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Shi'ite revolts against Abbasids; Idrisids; Zaydites; Imamites; the Twelvers; constitutional theory of modern Persia; origin of Fatimids; Maymun the oculist; plan of the conspiracy; the Seveners; the Qarmatians; Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi and founding of Fatimid dynasty in North Africa; their spread to Egypt and to Syria; al-Hakim Bi'amrillah; the Druses; the Assassins; Saladin and the Ayyubids.

IT is not in place here to deal with all the numberless little Shi'ite revolts against the Abbasids which now followed. Those only are of interest to us which had more or less permanent effect on the Muslim state and states. Earliest among such comes the revolt which founded the dynasty of the Idrisids. About the middle of the second century the Abbasids were hard pressed. The heavens themselves seemed to mingle in the conflict. The early years of their rule had been marked by great showers of shooting stars, and the end of the age was reckoned near by both parties. Messianic hope was alive, and a Mahdi, a Guided of God, was looked for. This had long been the attitude of the Alids, and the Abbasids began to feel a necessity to gain for their de facto rule the sanction of theocratic hopes. In 143 Halley's comet was visible for twenty days, and in 147 there were again showers of shooting stars. On the part of the Abbasids, homage was solemnly rendered to the eldest son of al-Mansur, the Khalifa



of the time, as successor of his father, under the title al-Mahdi, and several sayings were forged and ascribed to the Prophet which told who and what manner of man the Mahdi would be, in terms which clearly pointed to this heir-apparent. The Alids, on their side, were urged on to fresh revolts. These risings were still political in character and hardly at all theological; they expressed the claims to sovereignty of the house of the Prophet. On the suppression of one of them at al-Madina in 169, Idris ibn Abd Allah, a grandson of al-Hasan, escaped to North Africa—that refuge of the politically disaffected—and there at the far-off Volubilis of the Romans, in the modern Morocco, founded a state. It lasted till 375, and planted firmly the authority of the family of Muhammad in the western half of North Africa. Other Alid states rose in its place, and in 961 the dynasty of the Sharifs of Morocco was established by a Muhammad, a descendant of a Muhammad, brother of the same Abd Allah, grandson of al-Hasan. This family still rules in Morocco and claims the title of Khalifa of the Prophet and Commander of the Faithful. Strictly, they are Shi'ites, but their sectarianism sits lightly upon them; it is political only and they have no touch of the violent religious antagonism to the Sunnite Muslims that is to be found in Persian Shi'ism. As adherents of the legal school of Malik ibn Anas, their Sunna is the same as that of orthodox Islam. The Sahih of al-Bukhari (see below, p. 79 ) is held in especially high reverence, and one division of the Moorish army always carries a copy of it as a talisman. They are really a bit of the second

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