Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ash'ath
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‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ash‘ath, commonly simply known as Ibn al-Ash‘ath, was a distinguished Arab nobleman and general under the early Umayyad Caliphate, most notable for leading a failed rebellion against the Umayyad viceroy of the East, al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, in 699–702 or 700–703.
The scion of a distinguished family of the Kindaite tribal nobility, he played a minor role in the Second Islamic Civil War (680–692) and then served as governor of Rayy. After the appointment of al-Hajjaj as governor of Iraq and the entire eastern Caliphate in 694, relations between the haughty and overbearing al-Hajjaj and the Iraqi nobility quickly became strained. Nevertheless, in 699 or 700, al-Hajjaj appointed Ibn al-Ash'ath as commander of a huge Iraqi army, the so-called "Peacock Army", to subdue the troublesome principality of Zabulistan, whose ruler, the Zunbil, vigorously resisted Arab expansion. During the campaign, the army rebelled, and under Ibn al-Ash'ath's leadership returned to Iraq, where it defeated al-Hajjaj, who fled to Basra, and seized Kufa.
The revolt gained widespread support among religious scholars known as kurra ("Quran readers"), and developed from a mutiny to a widespread anti-Umayyad rebellion. Caliph Abd al-Malik tried to negotiate terms, including the dismissal of al-Hajjaj, but hardliners among the rebel leadership pressured Ibn al-Ash'ath into rejecting the Caliph's terms. In the subsequent Battle of Dayr al-Jamajim, the rebel army was decisively defeated by al-Hajjaj's Syrian troops. Al-Hajjaj pursued the survivors, who under Ibn al-Ash'ath fled to the East. Most of the rebels were captured by the governor of Khurasan, while Ibn al-Ash'ath himself fled to Zabulistan. His fate is unclear, as some accounts hold that, after long pressure from al-Hajjaj to surrender him, the Zunbil executed him, while others claim that he committed suicide to avoid being handed over to his enemies.
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