Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani is The founder of the State of Qatar. A military leader, judge and scholar, knight and poet possessing both gallantry and magnanimity. For the sake of defending Qatar he fought many wars, and perils could not impede his inclination to defy hardships, end injustice and protect the oppressed.
Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani was born around 1827 and was brought up in Fuweirat North East of Qatar where he learnt the Quran, its sciences, jurisprudence, Islamic law, the arts of equestrian, along with falconry and hunting skills.
He run the affairs of the country along with his ageing father in 1876. Following the passing away of his father on 18 December 1878, he succeeded him in running the affairs of the country with the support of the Qatari people, consolidating the national rule under the leadership of Al Thani dynasty.
In the early years of his reign, he devoted himself to uniting the Qatari people, through deepening the sense of national belonging, and adhering to the solidarity and cohesion among component of society.
He paid special attention to education establishing Quranic schools, invite jurists, and building mosques, teaching and adjudicating people’s disputes.
He also improved the harbors and shipbuilding to support the pearl trade, till Qatar became the biggest source of pearl in the region and expand commercial relations with India and the countries of East Africa, creating extra employment opportunities and improving living standards for many Qataris. During his reign urbanization expanded and the population increased.
At the external level, Sheikh Jassim was a staunch supporter and most defender of the Islamic Caliphate despite the pressure he came through. His relationship with the Ottoman authority became more entrenched , so he was granted the title of “kaimakam”, a military and administrative rank. He was later given another higher honorary title of "Kapuji-bashi", in recognition of his de facto authority and leadership of the Qatari tribes.
But given the insistence of the Ottomans to directly intervene in Qatar internal affairs and the rejection by the Sheikh of jeopardizing the interests of the country and its people eventually a military confrontation became inevitable and ended in decisive victory for Sheikh Jassim in the famous battle of Wajbah (1893).
Due to that incident the ruler of Basra (who also was the commander of the campaign) was removed from office and was held responsible for what had happened. Sheikh Jassim’s good and warm relations with the Ottoman State were reinstated.
Wajbah battle had set a landmark event in Qatar’s history with Sheikh Jassim emerging as an eminent personality in the gulf, and an effective regional power in the Qatar politics. Sheikh Jassim was a heroic knight who inherited the ancient legacy of Arab traditions of war and equestrian skills, and was proven a veteran political and strategic statesman and a military leader in an era where the regional and major powers were struggling for domination. He is considered the founder of the State of Qatar in recognition to his historical role in consolidating independence.
He also was a poet of vernacular poetry known as "Nabati poetry". He authored a book of his own Nabati poems in which he chronicled his own exploits. This book is considered as a source of his biography and his career in a decisive stage of the history of Qatar.
Among his most famous poems was "Ka’bat Almdh’yom", which means "A haven for the oppressed", it reads:
O, I am being blamed by those who envy me for seeking greatness
blamed by those who lack my passion
We are a haven for the oppressed
Not only do we protect them, but also willingly respond to their demands
We have been plighted by many serious adversities
Yet that has neither weakened our firm will nor stances
We have shown resilience and patience despite catastrophic plights .. The Almighty helped us
Allah who is above the throne
Yes, our heads are glistening with grey, but our hearts remain fearless,
We are not old! for those who are dubbed as aged can no longer create good tidings pertaining to,
Redressing the oppressed and quashing the oppressor, As well as standing with the right to appease God
Sheikh Jassim also was keen on following up unfolding events in the Arab countries, and maintained ties with pioneers of enlightened thought. He was interested in associating with scholars and had passion for knowledge dissemination and publication of a number of useful books. Many of his charitable and endowment projects still exist in several Muslim countries.
He was described by al-Zirikli, the author of the book "al-a’laam" (great men) as a person endowed with courage, eloquence, firmness and knowledge.
Sheikh Mahmoud Shukry al-Alusi mentioned in his book “History of Najd” that Sheikh Jassim was "one of the honorable Arabs, pious, known of his knowledge of religion, with many deeds and charity for the benefit of Muslims. He also had a great trade in pearls, respected and obeyed by his tribe, who are thousands in number.
The date of succession of Sheikh Jassim (December 18, 1878) is a red-letter day in the modern history of Qatar, and the National Day that the State of Qatar celebrates every year.
Sheikh Jassim passed away on Thursday evening, 13 Shaban 1331 AH, corresponding to July 17, 1913.