Muharraq (Arabic: المحرق; lit. "Place of ashes") is Bahrain's third largest city and served as its capital until 1923 when it was replaced by Manama.
The city is located on Muharraq Island and has long been a centre of religiosity. Bahrain International Airport is also located on the island. Adjacent to Muharraq are the man-made Amwaj Islands, known for their large buildings, hotels and beaches. Muharraq is home to Muharraq Club, which is Bahrain's most successful football club. The city is also known for its souq (traditional market) and as a home of traditional arts and music; Ali Bahar, a popular and successful Bahraini singer is from Muharraq.
Muharraq's origins are ancient, going back to the time of Dilmun some 5,000 years ago, but it came to prominence in the historical records during the era of Tylos when Bahrain came under domination of the Selucid Greeks, and Muharraq was the centre of a pagan cult dedicated to the shark god, Awal. The city's inhabitants, who depended upon seafaring and trade for their livelihood, worshipped Awal in the form of a large statue of a shark located in the city.
By the 5th century AD, Muharraq had become a major centre of Nestorian Christianity, which had come to dominate the southern shores of the Persian Gulf. As a sect, the Nestorians were often persecuted as heretics by the Byzantine Empire, but Bahrain was outside the Empire's control offering safety. The names of several of Muharraq's villages today reflect this Christian legacy, with Al-Dair meaning 'the monastery' and Qalali meaning a 'monk's cloisters'.
Gulf Air has its headquarters in Muharraq, and Bahrain Air has its headquarters in the Mohamed Centre in Muharraq.
The Ministry of Education operates government schools. Boys schools include Abu Farias Al-Hamdani Primary Boys School, Al-Maari Primary Boys School, Hassan bin Thabit Primary Boys School, Omer bin Abdulazeez Primary Boys School, Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa al-Khalifa Primary Boys School, Omer bin Al-Kattab Primary Intermediate Boys School, Abdul-Rahman Al-Nasser Intermediate Boys School, Tariq bin Zeyad Intermediate Boys School, and Moharraq Secondary Boys School. Girls schools include A'amena bint Wahab Primary Girls School, Al-Muharraq Primary Girls School, Mariam bent Omran Primary Girls School, Zubaida Primary Girls School, Istiklal, Khadija al-Kubra Intermediate Girls School, Zanoobia Intermediate Girls School, and Muharraq Secondary Girls School.
Firjan is the plural of the Arabic word Fareej which translates to district. The oldest and largest Fareej in Muharraq is Fareej Al Bin Ali. It was established by Sunni Arabs belonging to the Al Bin Ali tribe in the 17th century and until recently, members of the tribe still lived in that Fareej.
Today, Fareej Al Bin Ali is flooded with Shia (both Ajam and Baharna), however the two communities often clashed so they divided the Fareej into two Firjan: Fareej Karimi (Ajam) and Fareej Shihab (Baharna).
Other Firjan in Muharraq include: Al Bu Khmais, Al-Gumra, Al-Zayayina, Al-Ma'awida, Bin Ghatim, Al-Jowder, Bin Hindi, Al-'Amamira, Al-Mahmeed, Al-Hayaj (or Al-Hayayeej), Al-Sanqal, Al-Dosa, Al-Sagha, Sheikh Abdullah Sheikh Hamad, and Bin Khatir.
All but Fareej Al-Hayaj are Sunni districts.