The State of Qatar celebrates Monday, the National Day under the slogan of 'Promise of Prosperity and Glory', which is a quote from His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani's speech to the nation on July 21 during the current GCC crisis.
As Qatar celebrates such a glorious day, it remembers the achievements of its Founder Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani, who dedicated his thoughts, efforts, time and wisdom to lay the foundation of establishing a modern state. This came at a time when the region was facing conflicts, tensions and instabilities due to the competition and the search for power and influence among colonial powers at the time.
The Founder, may Allah have mercy on him, is Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani, a descendant of Midad, bin Rayese, bin Zakhir, bin Mohamed bin Alawi, bin Waheeb who descended from Al-Wahebba, from the sons of Hanzellah, who descended from the Tamim tribe of Mdharia and Adnaniyah roots. Al-Wahebba tribe gave birth to a large number of celebrities in knowledge and courage.
The Founder, may Allah have mercy on him, was born in 1242 H, corresponding to 1826. He grew up in Fuwairat, north-east of Qatar, raised by his father, Sheikh Mohamed bin Thani, the most prominent leader at the time. He received his education at the hands of religious scholars who taught him the Qur'an and its sciences, Fiqh and Shariah law. Besides, he learned horsemanship, hunting and literature. He also helped his father in running the country's affairs.
In 1264H, corresponding to 1847, at the age of around 21, he moved with his father to live in El-Bidda. There, he emerged amongst his peers as a young leader looking forward to leadership. Such qualities were proved true afterward when Qatar encountered an invasion, where Jassim emerged at the head of the Qatari troops defending the country and where he had a man-to-man fight against the most courageous Knight of the Arabian Peninsula by then, whom Jassim was able to kill after a battle. After this incident, Jassim emerged as Qatar's first Knight who attracted the admiration of all other Knights and won love of all the people of Qatar.
This was later noted by an eyewitness who met him in 1279H corresponding to 1862, a British traveller named William Belgrave, who visited Qatar that year. Belgrave observed the strong ties that connected companions to Jassim bin Mohamed though such men would belong to the different unique tribes of Qatar. This just not only indicate the powerful personality of Sheikh Jassim, but also indicates the idea of unity being developed in his thinking and attitude. Thanks to his wisdom, cleverness, generosity and sound policy, his prominence and popularity increased, as he succeeded in uniting the Qatari tribes under his leadership by winning the hearts and minds of people, at the age of 35 years.
By virtue of such qualities of knowledge, wisdom, generosity and exercise of sound policy bestowed upon him by Almighty Allah, his prominence and popularity increased, where he was able to unite the Qatari tribes. This was explicitly evident in defiance of the various forces that sought to undermine Qatar or its people, where tribes united under his leadership. Taking advantage of this, he was able to outline their future and defend the borders, by virtue of which Qatar emerged as an independent entity in the region.
He spent nearly fifty years of his life leading his people whom he succeeded at unifying with wise policies, in the midst of critical events, changes and regional and international pressures that wanted to control the country. This will continue to be remembered by the people of Qatar as part of the glorious days in the country's history.
When we recall the Founder, we remember his bravery in facing the invaders and fighting them with pride, armed with strong belief in God. We also remember his rush to defend the oppressed, with his people supporting him in facing injustice. When Sheikh Jassim was taken away from his country, his people fought for him and sacrificed their lives for him, and shed their blood to release him, and we still remember their sufferings.
When we recall the Founder, we remember his keenness in preserving the sanctity and dignity of homeland, and his solid stand against anyone who would endeavour to attack or dominate that homeland. Through all these events, the Founder remained a leading Knight and a wise negotiator. What took place with the Ottomans, is best proof of his political and military wisdom. In March 1893, whilst in his 70s, the Founder persistently rejected all attempts by the Ottomans to increase their influence in Qatar and despite the pressures, difference in power and size between both parties, he held on to what is right and prepared himself with faith and his people's loyalty, to fight the
Al Wajba battle, which he was forced into. He fought until victory and defeated the Ottomans in a battle that resulted as a turning point in Qatar's modern history showing the steadfastness, perseverance, unity of the Qatari people and thus proved his sense of leadership and the power of the country's decision for independence.
When affairs stabilised, he began his mission to develop the country, where he built mosques and schools, hosted scholars, and published books of Fiqh "jurisprudence" at his expense and ordered it to be distributed to his people and other countries, which proves his love for knowledge and his belief in his role in the rise of nations and peoples.
His time was synonymous with justice and prosperity. Diving for pearls and trading became prominent, with Qatar turning to one of the biggest exporters of pearls. The number of vessels operating in the fields of trade, diving and transport doubled and the business diversified, markets boomed and population grew hence, urbanisation expanded.
Sheikh Jassim was the helper of the oppressed, releaser of the prisoners, and set the enslaved free. In all these, Sheikh Jassim only sought to please God, as he didn't obey anyone but God in defending his religion and homeland. The historian, Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi must have stated the truth when he said: "He was one of the most distinguished noble Arabs. For, he was strictly adhered to religious beliefs, a persistent worshipper who would always say his prayers, a person of virtue and knowledge of religion and who did so many good deeds to the Muslim community". Whereas Soliman El Dakhel said: "He was a man of widely acceptable opinion amongst the Arabs. A man whom presidents and princes would fear. A man who would do what he would say. He was entirely devoted to seeking reform, and whatever he sought to accomplish, Allah would help it to be so accomplished. For, all his deeds were solely done for the sake of God".
Sheikh Jassim was a pure religious man of great piety and fear of God. He was a devout worshipper, an imam leading people in their daily or Friday prayers. He delivered the Friday speeches and was a good orator. He was one of the Arabic language pillars and supporters and he taught people in person. He passed away while repeating the monotheism phrase (I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).
As far as his attributes were concerned, he was, my God's mercy be upon him, a tall man that was said to be seen from the last rows in the mosque when he would lead people in group prayers including Friday noon-prayers. He was elegant with simplicity, dignified and of prestige. He was a decisive man of solid determination who would stand as one of those men that history may rarely offer
He was characterised by generosity, kindness and charity. He was a generous philanthropist who would love his family and good deeds. He was such a generous man that people would be attracted to him with love and would always be remembered by his good deeds
The Founder passed away on the afternoon of Thursday, the 13th day of the month of Shaban, 1331H, corresponding to July 17, 1913 and was buried in the village of Lusail, a village located 24 kilometres north of Doha. By his death, Qatar lost one of its most outstanding leaders and a symbol of its unique history, a litterateur, a man of knowledge, virtue and generosity.
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