The history of Shīʻism in Bahrain has long been a neglected area of academic attention; partly due to a lack of easily accessible sources.
While significant work has been undertaken on certain aspects of this history, such as the Ismāʻīlī Shīʻī Qarmatian period, little has been written on the Twelver Shīʻī dynasties that came afterwards. The aim of this paper is to provide a clear and coherent narrative of this history from the earliest days of Shīʻism up until just before the beginning of the Portuguese colonisation of Bahrain to show how Shīʻism in its different manifestations became established in Bahrain. To do this, attention shall be paid to the early connections of the country with proto-Shīʻism, the string of Shīʻī dynasties that ruled Bahrain and the contribution of Bahraini ulamā to Shīʻī thought.
Historically, Bahrain was the name used to refer to the region of Eastern Arabia which stretched from Southern Iraq to the mountains of Oman while the islands of Bahrain were known as Awal. While Bahrain was referred to as Awal during the time period of this paper’s focus, for the purpose of clarity, Bahrain shall be used throughout this paper to refer to the islands while the region of Bahrain shall be specified as such. Although the intention of this paper is to show the development of Shīʻism on the islands of Bahrain, the histories of neighbouring areas such as Ahsa and Qatif shall often be taken into account to place Bahrain in a broader historical context.
Title: A History of Shi’ism in Bahrain: 630-1524
Author: Adam Ramadhan
Published by: Center for Islamic Shi’a Studies, February 2018
Length: 18 pages