Thursday, 26 August 2021

Who Are The Qarmatians?



Terrorism is commonly defined as the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. Though the term is modern, it is clear to anyone who has read Islamic history would find numerous terrorist groups throughout Islamic history, as well as in modern times.

For years now the modern 'Sunni' Madhabs have tried their best to distance themselves from terrorist groups that call themselves Sunni, and they have provided numerous proofs, produced numerous polemical works, and even spent large amounts of money on conferences to promote this view. Despite having a house made of glass, the Sunnis have resorted to accusing the Shia of being terrorist supporters and sympathizers, when in reality the Shiites in the Islamic world have usually been the biggest victims of Salafi Jihadi extremism. 

Among the most ridiculous claims from the opponents of the Shia is the claim the Qarmatians were Shia. They were infamous for their sack of Mecca in 930 CE and the desecration of the Black stone and massacre of the pilgrims. 

In this article we shall be refuting this misconception that the Qarmatians were Imami Shia Muslims, as this slander has been used by Sunnis for hundreds of years to try to portray the Shia as advocates of terrorism, as well as showing who the true advocates of terrorism against the holy cities were.


In this article we will be looking to cover:


       Who exactly were the Qaramita?

       The views of Imami and Sunni scholars with regards to their sect.

       The role of the Imami Shia in saving the Islamic world from the Qarmatians and eventually crushed them once and for all.

       How the Sunnis view the perpetrator of terrorist acts against Mecca and Medina and how the modern Wahabis have followed in his footsteps.


Who were the Qarmatians?

The Qarmatians were a deviant heretical sect that terrorized the Islamic world during the late Abbasid period. Their most infamous attack was on the Holy city of Mecca. They also had influence in northeastern Arabia in modern day Qatar, Bahrain, Eastern Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

The Encyclopedia of Islam:

KARMATI, pl. Karamita, name given to the adherents of a branch of the Isma'iliyah [9.v.). Originally it is generally reported to have referred to the followers of Hamdan Karmat (9.v.], an Ismali leader in the sawad of al-Kufa, whose surname Karmat (also Karmațüya) is variously explained in the sources as meaning short-legged or red-eyed. 

It is to be noted, however, that the Imami scholar al-Fadl b. Shadhan of Naysabur, who died in 260/873-4, already wrote a refutation of the Karamita (al-Radd 'ala 'l-Karamita). Thus either the missionary activity of Hamdan must have commenced long before the year 261/874-5 or 264/877-8, which the sources give as the date of its beginning, or his surname was itself derived from the name of the sect. 

The movement directed by Hamdan was, in any case, merely part of the general Ismaili movement of his time whose leadership he recognized. After Hamdan's revolt against the leadership in 286/899 and his subsequent disappearance, the term Ķaramița was generally used for those Ismaʻili groups which joined this revolt and consequently refused to recognize the claims of the Fațimid caliphs to the Imámate. Sometimes it was pejoratively applied also to the Ismailis supporting the Fățimid imämate. The present article, however, will deal only with the history of the former groups and their relationship with the Fațimid Isma'ili movement.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Islam. Vol, 4, IRAN - KHA, Pg. # 661.


The view of Imami scholars regarding the Qarmatians

As we have already shown in the Encyclopedia of Islam, the major Imami scholar Al Fadhl ibn Shadhan wrote a book in refutation to the Qarmatians, (for more details refer to more primary to Al Najashi), one of the major biographers within the Imami school attested to this in his famous biographical dictionary under the biography of Al Fadhl ibn Shadhan.


Al Najashi:

And al Kinji has recorded that he (Al Fadhl ibn Shadhan) wrote 180 books of which the following has reached us: … the book of refuting the Qarmatians

Source: Rijal Al Najashi. Pg. # 306 - 307.

Najashi also records that Muhammad ibn Yaqub Al Kulayni, the author of Al Kafi also wrote a book refuting the Qarmations, and it is unfortunate that this book has not reached us.

And he (Sheikh Kulayni) has works other than the book of Al Kafi such as the book of refuting the Qarmatians…

Source: Rijal Al Najashi. Pg. # 377.

From this statement alone we can conclude that calling the Qarmatians Imamis or Shia is as absurd as calling Ibn Taymiyyah a Shiite; how can these people be Shia when the major Shia scholars wrote books in condemnation of their beliefs?

In fact they likes of Sheikh Al Sadooq, Sheikh Yusuf Bahrani, Sayyid Muhsin Al Amini, and Sheikh Baqir Sharif Al Qureshi and others have written works against the Qarmatians heretics and Shiism is innocent of them and their beliefs.

Sheikh Al Sadooq: 

As for the Qaramiṭa, they have transgressed Islam in all matters, for they have abolished the legal actions and brought all kinds of sophistry [to justify themselves]. And the Imam is required for the [existence of the] Religion, and for the establishment of the legal judgements. Then if the Qaramiṭa come claiming that Jaʿfar b. Muḥammad or the Executor of his will has appointed a man who calls towards the violation of Islam and of the [Divine] Law, or [towards] the deviation from the traditions of the Ummah, we would not need more than their inconsistent, false and weak claims in order to recognize their lies.

Source: Kamal Al Din wa Tamam Al Niʿmah. Vol. 1, Pg. # 105-106.


Al Shaykh Yusuf al-Baḥrani:

The Attacks of the Qaramiṭa in Iraq, Syria and Hijaz: “In the year 258 AH, the initial emergence of the Qaramiṭa in Sawad al-Kufa, and they are Khawarij, heretics and apostates from the Religion.”

Source: Al-Kashkul. Vol. 1, Pg. # 208.


Al Sayyid Muhsin Al Amini:

(And he - an opponent of the Shia - counted on) page 111 the Qarmatians among the Shi’a sects. (and the Shi’ites) absolve themselves from the Qarmatians and from anyone who violates any of the laws of Islam.

Source: A’yan Al Shia. Vol. 1, Pg. # 62.


Baqir Sharif Quraishi:

The Qarmatians appeared on the stage of Islamic life, spreading corruption, murder, looting and destruction, and they permitted what God Almighty has forbidden, and have forbidden what God has permitted, and they are like Communists in their teachings and their disavowal of religion, and they permitted the killing of the Alid Sayyids, for they killed a group of their notables whose names were mentioned by Abu al Faraj al Isfahani.

They were known for nasb and enmity towards Ahlulbayt (a.s).
Abu al Tahir Suleiman bin Al-Hassan Al Janabi, one of their leaders, occupied the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala and he did not stop to visit the holy shrines.

Source: Mawsu’at Al Imam Amir Al Mu'minin Ali Ibn Abi Talib. Vol. 6, Pg. # 133.

It should be noted Abu Tahir is the very individual who led the attack on Mecca and ordered the seizure of the Black Stone, as well as the massacre of the pilgrims.



The view of Sunni scholars regarding the Qarmatians

And should there still be any doubt among our opponents, we shall also present the words of their own scholars, Ibn Taymiyyah and his student Al Dhahabi, who also confirmed that the Qarmatians were not Shia.


Ibn Taymiyyah:

“And they are the Qaramiṭa Baṭiniyyah, who are worse than the Jews, Christians and then the Arab Idolaters, and their aspiration is to become “Philosophers” in the Aristotelian school and similar [doctrines], or then [they want to become] Zoroastrians. And their speech is a combination of that of the Philosophers and of the Zoroastrians, and they falsely show [belief in] Tashayyuʿ. And Allah knows best.”

Source: Majmuʿ Al Fatawa. Vol. 35, Pg. # 162.

Al Dhahabi:

The Qaramiṭa: “They would mislead the Muslims in different ways, and [they would] dissimulate their speech for the ignorant and for the righteous. They associated with the Shiites through what they agreed upon, and they associated with the Sunnis through what they agreed upon [as well]. Thus they misled [all] the sects, giving them the impression that they belonged to them [i.e. to all the sects].”

Source: Tarikh Al Islam. Vol. 20, Pg. # 234. 

From these two accounts we can clearly see that the Qarmatians were not Shia, but would seduce the ignorant and the righteous into joining their cause by appealing to them through their own beliefs; when talking to Shiites they professed Shiism, when talking to Sunnis they professed Sunnism. This is a common strategy employed by political groups in order to gain support.


The Imamis saved the Islamic world from the Qarmatians

Hamdanid Family Tree

The Imami commander Hussain ibn Hamdan was the uncle of the famous Shia Emir Sayf al Dawla al Hamdani and his brother Nasir Al Dawla. In 291 AH he participated in the decisive Battle of Hama, a battle which decided the fate of the Islamic world. In the lead up to the battle the Qarmatians had ravaged Homs, Hama, Baalbek, Ma'arrat al-Numan, and even Salamiya. Had the Qarmatians won at Hama would have conquered Syria, and from there only Allah knows the damage they could have done to the Islamic world. The letter of Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Katib, the commander in chief of the Muslim forces during this battle, is recorded by Tabari in his Tarikh.


The Encyclopedia of Islam:

Or Ibn al Furat may have been involved in a conspiracy designed to further the Shi'i cause to which both he and Husayn were devoted. Ideas on this matter can only be hypothetical. In any case the caliph must have feared that if Hussain were released he would once again start a revolt, either through a desire for independence or as a Shi'i.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Islam. Vol 3, H - Iram, Pg. # 620.

Al Tabari:

When we were in sight of each other, the squadron on their left wing attacked, whipping (their horses), and moved toward Al Hussain b. Hamdan, who was on the flank of the right wing. Al-Hussain May God bless him and give him a good reward!-personally confronted them with all the men who were with him. Using their lances, they broke them in the Qarmatians' breasts, whereupon (the Qarmatians) withdrew from them. When the Qarmatians resumed their attack against them, they took their swords, striking the enemy in their faces. During the first onslaught, six hundred horsemen of the wicked unbelievers fell. Al Hussain's men seized five hundred horses and four hundred silver necklaces. The Qarmatians turned their backs and fled, and Al Hussain pursued them. They counter-attacked incessantly, making onslaught after onslaught. In the course of these engagements, one group of theirs after the other fell, until Almighty God had annihilated them. Less than two hundred of their men escaped.

Source: Tarikh Al Tabari. Vol. 38, Pg. # 137 - 138.(Arabic)


The Imamis ended the Qarmatian state once and for all


We see that the Shia not only helped stop the Qarmatians from taking Syria, but they also were responsible for ending the state of the Qarmatians once and for all. The Qarmatian state was ended in 467 A.H by the Uyunids under their leader Abdullah Ibn Ali Al Uyuni. Modern research as well as archaeological evidence reveals that the Uyunids were Imami Shia, and thus it becomes clear that the Shia were the ones who brought about the downfall of these terrorists.

The Encyclopedia of Islam:

UYUNIDS, a minor dynasty of medieval Arabia, whose capital was al-Katif [q.v.], ruling over al-Aħsa/al-Hasa (9.v.] in eastern Arabia from the 5th-7th/11th-13th centuries. They destroyed the Karamița [q.v.] there in 467/1076, though little is known of their history. They are reputed to be of Al Ibrahim of Murra [9.v.), a kabila of 'Abd al-Kays (q.v.]. Their influence rapidly declined in the 7th/13th century, when about the middle of the century the ‘Uşfurids [9.v.] assumed control of the region.

Bibliography: “Umar Rida Kaḥḥala, Mu'jam Kaba'il al-'Arab, iii, Beirut 1982, 1071; see also AL-BAHRAYN. (G.R. SMITH)

Source: The Encyclopedia of Islam. Vol 10, T – U. Pg. # 960.

The celebrated Uyuni poet Ali ibn Al Mugrab Al Uyuni recorded poetry confirming that it was indeed his family that vanquished the Qarmatians.

Sheikh Ali Al Biladi Al Jarani:

The celebrated poet Ali Ibn Mugrab in some of his Qasidas recorded: “And ask the Qarmatians who slashed their skulls…”

Anwar Al Badriyin fi Tarajim Ulema al Qatif was al Ahsa wa al Bahrain. Pg. # 294.

Regarding the sect that the Uyunids followed, it is clear from archaeological evidence that they were Shia, specifically coins minted by the dynasty.


Nayef al-Shera'an:


2. Ali Wali Allah:

This phrase follows the phrases testifying to Tawhid on the coins of the Uyunid state -the topic of research- and it was minted on the third line at the center of the face of the coin. And this phrase signifies one of the most foundational beliefs of the Shia sect.

Source: Nuqud Al Dawla Al Uyuniya Fil Bahrayn. Pg. # 195.


We can also see from images of the Uyunid coins from British Museums that the Uyunids were Shia and put the testimony that Ali is Wali Allah on their coins.

Image of Uyunid Coin


Some Sunnis revere a figure who attacked Medina and the Kaaba.

Now that we have shown that the Imami Shia are innocent of the Qarmatians, let us see which sect not only condones the terrorist act of attacking the Kaaba and violating the sanctity of the Holy Mosque, but attacking and massacring as well as raping the innocent civilians of the prophets city Medina al Munawara.


Al Suyuti:

In 63 A.H, Yazid was informed that people of Medina have rejected him and are preparing to wage war upon him. Knowing this, Yazid sent a huge army to Medina and declared war upon the people of Medina. After looting Medina, he sent the army to fight Abdullah Ibn Zubayr in Mecca and so the incident of Harrah took place. Do you know what Harrah is? Regarding it, Hassan (Al-Basri, a Tabi'i) said: "By Allah (swt)! When Medina was attacked, there remained not a single person who was safe from it, a group of companions and others were killed and Medina was looted and thousands of virgin girls were raped." Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Raji'oon...The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Whosoever frightens people of Medina, then Allah (swt) will frighten them (the attackers) plus Curse (La'nah) of Allah (swt), his Angels and all the people is upon such a person (Saheeh Muslim). The reason why people of Medina did not give Bayah to Yazid was because he indulged in "too many sins."

Al Waqidi narrates from Abdullah Ibn Hanzala son of Al-Ghasil (a companion) that he said: "By Allah (swt)! We did not revolt against Yazid until we feared that we would be showered with stones from the sky." He was a man who used to penetrate his mothers (his father's wives), sisters and daughters, and he used to drink openly and neglected prayers!"

Al Dhahabi said: When Yazid did such things with people of Medina although "he was indulging in drinking and other evil deeds even before," then the people of Mecca also revolted against him and rose against him from 4 sides, and then Allah (swt) did not put Barakah in life of Yazid and then the army of Harrah went to Mecca to fight ibn Al-Zubayr. Then the commander of the army died on the way, then someone else succeeded him and and then they went to Mecca and surrounded ibn Al-Zubayr and fought with him and threw on them fireballs with catapults, and that happened in the month Safar of the year 64 A.H, and as a result, their fire covered the Kaba, its roof and the horn of the goat which was sacrificed for Isma'il which was on the roof all burned down. Then Allah (swt) destroyed Yazid in the middle of the month Rabi Ul Awwal of that year, and the news of his death came to Mecca when the fight was still going on. Then ibn Zubayr announced: "O people of Shaam, your tyrant died!" They were disturbed and people arrested them. Then Ibn Al-Zubayr called people to pay him allegiance and called himself Caliph, and the people of Shaam paid allegiance to Muawiya son of Yazid, but his reign was not so long as it will be mentioned later.

Source: Tarikh ul Khulafa. Pg. # 167.


Ibn Kathir:

“Yazid committed a big mistake by telling Muslim bin Utbah to continue with the bloodshed in Medina for three days. This was a huge and Fahisha mistake and the bloodshed of Sahaba and their sons was further added to it while it has just been previously mentioned that Hussain and his Sahaba had been killed at the hands of Ibn Ziyad. During those three days, such huge crimes were committed that cannot be counted and cannot be mentioned; only Allah knows about them. Yazid by sending Muslim bin Utbah had sought to strengthen the roots of his government and extend it without any obstacle. But contrary to his wishes, Allah punished him and became an obstacle to his desires and Allah, who (swt) breaks the backbone of the oppressors, likewise broke the backbone of Yazid and He (swt) apprehended him in the same manner that a powerful all conquering individual apprehends someone ‘Even thus is the grasp of thy Lord when He grasped the townships while they are doing wrong. Lo! His grasp is painful, very strong’.

Source: Al Bidaya Wal Nihaya. Vol 11, Pg. # 627.


Ibn Hazim:

The oath of allegiance given to Yazid occurred following the death of his father; his title was Abu Khalid, Hussain bin Ali and Abdullah bin Zubair refused to pay the allegiance; then Hussain (peace by upon him) left for Kufa, and he was martyred before entering Kufa, this was the third sad incident following the death of Uthman and the fourth one following the martyrdom of Umar and was an interruption in Islam because oppression was openly declared against the Muslims with his martyrdom. Abdullah bin Zubair then went to Mecca wherein he sought refuge in the House of Allah and resided there.

Yazid sent his army towards Medina and Mecca that amongst the holy sites of Allah (swt), so in the battle of Harrah, those of Muhajirin and Ansar that remained therein were killed and this horrendous incident is also amongst the worst tragic incidents of Islam, creating a break in it because esteemed Muslims, the remnants of the Sahaba and the honorable Tabayeen were openly killed in it or apprehended and then martyred. The horses of Yazid’s army were present in the mosque of the Holy Prophet (s) and in Riadh ul Jannah, between the grave of the Rasulullah (s) and his pulpit, they defecated therein; no prayer was offered during those days

And there remained none, save Sa’id ibn al Musayib, he did not leave the mosque at all and had Amro bin Uthman bin Affan and Marwan bin Hakam not testified to him being insane to Muslim bin Uqba [the leader of the army], he would have likewise been killed. He (Muslim bin Uqba) also compelled people to administer their oaths of allegiance on the condition that they were the slaves of Yazid bin Mu’awiyah, whether he sells them or frees them and when an individual said that we would pledge allegiance on the condition the allegiance was pursuant to the terms of the Quran and Sunnah, an order was made to kill him, the said individual was subsequently captured and killed; this sinner Muslim bin Uqba insulted Islam immensely; there was looting in Medina for three days; the companions of Rasulullah (s) were insulted and maltreated; their houses were robbed. The army then surrounded Mecca and stoned the House of Allah (swt) via catapults and this was done under the supervision of Hussain bin Numair by the Syrian battalions and this was because the sinner ibn Uqba died three days after the battle of Harra and the leader was now Hussain bin Numair. Allah likewise apprehended Yazid in the same manner, the Owner of power and glory, apprehends others; he died in under three months but over two months (that is between 2 and 3 months) and Yazid’s forces returned from Mecca. Yazid died on 15 rabi ul awal, 64 hijri, his age was just above 30, his mother was Maysun bint Bahdal Al Kalbiya, the era of his rule was three years, eight months and a few days.

Source: Jawami’ al-Sirah wa Khams Risail Ukhra. Pg. # 357-358.


These reports should be more than enough to confirm Yazid’s acts of terrorism against Mecca and Medina. Now then, let us see what prominent Sunni scholars have said regarding Yazid.

Al Ghazali:

So if it were said: Is it allowed to curse Yazid for killing Al-Hussein or for ordering for it to happen? We say: No it is not allowed. For neither claims could be proven, therefore we cannot curse him.

Source: Ihya Ulum Al Din. Vol 3, Pg. # 125.


Should the Nawasib attempt to use the excuse that Ghazali was an Ashari or had Sufi leanings, then we shall oblige them with one of their favorite scholars, Ibn Taymiyyah himself.

Ibn Taymiyyah:

Answer: The answer regarding the cursing of Yazid is like the answer regarding cursing similar Kings, Caliphs, and others (Not allowed). And Yazid is better than them, better than Al Mukhtar ibn Abu 'Ubayd Al Thaqafi who (falsely) sought vengeance on al-Hussain's killers, for he said Gabriel used to visit him. And he's also better than Al Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf, for he is more oppressive than Yazid by agreement of the people.

Source: Minhaj Al Sunnah. Vol 4, Pg. # 567.


Knowing how much the lovers of Ibn Taymiyyah love to twist the most obvious of words into what they are clearly not, we have also included another selection from Ibn Taymiyyah to confirm that it was indeed his view that Yazid should not be cursed.

Ibn Taymiyyah:

And the right stance is the stance the imams were on: That he should neither be loved nor cursed. Even if he was an oppressor or a fasiq,  Allah forgives both of them. Especially if they do good deeds. And Bukhari has narrated from Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet (saw) said: the first army that invades Constantinople, Allah (swt) forgives them all. and that was the army of Yazid and Abu Ayyub Al Ansari was there as well.

Source: Majmu’ Al Fatawa. Vol 3, Pg. # 254.


Now let us see a simple example of how the modern lovers of Yazid have followed in his footsteps.

Ibn Abdul Aziz Ibn Muhammad Ibn Saud:

"As for your saying that we invaded Karbala, killed its people, and took its money: Alhamdullillah Rab Al'Alamin, and we don't apologize for this and say: "Likewise it is for the unbelievers [Surat Muhammad, 10]

Source: Al Durrar Al Sanniya Fil Ajweba Al-Najdia. Vol. 9, Pg. # 264-284.



As we have shown, the Qarmatians and their terrorist movement were not in any way Shia, in fact they were enemies of the Shia, and the Imami scholars devoted much energy to refuting the movement and ideology. When this did not prove enough, and it was the honor of the Imami emirs to defeat them and crush their movement permanently. Even more appalling is the fact that the people who defend the so-called “Caliph” who attacked Mecca and Medina, ordering the sack of the Prophets city and the use of Catapult on the sacred house of God have the audacity to accuse another sect of being terrorists, or having their origin in terrorism. We conclude with an ayah of the Holy Qur’an:


يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لَا يَسۡخَرۡ قَوۡمٌ مِّنۡ قَوۡمٍ عَسٰٓى اَنۡ يَّكُوۡنُوۡا خَيۡرًا مِّنۡهُمۡ

O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them.


Holy Qur'an

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