Arabs Sovereignty in Umayyad and Abbasid Eras Prompted the Persians to Establish their False National Uniqueness
Conflict is the constant feature in Arab-Persian relations, given that the Persians were of the opinion that the elimination of Arabs is a prelude to the eradication of their culture and erasure of Islamic identity, paving the way to the empowerment of Persian beliefs, especially in their Zoroastrian dimension. Confrontations between the Arabs and the Persians remain one of the manifestations of Persian hostility. The outset of the Abbasid era witnessed confrontations of a special kind, in view of the cautious coexistence between the Arabs, who have power and authority, and the Persians, who are submissive for fear of the Arab hegemony.
In this context, and given the weak Persian state, they resorted to adopting new tactics in confronting the Arabs; tactics that have continued to this day, know in the literature of military confrontations as “Proxy War”. Here, it appears that current Iran did not invent the industry of military arms and mercenaries. It is rather a Persian tactic inherited since the first Abbasid era, when the Persians bet on ” Shu’ubiyya” to strike the Arabs and blow up the Arab-Islamic state from its center of gravity.
In connection with the historical context, some historians see that Shu’ubiyya is “anti-Arabs civilized cultural movement. Iraq was the stage on which it appeared… because it was the meeting place of the dominant Arab element with the defeated Persian element.. It remained hidden throughout the Umayyad era, until the Abbasids succeeded in establishing their state. They used the loyalists and put them in important positions… Nationalism then dominant the Shu’ubiyya, thus strengthened it, escalating its danger, as it turned into something like organizations supervised, planned, maintained and assisted by prime ministers, authors writers and poets from Persian loyalists”.
It can be said that the supremacy of Arab race in the Umayyad and Abbasid eras prompted the other “peoples” to try to prove themselves and show their national uniqueness by announcing their rejection of everything that is Arab. Thus, “The children of other peoples tried to prove to the Arabs their identities and existence, showing them that they are not better than all other nations”.
At this point, it is worth noting that Arab Muslims, being the first carriers of Islam to others, would not have triumphed favor the race, as the criterion for distinction, success and advancement in Islam is not race, language or color, but piety and adherence to the assets established in the religious text. Therefore, it is likely that the prevalence of ethnic passion made the Persians and Shu’ubis interpret that dimension among the Muslims, who wanted to melt all ethnicities in the crucible of Islam, which came to cut off all roots of division, especially ethnic, tribal and factional divisions.
Historical fidelity and integrity in receiving and transmitting necessitate pointing out that Shu’ubiyya spread among non-Persian races, including “Nabateans, Copts, Andalusians, Zats from the people of Sindh and Negroes from the people of Africa. All agreed on Shu’ubiyya despite their different origins, races, and boasts (over the Arabs) and their supremacy thereover and their hostility thereto. However, the prevalence of Shu’ubiyya among other nations does not diminish the great role played by Persian loyalists therein. They are the origin of the ailment and the source of affliction”.
Shu'ubiyya spread among a group of non-Persian races, yet Persians remained the owners of control, linkage and guidance.
Perhaps the most dangerous matter that distinguishes “Shu’ubiyya” and what made the Persians adopt its tactics to date (the movement of the Deprived “Al-Mahromeen” and others) is its riding on social demands, thus transforming into a political movement that aimed at overthrowing the political authority. It is the strategy adopted by political Islam organizations, whether they are affiliated with the Sunnis or Shiites. In order to disentangle this point, the Shiite theorist Ali Shariati says: “At the beginning of its emergence, Shu’ubiyya carried the (equality) slogan; i.e., equality of non-Arabs with the Arabs. However, after a while, the slogan gradually transformed from an (equality) movement to a movement of preference, calling for preferring the non-Arabs to the Arabs. It worked by promoting nationalist sentiments and spreading despair from Islam, with a view to strike at the authority of the caliphate”.
The study of Shu’ubiyya is an essential entry point for understanding the mutations known to social demands when their starting points are racist. Here, the incident race relies on adopting the front of defending social demands and calling for freedom, equality and the other rights, by expanding the material base, thus working to poison the masses and push them to overthrow the political power.
Shu’ubiyya’s claim of injustice and unfairness are justifications that prompted its owners to declare hostility to the Arabs; an hostility that is not supported by historical evidence, as it is evident that Shu’ubis enjoyed absolute equality in the Abbasid state era. They occupied the most important political and economic positions even in the Abbasid court. However, this new reality did not overcome their hatred against the Arabs, but rather, “their mob, leaders and senior and political figures became acquainted and familiar with each other and their national feeling grew greatly until its evil exacerbated, resulting in increasing their hostility and intensifying their opposition to the Arbs, until they began to speak out loudly”.
The difference of Shu’ubiyya tendencies and the difference in their origins and demands did not prevent their agreeing on a single goal; that hostility to everything that is Arab, even if it leads to a coup against a sultan who fed them from hunger and secured them from fear.
- Bu Melhem Ali, Philosophical Approaches of Al-Jahiz, 2nd edition (Beirut: Printing and Publishing House, 1988).
- Hussein Atwan, Heresy and Shu’ubiyya in the First Abbasid Era (Beirut: Dar Al-Jil, 1984).
- Hussein Atwan, Abbasid Call, History and Development, 2nd edition (Beirut: Dar Al-Jil, 1995).
- Ali Shariati, Alawi Shiism and Safavid Shiism (Beirut: Dar Al-Amir for Culture and Science, 2002).
- Sayyid Salem, First Abbasid Era (Alexandria: University Youth Foundation, 1993).