Abraha ( Arabic ابرهة; Sabaean ʾbrh ) was a king of Aksumite origin who ruled over the South Arabian Empire of Himyar around the middle of the 6th century . In the Arabic sources he has the nickname al-Ashram ("the one with the tip of the nose chopped off"). The first epigraphic testimony in which Abraha is mentioned comes from June 547, although he probably came to power earlier, but at the earliest around 531. He ruled at least until November 558.
According to at-Tabarī , Abraha was one of the two military leaders sent by the Negus , ruler of the kingdom of Aksum, at the head of an army against the Himyar king Dhū Nuwās . After the victory over Dhū Nuwās and the conquest of Yemen (525), Abraha rose to become king of Sanaa and made himself independent from the Negus. This then sent Aryāt against Abraha, but the latter defeated with a ruse in a duel. Abraha finally achieved independence despite formal recognition of the sovereignty of Aksum.
According to Eastern Roman tradition, the Aksumite king Ella Asbeha first installed a puppet king among the Himjarites after the conquest of Yemen. However, this was overthrown a few years later (531 or only 535) by Abraha, who made himself the new king in Yemen. Attempts to subjugate him failed (see Prokopios of Caesarea , Bella, 1, 20).
Abraha's Church in Sanaa
After Abraha had consolidated his power to such an extent that the Negus recognized his kingship, he had a magnificent church built in Sanaa, the name of which is given in the Arabic sources as al-Qalīs, al-Qulais or al-Baiʿa. The name al-Qalīs is probably derived from the Greek term ekklēsía ("church"). Al-Azraqī (d. 837), the local historian of Mecca, gives a detailed description of the church. According to this, the building was about 24 to 30 meters high and had a marble entrance staircase that Abraha from Ma'rib had brought up. According to a tradition Ibn al-Kalbīs , which quotes at-Tabarī , Abraha also received support in the construction of the church from the Eastern Roman emperor, who sent him marble, mosaics and artisans. According to Abraha's wish, the church should become a pilgrimage center that would attract people from all over the Arabian Peninsula and, in this function , should replace the Kaaba from Mecca . The church was not destroyed until the middle of the 8th century. After its demolition, parts of it (capitals, column bases, wooden panels) were reused in the Kaaba. Even today there is a place in Sanaa 175 meters west of the wall of the citadel, called al-Qalīs, where there is a round depression with foundation walls. It is believed that the west facade of the church built by Abraha was located here.
In the summer of 547, Abraha suppressed an uprising by Arab tribes. Shortly thereafter - between October 547 and January 548 - he had the Ma'rib dam repaired by the Arab tribes . In this context, the presence of ambassadors from Ethiopia and Eastern Rome is noted.
Around the middle of the 6th century, Abraha attempted to bring the Maʿadd, a tribal confederation in central Arabia under the rule of the Laughmids , under his control. The expedition is mentioned in a Himyaritic inscription from April 552. The Koran also mentions Abraha's campaign against Mecca , which aimed to get the sanctuary there under his control, and in which Abraha took elephants with him. So significant was the event that the Arabs dated the time after it. The year the campaign took place was called the year of the elephant . In more recent research it is assumed that the expedition mentioned in the Himyaritic inscription and the elephant campaign of the Arab sources are identical. In the Koran ( sura 105 ) the failure of the campaign is attributed to a strange intervention of God: birds attacked the soldiers of Abraham and thus forced them to turn back.
After the death of Abraham, his son Yaksūm took control of the Abyssinian troops in Yemen. His successors were expelled in 575/76 by the Himyarite Saif ibn Dhi Yazin with the help of the Sassanids .
- The History of al-Ṭabarī Vol. 5: The Sāsānids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen. Translated and annotated by CE Bosworth. Albany 1999, pp. 212-235.
- Iwona Gajda: Le royaume de Ḥimyar à l'époque monothéiste. L'histoire de l'Arabie ancienne de la fin du ive siècle de l'ère chrétienne jusqu'à l'avènement de l'Islam . Paris 2009, pp. 116-146.
- Joachim Willeitner: Yemen. Incense Route and Desert Cities . Hirmer Verlag, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-7774-8230-7
- Paul Yule: Himyar – Late Antique in Yemen / Late Antique Yemen. Linden Soft, Aichwald 2007, ISBN 3-929290-35-9
- ↑ See the explanations by Bosworth ( The History of al-Ṭabarī Vol. 5: The Sāsānids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen. Translated and annotated by CE Bosworth . Albany 1999, p. 164, note 415).
- ↑ Cf. Iwona Gajda: Le royaume de Ḥimyar à l'époque monothéiste. L'histoire de l'Arabie ancienne de la fin du ive siècle de l'ère chrétienne jusqu'à l'avènement de l'Islam . Paris 2009, p. 116.
- ↑ See Gajda, pp. 123–125.
- ↑ Cf. Gajda, pp. 126-130.
- ↑ Cf. Gajda 130-135.
- ↑ See Gajda, pp. 135-137.
- ↑ Cf. Gajda, pp. 137-142.
- ↑ Cf. Gajda, pp. 142-144.
- ↑ Cf. aṭ-Ṭabarī 235.
- ↑ Cf. Gajda, p. 152f.
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||King in Yemen before the advent of Islam (535-560)|
|DATE OF BIRTH||before 535|
|DATE OF DEATH||after 558|