their economic resources and made significant contribution to urbanization of that country. [14]

The studies of Qazi Athar Mubarakpuri also bring to light that the Jats did not remain confined to Persia. They got settlement in different Parts of Arab land, which was under the Persian rule in those days. The Arab geographers testified that fact that in the coastal region of the Persian Gulf from Ubullah to Bahrain they had many pockets of their population and that they engaged themselves in different kind of work including cattle breeding. [15], [16] It is also confirmed by the Arab historians that in pre Islamic period their largest concentration was found in Ubullah, a fertile and pleasant place near the city of Basrah. Their second big settlement was in Bahrain where they had been residing in large numbers prior to the period of Muhammad as we are informed by Al-Baladhuri and other historians [17] In the same way, there are clear evidences for their settlement in Yemen before the advent of Islam and their important role in socio- political life of those days Yemen. In the times of pious Caliphs when Persia and many parts of the Arab region (previously ruled by Persian and Roman Kings) came under the Muslim army and a number of them got converted to Islam also. It is confirmed by different historical and geographical works, as cited by Maulana Mubarakpuri that they had settled in large number in Antioc and coastal town of Syria under the patronage of the pious and Umayyad caliphate (Khilafat-e-Rashidah and Banu Umayyad) [18], [19]

A very important and useful information that comes forth through the researches of Maulana Mubarakpuri is that the people of Makkah and Madinah in the times of Muhammad were not only familiar with the Indians, the Jats were also well known to them. On the authority of Sirat-i-Ibn-i-Hisham, Maulana has stated that once some people came from Najran to Madinah. Looking at them, Muhammad asked who are they ? They are just like Indians. [20], [21]

These Indians were assumed to be Jats (Zutt). In the same way, it is recorded in Jami-i-Tirmezi, the well known collection of Hadith that the famous Sahabi Sazrat Abdullah Ibn Masood once saw some persons in the company of Muhammad in Makkah, he observed that their hair and body structure is just like the Jats. There are also some other references in the Arabic source to the existence of the Jats in Madinah in that period. They also included a physician (Tabib) who was once consulted during the illness of Aisha, the wife of Muhammad. [22]

It is very interesting that we come to know through the studies of Maulana Mubarakpuri that the Jats residing in Bahrain, Yemen and other coastal regions in a large number had influenced the local Arabs by their language to such extent that the latter lost the originality and eloquence of their language. For the same reason the language of the people of the tribes of Banu Abd Qais and Azd was declared to be diluted and unauthentic due to their mingling and frequent interaction with Persian and Indian people. [23], [24]

External links

References

  1. Houtsma, M. Th (1960). "Baḥrayn". Encyclopedia of Islam I. Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 941.
  2. Oman The Lost Land, Written by John Lawton
  3. Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun
  4. Larsen, Curtis E. (1984). Life and Land Use on the Bahrain Islands: The Geoarchaeology of an Ancient Society. University of Chicago Press. pp. 52–55. ISBN 978-0-226-46906-5.
  5. Mojtahed-Zadeh & ‏ 1999, p. 119.
  6. Larsen, Curtis E. (1984). Life and Land Use on the Bahrain Islands: The Geoarchaeology of an Ancient Society. University of Chicago Press. pp. 52–55. ISBN 978-0-226-46906-5.
  7. Federal Research Division (2004). Bahrain. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4191-0874-7
  8. Hoyland, Robert G. (2001). Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam. Routledge. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-415-19535-5
  9. Hoyland, Robert G. (2001). Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam. Routledge. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-415-19535-5
  10. Al-Tajir, Mahdí Abdalla (1982). Language and Linguistic Origins in Baḥrain: The Baḥārnah Dialect of Arabic. Taylor & Francis. pp. 16, 29. ISBN 978-0-7103-0024-9
  11. Dr. S. R. Rao:From Dvaraka to Kurukshetra, Journal Of Marine Archaeollgy, Vol 5-6 (1995-1996),p.63-64
  12. Ibn Khurdazbeh , op.cit , p. 43
  13. Al-Istakhari, op, cit. , p. 94
  14. Zafarul Islam: Qazi Athar Mubarakpuri’s Studies on Jats, The Jats, Vol. II, Ed. Dr Vir Dingh, Delhi, 2006. p. 27
  15. Al Baladhrui, Futuh al-Buldan, al Matba al-Misriah, Cairo , 1932 pp. 166,367,369
  16. Qazi Athar, P.66
  17. Al Tabari, Tarikh-i-Tabari. Barul Maarif, Cairo 1962, III/304
  18. Qazi Athar, pp, 66-67
  19. Zafarul Islam: Qazi Athar Mubarakpuri’s Studies on Jats, The Jats, Vol. II, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2006. p. 27
  20. Ibn Hisha, Sirat al-Nabi, Darul Fikr, Cairo (n.d.) iv/264
  21. Zafarul Islam: Qazi Athar Mubarakpuri’s Studies on Jats, The Jats, Vol. II, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2006. p. 28
  22. Zafarul Islam: Qazi Athar Mubarakpuri’s Studies on Jats, The Jats, Vol. II, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2006. p. 28
  23. Qazi Athar, p. 69
  24. Zafarul Islam: Qazi Athar Mubarakpuri’s Studies on Jats, The Jats, Vol. II, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2006. p. 29

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