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Historic Flags (Bahrain)

Last modified: 2013-11-27 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: bahrain | serration | zig-zag | emir |
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Before 1820

[Red flag of Bahrain]
image by Santiago Dotor

The flag of Bahrain was initially plain red, originating from the color of the Kharidjite Muslim sect.
Jaume Ollé
, 27 July 1999

The pre-1820 flag of Bahrain may well have been solid red, but I'm skeptical of any connection to the Kharijites. The Kharijites were those who withdrew their support from Muhammad's son-in-law Ali after he agreed to accept arbitration with the Umayyads over the succession to the caliphate. Their modern successors are known as Ibadi Muslims, or Ibadites. The only significant Ibadi communities are found in Oman (where they dominate), some pockets in North Africa, and on Zanzibar as a legacy of past Omani rule there. The population of Bahrain is predominantly Twelver Shiite, while the ruling Al-Khalifa family--which has been in power in Bahrain since the 18th century--is Sunni of the Maliki school. No Kharijites or Ibadites. It would make sense to attribute Oman's traditional all-red flag to Kharijite symbolism, but why Bahrain's?
Joseph McMillan, 22 January 2004

The Ibadite dinasty of Oman dominated the Arab part of the Persian Gulf (and the African coast) in the 18th century. Bahrain was under rule of Nasr al Madhkur of Bushehr, but ca. 1750 the Persian domination ended and Omani influence was extended in the zone. In 1783, Ahmad ben Khalifa from the Banu Utba (a tribe originating in Nejd which had moved to Kuwait and then to Zubara in Qatar) established himself in the islands and later tried to dispute the hegemony of Muscat. For 45 years the Al Khalifa disputed supremacy with the Ibadites (1802-1847). The Al Saud family was on the side of Bahrain, but this was short lived, as the Malikite tendency of the Al Khalifa was not in agreement with the Hanbalism of Muhammad bin Abd el Wahhab. In 1820, the Al Khalifa signed an agreement with the British. Another treaty was concluded in 1914 when Bahrain was pushed fully under British control. From 1820 to 1847 the Ibadite influence decreased in the same proportion that the British increased, and ended oficially in 1847. It seems that until 1820 the supreme suzerainty (at less officially) can be attribued to Muscat. (Sources: R. Algrain ("Arabie"), J. Aubin ("Les princes d'Ormuz"), and others, quoted in Enciclopedie de l'Islam (Ibadite dinasty of Oman dominated the Arabic part of the Persian Gulf (and the African coast) in the XVIII century. Baharain was under rule of Nasr al Madhkur of Bushahr but c. 1750 the persian domination finished and Omani influence was extended in the zone. In 1783 Ahmad ben Khalifa from the Banu Utba (tribe originated in Nedj, moved to Kuwait, then to Zubara in Qatar) stablished in the islands, and later tryed to dispute the hegemony to Mascate. During 45 years the Al Khalifa disputed the supremacy with the Ibadites (1802-1847). Al Saud was at side of Bahrein, but this was short lived, and the Malakite trend of the Al Khalifa was not in agreement with the Hambalism of Muhammad ben Abd el Wahhab. In 1820 Al Khalifa signed an agreement with British. More treaties, later, finished in 1914 when Bahrain was push fully under british control. From 1820 to 1847 the Ibadite influence decreased in same proportion that increased the british one, and finished oficially in 1847. Seems that until 1820 the supreme sovereignity (at less officially) can be attribued to Mascate.
Source: R. Algrain ("Arabie"), J. Aubin ("Les princes d'Ormuz"), and others, quoted in Enciclopedie de l'Islam, Vol I, pages 971 and 1973.
Jaume Ollé, 22 January 2004


1820-1932

[Flag of Bahrain, 1820]
image by Santiago Dotor

In 1820, following the General Maritime Treaty with Britain, a vertical white stripe symbolizing the truce was added at hoist ( but de facto the plain red flag remained in use until 1910).
Jaume Ollé, 27 July 1999


1932-1972

[Flag of Bahrain, 1932] 9:13
image by Ivan Sache and Eugene Ipavec, 16 March 2001 and 06 March 2012

In 1933, to distinguish the flag from other flags in the area (current Ajman and Dubai flags, ancient Abu Dhabi flag) the stripe was serrated [i.e. limited with a zig-zag border]. The specific meaning of the serration is unknown. The serration was made of 28 triangles. Proportion of the flag was 9:13.
Source: Flaggenbuch [neu92]
Jaume Ollé, Nozomi Kariyasu and Ivan Sache, 16 March 2001


1972-2002

[Flag of Bahrain, 1972]
image by Željko Heimer
Source: Album des Pavillons [pay00]
[Flag of Bahrain, 1972]
image by Željko Heimer
Source: W. Smith [smi80]
 
 

The flag was adopted on 19 August 1972.
Željko Heimer
, date unknown