Mukanna Revolt in Central Asia!
The most powerful revolt in Central Asia was led by Mukanna. His real name was Hashim, but claiming to be a prophet, he began to keep his face covered with a green veil.
He let it be known that his face was kept covered thus so that the dazzling light that beamed from his countenance might not blind people.
At first he was a follower of Abu Muslim and latter, when Abu Jabbar joined the – rebellion, he became his companion.
He declared that just as Abraham, Moses, Christ and Abu Muslim, were incarnations of God so also was he. His nickname “All Mukanna” was derived from the veil he always wore. He won his first successes in Subahgaon, but his influence spread later to Nasaph and the ruler of Bokhara Buniyat went over to him.
In Sogdhia also, his followers unfurled the banner of revolt. In the Province of Bokhara centre of his activities was at Narsakh, the birthplace of the famous Arab historian Narsakhi. Mukanna was aided by the Turks. Ultimately, when the Caliph sent a large army against him, Mukanna took; refuge in a mountain fortress, but finding the situation hopeless, swallowed poison and afterwards his head was severed and sent to the Caliph.
Musaiyan was appointed Governor after the failure of his predecessor, Moaz against the rebels and he was completely successful in crushing the rebellion of Mukanna. At this time a large number of Mazdakis were to be found in the villages of Antarved, and they often passed themselves off as Shiyas or Muslims of other Sects, but were in reality followers of Mazdak, who advocated the abolition of individual property and marriage.
The descendents of Nasr had by now gone over to the side of the Abbasis. One of them, Rafi, actually helped in putting down the revolt of Mukanna. Later, however, when certain accusations were levelled against him, he tried to save himself by becoming a rebel and driving the Abbasis out of Samarkand.
He sent the ruler of Taskent a Turkish army to the aid of Nasaph. The people of Fargana, Khojend, Ausrushana, Bokhara and Khuttal also sided with Rafi and his northern neighbours, the Takuz Aguz, the Karloks and the Tibetans of the Terim valley also gave him military aid.
When the Northern Turks deserted Rafi and the Abbasi armies began to threaten him from all sides, he decided to surrender to the Caliph Mansur. The Caliph spared his life and after about fifteen years, the Mukanna revolt was suppressed.
After the failure of Musaiyan, Fazal Tusi, son of Sulaiman was appointed Governor of Sistan and Khurasan. The following year the Caliph Mehdi died.
The reign of the fourth Caliph Hadi, was also marked by serious disturbances and rebellions. He was succeeded by Harun Rashid who with his son Mamun have become world-famous figures. As his chief Minister, Harun chose Yahiya Barmak, the son of Khalid, who became the most powerful of the Abbasi ministers, and who until 802, was in full control of the kingdom. He first appointed Jafar Ashasi Governor of Khurasan for one year. Jafar was replaced by his son Abbas Ashasi, but Abbas fared no better against Rafi.
Jafar’s brother was sent next, only to be replaced at the end of a year. Hamza Khujai was then appointed Governor and it was during his administration that a large-scale revolt of the Shiyas took place. The Chief Minister now decided to send his own son Fazal, as Governor of Khurasan. Fazal built many mosques and post offices and declared a crusade against Antarved. He succeded in repelling the attacks of the ruler of Ausrushana against the Abbasi armies, but complete success was still beyond his grasp. Mansur Himyari was appointed Governor in his place, but he could not put down the rebellion either.
In disgust, the Prime Minister sent his second son, Jafar, but he too could not continue for more than two years. Then the Caliph Harun placed his young son, Mamun, as Satrap over the whole of his Eastern Empire. Ali was the next Governor, but he treated his subjects with such cruelty that at last Harun himself marched to the area at the head of a large army in order to see things for himself.
Ali received the Caliph with a heap of presents, which so pleased him that he immediately returned to Baghdad. This gave Rafi the opportunity he was awaiting. He seized Samarkand and with the help of the Sogdhians and the Turks, he drove the armies of Ali away from Antarved.
The Caliph then sent his commander, Harsma, and when he proved a failure, he himself took the field. On reaching Kirmanshah he sent his son Mansur to Merv, while Harsana attacked Rafi from his headquarters in Bokhara. Within a short time the whole of Antarved came under his control. Harun, meanwhile fell ill and was, therefore, advancing towards Khurasan at a very slow pace. On reaching Tus he died and was buried there.
After the death of Harun a contest for the Caliphate ensued between his two sons, Amin and Mamun. Amin was in control of the Capital, while Mamun held Khurasan and Central Asia. Amin had already ordered the army to return while his father was still alive. Mamun, therefore, destroyed all postal connections and declared himself Caliph of the Eastern part of the Empire from Hamdan to Tibet. In the end, a battle was fought out between the armies of the two brothers, in which Mamun was victorious, and while trying to escape Amin was killed by an Iranian soldier.
In 813, Mamun lamented to his minister, Fazal, that he was being forced to go in for a battle at a very critical moment, when the Karluk Yuvgu had not yet submitted to Arab suzerainty, the Tibetan Khakan rose in revolt, the King of Kabul was preparing to attack Khurasan and the ruler of Utrar was refusing to pay taxes, Fazal advised Mamun: “Write to the Yuvgu and the Tibetan Khakan promising them military aid in case of war with their neighbours, send presents to the King of Kabul and ask him to keep peace and exempt the ruler of Utrar from paying taxes for a year”. Mamun followed his advice and it proved effective.
Mamuns Caliphate lasted from 813-833. By 813, he made his Caliphate secure, but out of fear of the Arabs, and in accordance with the advice of his minister, he decided to make Merv his capital. This annoyed the people of the western provinces, especially because his trusted commander, Tahir, the Iranian, was sent as ruler of Baghdad.
It was with the help of the Iranians that he gained the Caliphate, and it was with their backing that he made Merv his capital. It was, therefore, natural that their influence should be paramount in his court. Tahir was not very successful in Baghdad, because it was dominated by the Arabs who did not like the Iranians at all.
Tahir tried to get his way by deceit and cunning and for a while he succeeded in establishing the control of the Caliph Mamun over the whole of Iran. But the discontent that was smoldering amongst the Arabs owing to the shifting of the capital from Baghdad, soon flared up into open revolt. The presence of the Iranian minister, Fazal, added fuel to the flame, the more so since Mamun influenced by his ministers distributed all the prize offices amongst Iranians.
In 817, Nuh Samani and his brothers were made rulers of Fargana, Shash, Perak, Ausrushana and Hirat. But by 870, Mamun began to realise the consequences of the suicidal policy of Fazal and shifted his capital from Merv to Baghdad. Shortly after Fazal was assassinated at the bidding of Mamun. He then deposed Tahir and packed him off to the Eastern provinces.
A eunuch accompanied Tahir with instructions to poison him at the first sign of Mukanna revolt. When Tahir learnt of this he sent words to all the Imams in the regions administered by him to omit the name of the Caliph from their discourses, but in the following morning he was found dead in his bed. The followers of Tahir continued their hold on Neshpor, however, making it their capital. More will be said of them later.