Hatim Sultans of Hamdan

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Early tribal leaders of North Yemen.

The Hatim sultans were leaders of the Yam tribe, a section of the Hamdan tribal grouping. Control of Sanʿa and much of the north passed into their hands with the loosening of the grip of Queen Arwa and the Sulayhids on that area at the end of the eleventh century. The twelfth century witnessed much competition, from intrigue to warfare, as well as truces and alliances, between the Hatim sultans in Sanʿa and the relatively new Zaydi imams based to the north in Saʿda. Previously loyal to the Ismaʿili faith of the Sulayhids, the Hatim sultans and their followers gradually shifted from opposition to Zaydism to accepting the suzerainty of the Zaydi imams. Despite the ebb and flow of the power, and at times even the absence, of Zaydi imams over subsequent centuries, Zaydism from this time forward was firmly established in the Sanʿa region and the northern highlands of Yemen. However, the legacy of the Ismaʿili period explains how the family of President Ahmad Husayn Ghashmi could be and is Ismaʿili.

See also ghashmi, ahmad husayn; sanʿa; yemen arab republic.


Stookey, Robert W. Yemen: The Politics of the Yemen Arab Republic. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1978.

robert d. burrowes