Seif Ibn Dhi Yazan seeking help from the Persians

Throughout its long history, Yemen has been subjected to many forms of foreign domination and occupation, and perhaps the most prominent thing it has been exposed to is the domination of the Abyssinians and their occupation of Yemen for a long time. Ibn Khaldun says, quoting from the narration of Al-Kalbi: “The ships came to the Negus from Caesar, and the Abyssinians were placed on them, and they landed on the coast of Yemen. Dhu Nuwas wanted to mobilize an army of elephants from Himyar. They refused and said: Everyone should fight for himself. There was no fight and he led them to Sana’a, and sent his deputies to the districts to take the money. He pledged to kill them in every district, so they were killed”.

The Negus heard about that, so he prepared seventy thousand fighters to Yemen led by Abraha. They reached Sana’a. Dhu Nuwas fled to the sea and ended up there. Abraha ruled Yemen and the Abyssinians continued to rule Yemen since the end of the reign of Dhu Nuwas until the beginning of the sixth century AD. During that period, they oppressed and exhausted the people of Yemen, so Seif Ibn Dhi Yazan emerged in an attempt to save his country from them. The Abyssinians were strong, and it was not possible for him to fight them alone. At first, he sought help from the Romans, as he went to Antioch, the seat of the king of Byzantium at the time.

He asked the Roman Caesar to expel the Abyssinians and take over Yemen to whomever he wanted from the Romans, but the Roman king replied, saying that the Abyssinians were Christians like the Romans and that he would not help him against them. He went to Al-Hira and met Amr Ibn Hind, the king of Al-Hira and what follows from the land of the Arabs, who was loyal to the Persians. He took him to Khosrau Anusharwan, king of Persia. After hesitation, Khosrau accepted his request and sent with him about 800 men who were released from his prisons and were basically sentenced to death and waiting for it. They were known in the history of Yemen later as the sons, a name given to the Yemeni elements of Persian origin. He appointed a commander over them, one of his deputies called Whrz, and eight ships carried them, six of which reached the coast of Aden.

Many Arabs joined them. The Abyssinians were led by Masruq Ibn Abraha. Seif Ibn Dhi Yazan and Whrz defeated the Abyssinians in the battle of Hadramaut in 570 AD. Yemen was annexed to Persia, and Seif Ibn Dhi Yazan was appointed king of Yemen, on condition that he pay a tax every year, and Ghamdan was taken as the seat of his rule.

In fact, historical sources do not help us with any written traces of that period from Yemen’s subordination to Persia until its entry into Islam, through which we can understand the political situation of that covenant and its reality. It should be noted that the rule of the Persians in Yemen was not an actual and realistic rule. Their rulers did not rule all of Yemen. Rather, their rule was nominal that was limited to Sana’a and its regions. As for the other places, their rule was for the sons and grandsons of kings from the remnants of the old royal families and the Dhus.