Asir Province

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Asir Province
Provinz Nadschran Provinz Dschāzān Provinz Dschāzān Provinz Baha Provinz Qasim Provinz Mekka Provinz Medina Provinz Riad Provinz Tabuk Provinz al-Dschauf Provinz al-Hudud asch-schamaliyya Provinz asch-Scharqiyya Provinz Ha'il Provinz Asir Eritrea Sudan de-facto Ägypten - von Sudan beansprucht Ägypten Israel Gazastreifen Westjordanland Jordanien Syrien Irak Kuwait Bahrain Katar Iran Vereinigte Arabische Emirate Oman Jemenlocation
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Basic data
Country Saudi Arabia
Capital Abha
surface 76,693 km²
Residents 1,861,339
density 24 inhabitants per km²
ISO 3166-2 SA-14
governor Faisal ibn Chalid ibn Abd al-Aziz Al Saud

Coordinates: 18 ° 18 '  N , 42 ° 30'  E

Asir ( Arabic عسير, DMG ʿAsīr  'difficult country') is a province in Saudi Arabia . It has an area of ​​76,693 square kilometers and 1,861,339 inhabitants (as of 2010). The capital is Abha .

The province takes its name from the Arab tribe of the Asiri around Abha.


Asir Province

The mountainous province is located in the southwest of Saudi Arabia. It is bounded in the north and west by the Hejaz , in the east by the Rub al-Chali desert and in the south by Yemen and the province of Jazan . Behind the Tihama desert in the coastal plain of the Red Sea, the mountains rise to an altitude of over 3000 meters. Due to the relatively mild and humid climate, the region is a center of agriculture and cattle breeding in Saudi Arabia. The capital Abha, situated 2200 meters above sea level, is surrounded by a mountain backdrop. Yemeni influences can be seen everywhere in the building and lifestyle. The Asir National Park shows the rugged mountains of the province from its most beautiful side. Another attraction is the small abandoned mountain village Habala , which is built on a steep rock face. In the past it was only accessible via a rope ladder. In fact, the name Habala comes from the Arabic word for rope. In the 1990s, a cable car was built to promote tourism.

Asir region

The province is not identical to the historical Asir region, the province is much smaller. The region, however, extends from 21 ° in the north to 17 ° 31 'in the south and from 40 ° 30' in the west to 45 ° in the east. It takes its name from the Asir Mountains , which run parallel to the Red Sea.


As early as the 7th century, the Jews were resettled from Asir and the Hejaz or from the entire Arabian Peninsula (except Yemen) by a decree of the caliph Umar ibn al-Chattab .

After the country had been formally subordinate to the Ottomans in the 16th century , the Idrisids of Asir managed to achieve de facto independence at the beginning of the 20th century with Italian help. When power struggles broke out among the Idrisids, the country came to Saudi Arabia in 1934 after the Saudi-Yemeni war between the Kingdom of Yemen and the Saudis. The border conflicts that flared up again and again could not be finally resolved until 2000.

regional customs

In the ʿAsīr area, a particularly cruel form of circumcision was practiced for a long time , which is called salch ( Arabic سلخ, DMG salḫ  'peeling, decutitio'). Felix Bryk describes this custom based on Ottoman sources as follows:

“They are circumcised between the ages of 15 and 20; a strip of skin is removed from the navel to the anus, including the skin on the penis and scrotum . This is done coram publico while standing, the operated person holds on to a lance. The circumciser kneels before him and cuts off the skin with a blunt knife, cloth by cloth, each time showing the trophy to the people gathered around. The circumcised man must not scream or lament, otherwise he will be despised and abandoned by his bride, who is present at the act. Hot oil comes on the wound. Often people die as a result, and many leave the tribe. "

According to a report from St John Philby this operation was practiced in southern'Asīr late as the 1930s, in the vicinity of Abu'Arīsch, southeast of Jizan . The Ottoman authorities cited the custom as evidence of the backwardness of the southern Arabs, thereby legitimizing their conquest of Yemen in the 1870s.


According to a hypothesis by the Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi , the biblical stories took place in Asir before the Babylonian exile . He bases his thesis on the fact that many Arabic place names in Asir have the same consonants as Hebrew place names in the Bible and that Semitic languages such as Hebrew and Arabic were originally only written with consonants. In addition, the location and distance information in the Old Testament would also match Asir. Geoarchaeological investigations to check this archaeolinguistic hypothesis have not been possible so far, as the Saudi government has declared Asir a restricted area for foreigners. Experts largely reject this hypothesis.

Web links

Commons : Asir Province  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ John R. Bradley: Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis . Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, ISBN 1-4039-6433-5 , pp. 60-61.
  2. See Josef Henninger: A peculiar form of circumcision in southwestern Arabia. In Anthropos 33 / 5-6 (1938), pp. 952-958.
  3. ^ Circumcision in men and women . Neubrandenburg 1932, p. 114.
  4. Cf. Josef Henninger: Again: A peculiar form of circumcision in southwestern Arabia. In: Anthropos 35/36 1/3 (1940), pp. 370–376.
  5. See Thomas Kuehn: Empire, Islam, and Politics of Difference. Ottoman Rule in Yemen, 1849–1919 . Brill, Leiden / Boston 2011, p. 72.
  6. Isn't the Bible right? In: Der Spiegel from No. 38, 1985 ( part 1 , part 2 , part 3 online).
  7. Kamal Salibi: The Bible came from the land of Asir. Reinbek near Hamburg 1985, ISBN 3-498-06179-8 .
  8. See, for example, a books diary. Book reviews from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . Frankfurt 1986, pp. 551f .; Alfred Felix Landon Beeston in: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 154 (1988), pp. 389-393; W. Sibley Towner in: Middle East Journal 42 (1988), pp. 511-513.