[P6297] Rasulid Tribal Law, Sufism, Ottoman-era Yemenite Jews and Geography of the Tihāma: Studies in the History of Yemen

Created by Daniel Martin Varisco
Thursday, 12/02/21 2:00 pm


Yemen's diverse history throughout the Islamic era can easily be overshadowed by the attention that is understandably paid to the current humanitarian crisis, regarded as one of the worst in the world. During the war of the last five years much valuable heritage of Yemen has been damaged or destroyed. As a result it is all the more important that scholars continue to contribute to Yemen's history in every period. This panel provides a panorama extending from the Mahdid era of Zabīd, the 13th-15th century Rasulid realm, the role of Sufism over the years and Yemenite Jews in the late Ottoman era. One of the most intriguing Yemeni historians is ‘Umara b. al-Ḥasan, author of a major history of Yemen. Some of the places mentioned by ‘Umara on the pilgrimage route through the Tihama have not been identified. One paper looks at recent satellite data to identify previously unknown sites. A second paper moves forward into the 14th century realm of the Rasulid sultan al-Malik al-Afḍal, one of the dynasty's most prolific authors. In a mixed manuscript of various texts and excerpts, including items written by al-Afḍal, there is a brief text on tribal customary law at the time. This is the earliest known text providing details on Yemen's long tradition of customary law. Two papers focus on Yemeni Sufism. One deals with a polemical exchange between the Zaydi Imam al-Mansur al-Qasim b. Muhammad (d. 1029/1620) and an opponent around the topic of Sufism. The manuscript analyzed sheds light on later Zaydi theology, the sect’s attitude toward Sufism and the Ottomans, and offers insights into the political and intellectual history of 11th/17th-century Yemen. The second study on Sufism examines the claims for authenticity for both Yemeni religiosity and nationhood surrounding Sufi shrines in the Salafi-Sunni polemic influenced by the rise of the Wahhabi state and its influence in Yemen to this day. The final paper analyses Yemenite Jewish migration, a trend, which began in late 19th century, a few years following the Ottoman occupation in 1872. This led to the gradual diminishing of this local community, which had existed in Yemen since before the Islamic era. Jewish migration from Yemen resulted from various social disruptions, which increased during the Ottoman era, and was affected by global powers in the Red Sea basin.


American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS)


Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist




Daniel Martin Varisco

(AIYS President)
Daniel Martin Varisco is President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies (2014ff), former editor of Contemporary Islam and Editor-in-Chief of CyberOrient (cyberorient.net), moderator of the academic blog Tabsir (tabsir.net), former head of the...
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Bat-Zion Eraqi-Klorman

(The Open University of Israel)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Alexander Knysh

(University of Michigan and St. Petersburg State University)
Alexander Knysh is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Department of Near Eastern Studies. He obtained his doctoral degree from the Institute for Oriental Studies (The Leningrad Branch) of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1986. Since 1991 he has lived...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Bernard A. Haykel

(Princeton University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Francine Stone

(Independent Scholar)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;