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Khurramism: The story of a medieval religious movement

By Adam Ali

A look at the beliefs and religious practices of the Khurramiyya, and what happened when they came into contact with Zoroastrianism and Islam.

Abu Muslim’s murder in 754 set off a series of revolts in the eastern parts of the Muslim world by his followers and other groups. These revolts took on a socio-religious coloring and the sources tend to refer to the rebels collectively as the Khurramiyya. The term “Khurramism” refers to a set of religious traditions, beliefs, and practices, and the term “Khurramiyya” (or Khurramis) to those who practiced them. Although the various groups of Khurramiyya inhabiting Khurasan, Iran, the Caspian region, and Central Asia shared certain ideas and beliefs, they did not belong to a single religion and, although they had many similarities, did not always share the same beliefs and ideas. Khurramism was not an organized, centralized, or hierarchical doctrinal religion like Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It lacked a set of doctrines or a centralized temple or a hierarchical priesthood. Instead, Khurramism was practiced locally in much of the Iranian world and often varied from locale to locale.

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Most of the sources portray the Khurramiyya in a negative light. Due to some of their religious beliefs and cultural practices, most sources report on them in scandalized tones, making this a difficult historical topic to navigate. The Khurramiyya and Khurramism are mentioned and discussed by several modern scholars. However, in most cases they are either mentioned in passing or discussed in a superficial manner. The only monograph that addresses this topic in detail is Patricia Crone’s The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism. This is the only piece of modern scholarship that explores the Khurramiyya in detail and attempts to critically analyze the sources and draw comparisons between them and other groups. Crone draws on a wide range of sources including those produced by Muslims, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, and Christians among others. These sources appear in a wide array of languages including Arabic, Middle Persian, Avestan, Syriac, Armenian, and Greek.

Khurramism appears to have been practiced in the rural and mountainous regions of Iran, Iraq, Central Asia, and parts of Anatolia and Syria. Crone states that many (if not most) rural Iranians practiced a form of Khurramism rather than Persian Zoroastrianism. Khurramism does share some elements with Zoroastrianism but differs from the “orthodox” Zoroastrianism that was practiced by the rulers, the nobility, the priesthood, and the elites dwelling in the urban centers of the Sasanian empire before the Islamic conquest. In fact, the sources indicate that Zoroastrians, especially the kings and the priesthood, viewed Khurramism with distaste and even labelled its adherents as heretics (when they posed a threat to the status quo during the fifth and sixth centuries). The Khurramiyya make two big appearances in history when they rebelled first against the Sasanians under the leadership of a “heretical” Zoroastrian priest, Mazdak, during the late fifth and early sixth centuries and against the Abbasids after Abu Muslim’s murder during the eighth and early ninth centuries. Otherwise, they seem to have been peaceful people, even pacifists. Their peaceful nature and tolerance towards others is evident even in the hostile sources, some of which openly state that they were peaceful, tolerant of other religions, clean, and respectful to other human beings, nature, and animals.

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Bas-relief of Farvahar at Persepolis – Photo by Franco Pecchio / Wikimedia Commons

“Khurramiyya” is the “umbrella term” used to label many groups that followed sets of local beliefs and traditions, many of which overlapped. However, the sources mention other designations such as Khurdanaye and Khurramdin/Khurramdiniyya. Some of the Khurramiyya groups were also designated by their leaders’ names or other labels. Abu Muslim’s followers, for example, were called the Muslimiyya, those who followed Abu Hashim (Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya’s son) were the Hashimiyya, and the adherents of the missionary Khidash were known as the Khidashiyya. Some of them were called the al-mubayyida (white-clothed ones) and al-muhammira (red-clothed ones) based on the colors they wore. Crone suggests that color-coding was associated with apocalyptic expectations and may have spread westward from China. The Hashimiyya who formed an important element of the revolutionary armies that toppled the Umayyads and raised the Abbasids to the throne were called al-musawwida (the black-clothed ones). Those Khurramiyya who had become disillusioned with the Abbasids and felt that they had been betrayed rejected the Abbasids, their color, and their version of Islam. They adopted different colors and their own version of Islam (deemed heretical by both mainstream proto-Sunnis and proto-Shias), which they believed to be the true or pure uncorrupted version of the religion – more on this below.

So, what was Khurramism and what did the Khurramiyya believe? This is a difficult question to answer. Put simply, Crone states that Khurramism is “clearly not Persian Zoroastrianism” and she also says that “if we strip Khurramism of its Islamic elements what we are left with clearly is not Persian Zoroastrianism…What it is likely to be is local forms of the Avestan tradition as it had developed in interaction with earlier religions of that region.” Crone argues that Khurramism was in fact a non-Persian form (or forms) of Zoroastrianism i.e. a version or versions of the religion practice by the non-Persian Iranian groups or the greater Iranian world and others. It flourished in Media, Khurasan, Sogdia, and Bactria. Whereas “official” Persian Zoroastrianism was primarily practiced in the southwestern parts of the Iranian world.

Beliefs and Practices

As mentioned earlier, the Khurramiyya did not adhere to a single set of beliefs and doctrines. They did not have a religious hierarchy or a centralized religion with a priesthood. Their practices and beliefs varied from place to place. Despite this, there were several similarities between the various regions due to ideas moving along the trade routes of Khurasan and Central Asia. Khurramism seems to have been syncretic and drew on the practices and beliefs of several other religions merging them into one. The earliest versions in the pre-Islamic era seem to have blended Avestan ideas with older local beliefs as well as pre-monotheistic Mesopotamian religious traditions and later on they drew on Biblical ideas as well. By the eighth century, Khurramism had become influenced by several belief systems, religions, and traditions. However, the Zoroastrian elements within the various Khurramiyya groups still come across very strongly. There were also Manichaean, Buddhist, and Hindu influences on Khurramism. Crone also mentions ideas and beliefs that parallel those found in Gnosticism, Platonism, various forms of Mysticism (Jewish, Christian, and Islamic), and Islam. When the Khurramiyya converted to Islam, they usually converted to extreme versions of Shiism that most closely resembled their own beliefs, which they also brought with them and infused into their new religion.

The Khurramiyya claimed to be monotheists. However, we know little about their God. They did not envision God as others, such as the Muslims or Christians, did. Most Khurramis were dualists and associated God with light and evil with darkness. To many of the Khurramiyya, God was the great light or the supreme light and the source of all light. All souls/spirits came from this light and when people died, they would return to it. Crone notes that in Khurramism, light God was everywhere, but God as supreme light “was far removed from the world and beyond human experience.” As such, the Khurramiyya focused their devotion and worship on the manifestation of God in the form of celestial beings and divine humans. They also believed that God, as the supreme light, did not need worship and they generally saw ritual worship as being optional. The majority of the Khurramiyya, including those who had converted to extremist versions of Alid/Shia Islam (known as ghuluww), believed in the idea of “hulul” or divine indwelling. This occurred when God manifested himself in human form or when God’s spirit entered a human in order to be seen and to interact with humans, otherwise he, as the supreme light, was beyond human experience. Many believed in the transmigration of the divine spirit and that all the prophets were divine including Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus,  and Muhammad. They also believed that the divine spirit passed to the imamas, beginning with Ali, and to Abu Muslim and their other leaders and deified them too.

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Messianic figures played a big role in the Khurramiyya belief system. There was a hope that a savior would come to restore justice, equity, and the true religion to the world. This messianic figure varied and was sometimes an imam from among the descendants of Ali (usually the Mahdi), the Buddhist Maitreya, Abu Muslim, Mazdak, or one of their deceased leaders (often the Khurramiyya did not believe their leaders were truly dead but rather that they had gone into occultation or had ascended to heaven and would return). The Zoroastrians also had their Messianic figure in the form of the Sayoshant (Sosyans), who was a direct descendant of Zoroaster.

17th century map of Iran by Justus Danckerts – Wikimedia Commons

Some of the Khurramiyya believed in reincarnation and that the world and time existed in cycles. Some even claimed that they recognized one another from previous lives and to have played important roles in spiritually privileged positions, such as being the occupants of Noah’s ark during the great flood or the followers, disciples, and companions of various prophets such as Jesus and Muhammad. Others believed in a never-ending cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation. Most of the Khurramiyya did not believe in heaven, hell, or a final judgement. Some thought they would eventually reunite with God or transcend to a level of enlightenment and transform into eternal angelic beings of light. As a result of these beliefs, they focused on cultivating spirituality to gain enlightenment, rather than practicing ritual worship. Pantheism and panpsychism also feature strongly in Khurramism. The idea that everything contained some part of God or divinity, or in other words, that God was everything, and that everything had a soul was central to most Khurarmiyya. To the Khurramis the ideas in some of the other monotheistic religions that stripped the world of divinity and soul was unacceptable. Monotheism of the biblical type, to these people was reductionist, draining the world of light and spirit. It isolated the divine and separated it from all existence. The monotheist God seemed, to the Khurramiyya, like a didactic deity constantly communicating with his worshippers through writing (i.e. the holy books) through which he issued restrictions upon them, very much like the rulers and their administrators (such as the Sasanian and Byzantine emperors and the Muslim caliphs) in the imperial and provincial capitals.

The Khurramiyya, many of whom inhabited the mountainous regions of the empire, and the far-flung rural hills and valleys were geographically isolated from their rulers and their representatives. When they eventually converted to Islam, they adopted extremist forms of it that conformed to their own beliefs. They also nativized their new religion by incorporating their own beliefs, traditions, and ideologies into it, and in the process attempted to insulate themselves from the encroachment of the imperial powers and their orthodoxy in their mountains and through their modified and nativized religions and beliefs.

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Many of the Khuramiyya saw nothing wrong in fulfilling their worldly desires and taking pleasure in all good things that life had to offer as they proceeded toward their final destination of eternal angelic existence. The Khurramiyya found no fault in enjoying natural pleasures so long as there was no harm done to others. “It was apparently this positive view of the good things in life that earned them the name Khurramdin, adherent pf the joyous religion” (Crone, 253). This included pleasurable things that other religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism may have viewed as being wrong and sinful. It may be that one group among the Khurramiyya used the term “Khurramdin” to designate themselves and when the Muslim came into contact with them, they used it generally as a term for those who adhered to the various religions and cults of this type.

The Khurramiyya were generally non-violent and preached non-violence against both humans and animals. Many of them were also vegetarians. During the Sasanian period, King Kavadh (r. 488-496 and 499-531) temporarily converted to Khurramism. During his “heretical” phase, he forbade bloodshed and treated both his enemies and subjects leniently. This earned him a reputation of being weak among the Zoroastrians who formed the political, military, and religious elite of the empire. He was deposed by the Zoroastrian nobility and the priesthood in 496. He returned to power in 499, a staunch Zoroastrian, and made up for his “weakness” by persecuting the Khurramiyya and their leader, Mazdak. He was joined in this persecution by his son and heir, the famous Khusrow Anushirvan.

The Khurramiyya believed that violence was only justified during times of revolt when they were fighting against an unjust and oppressive ruler. During these times all restrictions on violence were lifted. Some of these revolts (as we will see in future articles) were very violent and as such, some of the Khurramiyya justified killing their opponents (including non-combatants, women, and children) by arguing that they were releasing their souls from their bodies and cutting short their “sinful” lives and saving them from sinning further. They also argued that they were helping by cutting these sinful lives short by insuring a “better reincarnation” than these opponents could have achieved if they had lived longer. Most of the sources record these episodes of rebellion and therefore present the Khurramiyya as violent people.

The practice of violence against animals varied from locale to locale. Some Khurramiyya were strictly vegetarian and even forbade the killing of “noxious” animals such as worms, snakes, and beetles (Zoroastrianism teaches that the killing of such noxious creatures is part of the battle against the forces of darkness). There are reports from the eleventh century of women in the villages of Northern Iran near Jurjan (Gorgan) who watched the ground as they walked to avoid stepping on worms and other insects. Other Khurramiyya consumed the flesh of animals after they had died naturally or if the animals were slaughtered by others and presented to them.

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Plate Depicting a Female Figure Riding a Fantastic Winged Beast – made in Iran, probably 8th century – image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Most of the sources take an accusatory tone towards the Khurramiyya due to their antinomianism – the rejection of laws and legalism. They disregarded Islamic laws and the prohibitions commonly present in all monotheistic religions. One way they justified their actions was through interpreting the verses of the Quran or the holy texts of Zoroastrianism in their own way. The argued that those who knew the imam (which in the their case meant the holy man/god man/human manifestation of the divine) of their era were not bound by these laws. Those among them who converted to Islam did accept the Quran as the most authoritative text after converting but treated it as the Christians treated the law of Moses; “they revered it while at the same time interpreted it away,” Crone notes. In fact, they believed that they were the true believers and that they transcended these laws. According to them, those who were compelled to follow the prohibitions laid out by religious law were, as Crone explains, “being punished for their ignorance.”

Some Khurramiyya practiced what Crone terms ‘transgressive sacrality.’ In Tantric Buddhism, transgressive sacrality played an important role in achieving enlightenment at a much quicker pace than one would through ascetic practices, meditation, and prayer. Sexual intercourse was one way of doing this. Often the participants in tantric sexual rituals took on the roles of gods and goddesses and through these acts achieved the desired enlightenment. In other instances, the fluids produced during such rituals were required to gain the favor of the goddesses and compel them to share their powers and knowledge. A group of Khurramiyya known as the Rawandiyya practiced such rituals to gain angelic status or in other words the enlightenment the Tantric Buddhist or Hindu sought. Some of those who achieved enlightenment carried out rituals in which repulsive acts were committed to demonstrate, as Crone notes, a “total indifference to worldly conventions.”

Some Khurramis are said to have shared everything, earning them the title of “proto-communists” among some scholars. This designation is not very accurate, as the Khurramiyya’s sharing was due to the fact that many of these people lived in inhospitable environments and the sharing and pooling of resources was sometimes necessary for the wellbeing and survival of the entire community. Mazdak was the heretical Zoroastrian priest who attempted to supplant Zoroastrianism with Khurramism at the Sasanian royal court. He argued that human strife and conflict was the result of desire and want. He preached that sharing all wealth and property would eliminate conflict. Of course, this included the sharing of women (I will return to this point below). According to Mazdak, this sharing would create social harmony. As mentioned above, such sharing was especially important in remote villages where resources and material goods were scarce.

One of the most common accusations levelled against the Khurramiyya in the sources was their sexual licentiousness and “wife sharing.” There are scandalous reports in the sources about the unbridled and immoral sexual acts of such groups. A common trope used by all the monotheistic religions to denounce their “heretical” opponents has always been to accuse them of sexual misconduct. Whether it is the Templars, women accused of witchcraft in Europe, the Khurramiyya, or any others, sexual deviance was almost always one of the sins of the “heretic.” Crone explains these practices through a geographical, cultural, political, and biological lens. The Khurramiyya are referred to as wife-sharers in almost all the sources that mention them. In fact, many of the societies that followed Khurrami beliefs practiced polyandry. In such societies, brothers sometimes married a single woman. This type of fraternal polyandry was often practiced in areas where cultivation was difficult, and resources were scarce. It allowed the family property to be passed down through the generations intact. There was also a concerted effort to keep the population low in such societies, which resulted in female infanticide. Therefore, women were also often in short supply. Additionally, when several brothers married one woman, it also helped maintain the population at a sustainable level (as opposed to one man marrying several women, which resulted in a higher rate of growth in the population). Non-fraternal polyandry was also practiced. It involved two or more unrelated men sharing a wife because they were too poor to have a wife each, or because there were not enough women in the population. Furthermore, in these areas the male population was often mobile with the men leaving the home for long periods as laborers or soldiers and the land was therefore transmitted through the female line. In such families all the brothers/husbands were considered the fathers of the children that were produced; or they would be affiliated to the eldest brother or assigned to the various brothers by some means.

Polyandry was practiced in a surprisingly large number of both agricultural and pastoralist societies. Outsiders viewed this practice with disgust and branded it as immoral and licentious. Muslims, Hindus, and Christians, all found it repulsive and reported on it negatively. The Chinese, Muslim, and Christian colonial powers went to great lengths to repress it. Greek historians such as Herodotus report that Polyandry was practiced among the Iranian tribes of the Scythians and the Massagetes, who inhabited Central Asia and Ukraine. Chinese sources also report that the Hephthalites or White Huns also “shared” their wives. While a Buddhist pilgrim, Hui-chao, travelling through Tukharistan, Kapisa, Bamiyan, and Zabulistan (in modern-day Afghanistan) during the eighth century, reported that multiple brothers were married to one woman and that they could not marry separately as that would be detrimental to their survival and livelihood.

There are also traditions such as “temporary co-marriage” and “guest prostitution,” which were both practiced for reproductive reasons. These practices have also been reported on scandalously in the sources by the various monotheists who came into contact with the societies that practiced them. Contracts or agreements could be drawn up for a man to temporarily allow another man into his marriage with his wife. This was done especially in those cases when a man was impotent and needed to produce children and heirs. Sometimes such contracts were also drawn up if a woman was widowed without having produced a child with her deceased husband. The husband contracted to impregnate her had no rights to the property of the deceased man and the wife did not become a part of his household. He also had no right to the children produced who were considered a part of the deceased man’s family.

Regarding “guest prostitution,” Crone argues that this terminology is inaccurate as there was no exchange of money for the sexual encounter. It also gives the practice a negative connotation. There was a practical reason for offering female slaves, wives, and daughters to guests, which was to produce healthy offspring. In remote communities, it was a means to avoid the risks of prolonged inbreeding. When travelers passed through isolated regions, the women attempted to sleep with them to produce healthy children. In the modern world, women who do not have husbands, or whose husbands are impotent, could pursue the course of artificial insemination. On the other hand, in pre-modern societies including those of the Khurramiyya the only option, according to Crone, “was to sleep with the inseminator.” The non-violent ideologies of the Khurramiyya and their way of life also imply that most of these sexual unions and marriages were consensual to a certain degree, because the participants in these acts had to, in theory, avoid harming anyone. These sexual encounters may fall short of what we view as consensual in the 21st century but were probably considerably more consensual than those in other contemporary societies and among those who practiced the other monotheistic religions. The sources tend to oversimplify these practices to paint an image of the immoral, licentious “heretics” who had no decency or morality.

Relations with Sasanians and Arabs

The Khurramiyya first appear on the pages of history during the Sasanian period in Late Antiquity. They are referred to as the Mazdakiyya or Mazdakites in the sources because their leader was a Zoroastrian priest called Mazdak. Mazdakism was a Zoroastrian heresy founded by an individual by the name of Zardusht, who lived during the third century. As mentioned earlier, the emperor Kavadh embraced this heresy during the first part of his reign only to renounce it after a brief deposition and a return to power. Several sources and modern scholarship tend to agree that Zaradusht and Mazdak were the founders of this religion, but it seems that they got their ideas for their “heresy” from the Khurramiyya who populated much of the Empire outside of Fars and Iraq and who practiced their own local versions of Zoroastrianism, which did not necessarily agree with Persian Zoroastrianism. In other words, Mazdakism (aka Khurramism) existed long before Mazdak and was practiced by a large proportion of rural Iranians (if not the majority of the population). Mazdak gained a considerable amount of influence with Kavadh, who converted to his religion. He set about implementing his social reforms to end strife by distributing wealth, abolishing the priesthood, and allowing sexual access to women.

The Persian nobility and Zoroastrian priesthood resisted Mazdak’s reforms. The Sasanian Empire had a caste society with a hierarchical nobility and a Zoroastrian priesthood and a state religion of Zoroastrianism. Furthermore, it was a patrilineal society and the royal family’s lineage was especially important as they believed that kings passed their khwarra or the divine grace/glory of kingship to their heirs. Introducing polyandry was unacceptable and the sharing of wealth and power was also very distasteful for the noble and military castes as well as for the Zoroastrian elites. Mazdak’s “revolt” as it has come to be termed, was eventually crushed by the crown prince Khusrow Anushrivan. There are various tales recounting Mazdak’s downfall, many of them fictionalized and depicting various grisly ends for Mazdak and his followers, including one in which Anushirvan buried thousands of them alive or had Mazdak hanged and pierced with many arrows. Whatever the case, what we know is that Khusrow launched a concerted attack against the Mazdakites which ended in their massacre and Persian Zoroastrianism was restored to the Royal court.

Mazdak being executed from a pre-modern manuscript – Wikimedia Commons

The Khurramiyya, who are often erroneously referred to as neo-Mazdakites by some modern scholars (as mentioned earlier Zardusht and Mazdak got their ideas from the rural population of the empire, who did not practice Persian Zoroastrianism), reappear in the historical sources after the Abbasid Revolution. They once again emerge as rebels against an imperial power. Their revolts manifested as religious uprisings because religion was the only form such movements could take to mobilize large numbers of people for political action that transcended the family, neighborhood, village, and clan. The rebellions seem anti-Islamic in nature, but the rebels believed themselves to be the true Muslims with their nativized versions of their new faith. They saw themselves as the restorers and custodians of the faith, while the Abbasids were the traitors and corruptors. Since the Abbasids shed their extremist sectarianism and embraced what would eventually become the Sunni Islamic orthodoxy, the only way the disillusioned followers of Abu Muslim and others who felt betrayed by the new regime could articulate their opposition was to denounce the religion of the Abbasids in favor of what they perceived as the true Islam. These Iranian natives rebelled against their imperial and colonial masters not to secede from them, but rather to reform or even rescue their new faith and the empire. The foremost among their demands was for a leader with Islamic legitimacy, or in the words of Crone they wanted a “true imamate.”

None of these primarily Iranian movements was restorationist. Meaning that none of them sought to dismantle the caliphate or to end Islam or to restore a Sasanian or Zoroastrian empire (even though the sources do level such accusations against them to portray them as the enemies of Islam). This is in stark contrast to revolts against European colonialists where the natives sought to secede or gain independence from their masters. The primary difference between the European colonizers and the Muslim Arab conquerors is that the defeated natives who converted to the conqueror’s religion were admitted and incorporated into the new elite. Even though the Arabs treated these converts as a “second class” within the Muslim community, they were unable to sustain their privileged position. Muslims had made it very easy for non-Arab converts to become full members of the new society. Within a very short period of time, the Islamic world was dominated by a non-Arab elite composed primarily of Iranians and later Turks among others. This process began during the Umayyad period but was accelerated after the Abbasid revolution. Although many of the non-Arab revolutionaries were left disappointed and disillusioned others reaped the benefits of the victory and devoted themselves to the new dynasty.

In essence, the struggles between the rebels and the authorities that ensued after Abu Muslim’s murder were for the most part between Iranian elites who supported the regime and those who opposed it, with a broad mixing of ethnic groups on all sides. This is contrary to the popular belief that this was primarily an ethnic struggle between Arabs and Iranians. On the other hand, it was almost impossible for natives of the European colonies to become a part of the European elite. Conversion to Christianity did not afford the same privileges or opportunities to the évolués in the colonies of Europe around the world, resulting in their desire for independence and to fully secede and break away from their imperial masters.

Some of the Khuramiyya rebels are often portrayed in some modern Iranian circles and among some scholars as Iranian/Persian nationalists trying to overthrow Arab/Muslim rule to restore an independent Persian Empire. Nationalism is a fairly modern ideology in which loyalty to the state supersedes every other loyalty, such as that to clan, religion, or family. It assumes the nation as the most important community being composed of people with a shared language, culture, and history (and sometimes ethnicity/race). The closest thing to “nationalism” in the Iranian world during the seventh and eighth centuries was probably what the former elites of the Sasanian Empire felt. Most of the Iranian populace did not share the sentiments of their former rulers, hence their failure to reconquer their lost empire.

The reaction of many Iranians, namely the Khurramiyya, to the Arab conquests can be described as “nativism.” This reaction, in the case of the populace of the Iranian world that had been conquered, is defined by Crone as a “hostility to hegemonic foreigners in societies that have been subjected to colonial rule.” The most common spark that set off nativist revolts was the loss of land or the encroachment of settlers and colonialists on the territories of the natives. Often these settlers and colonialists were both Arabs and Iranians from other parts of the Greater Iranian world (in addition to others such as Turks). The natives adopted the religion of the conquerors, nativized it, and attempted to resist the encroachment of outsiders. Some of them succeeded by establishing themselves as power brokers (military commanders, administrators, and eventually even rulers of their own polities) within the very heart of the empire that had conquered them. Others, less fortunate, had to fight to carve out or maintain their own domains. It is these Khurramiyya rebels such as Sunbadh, al-Muqanna’, and Babak whose stories will be discussed in detail in future articles.

Adam Ali is a lecturer at the University of Toronto. Click here to read more from Adam.

Further Reading:

Crone, Patricia. The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism. (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Crone, Patricia. From Kavād to al-Ghazālī: Religion, Law and Political Thought in the Near East, c. 600-1100. Variorum reprint of 12 articles, (Ashgate, 2005)

Crone, Patricia. “Kavād’s Heresy and Mazdak’s Revolt,” Iran, xxix, 1991, pp. 21-42 (= From Kavād to al-Ghazālī [Variorum], Aldershot 2005, no. XII).

Crone, Patricia. “Zoroastrian Communism,” Comparative Studies in Society and History xxxvi, 1994, pp. 447-62 (= From Kavād to al-Ghazālī [Variorum], Aldershot 2005, no. II).

Top Image: Photo by Hamid Najafi / Flickr

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