𝗖𝗢𝗟𝗢𝗡𝗜𝗦𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗞𝗔𝗔𝗕𝗔
Did you know that there was a time when the Colonial campaigns went as far as seeking to take over the Hijaz and eventually even Makkah and Madinah (where it was said that they would exhume the body of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ)?
Had they succeeded, the culture, language and administration in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may have been very different today.
The Portuguese had tremendous drive and ambition to monopolise maritime routes stretching between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, which would enable them to control the flow of spices and resources from the Orient into Europe.
In 1515, Portuguese commander Afonso de Albuquerque (the first Duke of Goa and Portugal's representative in India) initiated the campaign by blocking access to India via the Red Sea, which jeopardized the economy of Egypt and surrounding areas. When confronted by the Mamluk leadership, Afonso infamously threatened to destroy the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina as well as stealing the body of the Prophet Muhammad.
By 1517, Jeddah was being bombarded during the Hajj season, making it difficult for pilgrims to reach the holy city of Makkah. The Portuguese were relentless in their campaign and in the pursuit to monopolise the lucrative trade route along the Yemeni–Hejazi shores which were vital for the transportation of spices from India via Egypt, thus gaining complete control of the commodity market of Europe.
Sultan Selim I and the Mamluks (despite the bitter Ottoman-Mamluk wars not long before this) as well as local Arab tribes (who pledged allegiance to Sultan Selim I) were thus united in an effort to repel the Portuguese threat, ensuring that they never landed in Jeddah and could not advance towards any part of the Hijaz.
Following this battle, Selim became the first Ottoman Caliph and Jeddah was annexed by the Ottomans.Had Sultan Selim, the Mamluks and the Adal Sultanates not intervened in time, the Hijaz would have been a colony of the Portuguese empire and the Portuguese language may have become be the official language in Makkah and Madinah.