Esotericism is the Foundation of Terrorist Secret Organization in the History of Islamic State
Researchers have paid much attention to studying the negative impact of the esoteric sects on Islamic jurisprudence and thought. However, they have not been interested in dealing with the political repercussions of these esoteric sects that deviated from Islamic nation consensus “Ijma’a”. It is established that these sects have produced a lot of heresy in the field of jurisprudence by calling for the mysterious concept of Islam, which is the “esoteric” concept. Those sects rejected the interpretations of the texts unanimously agreed-upon by the scholars of the nation and argued that what those scholars have done was nothing but adopted the “apparent” meaning of texts and that we have to deal therewith by adopting the esoteric concept. This opened the door wide for several heresies in the field of texts interpretation.
Negative impacts of esoteric sects in political history created a rift in the unity of the Islamic world and fragmented it throughout its entire body. Esoteric hatred of the Arab Islamic state prompted it to befriend and support Arab Muslims’ enemies.
To start with, esoteric sects disguised behind the call to support the Prophet’s family and their right to rule. They forgot that the Abbasid call, at its inception, has raised the slogan of Prophet’s family governance, while the Persians are the party from which most of the esoteric sects emerged thereafter. They supported the Abbasid call and when the Abbasids succeeded and their state was established, the Persians thought that it was their opportunity to restore their old power. However, Abbasid caliphs rejected the new Persian power centers and the caliphs re-established the Arab Islamic state’s prestige. At that point, the Persian esoteric sects increased their activities to weaken the Arab states.
History records several examples of the esoteric sects’ political dimension, in terms of their desire to restore Persian rule and destroy the Arab state, or, at least, weaken it to control the ruling from within. In the aftermath of the elimination of Abu Muslim al-Khorasani at the hands of Caliph al-Mansur, so that ruing the nation would be in the hands of a single man, some revolted in Khorasan region against the Abbasid state, led by a person e called “Sinbad”. Some sources describe “Sinbad” as a Magian, yet he claimed to be a Muslim. Hussein Mujib al-Masri believes that “what was attributed to Sinbad, that he was a Magian, is a weak possibility. Perhaps he adopted a half-Persian doctrine, which is not an Islamic doctrine in the prevailing opinion”. Thus, Al-Masri defines the identity of Sinbad as an esoteric figure; one of those sects that tried to mix Islam with the ancient Persian Magian teachings. The story of Sinbad ends with eliminating him and his sedition at the hands of Caliph Al-Mansur.
History tells us about Bani Buwaihi, who are from the Persians who, in fact, controlled the reins of government in Baghdad by military force. They manipulated the Abbasid caliphs by isolation and assignment favor their own interests and racist purposes. There is no doubt that this matter contributed, to a large extent, to weakening the Abbasid state, until it reached a stage of weakness that allowed the Tatars to storm Baghdad and destroy one of the most important strongholds of Islamic civilization.
Esoteric sects went beyond working to weaken the Abbasid state and threaten the unity of the Islamic world and resorted to allying with the enemies of the nation. Perhaps Bābak Khorramdin movement was the worst example of this, as the latter revolted against the Abbasids and joined the esotericists in an attempt to overthrow the state. Even worse, Bābak Khorramdin communicated with the Byzantine state, which is the foremost enemy of the Abbasid state. Khorramdin aimed to form an alliance with the Khurramites in the Persian regions and the Byzantine state in Asia Minor, in order to pounce on the Abbasid state in Baghdad and eliminate it. Although all his endeavors failed at the end, yet such movements weakened the power of the Abbasids to a large extent.
The other crueler and more terrifying in the history of esoteric movements was the “Assassins” sect. Bernard Lewis, who is one of the key figures who studied that sect, said: “By the thirteenth century, the word “Assassin” was within the European usage in various forms, all in this sense of “hired killer”.
Assassins’ history is full of tragedies as they spread terror and panic. However, what concerns us here is their role in destroying the unity of Islamic world by revolting against the Abbasid state that united the nation at that time. In addition, they cooperated with the enemies. This is evident in the nature of the shameful and disgraceful role the Assassins undertaken during the Crusades; they did not work in the interest of the Islamic ranks that were facing the waves of the Crusades, but rather they worked for their own benefit. There is no evidence to thar more than the Assassins’ alliance with the Knights Templar, which is a secret terrorist Crusader squad that shed the blood of many Muslims during those wars.
Some well-established researchers have realized the awful role undertaken by the esoteric movements in the political history of the Islamic world. Among the most prominent of them is Hussein Mujib al-Masri, who specializes in Persian studies. He is of the opinion that “From among the Persian people of heresy, there are some who revolted, declared their disobedience and set up war against the Arabs. It is by their faith that they undoubtedly wanted to revive their Persian nationalism and revive their power that was in the distant past”. On the other hand, Muhammad Abdullah Annan (one of the key historians of Islamic history) believes that esoteric movements are nothing but “secret societies established to destroy Islam”. Thus, we have a full and clear picture of the negative political role of the Persian esoteric movements on the unity of Islamic world.
Esotericism worked on activating its political role from as early as in the call phase of the Abbasid state.
- Bernard Lewis, The Assassins, arabized by Mohammad Al-Azab Musa, 2nd edition (Cairo: Madbouly Bookshop, 2006).
- Hussein Mujeeb Al-Masry, Links between Arabs, Persians and Turks (Cairo: Al-Dar Al-Thaqafa, 2001).
- Mohammad al-Khatib, Esoteric Movements in Islamic World (Amman: n.p, 1986).
- Mohammad Al-Khasht, Assassin Movement (Cairo: Ibn Sina Library, 1988).
- Mohammad Abdullah Annan, History of Secret Societies and Destructive Movements in the East (Cairo: Al-Mukhtar Foundation, 1991).