The Revolution Which Toppled the Umayyads: Neither Arab nor Abbasid

The Revolution Which Toppled the Umayyads: Neither Arab nor Abbasid

The Revolution Which Toppled the Umayyads: Neither Arab nor Abbasid

The Revolution Which Toppled the Umayyads: Neither Arab nor Abbasid


This book re-examines the so-called bb sid revolution, the ethnic character of whose effective constituency has been contested for over eight decades. It also brings to question the authenticity of the bb sid dynastic claim. To establish its two theses (neither Arab nor bb sid) this book employs, in its three parts, three distinct methodological approaches. To reconstruct the secret history of the clandestine Organization, Part One elicits a narrative through a rigorous application of the historical-critical method. Part Two subjects to close textual analysis some prime-grade literary specimen. In Part Three, a purely quantitative approach is adopted to study the demographic character of the formal structures of leadership within the Organization. History, historiography, heresiography, literature, the narrative, the textual analysis, and the quantitative approach, cannot be less inseparable.


The time frame for this study is the last three decades of the Umayyad caliphate, ca. 100-132/718-750. Its geographical setting is Kūfah and Khurāsān. The historical occurrence it attempts to understand is the fall of the Umayyad caliphate—or 'The Arab Kingdom', as Julius Wellhausen aptly termed it. Its immediate subject is the clandestine Organization, usually referred to as the Hāshimiyyah, which initiated and coordinated the effort that culminated in this historical occurrence—the Revolution. The key question is the identity of the agents and forces that ushered in such a dramatic change at the end of the period. This is a complex question that involves three issues: (1) the identity of the branch of the Prophet's family in whose name the agents of the Organization had conducted their propaganda; and that of the branch in whose name the forces of the Revolution, three decades later, brought down the Umayyad Caliphate; (2) the identity of the agents of the Organization; and (3) the identity of the forces of the Revolution. The first issue is called the Abbāsid connection; the last two are preponderately demographic.

II. The Abbāsid Connection and Its Impact on the Primary Arabic Sources—The
Abbāsid Riwāyah

II. 1 The Abbāsid Riwāyah

The Organization conducted its activity under the slogan al-da'wah ilā alriā min Āl Muammad, a slogan that can be paraphrased as: a call for the choice of a leader from the family of the Prophet with whom Muslims would find satisfaction, the term, al-riā, meaning one who is acceptable, one who gives satisfaction. The efforts of the Organization had as an end-result the installation of a caliph from the Abbāsid line of the Prophet's clan. Then came the claim that the Organization had actually been, all along, conducting its activities on behalf of a known Imām from this line, and that al-Ridā was, in effect, his code name. Thereafter, the entire three-decade-long struggle came to be universally known as al-

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