General Information

Kingdom of Bahrain

National Name: Mamlakat al Bahrayn

Land area: 239 sq mi (619 sq km); total area: 257 sq mi (665 sq km)

Population (2008 est.): 718,306 (growth rate: 1.3%); birth rate: 17.2/1000; infant mortality rate: 15.6/1000; life expectancy: 74.9; density per sq mi: 1,080

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Al-Manámah, 527,000 (metro area), 149,900 (city proper)

Monetary unit: Bahrain dinar

Languages: Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu

Ethnicity/race: Bahraini 62.4%, non-Bahraini 37.6% (2001)

Religion: Islam (Shiite and Sunni) 81%, Christian 9%

National Holiday: National Day, December 16

Literacy rate: 89% (2003 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2005 est): $14.11 billion; per capita $20,500. Real growth rate: 5.9%. Inflation: 2.7%.

Bahrain, which means “two seas,” is an archipelago in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The islands for the most part are level expanses of sand and rock. A causeway connects Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.

Known in ancient times as Dilmun, Bahrain was an important center of trade by the 3rd millennium B.C. The islands were ruled by the Persians in the 4th century A.D., and then by Arabs until 1541, when the Portuguese invaded them. Persia again claimed Bahrain in 1602. In 1783 Ahmad ibn al-Khalifah took over, and the al-Khalifahs remain the ruling family today. Bahrain became a British protectorate in 1820. It did not gain full independence until Aug. 14, 1971.


Islamic History and Muslims

Islam is the state religion in Bahrain where the citizens are all Muslims, with the majority of the population practicing Shia Islam. However, due to an influx of immigrants and guest workers from non-Muslim countries, such as India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, the overall percentage of Muslims in the country has declined since the late 20th century. According to the CIA's World Factbook, the country's 2001 census indicate that 81.2% of Bahrain's population was Muslim (Shi'a and Sunni), 5% were Christian, and 14% practiced other Asian or Middle Eastern religions like Hinduism. Among Muslims, Shias form around 80% of the total Muslim population of Bahrain. Sunnis are mainly Hanafi while Shias are mainly twelvers. Some Ibadi and Maliki Muslims also live on the island.

History of Islam in Bahrain

Prior to Islam, the inhabitants of Qatar and Bahrain were idol worshippers. They worshipped idol gods like Awal. Islam swept the entire Arabian region in the 7th century, overturning the idol worshippers. Muhammad sent his first envoy Al-Ala'a Al-Hadrami to Munzir ibn Sawa Al Tamimi, the ruler of the historical region of Bahrain, which extended the coast from Kuwait to the south of Qatar including Al-Hasa, Qatif, and the Bahrain Islands, in the year 628 AD, inviting him to Islam. Munzir, responding to the Prophet’s call announced his conversion to Islam and all the Arab inhabitants of Bahrain and Qatar including some Persians living in Qatar also became Muslim, heralding the beginning of the Islamic era in Bahrain . They turned Bahrain into the strongest state in the Gulf and possibly, wider Middle East. They raided Baghdad and in 930 sacked Mecca and Medina, desectrating the Zamzam Well with the bodies of Hajj pilgirm and taking the Black Stone with them back to Bahrain where it remained for twenty years. The Qarmatians were eventually defeated by their Ismaili counterparts, the Abbasids in 976 and afterwards their power waned.

The defeat of the Qarmatian state saw the gradual wane of their revolutionary brand of Ismaili Islam. Instead, under a process encouraged by Sunni rulers over the next four hundred years, Twelver Shia Islam became entrenched. According to historian Juan Cole, Sunnis favoured the quietist Twelver branch of Shi'ism over the Qarmatians and promoted its development in Bahrain[1]. In the 13th Century, there arose what was termed the 'Bahrain School', which integrated themes of philosophy and mysticism into orthodox Twelver practise. The school produced theologians such as Sheikh Kamal al-Din Ibn Sa’adah al Bahrani (d. 1242), Sheikh Jamal al-Din ‘Ali ibn Sulayman al-Bahrani (d. 1271), and perhaps most famously Sheikh Maitham Al Bahrani (d. 1280)[2].

Islam in Bahrain today

The Al Khalifa ruling family and its supporting tribes adhere to the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, while the Huwala Sunnis follow the Shafi'i school. There is also a large population of the South Asian Sunni Muslim residents who follow the Hanafi school. The Shia in Bahrain (Baharna and Ajam) are overwhelmingly Twelvers, following the Jafari school.

The Constitution states that Islam is the official religion and also provides for freedom of religion; however, there were some limits on this right. In the past, the Government did not tolerate political dissent, including from religious groups or leaders; however, in 2001 the King pardoned and released all remaining political prisoners and religious leaders, including Shi'a clerics. Members of other religions who practice their faith privately do so without interference from the Government and are permitted to maintain their own places of worship and display the symbols of their religion.

The country observes the Muslim feasts of Eid al-Adha, Eid al-Fitr, the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, and the Islamic New Year as national holidays. The Shi'a religious celebration of Ashura is a 2-day national holiday. The Shi'a stage large public processions during the holiday. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Government tried to prevent many of these processions and put many participants in jail. The Government no longer hinders these processions. The Ministry of Information provides full media coverage of Ashura events.

Political liberalisation under King Hamad has seen Islamist parties contest Bahrain's elections and become a dominant force in parliament. Sunni Islamist parties, the salafist Asalah and the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Al-Menbar Islamic Society are two of the largest parties in parliament, while the Shia Islamist Al Wefaq is expected to become the dominating party after 2006's general election having boycotted the 2002 poll.

Although there are notable exceptions, the Sunni Muslim minority enjoys a favored status. Sunnis dominate Bahrain politically and economically. They live in the cities, where they often make up the majority. Shi'as are almost totally dominant in the rural areas. Sunnis often receive preference for employment in sensitive government positions and in the managerial ranks of the civil service. Shi'a citizens do not hold significant posts in the defense and internal security forces, although they are allowed to be employed in the enlisted ranks. In 2002, the Government licensed for the first time a school to provide students with a Shi'a religious curriculum designed to educate the next generation of Shi'a religious scholars.

Beit Al Qur'an (Arabic: بيت القرآن) means House of Qur'an in Arabic. It is an Islamic museum at Hoora, Manama, in Bahrain, which is an island country in the Persian Gulf.
The House of the Qur'an was built to accommodate a comprehensive and valuable collection of the Qur'an and rare manuscripts, a concept which is unique in the Persian Gulf. All visitors are welcome, and the complex comprises a mosque, a library, an auditorium, a school and museum consisting of ten exhibition halls.
This great institution and its museum house an internationally celebrated collection of historic Quranic manuscripts from various parts of the Islamic world, from China in the East to Spain in the West, representing a progression of calligraphic traditions from the first century of the Islamic era to the present day.

The Khamis Mosque (Arabic: مسجد الخميس; transliterated: Masjid al-Khamys) is believed to be the first mosque in Bahrain, built during the era of the Umayyad caliph Umar II. The identical twin minarets of this ancient Islamic monument make it easily noticeable as one drives along the Shaikh Salman Road in Khamis. It is considered to be one of the oldest relics of Islam in the region, and the foundation of this mosque is believed to have been laid as early as 692 AD. An inscription found on the site, however, suggests a foundation date sometimes during the 11th Century. It has since been rebuilt twice in both 14th & 15th centuries, when the minarets were constructed. The Khamis mosque has been partially restored recently.
Islam was propagated to Bahrain in the 7th century AD when Muhammad sent an envoy Al-Ala'a Al-Hadrami, preaching Islam to the Governor of Qatar and Bahrain at the time, Munzir ibn Sawa Al Tamimi.

The Bahrain Grand Mosque in Manama.

The ruins of Khamis Mosque, one of the region's oldest monuments to Islam


The imposing interior of the Grand Mosque

Aali Mosque & Burial Mound


 Islamic Centers and Organizations

Kanoo Mosque, Hamad Town, Kingdom of Bahrain
Phone: 39072672

Discover Islam, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
URL:   Phone: 973-17537373

جمعية الإصلاح, Muharraq, البحرين
URL:   Phone: 00973-17326099

Shaikh Sahlan Mosque, East Eker, Manama, East Eker

Dr. Hussain Taha, Manama
Phone: 00973-17692255

Masjid Abu Beker, Manama

Al-Khair, Manama

Islamic Global Travel, Hamala
URL:   Phone: +973-9444301

Dawaah & Guidance Centre, Manama
Phone: 00973-294779

Masjid Al-Imam Al-Shafei, Rifa' Ash Sharqi, Arad
Phone: 36636646
Ahmed Al-Fateh Grand Mosque, Manama
  AL NASSER MOSQUE- مسجد النصر, Isa Town
  Al-Sadiq Mosque - Manama, Manama
  Kanoo Mosque, Muharraq
  Kanoo Mosque, Hamad Town
  Masjed Moamin, Manama
  Masjid Abu Beker, Manama
  Masjid Al-Imam Al-Shafei, Rifa' Ash Sharqi
  Masood Ahmad, Tubli
  Ras Romman Mosque -, Manama
  Shaikh Sahlan Mosque, East Eker, Manama
  shaikhan Mosque, Rifa' Ash Sharqi
  Shiakh isa masjed, Safrah
  مركز سعيد بن جبير لتحفيظ القرآن الكريم للبنين والبنات, Rifa`a Ash Sharqi
  مسجد الفرقان, Muharraq
  مسجد الامام الغزالي, المحرق
  مسجد الامام الغزالي, المحرق
  مسجد التقوى, Hidd
  مسجد الجوادين, Sanabis
  مسجد الخيف -الدير- البحرين, Dair
  مسجد الخضر, Sanabis
  مسجد الرضوان, Isa Town
  مسجد السودان, Hidd
  مسجد السيف, Manama
  مسجد السيدة عائشة رضي الله عنها, Hidd
  مسجد الشيخ محمد أبو رمانة, Dumistan
  مسجد الشيخ إبراهيم, Al Hajar
  مسجد الشيخ عزيز, Sahlat al Hadriyah
  مسجد زيد بن حارثة , Manama
  مسجد سيد فلاح, Sanabis
  جامع أبوعبيدة بن الجراح, Muharraq
  جامع الجمعية الإسلامية, Arad
  جامع الزبير ابن العوام, Isa Town
  جامع حمد بن على كانو, Muharraq 

  Al-Khair, Manama
  Dawaah & Guidance Centre, Manama
  Discover Islam, Manama
  Islamic Assocciaton, Muharra-Arad
  Islamic Association الجمعية الإسلامية, Muharraq
  muslim yuvajana federation, Manama
  Quran Care Society, East Riffa
  جمعية المنبر الاسلامي, Muharraq
  جمعية النور للبر, Manama
  جمعية الإصلاح, Muharraq
  جمعية التجديد الثقافية الاجتماعية, Manama
  جمعية التربية الإسلامية, Muharraq
  جمعية رعاية المصحف الشريف, Rifa' Ash Sharqi
  حركة الصحوة الإسلامية, Arad
صندوق الحد الخيري, Muharraq

  Aliman schools, Isa Town
  Ibn Al Hytham Islamic School, Manama
  واحات القرآن الكريم, Muharraq
جمعية التربية الإسلامية, Manama

Muslim Owned, Manama
  Bahrain Islamic Bank, Manama
  Dr. Hussain Taha, Manama
  Islamic Global Travel, Hamala
  Mohammed Iqbal Jewellers, Manama, Manama
  مكتبة و تسجيلات الفاروق الإسلامية, Manama
  zezo for tailoring, Isa Town
  الابداع الالكتروني, Rifaa Al Gharbi
دار اليقين, Rifa' Ash Sharqi

Islam in Bahrain (   , June, 2008).
Info please (   June, 2008).
Islam Finder (   , June, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Bahrain, June 2008.