On the 18th of December every year, the state of Qatar celebrates its National Day in commemoration of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed bin Thani, the founder of the state. Under his leadership, Qatar has turned into a single unified and independent entity, and emerged as a coherent and stable country.
Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani, the founder is a descendant of Midad, Bin Rayese, Bin Zakhir, Bin Mohammad Bin Alawi, Bin Waheeb who descended from Al-Wahebba, from the sons of Hanzellah, who descended from the tribe of Tamim of Mdhari and Adnani origins. The Wahebba tribe gave birth to a large number of scholars and brave people.
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 Mohammed Bin Thani, the most prominent leader at the time. He received his education at the hands of religion scholars who taught him Quran and its sciences, Fiqh and Shariah law. Besides, he learned horsemanship, hunting and literature. He also helped his father in running the entire country's affairs.
In 1264 H, corresponding to 1847, at the age of around twenty one, he moved with his father to live in El-Bidda. There, he emerged amongst his peers as a young leader looking forward to leadership. This was clear when Qatar was invaded, as Sheikh Jassim emerged at the head of the Qatari forces defending the country and faced one of the bravest Knights of the Arabian Peninsula at that time, and defeated him after a thrilling battle.
After this battle, Sheikh Jassim emerged as Qatar’s first knight, who gained the support of other knights and the admiration and love of all Qatari people.
The loyalty of Jassim’s companions was high and it was clearly noticed by the British traveler William Belgrave when he met Sheikh Jassim in Qatar in 1862.
Belgrave noticed a phenomenon in the men surrounding the 35-year-old Jassim. It was the strong relations and ties which gather around him the hearts of his companions who belong to different Qatari tribes. This phenomenon doesn’t only indicate the powerful personality of Sheikh Jassim, but also indicates the idea of unity being developed in his thinking and attitude.
Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed took responsibility during the life of his late father Sheikh Mohammed Bin Thani because of his illness. At the time, the founder was 51 year old. After his father’s death in 1878, he took immediately power at the age of 53.
Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani is the real founder of the State of Qatar. Serving as a senior politician and deputy to his father Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Jassim gained great political experience and knowledge.
Sheikh Jassim sought to turn Qatar into a unified and independent country. Under his leadership, Qatar emerged as a coherent and stable country. He was able to adopt a balanced policy to recognize the independence of Qatar by the two major powers of that time competing to dominate the Arabian Gulf and its territories, namely England and Turkey.
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 unifying and winning the hearts and minds of people.
This was clear when he faced the various powers who wanted to undermine Qatar and its people. The tribes united around him and under his leadership; so he was able to outline their future and protect their borders and Qatar emerged in the region as an independent entity.
Sheikh Jassim spent nearly fifty years of his life leading his people in the midst of critical events and fierce battles with various powers surrounding Qatar and the region and wanted to control the country. Those events, which the people of Qatar still remember, are glorious days in the history of Qatar which history can never forget.
When we remember 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 ones with his people supporting him in facing injustice.
When 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 for his revenge.
When we remember the Founder, we remember his zeal for the sanctity of home and regaining its dignity, and revenge all who would invade or attack it.
When we remember Al Wajba events, we remember the wisdom of the leader and his stability facing the superior power of Ottoman Wali because God helped him in defeating them while he was in all these events, the brave leader and wise negotiator.
When the Ottomans attempted to increase their influence in Qatar. Sheikh Jassim adamantly opposed that. In March 1893, Sheikh Jassim in his seventies led a crucial battle with the Ottomans. The Qataris fought bravely and defeated the ottomans and the battle became a turning point in the history of Qatar.
When things settled down in the country, Sheikh Jassim opened the door for it, allowing progress and prosperity. The trade became so prosperous, and Sheikh Jassim built the mosques and schools, attracted scholars, printed jurisprudence books and distributed them among his people and in the neighboring countries. He was philanthropist.
Sheikh Jassim was the helper of the oppressed, releaser of the prisoners, and set the enslaved free. In all these, Sheikh Jassim only seek to please God, as he didn’t obey anyone but God in defending his religion and homeland.
Al-Alossi spoke the truth when saying about sheikh Jassim that “He was one of the honored Arabs, diligent to his duties and religious worship and prayer, of the increment people and well knowledge in religion, and he has a lot of charities,”
Jassim’s position raised high among people, just like what Sulaiman Al-dakhil said: “His word was well obeyed by the Arabs, well respected by the leaders and princes, he does what he says, always working for reforms, God always was with him to finish all the works he begins for all his deed were for the sake of God.”
Late 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 he was a good orator. He was one of Arabic language pillars and supporters and he taught people in person. He was just in his judgments and separating disputes. He passed away as a monotheist.
Sheikh Jassim was a tall man, elegant but simple and dignified. With regard to his character, the founder was a unique decisive well determined man.
He was a generous philanthropist. His generosity made people love him and remember him for his good deeds. He passed away on the afternoon of Thursday, the 13th of Shaban, 1331 H, corresponding to July 17, 1913 and was buried in the village of Lusail, located 24 km north of Doha. By his death, Qatar lost one of its most outstanding leaders and a symbol of its unique history, a man of literature, a scholar, a man of virtue and generosity.
After the death of Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani, his son Sheikh Abdullah Bin Jassim Al Thani became the ruler of Qatar. After three years of his rule, he signed a treaty with Britain, in order to bring Qatar under its Trucial System of Administration.
On 30 June 1948, Sheikh Abdullah appointed his son Sheikh Ali Bin Abdullah as the Deputy Ruler following the death of his brother the heir apparent Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah on 27 May 1948.
Sheikh Ali Bin Abdullah became the Ruler of Qatar following the abdication of Sheikh Abdullah in his favor on August 20, 1948.
During his reign, the first shipment of onshore Qatari oil was made from Mesaieed terminal on December 31, 1949.
On 29th of November 1952, Sheikh Ali signed an agreement with Shell external exploration limited company to extract oil from offshore fields.
Sheikh Ahmed Bin Ali became Ruler of Qatar on October 24 1960 after Sheikh Ali abdicated in his favour. On the same date, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani was appointed as the Heir Apparent and Deputy Ruler.
In 1964, Sheikh Ahmed formed an advisory council to assist in ruling affairs.
On the 2nd of April 1970, the Provisional Constitution for Qatar was promulgated and the first Council of Ministers of the country was formed on 28 May 1970. In his reign, Qatar joined the Opec.
The independence of Qatar as a sovereign state, terminating the Anglo-Qatari Treaty of 1916, was declared on September 3 1971.
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani became the Ruler of Qatar on February 22 1972, and the first task he did was to appoint a Foreign Minister and an adviser to the Emir in the day-to-day affairs of the country, launching a new phase of administrative and government organization.
Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani became the new Emir of the State of Qatar on June 26, 1995, starting a new phase of Qatar modern history.
Since the accession of HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani to power, the state of Qatar made strides in the process of development and construction in all walks of life, within the context of modernization which HH led by a vision looking forward a promising future and a new era of prosperity and welfare for homeland and citizens.
On June 25, 2013, HH Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, came to power after HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, stepped down, in a step seen by many as a precedent in the Arab region and in the whole world. Voluntarily relinquishing control by a ruler at the peak of his power, success and achievements in this manner, was a precedent.
The initiative taken by HH the Father Emir in transferring the reins of power to HH Sheikh Tamim in this honoring manner was a milestone of civilized governance in the Arab world, unlike the traditional way, where the will of people is not respected.