Abu Muslim Abd al-Rahman ibn Muslim al-Khorasani or al-Khurasani
(Arabic: أبو مسلم عبد الرحمن بن مسلم
الخراساني born 718-19 or 723-27, died in 755), born
Behzādān Pūr-i Vandād Hormoz (Persian: بهزادان پور
ونداد هرمزد), was a Persian general in service of the
Abbasid dynasty, who led the
Abbasid Revolution that toppled the
1 Origin and name
2 Crushing a Shiite rebellion in Bukhara
3 Rise and revolution
7 See also
9 External links
Origin and name
According to the Encyclopedia Iranica, "sources differ regarding his
original name and his origin. Some make him a descendant of Gōdarz
and of the vizier
Bozorgmehr and call him Ebrāhīm; some name him
Behzādān, son of Vendād Hormoz; and others relate him to the
Abbasids or to ʿAlī’s family. These suggestions are all
doubtful". He was possibly of Persian origin and was the mowlā of
an Arab tribe. Other sources refer to him as a Yaminite, a Kurd, an
Arab or even a descendant of the ancient Iranian aristocracy. It is
also said that he was born in Sar-e Pol Province of present-day
Afghanistan to a Tajik family.
Crushing a Shiite rebellion in Bukhara
There was an Arab by the name Sharik ibn Shaikh al-Mahri in Bukhara,
who wanted to spread
Shia Islam firmly and oppose anyone against him.
Soon, he got the support of several local rulers and many local
When this news reached Abu Muslim, he along with Ziyad ibn Salih came
there to find out the details, and soon they got involved in a fight.
Abu Muslim fought Sharik ibn Shaikh al-Mahri and his Shiite supporters
for thirty-seven days with no victory, everyday Abu Muslim's side was
losing soldiers and several taken as prisoners. After that, all of a
sudden Sharik ibn Shaikh al-Mahri died, and his supporters started to
crumble but were still hostile. The rebellion was eventually crushed
and most of the
Shia supporters were hanged. 
Rise and revolution
Abu Muslim observed the revolt in
Kufa in 736 tacitly. With the death
Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik
Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in 743, the Islamic
world was launched into civil war.
Abu Muslim was sent to Khorasan by
Abbasids initially as a propagandist and then to revolt on their
behalf. He took
Merv in December 747 (or January 748), defeating the
Umayyad governor Nasr ibn Sayyar, as well as Shayban al-Khariji, a
Kharijite aspirant to the caliphate. He became the de facto governor
of Khorasan, and gained fame as a general in the late 740s in
defeating the rebellion of Bihafarid, the leader of a syncretic
Persian sect that were Mazdaism.
Abu Muslim received support in
suppressing the rebellion both from purist Muslims and Zoroastrians.
Abu Muslim became leader of the
Abbasid army and defeated the
Umayyads at Battle of the Zab.
Abu Muslim stormed Damascus, the
capital of the
Umayyad caliphate, later that year.
His heroic role in the revolution and military skill, along with his
conciliatory politics toward Shia, Sunnis, Zoroastrians, Jews, and
Christians, made him extremely popular among the people. Although it
appears that Abu al-'Abbas al-Saffah trusted him in general, he was
wary of his power, limiting his entourage to 500 men upon his arrival
Iraq on his way to
Hajj in 754. Abu al-'Abbas's brother, al-Mansur
(r. 754-775), advised al-Saffah on more than one occasion to have Abu
Muslim killed, fearing his rising influence and popularity. It seems
that this dislike was mutual, with
Abu Muslim aspiring to more power
and looking down in disdain on al-Mansur, feeling al-Mansur owed Abu
Muslim for his position. When the new caliph's uncle, Abdullah ibn Ali
Abu Muslim was requested by al-Mansur to crush this
rebellion, which he did, and Abdullah was given to his nephew as a
prisoner. Abdullah was ultimately executed.
Relations deteriorated quickly when al-Mansur sent an agent to
inventorize the spoils of war, and then appointed
Abu Muslim governor
Syria and Egypt, outside his powerbase. After an increasingly
acrimonious correspondence between
Abu Muslim and al-Mansur, Abu
Muslim feared he was going to be killed if he appeared in the presence
of the Caliph. He later changed his mind and decided to appear in his
presence due to a combination of perceived disobedience, al-Mansur's
promise to keep him as governor of Khorasan, and the assurances of
some of his close aides, some of whom were bribed by al-Mansur. He
Iraq to meet al-Mansur in al-Mada'in in 755. Al-Mansur
proceeded to enumerate his grievances against Abu Muslim, who kept
reminding the Caliph of his efforts to enthrone him. Against Abu
Muslim were also charges of being a zindiq or heretic. al-Mansur
then signaled five of his guards behind a portico to kill him. Abu
Muslim's mutilated body was thrown in the river Tigris, and his
commanders were bribed to acquiesce to the murder.
His murder was not well received by the residents of Khorasan, and
there was resentment and rebellion among the population over the
brutal methods used by Al-Mansur. He became a legendary figure for
many in Persia, and several Persian heretics started revolts claiming
he had not died and would return; the latter included his own
propagandist Ishaq al-Turk, the Zoroastrian cleric
Nishapur, the Abu Muslimiyya subsect of the Kaysanites Shia, and
al-Muqanna in Khorasan. Even Babak claimed descent from him[citation
At least three epic romances were written about him:
Marzubānī, Muḥammad ibn ʻImrān, Akhbār shuʻarāʾ
Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan, Abū Ṭāhir Ṭarsūsī, Abū
Abu Muslim al Khorasani
Abu Muslem FC, an Iranian football club is named after him.
Sunpadh or Sinbad the Magus
^ a b Sabatino Moscati: "Abū Muslim", in The Encyclopaedia of Islam.
New Edition, Vol. I., pg. 141.
^ "ABŪ MOSLEM ḴORĀSĀNĪ". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 20
^ Encyclopedia.com "c.728–755, Persian leader of the Abbasid
^ Yūsofī, Ḡ. Ḥ. (1983). "ABŪ MOSLEM ḴORĀSĀNĪ".
Encyclopedia Iranica, Vol. I, Fasc. 4. pp. 341–344.
Abu Muslim Khorasani, Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A
Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Mikaberidze,
(ABC-CLIO, 2011), 23.
^ Florian Illerhaus: "Haschimitische Propaganda. Bedingungen für den
Erfolg der abbasidischen Revolution" (German). Munich, 2011.
^ a b History of
Bukhara by Muhammad ibn Jafr
Narshakhi (1st edition
pages: 83-87), written in 900's under Samanids.
^ a b c Goldschmidt, Arthur (2002), A concise history of the Middle
East, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, pp. 76–77,
Ibn Kathir biography of
Abu Muslim (in Arabic)
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