ʿAlī ibn al-Fadl

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ʿAlī ibn al-Fadl ( Arabic علي بن الفضل, DMG ʿAlī b. al-Faḍl ; † October 28, 915 ) was an important missionary ( Dai ) of the Ismailis in Yemen .

Origin, conversion to the Ismaili faith and trip to Yemen

Ali ibn al-Fadl belonged to the Yemeni tribe of Saba and came from the village of Suhaib near Jaishan (Qataba). During a pilgrimage to Mecca and Karbala , the young Shiite was recruited by an Ismaili missionary around the year 880 and followed him to the center of the Iraqi Dawa (probably Kalwadha). Here it was determined that Ali ibn al-Fadl should go back to Yemen together with the Iraqi Dai Ibn Hauschab (whose autobiography has been preserved) in order to spread the new teaching there as well and thus found another "island". At the end of May or beginning of June both set out for Kufa , from where they reached Ali's homeland in a pilgrim caravan via Mecca in August. They traveled via Sanaa and al-Janad to the important port city of Aden , where they disguised themselves as cotton traders and rented their own shop.

Independent mission and first conquests in South Yemen

However, Ibn Hauschab was only able to achieve notable missionary success in Yemen when he met Shiites from the Banu Musa clan and followed them to their village. At this point, his companion Ali ibn al-Fadl had already separated from his mentor (when exactly, it is not known) and had returned to his home village. As a hermit in the mountains of Sarw Yafi, he soon began to do missionary work on his own, and so became the founder of a new, second "island" in South Yemen. From his castle he undertook successful forays against the Emir of Lahidsch , who controlled the area north of Aden. Ali expelled the prince of the city of al-Mudhaichira, who had supported him in this, on January 25, 905 and moved to his well-defendable capital for the next eleven years. From here the southern highlands with the already conquered landscape of al-Maafir and the cities of al-Janad, Ibb and Taizz were ruled.

Further conquests and reunions with Ibn Hauschab

At the end of 905 Ali was able to take Dhamar and even Sanaa before he finally saw Ibn Hauschab again in Shibam . The latter had also expanded his power at the expense of the Yufirid Abu Hassan Asad ibn Ibrahim, who was loyal to the Abbas, and was nicknamed "Victory of Yemen" (Mansur al-Yaman) , but Ali increasingly turned out to be the more successful general in the rather confusing struggle for the politically divided Yemen . His conquests in 906 also included the Hadur and Haraz Mountains, the Wadi Surdud and the cities of Zabid , al-Mahjam and al-Kadra in the Tihama , so that almost the entire country was temporarily under Fatimid rule. Among the territorial gains that could not be maintained in the long term, besides the Tihama plain, especially Sanaa belonged. The city fell back to the Zaidi - Imam Yahya al-Hadi ila l-Haqq in April 906 and had to be reoccupied on April 17, 907. Zabid, where the Ziyadids resided, was captured and looted a second time in autumn 909.

Ali's defection from the Fatimids

When the Qarmatians split off from the Fatimids in 899 , both Yemeni Dais had held to the Mahdi Abdallah who had emerged in Salamya and later fled to Ifrīqiya (instead of Yemen!) . Towards the end of 911, however, Ali ibn al-Fadl disobeyed his distant master and turned against his superior colleague Ibn Hauschab. The reason for this step - which weakened the Ismailis - was probably the doubt, coupled with disappointment, about the authenticity of the Mahdi, who is now ruling as caliph . In a letter to the Yemeni community, he had given unbelievable information about his ancestry, declared that he was not the Messiah , but only one of many imams, and, among other things, had the Dai Abū ʿAbdallāh asch-Shīʿī eliminated. Allegedly Ali himself then declared the time of the Mahdi as a prophet and repealed the Sharia . Some sources say that he abolished prayer and fasting , replaced hajj with other ceremonies, and called for incest, but this account is likely to be exaggerated. After Ali Sanaa had captured 911 for the fourth time, he led his army - conquering Shibam and Jabal Dhuchar - into the Miswar Mountains and besieged Ibn Hauschab, who, contrary to Ali's request, was loyal to the Fatimid caliph. The withdrawal only took place after eight months, when the defeated “victor of Yemen” held one of his sons hostage. On April 27, 912, in the middle of Ramadan , Ali stopped for the last time in Sanaa, where he and his troops allegedly slaughtered and drank wine in the Friday mosque. After he had handed over the dilapidated and largely deserted city to the Yufirid Asad, his vassal, he retired to his mountain fortress al-Mudhaichira.

Death and inheritance

Shortly after Ibn Hauschab's death (914), Ali ibn al-Fadl also died on October 28, 915; According to some sources, he was poisoned by doctors acting either on behalf of the Fatimids or the Yufirids. As the leader of the southern of the two Yemeni "islands", his son al-Fafa inherited him, under whom the rebellion of the Yufiriden Asad broke out. The Emir of Sanaa conquered several Ismaili castles and after a long siege on January 6, 916, finally took al-Mudhaichira as well. Ali's descendants, including three daughters, were taken as prisoners on March 28th to Sanaa, where the two sons and other Ismailis were executed. In contrast to the northern “island” of Ibn Hauschab, from which missionary work was also carried out in India, Ali's congregation did not exist.

Sources and literature

  • Ibn Ḥaušab : Sīrat Ibn Ḥaušab , on this: Heinz Halm , “The Sīrat Ibn Ḥaušab - the Ismaili daʿwa in Yemen and the Fatimids” in Die Welt des Orients 12 (1981), pp. 107-135
  • ʿAlī b. Muḥammad: Sīrat al-Hādī ilā l-Ḥaqq , ed. By Suhail Zakkār, Beirut 1981
  • Muḥammad b. Malik al-Ḥammādī: Kašf asrār al-Bāṭinīya wa-aḫbār al-Qarāmiṭa , ed. By MZ al-Kauṯarī, Cairo 1955
  • Heinz Halm: The Empire of the Mahdi . CH Beck, Munich 1991, ISBN 3406354971
  • Wilferd Madelung: Article “Manṣūr al-Yaman” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition

Notes and individual references

  1. This is how a regional network of followers, a community, was referred to in Ismaili language.
  2. Jafar ibn Ismail al-Manachi ruled the place between Ibb and Taizz.
  3. the founder of the dynasty of Rassiden Sa'dah
  4. ↑ In his first attempts to conquer the Ichschidid Empire, Fatimide al-Qaim had expected Yemeni support, for example; however, the planned pincer movement did not materialize due to the dispute between the Dais.
  5. The letter has been preserved, edited and translated.
  6. ^ Halm, Empire of the Mahdi , p. 178
  7. A year later the son was sent back to Ibn Hauschab with a gold chain around his neck.
  8. The heads were sent to the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad .