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Minute by Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay, on the power of the Wahabees in Central Arabia [‎1r] (1/4)

The record is made up of 1 file (2 folios). It was created in 09 Oct 1865. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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Minute by His Excellency the Governor, concurred in by
the Honorable B. H. Ellis, dated the 9/A October 1865.
In reply to the letter from the Government of India, Foreign Depart-
* Mr. Edward, No. 39, 15th August 1865. ment, No. 809 of the 20th
Colonel Disbrowe, No. 171, 22iid August 1865. SeptembGI* 1865, Copies
Ditto No. 182, 26th August 1865. should be sent of Colonel
Disbrowe's and Mr. Edward's letters noted in the margin.*
The case seems to me to stand briefly thus:—
The Wahabee power in Central Arabia, during the latter part of the last
century and the first twenty years of this, was known to the Indian Government
as the chief instigator of the Arab piracy, which scourged and nearly extin
guished the commerce of the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. , and seriously affected the commerce
of these Seas as far South and East as Ceylon.
The influence of the Arab leaders of the Wahabees was partly founded on
their aggressive and martial spirit, and partly on the religious fanaticism which
was excited by the preaching of the Wahabee reformers.
About forty-five years ago the temporal power of the Wahabees received
several severe checks. Ibrahim Pacha attacked them by land, occupied their
capital, and for a time almost destroyed their political influence in Northern and
Western Arabia.
An expedition fitted out from Bombay, attacked some of the piratical ports
on the Arabian Coast where Wahabee influence was most powerful; inflicted a
considerable amount of chastisement on the most troublesome tribes, and these
measures having been followed up by an increase of efficiency to the Bombay
Marine, afterwards the Indian Navy, Arab piracy was for some years rarely heard
of till lately.
About the same time that Ibrahim Pacha was pressing the Wahabees by
land, and the British Cruizers curbing their pirate disciples by sea, the late
Imaum of Muscat, a wise and active Prince, opposed them in Oman, and prevented
any extension of their temporal power in that direction.
So completely was the temporal power of the Wahabees checked that they
had been almost forgotten in the Indian political world, save as a dangerous sect
of religious fanatics whose Indian disciples, at various times and at far distant
points, have frequently caused anxiety to the British rulers of India during the
past 30 years.
There can be no doubt that the Wahabees have of late shown a considerable
revival of their former activity, both as an aggressive temporal power in the
interior of Arabia, and as leaders of fanatical revival in India.
There seems much ground for believing that the great increase, which has
taken place during the last ten years, in the slave trade between East Africa and
Arabia, is due to a new direction having been given to the naval enterprise of the
tribes on the sea coast which were formerly most imbued with Wahabee fanaticism
and most active in piracy.

About this item


The minute by Sir Bartle Frere summarises the history of the Wahabee [Wahabi] power in Central Asia, checks to their power about forty-five years ago and more recent incidents which are a cause for concern.

Frere refers to visits made by William Palgrave and Lewis Pelly to the Wahabee Capital, and potential reasons for their regrowth including the frailties of the ruler of Muscat and the lack of a British naval presence in the Gulf.

He goes on to highlight potential threats that the Wahabees could pose to British interests including the reviving of piracy, impeding trade and their interference with telegraphic communications, and to make suggestions on steps the British Government may wish to take, primarily through His Highness the Imaum [Iman] of Muscat rather than through direct interventions

Extent and format
1 file (2 folios)
Physical characteristics

Foliation: The report has been foliated in the front top right corner of each page with a pencil number enclosed in a circle.

The report also contains original pagination in the top centre of both sides of each page, numbering 1-3

Written in
English in Latin script
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Minute by Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay, on the power of the Wahabees in Central Arabia [‎1r] (1/4), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F126/63, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 25 February 2020]

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