The Origin Of Al Khalifa History Essay

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By looking at the history of Bahrain in the past, it is obvious to say that this small country has not remained stable, and it has experienced a lot of complicated events of instability.The Arabic tribes began to enter Bahrain since the 3rd century BC. With the emergence of Islam, Bahrain welcomed this new religion and that was in 630 CE. Then, it has suffered from foreign interference, especially the Portuguese, Persians and the British.

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This research will address how Al-Khalifa was the rolling family of Bahrain since that time. Was it because of their powerfulness or because of other factors enabling them to establish independent state? The aim of this research is to reveal facts about Al-Khalifa in the historical period from immigration until conquering Bahrain and to present the major events that had happened, which draws the future of Bahrain. Some historians thought that period was considered as a turning point and the beginning a real history of Bahrain’s political talk [1] .

1. The Origin of Al-Khalifa

Al-Khalifa is from Anza tribe, and back to Bakr bin Wael. [2] Most of the historians named Al-Khalifa, Al-Sabah and Al-Jalahma as (Al-‘Utob), (Bani ‘Otba), (‘Otobieen). All terms mean (passing from position to position) or travel from one place to another. This is confirmed by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, when asked by the British Dickson about the reason for calling them Al-‘Utob , he said: (that his ancestors named ‘Otob because they traveled to the north) [3] .

2. Immigration of Al-Utob from Najd

   2.I: the causes of migration

There were many stories and opinions about the causes of Al-‘Utob migration from Najd to the Eastern coast of the Arabian Gulf. The following points are the main reasons:

1 – Drought, famine, which hit the Arabian Peninsula in the second half of the 17th century and early 18th century. [4] , [5] 

2 – Tribal conflicts . [6] 

3 – Travel for earning a living. [7] 

4 – The Portuguese departure (mid of the 17th century). [8] 

5 – Aspiration to independence. Sheikh Khalifa left Najd and went down to Kuwait in the 12 AH Century for unknown reasons and perhaps he wanted to make an independent country and place himself as a ruler [9] Their settlement away from other powers proved their likely aspire for dominance and complete authority. [10] 

2.2: the events of the Immigration:

A – ‘Utob migration from Haddar to Qatar:

There is no sufficient evidence to determine the exact date of ‘Utob immigration. [11] ‘Utob migrated from Najd in the middle of the 17th century. [12] Three families went to Salwa “Qatar” who are Al-Sabah, led by Sheikh Salman bin Hamad and Al-Khalifa, led by Sheikh Khalifa Bin Mohammed, and Al Jalahma led by Sheikh Jaber bin ‘Otba. Qatar was rolled by Bni Khalid at that period. [13] They lived with Al-Muslim that extended from south Qatar to the north of Basra. [14] They have settled in Qatar for almost fifty years before they gather in Kuwait [15] Al-Muslim felt that the presence of ‘Utob constituted a threat to them and perhaps may they become the rulers of the region with the support of Bani Khalid, who did not oppose their existence. Their conflict with Al-Muslim, led them to leave the coast of the country and travel to Kuwait in 1700 [16] .

B – ‘Utob migration from Qatar to Kuwait: Several factors had helped ‘Utob to consolidate their feet in Kuwait including [17] :

1 – Weakness of Bani Khalid’s power as a result of domestic disputes with Al-Saud in Najd.

2 – The weakness of the Persian power and the lack of a central authority.

3 – ‘Utob take advantage of Kuwait’s commercial center and its geographical location in strengthening their economic situation. [18] 

C – Al-Khalifa migration from Kuwait to Al-Zubara:

Historians differ in the reasons mentioned and the motivations that were behind the migration of Al-Khalifa from Kuwait to Al- Zubara [19] , some of those reasons are:

1 – The Attack on Kuwait by Bni Ka’b in 1762 and imposing taxes and tribute on the local inhabitants [20] . Bni Ka’b was a large tribe which gave loyalty to the Ottoman government in the regions of Iraq. Then they migrated to (Arabistan) and had belonged to Faris [21] .

2 – The invasion of the Persians on Basra and their assault on ‘Utob in Kuwait [22] .

3 – Abdullah bin Sabah was given the power after the death of his father, Sheikh Sabah bin Jaber. Al Khalifa were looking to role Kuwait after the death of their cousin- the first Sabah, but ‘Utob decided on having Abdullah bin Sabah as the ruler [23] .

4 – Al-Khalifa’s desire to establish a private commercial center on the coast of Qatar and Bahrain Islands [24] .

More importantly, Al Khalifa went out of Kuwait to the south by sailing, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa. On their way to Qatar, they went to Bahrain and it was under the influence of Al-Mathkoor [25] .Al-Mathkoor prevented Al-Khalifa to arrive in Bahrain, that’s why they went down towards Al-Zubara [26] 

Al-Muslim asked Al-Khalifa to pay Al-zakat, but Sheikh Mohammed refused and proceeded to fortify Al-Zubara by building “Mareer” castle in two years, 1767-1768 [27] . Among those who lived in Zubarah*, Al Ben Ali and Al-Jalahma. They assigned the leadership to Sheikh Mohammed and after his death, sheikh Ibrahim was the leader [28] 

3. Zubara battle and its consequences

The Zubarah battle was between Al-Khalifa and Al-Mathkoor. Several factors had led to the battle, including:

1 – Prosperity of Al-Zabara [29] , which led to competition on sources of livelihood between ‘Utob and sheikhs of the Persian coast.30

2 – The death of Karim Khan Zand in 1779 that led to the spread of competition for the throne, and in which was involved Sheikh Nasr [30] 

3 – Bad relationships between Al-Khalifa and “Al-Mathkoor”. Al-Mathkoor had done several failed attempts to occupy Zubarah in the period from 1777 – 1781. [31] 

4 – Al-Khalifa ambitions were to expand by sea to conquer Bahrain [32] because they found that Zubara do not meet the needs of the new community, but al-Khalifa did not think to expand by ground in Qatar because of the friendship relations with Bani Khalid. [33] 

5 – The attack of Bni K’ab on Utob’s ships in Zubara and Kuwait. [34] 

6 – Prevention of Al-Khalifa workers from buying palm trunks by Bahrain in Sitra and the death of a worker, named Ismail. Al-Khalifa were angry, they sent army to Sitra. Once they arrived, they killed Minister of Sitra and more than five people. Furthermore, they stolen money, and then returned safely to Zubara. Sitra’s people seeked Sheikh Nasr help who was getting ready to fight Al-Khalifa. [35] , [36] It could be argued that Sitra’s incident was the spark that led to the Zubara battle. Arabs were divided into two groups:

A) Group of the Eastern coast of the Gulf and includes”Bushehr, Bni Ka’b, Bandar Raiq Hormuz and Al-Qawassim”.

B) Group of Al-Zubara “Al-Khalifa” and joined by Freeha people “belong to Bin Ali”. [37] 

Al-Mathkoor fleet sailed from Bushehr to Bahrain. Sheikh Nasr’s plan was the blockade Al-Zubarah. [38] Mohammed – nephew of Sheikh Nasr- had implemented this plan. He presented a naval to terrorize the people of Zubara, who already knew about the navel and they had prepared to face them. They were led by Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed on behalf of his brother, Sheikh Khalifa, who was on pilgrimage at the time [39] .Negotiations between the parties made Al-Khalifa to offer the return of what they have robbed from Bahrain as a price of reconciliation. However, Al- Mathkoor insisted on the give-up by people of Zubara without any conditions or restrictions. Al-Khalifa refused and said: “If God helped our victory and if we even been broken, God forbid, kill women, children do not let them all become prisoners in the hands of the Shiites…” [40] 

Persians forces were presented on the land between Zubara and Freeeha at the time of a Friday prayers of December 1782. They occupied Zubara without any resistance, but they were surprised when the locals of Al-Zubara and Freeeha were attacking them. After a long battle, the winners were Al-Zubara’s army who killed Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Rashid bin Matter (Sheik Al-Qawassim), and let the invaders their weapons and ran to the sea. [41] It is said that the Al-Sabah in Kuwait when they heard about the attack of the Persians on their cousins, they sent a naval force to help Al-Khalifa, but it arrived late [42] . The Kuwaiti naval met Al-Mathkoor’s boat on the way. That boat was sent by Sheikh Nasr to his son in Bahrain telling him about the defeat and asking him to hold out until receiving supplies. The Kuwaiti naval attacked Bahrain and set on fire and forced Persian to retreat to the castle. [43] Thus, one can see that several factors and causes have led to the failure of the siege and the Al-Mathkoor forces in the battle, including:

1 – Al-Zubara people put themselves in two choices, victory or death.

2 -Al-Khalifa knew about the battle, giving them the opportunity to prepare well.

3 – ‘Utob fighting in their own land, which gave them the opportunity to move easily and smoothly, unlike Persian forces that were in the sea.

4 – Closeness of ‘Utub from supply centers in contrast to Persian forces which were far from the centers of their supply at Bushehr and Bahrain.

5 – The support of the Freeha people to Al-Khalifa, especially as they attacked the Persian forces from behind.

6 – Disruption of internal conditions in Persia and the struggle on power. [44] 

The most important consequence is that the victory of Al-Khalifa was a strong incentive for them to conquer Bahrain.

6. Conquer of Al-Khalifa to Bahrain

After the victory of Al-Khalifa in Al-Zubara battle, Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa went to Bahrain after he knew that Sheikh Nasr escaped to Bushaher and that the garrison left behind in Bahrain cannot defend and protect Bahrain. [45] At t same time, Sheikh Nasr Al-Mathkoor was asking for help and supplies from Persia to reinstate the second attack on Zubara, but the Persian government had not countered that since it was busy with its internal problems and the deterioration of their situation. [46] Thus, the disrupted internal conditions in Bahrain, has led sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed to attack Bahrain [47] . Bahrain was divided into two parties;

1 – Party of Jidhafs [48] under the chairmanship of Sayed Majid, also includes the minister Al-Haj Madan.

2 – Party of the Bilad Al-Qadeem [49] under the chairmanship of Ahmed bin Roqaia.

These two parties fought each other for the leadership of the country and it has ended up with the victory of Jidhafs party. On the other hand, Al-Bilad party had invited Al-Khalifa to conquer Bahrain. In addition, people of Qatar encouraged Al-Khalifa, to seize this opportunity to conquer Bahrain [50] .Thus, these events had created the right conditions to make Al-Khalifa carry their attack on Bahrain. Adding to that other factors motivated them:

1 – Zubara did not meet the needs of the growing community with multiplying population as a result of new groups joining.

2 – The expansion of ‘Utob in Bahrain is easier for them to expand to the inside where their alliance “Bani Khalid” were present and they are in a good relationship. Al-Khalifa preferred to fight Persia, since Bni Ka’b had already assaulted the ships of ‘Utob in Zubara.

3 – The evolution of the fleet in Zubara was a factor encouraging them to conquer by sea.

4 – Bahrain’s excellent geographical location, wealth and economic resources of pearls and trade.

Many tribes has joined Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed many tribes to invade Bahrain, including Al-Sabah,Al- Jalahma , Al-Sudan of Doha, Al-Buainin of Al Wakra, and Alqubeisat from Khor Hassan, Al-Sulaiti from Doha. [51] When they arrived to Bahrain , they were able to control Bahrain easily without any resistance. [52] 

Al-Khalifa were able to conquer Bahrain from Al-Daiwan Castle in Manama by a stream of water inside the castle to the outside, while Bahrain forces gave up directly [53] Alhaj Madan Al-Jidhafsi, the successor of Sheikh Nasr Al- Mathkoor, was killed. While some sources mentioned that Sayed Majid Al-Jidhafsi died or escaped to Iran [54] . Bahrain Fort [55] was surrendered after one month on the surrender of Daiwan Castle. [56] Thus Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed was able to conquer Bahrain and eliminate the control of Persian and was given the title of Ahmed Al-Fateh in 1783. [57] 

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Sheikh Ahmed was the ruler of Zubara and Bahrain at the same time. [58] After a while, Al-Fateh went to live in Zubara and assign Ali Bin Faris as a ruler of Bahrain [59] . Sheikh Ahmed was spending the summer in Bahrain and the rest of the year in Zubara until his death in 1796, and was buried in Manama. Therefore, he was succeeded by his son Salman, who chose to reside in Riffa and followed him after that choice all the rulers until the present day. [60] 


Many powers wanted to rule Bahrain in the 17th-18th century due to its geographical location. The circumstances and political events happened in Bahrain at that time had encouraged Al-Khalifa to control Bahrain. Bahrain had witnessed prosperity at the first phase of the rule of Al-Khalifa because of the absolute dependence on their fleet to protect Bahrain from any invasion of other external jealous powers.


Øلشيخ محمد بن خليفة بن حمد بن موسى ØلنبهØني ØلطØئي ØŒ Øلتحفة ØلنبهØنية في تØريخ Øلجزيرة Øلعربية ØŒ بيروت ØŒ دØر إحيØØ¡ Øلعلوم ØŒ Øلطبعة ØلثØنية ØŒ 1999Ù… .

د . عمر بن صØلح Øلعمري ØŒ Øلتطور ØلسيØسي للبحرين ( 1800-1992 ) ØŒ بيروت ØŒ دØر Øلفكر ØŒ Øلطبعة Øلأولى ØŒ 1996Ù… .

عبدØلله خليفة عبدØلله ØلغØنم ØŒ أضوØØ¡ على تØريخ Øلعتوب ( 1671-1990 ) ØŒ Øلبحرين ØŒ Øلمطبعة Øلشرقية ØŒ Øلطبعة Øلأولى ØŒ 1996Ù… .

د . فØئق حمدي طهبوب ØŒ تØريخ Øلبحرين ØلسيØسي ( 1783-1870 ) ØŒ Øلكويت ØŒ Ø°Øت ØلسلØسل ØŒ د . Ø· ØŒ 1983Ù… .

د . فتوح عبدØلمحسن Øلخترش ØŒ تØريخ Øلبحرين ØلسيØسي ( 1753-1904 ) ØŒ Øلكويت ØŒ Ø°Øت ØلسلØسل ØŒ د . Ø· ØŒ 1992Ù… .

د . أمل إبرØهيم ØلزيØني ØŒ Øلبحرين بين ØÙ„ØستقلØÙ„ ØلسيØسي ÙˆØÙ„ØنطلØÙ‚ Øلدولي ØŒ ØلقØهرة ØŒ د . Ø· ØŒ 1992Ù… .

حسن إبرØهيم Øلسعيد ØŒ Øلعقد Øلنظيم في تØريخ أوØÙ„ ÙˆØلبلØد Øلقديم ØŒ د . Ø· ØŒ 1992Ù… .

د . مي محمد Øلخليفة ØŒ عبدØلله بن أحمد محØرب لم يهدأ ØŒ بيروت ØŒ Øلمؤسسة Øلعربية للدرØسØت ÙˆØلنشر ØŒ ‘/nØلطبعة Øلأولى ØŒ 2002Ù… .

د . Ø®Øلد محمد ØلقØسمي ØŒ د . وجيه جميل Øلبعيني ØŒ Øلبحرين ØلتØريخ ÙˆØلحØضر ÙˆØلمستقبل ØŒ Øلإسكندرية ØŒ Øلمكتب ØلجØمعي Øلحديث ØŒ د . Ø· ØŒ 1999Ù… .

محمد عبدØلقØدر ØلجØسم ØŒ سوسن علي ØلشØعر ØŒ Øلبحرين …قصة ØلصرØع ØلسيØسي ( 1904- 1954 ) ØŒ د . Ø· ØŒ 2000Ù…

سعد سعود مبخوت ØŒ أصول لهجة Øلبحرين ØŒ Øلبحرين ØŒ مطبعة ØلهØشمي ØŒ Øلطبعة ØلثØنية ØŒ 2001Ù… .Read phonetically


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