Qarmatiyyah, Qarmati, Qarmatis, Isma'iliyyahAdvanced Information
DoctrinesThe Qarmatis are a schismatic branch of Isma'iliyyah. Their beliefs are in many respects the same as Isma'iliyyah. They believed that the shari'ah should be replaced and that the revelations of prophets such as Moses, Jesus and Muhammad were invalid. They also believed in reincarnation. They differed from mainstream Isma'iliyyah (represented by the Fatimid caliphs) in refusing to recognise the Fatimid caliphs as their Imams. Instead they maintained that Muhammad ibn Isma'il was the final Imam who would return as the Mahdi.
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The movement acquired its impetus from the belief in the imminent return of the Mahdi. This impetus expressed itself in a number of attacks carried out by the movement into Iraq, one of which threatened to capture the Abbasid capital Baghdad. In 930 the Qarmatis attacked Mecca during the pilgrimage season, killing many residents and pilgrims, and removed the black stone of the ka'bah. The removal of the Black Stone symbolised the Qarmati claim that Islam had now come to an end. (It was not until 951 that the Black Stone was returned to Mecca.)
In 932 a young Persian prisoner was proclaimed as the awaited Mahdi. At this point events got out of hand. The Persian is believed to have ordered the killing of certain Qarmati leaders and to have required the community to worship fire. Eventually, in order to restore order the Persian himself was put to death.
The subsequent history of the Qarmati movement is one of steady decline. In 1078 the Qarmati state of Bahrein came to an end, while other Qarmati communities were absorbed by Twelver Shi'ism. By the 14th century the movement was all but extinct.
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Unfortunately, we are not aware of any scholarly texts on this subject which have yet been translated into English. We know that a number of Arabic scholars have written wonderful texts in Arabic, and look for the day when we will be able to add higher quality texts to this presentation.
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