Atheer – Oman History
Sayyida Moza bint Ahmed bin Said Al Busaidi is one of the most prominent female figures in Omani history. She was a political and military figure who was instrumental in shaping the rule of her nephew, Said bin Sultan, who was leader of Oman and Zanzibar from 1806 to 1856.
Sayyida Moza was born in the city of Rustaq in approximately 1749, to a mother from the Al Jabri tribe from Barka and was raised in her father’s house, where she was taught politics and governance. Sayyida Moza’s father, Imam Ahmed, who was the founder of the Al Busaidi dynasty, had nine other children; sons Hilal, Said, Qais, Saif, Sultan, Talib and Mohammed and daughters Afrah and Mira. Sayyida Moza married Saif bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Busaidi and although she bore no children from him, she did not remarry following Saif bin Mohammed’s death.
After Sayyida Moza’s father passed away in 1783, her brother Said bin Ahmed succeeded him, becoming the Imam based in Rustaq. Said’s son Hamad was influential during this era, moving the capital from Rustaq to Muscat, while his father the Imam remained in the former.
Upon Hamad bin Said’s death in 1793, his uncle Sultan, who was the fifth son of Imam Ahmed bin Said, assumed power, ruling until his passing in 1804. Sultan had two sons, the younger of whom, Said, was chosen to succeed his father with the consent of the other, Salim. Imam Ahmed’s other sons however, who were the boys’ uncles, stood in opposition, seeking the throne for themselves.
It was at this time that Sayyida Moza emerged within Oman’s political sphere, playing an important role in the transfer of power to her nephew, Said bin Sultan. Sayyida Moza took temporary rule of the country at this point, acting as guardian of her nephew Said until he reached adulthood.
One of the first challenges that Sayyida Moza faced was that of a siege on Muscat, carried out by her brothers Said and Qais. She confronted the situation with courage and skill, requesting the help of the various tribes to protect Muscat.
Sayyida Salma bint Said bin Sultan recounts a number of events from her memoirs. She recalls that Sayyida Moza, when besieged in Muscat, received news that her opponents had resorted to bribing her soldiers to switch allegiance after they had failed to gain control over Muscat by force. Sayyida Moza is reported to have disguised herself in men’s clothing one night, posing as one of her opponents in an attempt to test the allegiance of one of her soldiers by bribing him into abandoning her. It is said that the soldier angrily refused to accept any such bribe, in a move that went on to help raise Sayyida Moza’s morale during the siege and ultimately spur her and her forces on.
As Muscat continued to suffer from dwindling food supplies as a result of the siege, Sayyida Moza decided to make one final attempt to fight back and free the city. With only enough gunpowder left for one last battle, Sayyida Moza ordered all the nails in the city to be gathered, along with stones small enough in size to act as a substitute for gunpowder. Anything made of iron, lead or copper was rounded up and melted into bullets. Even the silver dollars in the palace treasures were collected and melted into rifle bullets.
Sayyida Moza then began to attack the forces besieging the city, eventually defeating them. She held negotiations with her brothers, which resulted in an agreement to end the siege on Muscat, seeing her nephew Said remain in power. Sayyida Moza thus regained her position as guardian of the throne, running the country until Sayyid Said bin Sultan reached the age of seventeen and received the reins of power.
Following Sayyid Said’s ascendance to power, Sayyida Moza continued to support him until her death, which is believed to have been in 1832.
- Hamid bin Mohammed bin Riziq, Al Fath Al Mubeen fi Seerat Al Saada Al Busaidieen. Verification: Abdel Moneim and Dr. Mohammed Morsi Abdullah, Ministry of National Heritage and Culture, Sultanate of Oman
- Salama bint Said bin Sultan, Memoirs of an Arab Princess (translated by Salma Saleh). Al Kamel Publications, Cologne, 2002
- Sulaiman bin Jabir bin Ali Al Rashidi, Moza bint Imam Ahmed bin Said Al Busaidi, the leading woman in Oman (1832-1749). Al Nahdah Printing Press, 2013
- Abdullah Al Harazi, Oman in the American Press in the Nineteenth Century. Nizwa Magazine, Volume 48
- Abdullah bin Saleh Al Farsi, The Al Busaidi Rulers of Zanzibar (translated by Muhammad Amin Abdullah). Ministry of National Heritage and Culture, Sultanate of Oman, 1982
- Mustafa Abdulqader Al Najjar, Bright Pages from the History of Oman. Beirut Library, 2011
- Imad Al Bahrani: writer and researcher in Omani history.
*Image taken from Internet (Google)