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Bahrain and Yamamah
 
The background of the knowledge of Islam among the people of Bahrain goes back to the pre-hijrah period. Their acquaintance was through two of the leaders of the tribe of `Abd al-Qays who had journeyed to Mecca on a commercial trip during which they enquired about the Meccan prophet about whom they had received a number of accounts. Their meeting with the Holy Prophet (PBUH) resulted in their conversion to Islam. Upon their return to Bahrain, they conveyed the message of the new religion to the leader of the populous tribe of `Abd al-Qays who came to embrace the divine message.
In the course of sending letters to the rulers of the region in 6 AH (627 AD), the Holy Prophet (PBUH) send one such letter through the embassy of `Ala’ Hadrami to the sovereign of Bahrain, Mundhir b. Sawi, and his people, all of whom proved receptive to the new message.
Two years on, a group of Bahrainis traveled to Medina to gain a deeper knowledge of Islamic teachings. They started a course of Qur`anic and religious education under Abi b. Ka`b. Another group headed by the Christian Jarud `Abdi came to Medina and converted to Islam. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) sent back Abu Hurayrah along with them to further educate them on the principles of their newly adopted religion.
After the death of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), in 11 AH, the people of Bahrain turned their backs on Islam and rose in rebellion. However, the efforts of Abu Bakr and Jarud `Abdi, during the course of riddah developments, brought them back to the path of Islam. Along with the military might that was brought to bear, the presence of Abu Hurayrah, as a man of Companion status, did much to restore calm to the region.
With regard to the spread of Islamic culture in Bahrain an important remark is that of Ibn `Abbas who ranks the status of the `Abd al-Qays Mosque in Jawtha, Bahrain, second only to the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in Medina. In his account of the personages of Bahrain, Ibn Sa`d refers to some as Companions, all of whom had taken part in the delegations sent to Medina.
None the less, the records on Bahraini personalities in the period of the Successors are rather scant. The sources dating from the 3rd century AH (9th cen. AD) contain the names of certain religious scholars of Bahrain such as Muhammad b. Mu`ammar, `Abbas b. Yazid and Zakariyya b. `Atiyyah.
The cultural history of Bahrain before the 3rd century AH is yet to become the subject of scholarly investigations. In the subsequent period, the developments of the region were tied to the political fortunes of the Qarmatians, who first appeared in the 3rd century AH. Abu Sa`id Jannabi established a government in Bahrain whose sphere of influence extended deep into the Arabian Peninsula and whose remnants lasted well into the 6th century AH (12th cen. AD).
Yamamah lay to the west of Bahrain, which, prior to the advent of Islam, was ruled by a string of Christian rulers, the last of whom was Hawdhah b. `Ali, who was among the leaders invited to the new religion by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The ruler of Yamamah, unlike his Bahraini counterpart, was less than receptive to the message of the new prophet and sent a party of two to that city in order to gather information; upon gaining knowledge of the teachings of Islam, the two agents, Muja`ah b. Mararah and Rajjal b. `Anfuh, themselves converted to the new religion. The latter even stayed in Medina for some time in order to get better acquainted with the Qur`an and shari`ah. However, their return to their land did little in terms of spreading the new belief among their people.
The members of the powerful tribe of Bani Hanifah, the principal inhabitants of Yamamah, were invited by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to embrace Islam during the annual pilgrimages to Mecca, but they remained unmoved until 10 AH when they joined other Arab tribes in sending delegations to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to offer their acceptance of Islam. The Yamamah delegation included Musaylamah b. Thamamah, later known as Musylamah Kadhdhab, who later proclaimed himself as prophet in Yamamah and gained the support of Rajjal b. `Anfuh and Bani Hanifah, who were indignant at being under the leadership of Quraysh and having to pay tribute to them. He went as far as claiming that during his journey to Medina, as a member of Yamamah delegation, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had confided in him the fact that he was his partner in prophecy.
The episode of Musaylamah Kadhdhab and the insurrection of the people of Yamamah, which occurred toward the end of the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) life, were put to rest during Abu Bakr’s campaign against the pockets of unrest throughout the Arabian Peninsula, through which a temporary calm was brought to Yamamah. However, the Umayyads’ bias in favor of the members of the Quraysh tribe once again served to stir the sensibilities of the people of Yamamah who vented their disaffection through various movements of opposition. The circumstances of the period paved the way for those in Yamamah to remain faithful to their Islamic beliefs while voicing their opposition to the central government within the framework of the Kharijite theory on imamate. They gave expression to their discontent by rallying around Najdah b. `Amir, among the leaders of the Bani Hanifah, (61 AH). They revolted against the caliphate and established an imamate in Najran, which continued in existence until 73 AH, and whose influence spread, for some time, to the adjacent regions of Bahrain and Oman.
The accession of Yamamah, in 73 AH (692 AH), to the lands under the control of the central caliphate did not put an end to sporadic uprisings in the region, which included the one led by Zayd b. `Ali (121 AH / 739 AD) and another in 126 AH. The rise to power of the `Abbasids spelled the end of revolts in Yamamah, however, this development more than being attributable to the conduct of the `Abbasid officials was the result of the deepening of the Islamic culture in the region and its transformation into an important center of Islamic learning.
The identification of Yamamah as a significant Islamic center, or in the jargon of the faqihs a misr in their discussions of Friday prayer, is an indication of its long-standing importance in the history of Islam. The religious school in Yamamah produced a number of outstanding scholars in the period of the Successors. However, it entered upon its formative period at the beginning of the 2nd century AH when there appeared a cultural movement in concert with Basra. This movement which had an undeniable effect on the deepening of the Islamic culture in the region was spearheaded by the likes of Yahya b. Kathir and `Akramah b. `Ammar, whose presence attracted the scholars of other places to come to Yamamah, including Awza`i.
 
 source: Hajmanoochehri , Faramarz "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 , pp.503 - 504
 
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