Hadhramaut is a region in South Arabia, mainly in present-day eastern Yemen. The name is of ancient origin and is maintained in the name of the Hadhramaut Governorate of Yemen. The Hadhramaut natives are called Hadhrami. They formerly spoke Hadramautic but now mostly speak Hadhrami Arabic. The meaning of the word ‘Hadramaut’ is ‘death has arrived.’ It is probably named so due to numerous invaders who have destroyed countless ancient civilizations in this region.
The Hadhrami are known as Chatramotitai in ancient Greek texts. Hadhramautic handbooks come later than Sabaean ones, and some Sabaean manuscripts from Hadhramaut are identified.
Latin, Greek, Hadhramautic, and Sabaean texts preserve the names of many kings of Hadhramaut, but there is as yet no precise chronology of their reigns. Their possible capital was Shabwa in the northern corner of the kingdom, along the Incense Route. Eratosthenes declared it a metropolis. It was an extraordinary devotion center as well. At first, the religion was vibrant South Arabian polytheism, characterized by the Babylonian moon god Sin’s worship. By the sixth century CE, locals followed the monotheistic school of Raḥmān in the local temple.
The administrative history of Hadhramaut is not easy to compile together. Various wars involving Hadhramaut are mentioned in Sabaean texts. The kingdom ceased to exist by the top of the third century CE, having been captured by the Himyarite Kingdom. Hadhramaut continued to be used in the full titulature (method of naming kings and pharaohs) of the kings of Dhu Raydān (Himyar) and Saba. Hinduism and Buddhism were prevalent in this region before the arrival of Islam.
Modern History of Hadramaut
The Qu’aiti sultans controlled the vast bulk of Hadramaut, under a loose British colony, the Aden Protectorate, from 1882 CE to 1967 CE, when South Yemen annexed the Hadhramaut. The Qu’aiti dynasty was established by ‘Umar bin Awadh al-Qu’aiti, a Yafa’i tribal leader whose influence and wealth as hereditary Jemadar of the Nizam of Hyderabad’s invading armed forces allowed him to learn the Qu’aiti dynasty in the second half of the 19th century CE, winning British acknowledgment of his supreme status in the region, in 1882 CE. The British Government and the scholarly and traditional sultan Ali bin Salah signed a treaty in 1937 CE appointing the British Government as “advisors” in Hadhramaut. The British banished him to Aden in 1945 CE, but the Protectorate lasted until 1967 CE.
In 1967 CE, the former British Colony of Aden and the previous Aden Protectorate, including Hadramaut, became an autonomous Communist state, the People’s Republic of South Yemen, later the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. North Yemen was united with South Yemen in 1990 CE as the Republic of Yemen.
The largest city and the capital of Hadhramaut is the Mukalla. Mukalla had a 1994 CE population of 122,00 and a 2003 CE population of 175,000, while the port town of Ash Shihr has grown from 48,000 to 69,000 in the same time. One of the more historically significant cities in the region is Tarim. A major locus of Islamic learning is thought to contain the highest concentration of Prophet Muhammad descendants globally, although this has not been verified.