Al-Muqanna

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Hashim (Arabic/Persian: هاشم), better known as al-Muqanna‘ (Arabic: المقنع‎ "The Veiled", died ca. 783[1]), was a Persian man who claimed to be a prophet. He founded a religion which was a mix of Zoroastrianism and Islam. He is viewed as a heretic by mainstream Muslims.

Name and early life[edit]

Before he came known by the hostile nickname of "al-Muqanna", he was called by his birth name, Hashim. Early scholars believed that he was born in Sogdia. However, it is now agreed that his birthplace was in Balkh, a city close to Sogdia.

Biography[edit]

Al-Muqanna‘ was an ethnic Persian from Merv named Hashim ibn Hakim, originally a clothes pleater. He became a commander for Abu Muslim of Khurasan. After Abu Muslim's murder, al-Muqanna‘ claimed to be an incarnation of God, a role, he insisted, passed to him from Abū Muslim, who received it via ‘Alī from the Muhammad. Al-Muqanna‘ was reputed to wear a veil in order to cover up his beauty; however, the Abbasid Caliphate claimed that he wore it to hide his ugliness, being one-eyed and bald. His followers wore white clothes in opposition to Abbasid black. He is reputed to have engaged in magic to impress his followers as a maker of miracles.

Al-Muqanna‘ was instrumental to the formation of the Khurramiyya, a sect that claimed Abū Muslim to be the Mahdi and denied his death. When al-Muqanna‘'s followers started raiding towns and mosques of other Muslims and looting their possessions, the Abbasids sent several commanders to crush the rebellion. Al-Muqanna‘ poisoned himself rather than surrender to the Abbasids, who set fire to his house when he was on the verge of being captured. Al-Muqanna‘ died in a fort near Kesh.[1] After his death, the sect continued to exist until the 12th century, waiting for al-Muqanna‘ to return again.

Cultural references[edit]

The first poem in Lalla-Rookh (1817) by Thomas Moore is titled The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, and the character Mokanna is modeled loosely on al-Muqanna‘.

St. Louis businessmen referenced Moore's poem in 1878 when they created the Veiled Prophet Organization and concocted a legend of Mokanna as its founder.[2] For many years the organization put on an annual fair and parade called the "Veiled Prophet Fair," which was renamed Fair Saint Louis in 1992. The organization also gives a debutante ball each December called the Veiled Prophet Ball.

The Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (founded 1889), often known as "the Grotto", a social group with membership restricted to Master Masons, and its female auxiliary, the Daughters of Mokanna (founded 1919), also take their names from Thomas Moore's poem.[3] [4]

Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges used a fictionalized al-Muqanna‘ as the central character of The Masked Dyer, Hakim of Merv, a 1934 short story, and in another story fifteen years later, The Zahir, as a past avatar of the titular object.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • M. S. Asimov, C. E. Bosworth u.a.: History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Band IV: The Age of Achievement. AD 750 to the End of the Fifteenth Century. Part One: The Historical, Social and Economic Setting. Paris 1998.
  • Patricia Crone: The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran. Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2012. S. 106-143.
  • Frantz Grenet: "Contribution à l'étude de la révolte de Muqanna' (c. 775-780): traces matérielles, traces hérésiographiques" in Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi (ed.): Islam: identité et altérité ; hommage à Guy Monnot. Turnhout: Brepols 2013. S. 247-261.
  • Boris Kochnev: "Les monnaies de Muqanna" in Studia Iranica 30 (2001) 143-50.
  • Wilferd Madelung, Paul Ernest Walker: An Ismaili heresiography. The "Bāb al-shayṭān" from Abū Tammām’s Kitāb al-shajara. Brill, 1998.
  • Svatopluk Soucek: A history of inner Asia. Cambridge University Press, 2000.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd ed. Vol. 7. Page 500.
  2. ^ History, Veiled Prophet Organization, 2009, retrieved 2009-12-15 
  3. ^ The Grotto, MasonicDictionary.com, 2007, retrieved 2009-12-15 
  4. ^ Lalla Rookh Caldron, Daughters of Mokanna, Lalla Rookh Grotto, retrieved 2009-12-15