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Imam Yahya

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Title: Imam Yahya  
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Subject: René Clément, Amedeo Guillet, Greater Yemen, Hashid, Islamic history of Yemen, Bakil, List of assassinations, Sana'a, Italo-Yemeni Treaty
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Imam Yahya

Imam Yahya
Imam of Yemen
Reign 1904 – 17 February 1948
Predecessor Muhammad bin Yahya Hamid ad-Din
Successor Ahmad bin Yahya
Ahmad bin Yahya
Mohammed bin Yahya
Hassan bin Yahya
Ali bin Yahya
Abdullah bin Yahya (executed 1955)
Ibrahim bin Yahya
Ismail bin Yahya
Al-Qasim bin Yahya
Yahya bin Yahya
Abdel-Rahman bin Yahya
Almtehr bin Yahya
Mohsen bin Yahya
Al-Abbas bin Yahya (executed 1955)
Hussein bin Yahya
House Rassids
Father Muhammad bin Yahya Hamid ad-Din
Born (1869-06-18)18 June 1869
Sana'a, Ottoman Empire
Died 17 February 1948(1948-02-17) (aged 78)
Sana'a, Yemen
Religion Islam, Zaidi

Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din (or Imam Yahya) (18 June 1869 — 17 February 1948) became Imam of the Zaydis in 1904 and Imam of Yemen in 1918. His name in full was His majesty Amir al-Mumenin al-Mutawakkil 'Ala Allah Rab ul-Alamin Imam Yahya bin al-Mansur Bi'llah Muhammad Hamidaddin, Imam and Commander of the Faithful.

Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din was born on Friday 18 June 1869 in Sanaa into the Hamidaddin branch of the al-Qasimi dynasty who ruled most of Yemen proper and South Saudi Arabia today for over 900 years. Upon the death of his father in 1904, Yahya became Imam, effectively ruler over the mountainous areas of the future North Yemen. However, the Ottomans who made claim on the area did not recognize the rule of the Imams of Yemen since their entry into Yemen.

His Qurayshi descent and vast canonical knowledge also meant he was proposed as a khalifa by the Islamic scholar Mohammad Rashid Rida following the abolition of the Caliphate in Turkey.


Sir Gilbert Clayton, who visited King Yahya in Sanaa in an earnest attempt to win him over in 1925 and during his short stay in the capital, was impressed by this ruler's administration, his military preparedness, and organization.

LtCol. Harold Jacob, C.S.I. describing him said; "Imam Yahya is a strong ruler. His sanctity as High Priest of the Zaidi sect and his descent from the Prophet's family adds to the prestige which his benign rule has won. His methods are patriarchal and humane. His one hobby is the Yemen"

Jewish chronicles lavish praise upon him and depict him as the champion of justice and compassion. This is, however, not surprising. Imam Yahia managed to put an end to the state of anarchy, lawlessness and violence which had lacerated the country and inflicted immense suffering upon its inhabitants, including the Jews. During his long reign the Jews enjoyed relatively favorable conditions and were generally in favour of the Imam.[1]

World War I

Prior to the outbreak of World War I he signed the famous Treaty of Daan with the Ottomans in 1913. The treaty allowed for his rule over the Zaydi controlled portions of Yemen to be recognized.

Following the end of World War I and the demise of the Ottoman Empire and upon the news reaching Yemen on Thursday 14 November 1918 through an Ottoman envoy led by Mahmoud Nadim Bey and Ahmad Tawfiq, Imam Yahya entered Sanaa three days later on Sunday 17 November 1918. He entered in the company of many tribal leaders from Hashid, Arhab, Nihm, and Khowlan. He arrived at the residence of the Judge and Scholar Hussein bin Ali Al Amri and received dignitaries, scholars, Turkish princes, judges, and a flood of subjects who came to proclaim him the supreme ruler of all of Yemen.

His first order of the day was to forbid entering the capital Sanaa with arms, and appointed sentries at the gates to start a reign of peace and justice unparalleled during the years his rule. City after city accepted the rule and authority of Imam Yahya; the port of Mocha, and the city of Taiz were amongst the first most important cities. He took steps to create a modern state, and maintained all Ottoman officials who would stay to support the development of government.

He created a regular army in 1919 that enlisted soldiers from the surrounding tribes to Sanaa; from the tribes of Sanhan, Bani Harthi, and Bani Hushaish. He signed many treaties to recognise Yemen as a Sovereign State. The first was signing the Italo-Yemeni Treaty in 1926.

Due to conflicting tribes in the border areas between Saudi Arabia, and Yemen that escalated a war ensued that was ended in 1934 in the signing of the Taif treat between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The treaty was the basis for the final territorial agreement between both countries concluded during the reign of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, and President Ali Saleh.

Internal policy

From 1934 until his assassination in 1948, Yahya redirected his energies toward internal consolidation of his authority and the creation of a viable central government, answerable to him personally . To this end, control of the hinterland was strengthened by the establishment of a standing army and the naming of his sons as governors of key provinces. Tighter control over affairs in San'a, the capital, was assured by expanding the scope of administrative functions and appointing other sons as supervisors of old and new political institutions . The regime sent Yemen's first students abroad : military cadets to Iraq in the 1930s and civilian students, the "Famous Forty," to Lebanon in the late 1940s . An early attempt was made to introduce some direction to the nascent national economy by the establishment of a Yemen trading company.[2]


Imam Yahya was shot by an assassin on 17 February 1948. The assassin, known as Al-Qardaei, was from the Bani Murad tribe.

Upon the knowledge of the murder of Imam Yahya, Yemeni tribes rallied behind Sayf-ul-Islam Ahmad bin Yahya and accepted him as the new Imam of Yemen. The armies surrounded Sanaa under the leadership of Seif Ul Islam Alhassan and Seif Ul Islam Alabbass both sons of the late Imam supported by their brother Seif Ul Islam Yahya from within the city walls.

The news shocked both the Arab League, and all Muslim governments. King Abdullah of Jordan compared his death to that of the third Khalifah Othman.

Both King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, and himself supported Imam Ahmad, and were first to declare him as the new Head of State.

Yemen was a founding member of the Arab League in 1945, and later joined the United Nations in 1947.

In 1946 British opposition to Imam Yahya's was led from Aden-based political parties.

He had 14 sons.

See also


External links

  • Imam Yahya Hamid ad-Din Painted by Ameen Albert Rihani Source: kings of the Arabs
Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din
Cadet branch of the Tabatabaei
Preceded by
Muhammad bin Yahya Hamid ad-Din
Imam of Yemen
Succeeded by
Ahmad bin Yahya

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