Abū-Tāhir Al-Jannābī  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Abū-Tāhir Sulaymān Al-Jannābī (906-944) was the ruler of the Qarmatian state in Bahrain and Eastern Arabia, who in 930 led the sacking of Mecca. He rejected and ridiculed belief in Mohammed and Islam in saying: In this world, three individuals have corrupted mankind: a shepherd, a physician and a camel-driver. And this camel-driver was the worst pickpocket, the worst prestidigitator of the three. These ideas were transmitted to Emperor Frederick II by Averroes. All three are suspected to have written The Treatise of the Three Impostors.

The son of ‘Abu Sa’id al-Jannabi, the founder of the Qarmatian state, Abu Tahir became leader of the state in 923. He immediately began an expansionist phase raiding Basra that year, followed by Kufa in 927, defeating an Abbasid army in the process, and then threatening Baghdad in 928 before pillaging much of Iraq when he could not gain entry to the city.

In 930, he led the Qarmatians’ most notorious attack when he pillaged Mecca and desecrated Islam’s most sacred sites. Unable to gain entry to the city initially, Abu Tahir called upon the right of all Muslims to enter the city and gave his oath that he came in peace. Once inside the city walls the Qarmatian army set about massacring the pilgrims, taunting them with verses of the Koran as they did so. The bodies of the pilgrims were left to rot in the streets or thrown down the Well of Zamzam. The Kaaba was looted, with Abu Tahir taking personal possession of the Black Stone and bringing it back to Al-Hasa.

The attack on Mecca symbolized the Qarmatians’ break with the Islamic world – it was believed to have been aimed to prompt the appearance of the Mahdi who would bring about the final cycle of the world and end the era of Islam.

Abu Tahir thought that he had identified the Mahdi as a young Persian prisoner by the name of Abu'1-Fadl al- Isfahani, from Isfahan who claimed to be the descendant of the Persian kings, brought back to Bahrain from the Qarmatians' raid into Iraq in 928. In 931, Abu Tahir turned over the state to the Mahdi-Caliph who instituted the worship of fire and the burning of religious books during an eighty day rule, which culminated in the Mahdi ordering the execution of members of Bahrain’s notable families including those of Abu Tahir’s family. Fearing for his own life, Abu Tahir announced that he had been wrong and denounced the Madhi as ‘false’. Begging forgiveness from the other notables, Abu Tahir had the Mahdi executed.

Abu Tahir resumed the reigns of the Qarmatian state and again began attacks on pilgrims crossing Arabia. Attempts by the Abbasids and Fatamids to persuade him to return the Black Stone were rejected.

He died of smallpox in 944 and was succeeded by his three surviving brothers.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Abū-Tāhir Al-Jannābī" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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