Islamic Governance in Yemen: Imām Yaḥyā 's Protection of the Jews and the Negotiation of Power
“DHIMMA-SPACE” - theoretical approach or conceptual hypothesis
The protection- or dhimma-relationship between the Islamic ruler and the non-Muslim religious minority is usually conceived as a bilateral relationship. I doubt this conception and start my research from a revisited-notion of the dhimma-relationship as an interactive and multi-layered arena of action, a space of governance and asymmetric control, or, as I like to call it: a Dhimma-Space!
This space was not only used by Imām Yaḥyā and the Jewish communities, but by various other actors that were involved directly or indirectly in cases negotiated in the legal framework of dhimma. Analysing petitions written by members of the Yemenite Jewish communities to Imam Yaḥyā and other actors dispose of power within his government, I am looking for tensions and power struggles between Imam Yahya and various other players. Among those players, I focus on religious-legal scholars and the struggle for religious authority.
Sources: Salim b. Said al-Jamal (1907-2001) and his document collection
Salim b. Said al-Jamal was a Jew from Ṣanʿāʾ who worked as a mediator between Imām Yaḥyā and the Jewish communities from 1927 until his emigration to Palestine in 1944. His document collection includes more than 1000 handwritten Arabic petitions to Imām Yaḥyā and others and is one main source for my research.
Al-Mutawakkil ʿalā-allāh Imām Yaḥyā b. Muḥammad Ḥamīd al-Dīn (1868-1948) and the Zaydī Imamate
Yahya b. Muhammad Hamid al-Din was elected as the new Zaydi Imam, i.e. the spiritual and political leader of 5er shii Islam (Zaydiyya) in 1904. When the Ottomans withdrawaled from Yemen in 1918/19, he took over their former territories and ruled great parts of Yemen until his assassination in 1948. Besides being the Zaydī Imām, Imām Yaḥyā bared the title Amir al-Mu’minin (“Leader of the faithful”) and after being addressed as such by others, also called himself the ‘King’ of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom.
The Zaydi Imamate was founded in Yemen at the early 10th century and was overthrown by the republican revolution of 1962.
First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gudrun Krämer
Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Freitag
Third Supervisor: Dr. Gabriele vom Bruck