You are on page 1of 23

Maisonneuve & Larose

al-Husayn ibn Hamdân al-Khasîbî: A Historical Biography of the Founder of the Nusayrî'Alawite Sect Author(s): Yaron Friedman and Yaron Frieman Source: Studia Islamica, No. 93 (2001), pp. 91-112 Published by: Maisonneuve & Larose Stable URL: . Accessed: 19/05/2011 21:36
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

Maisonneuve & Larose is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Studia Islamica.

Studia Islamica, 2001

al-Khasibi al-Husaynibn Hamdan A historicalbiography of the founderof the Nusayri-'Alawite sect
This article is based on a research (in Hebrew)by the present writer, ? al-Husavn ibn Hanmdin al-Khasibi- His Figure and his Part in the Foundationof the Nusayri-'AlawiteSect ?, prepared in 1998 under the supervisionof Dr. M. M. Bar-Asherat the Hebrew Universityof Jerusalenm, read also by Prof. A. Kofsky from Haifa University.I would like to thankDavid Cookwho read an earlier draft and added importantadvises, and Leigh Chipnan for translatingthis article andfor her helpful comments.Also I would like to thankTarekabulRajabfor drawingmy attention to al-Muntajabal-'Ant.

The circumstancesof the developmentof the Nusayri-'Alawitesect are shroudedin mystery.The acceptedview today is that the sect was formedin Iraqduringthe 3rd/9thcentury,and thatit is connectedto the personof Abu ibn Shu'aybMuhammad Nusayr.(') In this paperI will attemptto prove that IbnNusayris not the founderof the sect in a historicalsense, andis not so perceived by the Nusayrisin a religioussense. His statusin the Nusayrireligion is higherthan thatof the founder,and reachesthat of divinity. The sect was foundedafterIbnNusayr'sdeath,by a man who has almostdisappeared from the pages of history:al-Husaynibn Hamdanal-Khasibi.This paperaims to draw as completea pictureas possible of his historicalactivity,using all the availabledata,in orderto shed light on the studyof the Nusayriyya,still a shadowy and little-knownsect. In a forthcomingpaper,I will focus on the theological aspectof these developments,which will not be expandeduponhere. 1. Introduction The Nusayriyyaare a syncretisticsect characterized mystic beliefs oriby ginating in ghuldt (2) circles within the Shi'a, among which the idea of the
tradition,Ibn Nusayrwas one of the followers of the eleventh Imam,Hasan (1) Accordingto the Nusaynr al-'Askari(d. 260/874), and received from him a new religious dispensation.See H. Halm, "Nusayriyya," El' VIII (1995), pp. 145-146. (2) ghdli, pl.ghult: exaggerator.The appellationof Shi'ite groups who were accused of exaggeration abilities to him, to the point of (ghuluww)in their adorationof the Imam;the ghulit attributed superhuman deification (M.G.S. Hodgson, "Ghulat," II (1965), pp. 1093-1095). El2



divinity of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib is central. To these beliefs was added the influence of Persian,gnostic andpaganreligions. (3)Rene Dussaudassumed thatduringthe Nusayris' stay in Syriaand Iraq,externalinfluenceshad been at work upon them: Isma'ili Shi'ism, (4) the Sabaeans, (5) gnostic sects (6) and pagan remnantswhich had not yet convertedto Islam. (7) Heinz Halm admitsthe paganand gnostic influences,but emphasizesthe role of the ghulat in the formationof the Nusayriyya.(8) Halm describes the preservation of ghulat traditionsfrom Kufaup to the time of Ibn Nusayr (the 3rd/9thcentury). (9) His own pupils, in turn,kept alive certainmystic traditionsthat in the course of time became the principlesof the Nusayri faith. (20) It would seem that Halm's view should be accepted with regardto the beginningsof the Nusayriyya,and Dussaud's,with regardto the laterperiod (from the end of the 11th century)duringwhich the Nusayriyyamigratedto the areaof Latakia and the Lebanon,where they came into contact with the various groups mentionedabove. The sect, whichseems to havebroken fromthe Shi'a, formedtwo centers off in the 4th/10thcentury,in Baghdadand in Aleppo. (") In the 5th/IIth century the Nusayriswere forcedto move theircenterto Latakia, to conflictswith due othergroupsandMuslimpersecution. Therethey haveremained thisday. (12) to The Nusayriyyahave neverbeen consideredMuslims. The Shi'ites consider them ghulat, while the Sunnis regard them as complete infidels. (13)
(3) H. Halm. "Nusayriyya," 147-148. pp. (4) e.g., RendDussaud,Histoire et Religion des Nosairis (Paris:LibrairieEmile Bouillon, 1900), pp. 2223, 25-27, 43-44. see (5) ibid., pp. 20, 44-45, 105. On the "Sabaeans," T. Fahd, "Sabi'a."El' VIII (1995), pp. 675-678. (6) Dussaud,pp.125-127. influence: ibid., pp. 14. 17, 19-20. Influence of Persian religions: ibid., pp.120(7) Syrian-Phoenician 125. (8) Halm, "Nusayriyya," 145: "A Shi'i sect ... The only branchof extreme (ghuluww)KufanShl'ism p. which has survivedinto the contemporary period." der (9) H. Halm, "Das Buch der Schatten:Die Mufaddal-Tradition Gulat und die Ursprungdes NusaiDer Islam 55 (1975), pp. 224-258. In contrastto Halm's concept of the Nusayriyyaoriginatingin riertums," the ghuflat,Dussaud states that the Nusayris form an interestingexample of a populationthat moved from paganismdirectly to Isma'ilism. (Dussaud,p. 51) (10) Dussaud,pp. 258-260. ( l) ibid., pp. 260-261. (12) Halm, "Das Buch der Schatten,"pp. 261-263; C. Cahen, "Note sur les origines de la communaute syriennedes Nusayris,"REI 38 (1970), pp. 243-248. (13) The comparisonof Shi'ite and Sunnite sources relatingto the Nusayriyya brings us to the conclusion thatthe formerwere more toleranttowardsthe Nusayriyya,and indeed were carefulnot to call theminfidels, becauseof theircloseness to the Shi'a. See, e.g., among the Shi'a: al-Nawbakhtiincludes the Namiriyya (the earliernameof the Nusayriyya,see below) among the Shi'ite sects and accuses themof ghuluww:Hasan ibn Mfsa al-Nawbakhti,Firaq al-Shi'a (Beirut:Dar al-Adwa', 1984), pp. 93-94; al-Shahrastni refersto the ibn al-Milal wa-'I-Nihal (Beirut: Nusayriyyaas ghulit al-Sht'a: Muhammad 'Abd al-Karimal-Shahrastani, Dar al-Kutubal-'Ilmiyya, 1992), p. 192. Among the Sunna:'Abd al-Qadiral-Baghdadiwrites thatthe Namiriyya are not a partof Islam at all: 'Abd al-Qadiral-Baghdadi,al-Farq bayna al-Firaq wa-Bayan al-Firaq al-ndji'a minhuml (Beirut:Dr al-Jil/Daral-Afiq al-Jadida,1987). pp. 220. 239; Ibn Taymiyya composed a [an fatwa (legal opinion) accordingto which ". the Nusayrisand the rest of the Carmathians Isma'il sect] are greaterinfidels thanthe Jews,the Christiansand the otheridolaters.." See the originalArabic:S. Guyard, "Le Fetwa d'Ibn Taymiyyahsur les Nosairis,"Journal asiatique (septieme serie) 18 (1871), p. 167.



1.1. The sect's name: Dussaud noted that various suggestions have been put forwardas to the origin of the sect's name, and found that the Nusayris themselves connect their name to Ibn Nusayr. (14) When following the history of the sect, they are found under several different names. Probably the Nusayriyya were named,like many other Shi'ite splintergroups, after the object of theiradoration. The earliest evidence we have for the existence of the sect is the Shf'ite literatureof the 3rd/9thcentury.According to Firaq al-Shi'a by Hasan ibn Musa al-Nawbakhtl (d. 288/900), one of the Shl'i sects was called Namiriyya, afterMuhammadibn Nusayral-Namiri.He claimed, accordingto this source, to be a prophetsent by the Imam Hasan al-'Askari. He considered the Imam to be divine and believed in reincarnation.(15) More than a hundred years later, 'Abd al-Qadiribn Tahir al-Baghdadi(d. 429/1037), in his book al-Farq bayna al-Firaq also called Ibn Nusayr's sect by the name of

Despite this, accordingto the Nusayrl literature,the membersof al-Khastbi's sect referredto themselves as al-muwahhidun (the monotheists)or ahl al-tawhid (the people of monotheism),which signifies that they saw themselves as such, that is, trueMuslims and not infidels. This literaturetells us that from the 5th/llth century onwards, they called themselves "Khasibiyya." In a Nusayri source dating from the 19th century, we find a prayer "for the downfall of the Ottomandynasty and the victory of the sect of the

Only in the 6th/12th century was the sect also

called by the name Nusayriyya,in Muhammadibn 'Abd al-Karimal-Shahrastani's(d. 548/1153) book al-Milal wa-'l-Nihal. (18) 1.2.The sources: The modem researcherhas available original Nusayri material,which is of helpful for the understanding the history and beliefs of the sect. Most of this materialwas inaccessible until the 19th century,due to its concealment by members of the sect. During the 19th and 20th centuries, a numberof sources were uncovered,largely due to France's influence in the Levant.In the 20th century, the Nusayris became more open to their surroundings,
(14) Dussaud,pp. 1-16. (15) Nawbakhti,pp. 93-94. (16) al-Baghdadl,p. 239. (17) al-Tabarni, in the I th century,is our earliest source of evidence that the sect was called KhasiMajmQ'al-A'yad (in: Der Islam 27 [1946]), pp. 19. biyya: Abu Sa'id Maymun ibn al-Qasim al-Tabarani, 131. For ahl al-tawhid, see ibid., p. 54. On the 19th-century prayer,see Sulaymanal-Adhani,al-Baktra alSulaymini)nafi KashfAsrir al-Diydna al-Nusavriyya(Beirut:[n.p.], 1864), p. 53. Early beliefs and rituals are reflected in this book, see the discussion below. (18) al-Shahrastani, 192-193. pp.



hoping to become assimilatedand to end the long periodof persecution. As a result,they began to publishbooks relatingto theirhistoricaland religious identity. This literaturemust be used with caution, due to its attemptsto
prove that the Nusayris are in fact Muslims.

This paperattemptsto combine Nusayri and non-Nusayrisources, and to ascertainwhat theirlevel of agreementis. The Nusayri sources used were: 1. al-Hidaya al-Kubra: (20) Apparentlythe only book writtenby al-Khasibi that has survived in its entirety to the modern period. According to Shi'ite sources, he composed additionalworks. This book, containingtraditions about the Prophet Muhammad,his daughterFatima and the twelve into Imams,was printedin Beirutin 1986, and seems to have been translated Persian, too. The likelihood that al-Khasibi indeed composed the book is high, as partsof the book are quoted as having been related by him both in Twelver Shi'ite and in Nusayri writings(in Majmu'al-A'yddand MS Hamdetails appearing there are burg 303 - see below). Few autobiographical highly important. 2. Majmu' al-A'yad: (21) The book of Nusayri festivals. Composed by the Maymunibn al-Qasimal-Tabarani, leaderof the Nusayrisin Syriain the generationafteral-Khasibi.The fact thatit was writtenonly some yearsafter al-Khasibi's death makes it a most importantsource for the study of the early Nusayriyya,and especially of al-Khasiblhimself. The book contains many quotations,in poetry andprose, of al-Khasibl'swords, the most extensive being al-Qasida al-Ghadiriyya.
3. MS Paris 1450: (22)This manuscript has not yet been fully studied. (23) It

dealsmainlywiththeological and to questions, threesectionsof it areconnected al-Khasibi: Folios 42-47: Risalatal-Tawhid (1) (The Epistleof Unity),al-Khasib's answersto the questionsof his Iraqidisciple 'Ali ibn 'Isa al-Jisri;(2)
(19) See, e.g., Hashim 'Uthman,al-'Alawily2un bayna al-Ustara wa-'l-Haqiqa (Beirut: Mu'assasatalA'la, 1985). 'Uthmanattemptsto prove thatthe Nusayris-'Alawitesare Shi'ite Muslims. He deals with accubetsations of heresy by quoting medieval sources and moder research,aiming to show the contradictions ween them. He quotes Nusayri sources from the past and the presentwhich supporthis claim, such as a late chapterof al-Hiddyaal-Kubra,and an articlepublishedby a Nusayrishaykhfrom Latakiain 1930, in which he claims that the Nusayris are Muslims (ibid., pp.156-173). A blatantexample of the attemptto prove the Nusayristo be Muslimsis the traditionaboutthe origin of the name Nusayriyya,which 'Uthmanquotesfrom Amin Ghalibal-Tawil, Ta'rikhal-'Alawi!yin (Latakia:[n.p.], 1924). According to this tradition, Muhammad Nusayriyya(from the verbnasara, to help) is the name of an auxiliaryforce thatcame to the aid of the general Abi 'Ubayda at GhadirKhumm(the site where Muhammad,according to Shi'ite tradition,nominated 'Ali as his heir) and enabled the Muslim conquestof Ba'alabakkand Hims (ibid., p. 148). (20) al-Husaynibn'assasatal-Bulugh, 1986). in (21) Publishedin a critical edition by Rudolf Strothmann Der Islam 27 (1946). The original name of al-Arwdhwa-Dalil al-Surtirwa-'l-Afrdhila Fdliq al-Asbdh. the book is Sabil Ra^hat ES). Cata(22) BibliothequeNationale,FondsArabe 1450, entitledEcritssacres des Nosairis (hereafter: Natiologued in de Slane, Cataloguedes manuscritsarabes de la Bibliothlque Nationale (Paris:Imprimerie was used for this paper. nale, 1883), p. 277. A photocopyof the originalmanuscript that and (23) On sections of the manuscript have been studied,see: M.M.Bar-Asher A. Kofsky, "Anearly Nusayri theological dialogue on the relation between the ma'na and the ism," Le Museon 108 (1995). pp. 169-180; idem., "Thedoctrineof 'Ali's divinityanf the Nusayritrinityaccordingto an unpublishedtreatise from the 7th/13thcentury,"Der Islam 72 (1995), pp. 258-292.



Folios48-53: al-Khasibi's to answers thequestionsaskedby his disciple'Abdallah ibnHaruin convenedhis majlisandreadanepistle al-Sa'ighwhentheformer to those present(This epistlemay have been al-Jisri'sTawhtd, the subjectis as the same); (24)(3) Folios 176-179:A descriptionof 'Abdallahibn Harunalin Sa'igh's visit to al-Jisri 340/951, afterthe latterhadcollectedthe "questions" (which probablywere Ibn Haruin's questionsto al-Khasibi,as can be deduced fromthe fact thatthereis a passagethatis almostidentical to one of al-Khasibi's answersto Ibn Haruin). At the end of the manuscript a list of its is (25) was copyists, going back to 636/1238. This may hint thatthe manuscript preservedby being copied and transferred Syriabeforethe Mongol destruction to of Baghdadin 1258. There are similaritiesof content between al-Khasibl's wordsin this epistle and in otherplaces.This manuscript of may be a remnant tradition Iraq,wherethe sect has completelydisappeared. of the Nusayrn 4. The poems of al-Muntajib al-'Ani: (26)A group of diwans collected in a manuscriptkept at the Asad Libraryin Damascus. al-'Ani seems to have been one of the muwahhidan,and he praises them in his poems. (27) Verses from his qasidas hint at al-Khasibi'sactivity. al-'Ani is also mentionedby al-Adhani(see below) as one of the saints of the Nusayriyya.(28) The diwans have been studiedby As'ad 'Ali, a scholarfrom Damascus,who mistakenly believes al-Khasibito have been a Sufi shaykh. (29) 5. MS Hamburg303: Partof this manuscripthas been publishedin a critical edition by Strothmannin 1958, and was called after its copyist, Shaykh Mahmud Ba'amra. (30) Its title is Akhbar wa-Riwayat 'an Mawalina Ahl al-Bayt minhumal-salam. This is a collection of Nusayri religious traditionson various subjects, recordedin no particularorder.The manuscript seems to reflect the traditionof the Nusayris of Syria, as most of alKhasibi's traditionsare transmittedthroughhis Aleppan disciple, al-Jilli.
(24) Bar-Asherand Kofsky, "An early Nusayritheological dialogue,"p. 169. (25) This assumptionis based on the following comparison:In ES fo. 177a, Harunquotes from a book edited by al-Jisri:"Whoeverhas worshippedthe ism throughthe truth,has in fact worshippedthe ma'na."In al-Khasibi'sanswer to Harun,ES fo. 50a, we find "Whoeverhas worshippedthe ma'na throughthe truthof the ism, has declared that there is only one God." The worship of the ma'na is discussed in Bar-Asherand Kofsky, "An early Nusayri theological dialogue,"pp. 171-172. (26) As'ad Ahmad 'Ali, Fann al-Muntajibal-'Ani wa-'Irf anuhu (Beirut:Dar al-Nu'man, 1967). On alMuntajib'sdwadn,see: C. Brockelmann,Geschichte der arabische Literatur(Leiden: Brill, 1937), vol. 4, p. 327. see (27) On the possibility that he was one of the muwahhiduin, As'ad 'Ali, p. 242. The line in which he wa-ma'bifa-hiyna aynamiwa-qawlukum/qawli praises the family of Muhammadibn Nusayr:avyamukum bi-'l-sirri nma'bidi dukumn (Your days are my days, your saying/is my saying and your secret worshipis my worship). (28) al-Adhani,p. 4. (29) This error resulted from the fact that the muwahhidanare also called a tariqa, meaning that the Nusayris saw al-Khasibias shaykhnawa-tariqatunaila mawlanaS "ourleaderand our pathto our lord,"i.e. to Ibn Nusayr or to 'Ali. See ES fo. 42a. However, the possibility of Sffi influence on the Nusayniscannot be completely excluded. "Risalatal-ShaykhBa'amrahibn al-Husayn (30) al-ShaykhMahmid Ba'amraibn al-Husaynal-NusayriL bei EsoterischeSonderthemen den Nusairi (Berlin :Akademie-Ver(MS Hamburg303," in: R. Strothmann, lag, 1958).



Some of the traditionsappearin the early al-Hiddya al-Kubrdand Majmu'
al-A 'yad.

6. al-Bakuraal-Sulaymaniyya Kashf Asrdr al-Diydna al-Nusayriyya: fi This book was writtenby Sulaymanal-Adhani,who was initiatedinto the secrets of the Nusayri religion, but left the faith and converted in turn to Islamandto Christianity, finallypublishedthe sect's secrets.(3) and Judaism, The book has been intensivelystudiedand forms the main source of knowreligionin modernresearch.The most important ledge aboutthe Nusayrn part of it is Kitdbal-Majm ', a book holy to the Nusayris(32) whose date of composition is unknown.The book includesprayers,and is divided into sixteen parts.Thereare certainQur'anicelementsin Kitdbal-Majmu',e.g. each part is called a sura, thereare sectionsin rhymingprose, the use of Qur'anicterquotationsfrom minology (bismillah,subhana allah) and even (inaccurate) the Qur'an.(33) Theologicalideas are expressedin Kitdbal-Majma',and the saints of the sect are mentioned,among whom one may find figures from Greek, Persianand Muslim legends. al-Adhani'scommentary,which someof times can be useful for the understanding unclearphrases,appearsat the end of each sura. In additionto Kitdbal-Majmu',al-Adhani'sbook includes of description Nusayriholy days, varioustheologicalprinciples,prayers(each called quddds,i.e. Mass) said on differentoccasions, and Nusayri hymns of many periods.(4) al-Adhani'sbook can be linked to early Nusayriliterature in terms of both ideas and specific contents. al-Adhani was familiar with Majmu'al-A'ydd and quoted it. He even remarkedon differencesbetween of variousNusayri groups in the interpretation certain verses of it. (35)The book includes detailed descriptionsof religious ceremonies that al-Adhani in underwent his home village a centuryand a half ago. Although the book was composedduringthe 19thcentury,it has preservedvery ancientNusayri ideas andprinciples. 7. Ta'rikhal-'Alawiyyin:(36)A collection of quasi-historical Nusayritraditions. The 'Alawite author,MuhammadGhalib al-Tawil, served as the Ottomangovernorof Tartusat the beginningof the nineteenthcentury,and made every effort to lessen the differences between the Shi'ites and the Nusayris,even calling them by the same name: 'Alawiyyin.It seems thatalTawll wove togetherpopulartales and Shi'ite history.This bias, and the lack in of sacredtraditions the book, areevidence thatthe book is not particularly
(31) E.E. Salisbury,"Notice of the Book of Sulaiman'sFirstRipe Fruit,Disclosing the Mysteriesof the NusairianReligion,"JAOS8 (1866), p. 228. of the (32) Dussaud(p. xiv) statesthatthe NusayrisconsiderKitabal-Majmun' cornerstone theirfaith,and that it contains all their doctrines. According to a folk legend, it was given by the prophetMuhammadto twelve Nusayriholy men (nuqabd',sing. naqib), and contains the words of the god 'Ali. (33) Dusaud(p. xv) claims thatthe Qur'anicverses became corruptedduringa process of oral transmission. (34) Dussaud,p. xvi. (35) ibid. (36) Accordingto Hashim 'Uthman(p. 146), the first edition was printedin Turkeyin 1919.



reliable, historicallyspeaking. However, authentichistoricalfacts are often hinted at, or referredto inexactly. 2. The biography of al-Khastbi 2.1. Childhood: was Abu 'Abdallahal-Husaynibn Hamdanal-Khasibial-Junbalani bornin the 3rd/9thcentury,accordingto one sourcein 260/873. (37) His familyresided an in Junbala, Iraqitown locatedbetweenKufaandWasit.(38) He was nicknaal-Khasib. (39) Hamdan,al-Khasibi's med al-Khasibiafter his grandfather, of father,was a transmittor Shi'ite traditions, mostlyconnectedto the stra (bioHis of the prophetMuhammad. uncle, Ibrahimibn al-Khasib,was a graphy) murdbit of the Imamal-'Askari.Both are mentionedin al-Khasibi'sbook. (40) as in (41)Anotheruncle,Ahmadibn al-Khasib, appears Shi'ite literature one of al-'Askarion the birthof his the faithfulwho went to Samarrato congratulate Hamson al-Mahdi(the twelfthImamand Shi'ite messiah).Like his brother (42) dan,he seems to have excelled in sira literature. al-Khasibigrew up in a Shi'ite family that was close to the Imam, and thus was exposed to religious experiencesfrom an early age. In his book, he states that alreadyin 273/886 (perhapsaged 13) he prayedwith the congregation of the mosque in western Medina in which the prophetMuhammad and his cousin 'Ali had prayedtogether.(43) In anotherplace in his book, he states that he performedthe hajj in 282/895, and before that had ascended Mt. Abi Qabis, where he saw the Prophet'sfootprint.(4) al-Khasibihad a broadspiritualworld. His writingsreveal a man with a rich command of Arabic, learned in the religious sciences (especially Qur'an, exegesis and had?th),and a talented poet equally knowledgeable aboutpre-Islamicand Islamic-periodpoetry. (45)
(37) al-Tawil, p. 259. Accordingto al-Tawil, al-Khasibiwas bornin 260/873, perhapsaiming to connect this to the death of the Imam al-'Askariin the same year. (38) Yaiqt al-Hamawi,Mu'jamal-Buldan (Beirut:Dar al-Kutubal-'Ilmiyya, 1990), vol. 2, p. 195. (39) Muhammadal-Amin al-Husayn al-'Amili, A 'vn al-Shi'a (Damascus: Matba'atal-Itqan, 1947), vol. 15, pp. 345-346. who dedicatedthemselvesto defendingIslam'sboris (40) murabit murabitun) the namefor volunteers (pl. to of ders,living lives of asceticismand religiousdevotion.The murabit a Shi'ite Imamwas dedicated defending the ImAmand to living as a religiousascetic in his proximity.See Georges Marcais,"Ribft,"El VI (1936), & of pp. 1151-1152;CyrilGlasse,The ConciseEncyclopedia Islam(New York:Harper Row, 1989),p. 335. (41) On Hamdan,see al-Khasibi,pp. 54, 59, 60,67, 69, 151-153, 159. On IbrShim,see ibid., p.67. (42) On the travelsof 70 disciples of the Imamal-'Askari(among them Ahmadibn al-Khasib)to Samarra to congratulatehim on the birthof al-Mahdi,see ibid., pp.344-349; MuhammadBaqir al-Majlisi,Bihdr alAnwcr (Beirut:Mu'assasatal-Wafa', 1983), vol. 78, pp. 395-397. Ahmadappearsmainly is the isnads of traditions about the Prophet,cf. e.g. al-Khasibi,pp. 54, 59, 162. (43) al-Khasibi,p. 121. (44) ibid., pp. 67-68. poe(45) Forexamples of quotationsof pre-Islamicpoetry,see ibid., pp.110, 111,197;for Islamic-period try, see ibid., pp. 106-107, 406.



2.2 His first mystical guidance: While still young, his educationtook a radicalturnwhen he met 'Abdallah al-Jannan,a fellow townsman,perhaps at the instigation of his uncle Ahmad. (46)al-Jannan was nicknamed "al-Farisi"(the Persian) and "alZahid"(the ascetic), and his writings betray the influence of Iranianreligions. (47) According to the Nusayri literature,al-Jannantransmittedto alKhasibithe principlesthat he had received in the 3rd/9thcenturyfrom Abu Shu'ayb Muhammadibn Nusayr al-Namiri, who claimed that he was the Bab (i.e., the "gateway"- see below) to the secret of the Imam Hasan al'Askari. al-Jannandied in 287/900. (48)His influence on al-Khasibi was decisive. al-Khasibi decided to follow in his teacher's footsteps, in the knowledge that this was not the path of the majorityof Shi'ites, including his own family. In the absence of a guide, al-Khasibisearchedfor someone else, who would be capable of continuing his study of Muhammadibn Nusayr's mystical teachings.This searchseems to have lasted twenty-seven years. 2.3. His second mysticalguidance: in Accordingto the Nusayriliterature, 314/926 al-Khasibimet an ancient mystic named 'Alu ibn Ahmad, a disciple of Ibn Nusayr's, in the town of Turba near Karbala'. At their meeting, which took place on the tenth of Muharram,'Al revealed to al-Khasibithe hidden meaning of that day, the day of 'Ashura'.It is statedthat 150 of the mystic's pupils also participated in this meeting, whose purposewas al-Khasibi'sinitiation. 'Ali revealedto that al-Khasi^bi the Imam Hasan al-'Askari had chosen, out of all his disciples, to bless Ibn Nusayr (and not Ishaq ibn Muhammadal-Nakha'i alAhmar,the object of the devotion of the contemporary Ishaqiyyasect). The Imam even declared that Ibn Nusayr was bab allah wa-wali al-mu'minin (the gateway to Allah and the leaderof the faithful). (49) The period following the disappearance the twelfth Imam was characof terizedby greatconfusion among the Shi'ites. The questionof the continuation of the Imam's spiritualleadershipengaged all the Shi'ite sects, and the While the Imamwas absent,the Shi'a were in need Namiriyyain particular.
is (46) A connectionbetween al-Khasibi'suncle, Ahmad,and al-Jannan hintedat by theirboth appearing of (see above, n. 42). amongthe representatives Junbalain the groupof 70 disciples who travelledto Samarra (47) On al-Jannan,see Halm, "Das Buch der Schatten,"pp. 257-258. (48) al-Adhani, pp. 15-16. According to Kitab al-Majmai',the principles of the Nusayri religion were transmitted follows: Muhammadibn Nusayr> Muhammadibn Jandab> 'Abdallahal-Jannan> al-Khaas sibi; cf. Halm, ibid., pp. 256-258. The sources indicateadditionalpaths of transmission. (49) al-Tabarani,pp.126-131.0n the Ishaqiyya and their conflict with the Nusayriyya, see al-Tawil, pp. 262-264; Bar-Asherand Kofsky, "Anearly Nusayritheological dialogue,"pp. 268-269, n. 65. In another anti-Ishaqiyyatradition,transmittedby al-Khasibifrom al-Jannan,Hasan al-'Askari gatheredhis disciples, and chose Ibn Nusayr, not Ishaq al-Ahmar,in orderto performthroughhim a miracle that would repel the 'Abbasidattack.See Ba'amra,p. 18.



of spiritualguidance. Several sects, among them apparentlythe Namiriyya, refused to accept the authorityof the sufard'. (50) this context, it is worth In noting that according to Nusayri tradition, al-Khasibi's guide 'Ali ibn Ahmad al-Turba'iclaimed to have been appointedas a safir by the Imams 'Ali al-Hadi and his son Hasanal-'Askar. (51) al-Turba'icarriedout a ceremonythroughwhich he appointedal-Khasibi to be his successor as the leader of the communityof the faithful in Turba. of madeal-Khasibiresponsiblefor the continuation al-Turba'iand al-Jannan Ibn Nusayr's path by transmittinghis secrets. al-Khasibl inherited the Imam's esoteric knowledge. It is, therefore,possible that al-Khasibiconsidered 'AlI al-Turba'ithe sole legitimate safir. 2.4. al-Khasibtbecomes a spiritual leader: did al-KhasEbT not regardhimself as the leaderof a Shi'ite splintergroup, but ratheras the guide of the communitythat still followed the true path of the Shi'a in accordancewith the will of the Imam and his bab, Ibn Nusayr. Convinced of his own righteousness,al-Khasibiin his poems refers to his disciples as shl'at al-haqq (the true Shi'a) (52) and shi'at al-huda (the rightpath Shi'a). (53)

From the Nusayri traditionswe learn that as a result of his mystical studies, al-Khasiblsaw himself as a mediatorbetween the humanworld of his disciples and the spiritualworld. His poems are filled with religious enthusiasm. In a certainsection of his Qasida al-Ghadiriyya, he describesa mystical experienceof his, referringto himself in the thirdperson: is a of YourJunbalamn descendant KhasTb Theslaveof slavesto twelvefull moons[= thetwelveImams] fed His father'was withthemostsecretof secrets
From the exegesis of the Exegete [= 'Ali ibn Abi Talib] (54)

rose And[al-Khasibi] upto thehijdb [veil,see below],thehijdbof Allah in Untilhe castanchor thesea of hearts the with of Andwas watered thefinewineof Salsali[anepithet Salman, hijab] Truth Andhe wasgivento drink theLordof Sufficient by
who accordingto the Shi'a remained (50) safir, pi. sufard' (also wakil, pl. wukala'):The representatives in touch with the Imam al-Mahdiduring the lesser occultation,until his final disappearancein the greater occultation(260-329/874-941). See E. Kohlberg,"Safir,"E2 VIII (1995), pp. 811-812. Accordingto Shi'ite traditions, the second safir, Abi Ja'far Muhammadibn 'Uthman, rejected and cursed Ibn Nusayr. See E. Kohlberg,"Bara'ain Shi'i Doctrine,"JSAI7 (1986), p. 166. (51) al-Tabarani, 128. p. (52) ibid., p. 113. of 112. In the same qasida, al-Khasibialso blesses the 70 muwahhidain the "greatShi'a"(al(53) ibid., p. sht'a al-kubri), probablyreferringto the 70 disciples of Hasan al-'Askari, including his uncle Ahmadand his teacheral-Jannan. (54) sahib al-tafstror al-ta'wil is an epithet of 'All among the Shi'a. See, e.g., al-Majlisi, vol. 39, p. 93; vol. 40, p. 53.



And he swore to give the careless [= the Shi'ites] (55)to drink In the name of the slaughterer, drinkof the slaughtered[hints at Husayn's the martyrdom] And he will be seen by anyone who gazes upon him clearly While he remainswithoutbeing present[hints at docetism (56)] And the glorious grandsonof al-Khasibwill stand At the head of the holy ones in the impressivearray When he tells those who wanderedand strayed[again, hints at Shi'ites]
About Abui Shabbir [=Husayn or 'Ali] (57)and the Light of Giving... (58)

The verses of the qasida show that al-Khasib underwent a mystical experience that convinced him that he was right, and caused him to feel that a higher being (perhaps the hijab Salman) had appointed him as leader of his community. In this early stage of the development of the cult, the pillars of the Nusayri theology (59) already appearin citations from al-khasibi: The Holy Trinity and its the appearance in human history (60), docetism of al-Husayn (61), bdtin (secret or mystical) meaning of Persian and Islamic holidays (62), and reincarnation.(63) 2.5. The beginning of propaganda: al-Khasibi seems to have spread his message via open propaganda, and thus to have placed himself and his disciples in severe danger. The center of the Islamic Empire, Iraq, was extremely unstable, and this instability reached its height in the first half of the 4th/lOth century. Yet the execution of al-Hallaj, the widespread arrests initiated by the authorities in Baghdad and the liquidation of those suspected of aiding the Carmathianrebels, did not deter al-Khasibi. (6) It would
call or (55) The Nusaynrs the Shi'itesmuqassira dhlial-taqsir,since they believe thatonly they havepreserto of ved the originalreligionaccording the instructions the Imrm,while otherShi'ites perform only some of the commandments. H. Modarressi, See Crisisand Consolidation the FormativePeriod of Shii Islam (Princeton: in The DarwinPress, 1993),p. 41. (56) On Docetismsee F. L. Crossand E. A.. Livingstone,The OxfordDictionaryof the ChristianChurch OxfordUniversity Press, 1997),p.493;The Qur'anal-Nisa' (4):157. (Oxford: is vol. See, (57) Abf Shabbir Husayn'sepithetin a lamentin his memorysungat Karbala'. e.g., al-Majlisi, 42, and are of p. 241. Abf Shabbir mightbe 'Al, as Shabbar Shabbir nicknames his sons Hasanand Husayn.Accorthe ding to a Shi'ite tradition, two were given the same namesas Aaron'ssons (Sheferand Shafir)beforethese nameswere translated Arabicas Hasanand Husayn.See M. Bar-Asher, into "Onthe place of Jews andJudaism in earlyShi'itereligiousliterature," Pe'amim61 (1994), p. 29 [in Hebrew]. (58) al-Tabarami, 59. p. attribute Khasibithe foundation the Nusayritheology,see:al-Adhani, 27. to of (59) Al-Adhani p. Ma'na - Ism/Hijab bab, see: Dussaud,pp. 41-67; ES, p.45b.On its appearance (60) On the Nusayritrinity: as Ali - Muhammad Salman,see for example:ibid., al-Tabarfni, p.56, ES, pp. 47a+b. On the last appearance, thatof al-'Askarial-Mahdi ibn Nusayr,see:ES,p. 44a betweenthedocetismof Jesusandthatof al-Husayn. al-Tabarani, 58,110-1111. See: (61) al-Hasibi compares pp. see: ibid., pp. 56-57. (62) On the nornzi, al-Tabarani, 198-199;'Asheiri':ibid., p. 127;al-Ghadir: pp.

(63)ibid.,p. 56.

in in in al-Kdail (64) On the situation Iraqin general,andin Baghdad particular, thisperiod,see: Ibnal-Athir, El1 al-'Ilmiyya,1987), vol. 7, pp.l, 23, 34, 64, 74; A.A. Duri,"Baghdad," I fi '-Ta'rikh(Beirut:Dar al-Kutub El2 see (1986), pp. 899-900:D. Sordel,"'Irak," ml (1986), p. 1255.On al-Hallaj, J. Baldick,MysticalIslam-An to Introduction Sufism(London:I.B. Tauris,1989).pp. 46-49.



seem thatthe Nusayritradition, accordingto which the governorof Baghdad al-Khasibi openlypreaching message,canbe datedto theperfor his imprisoned iod between 314-333/926-945. The end of the traditiondemonstratesthe Nusayninatureof his teaching:"...Whenhe had the chance he ran away and spreadamonghis disciplesthatthe lordMessiah[Jesus]had rescuedhim, and thathe [Jesus]was [the reincarnation Muhammad of the eleven sons of of] and Muhammad's the ImamsdescendedfromFatima,the daughter of [i.e., daughter
the prophet Muhammad] ..." (65)

It would seem, then, that the cause of al-Khasibi'simprisonment was his public preachingof his beliefs, which clearly denied Islamic principles. 2.6. The move to Syria and foundingof the sect: al-Khasibi's persecution and imprisonmenton the one hand, and his to attraction Jesus on the other,were probablythe reasonsfor his decision to move to al-Sham ("greaterSyria"),where he acted with great circumspection, having learned his lesson in Baghdad.In a verse that appearsin two Nusayrisources, al-Khasibiblesses al-Sham,the land where Jesus was born and Muhammadascended to heaven, but curses its inhabitants.(66)This shows that the Iraqi, of foreign origin and outlandishfaith, was confronted by no few difficulties. Accordingto one source, the only place in which alKhasibiwas able to establisha communityin the region was Harran. The (67) members of the community were called muwahhidun(monotheists). (68) According to this source, the membersnumbered51: 17 Iraqis, 17 Syrians and 17 "people of the secret standingat the gates of Harran." (69) Among these muwahhidunwere future leaders of the community after al-Khasibi: ibn Muhammad 'All al-Jilli and 'Ali ibn 'Isa al-Jisrial-'Iraqial-Qatan. (70)
(65) al-Adhani,p. 16: wa-lammalaha[t - Middle Arabic,Y.F.] lahu fursatan haraba wa-ash'ara bavna alwa-abna' bint muhammad atbd'ihi bi-anna al-sawvidal-masih khalasahulavlan wa-annahumuhammad ahad 'ashar.One should take care not to identify this descriptionwith a similarstoryaboutthe imprisonment of HamdanQarmat,a mistake which repeatsitself among scholars. See, e.g., M. Moosa, ExtremistShiites alThe GhulatSects (New York: SyracuseUniversityPress, 1980), pp. 262-266, 504 (n.56). In this tradition, Adhaniquotes verses in which al-Khasibiclains thatthe hijdbfreed him: A mercifulfathertold me O son of al-Khasib,you arefree and releasedThroughthe veils (hujub)of the family of Ahmad[=the prophetMuhammad] So long as you live you are free, and full of their love. The special relationship between al-Khasibi and the hijab is hinted at in the first sara of Kitab manuscripts,see Bar-Asherand Kofsky, "An al-Majnm':see al-Adhani,p. 9. On Middle Arabicin Nusayrn early Nusayritheological dialogue,"pp. 261-262. (66) al-Adhani,pp. 16, 23, 83. An almost identical version is in al-Tabarani, 176-177. pp. (67) Yaqit, vol. 2, pp. 271-273. Yaqiit's commentthatthere is also a village near Aleppo called Harran (wa-harrdnaydanmin qurtihalab) is worthyof note. The muwahhidfin may have settlednearAleppoalready at this stage, and this may hint as to why al-Khasibichose to move to this city shortlybefore his death. and (68) The city of Harranwas the center of the Sabaeansect, who were star-worshippers, may have influencedal-Khasibi.However, Dussaud's claim of Sabaeaninfluence on the Nusayriyyaremainsa theory only. See Glasse, p. 340, al-Shahrastam, 660. p. (69) al-Adhan, ibid. The number 17 is presumablyconnected to a ceremony describedby 'Ali al-TurHasan al-'Askariblessed 'Ali al-Turba'iand his disciples, and gave ba'i to al-Khasibi,in which the mnam him seventeendates. See al-Tabarfni,p. 129. (70) al-Adhani,ibid.



Abu '1-Fadl Muhammad Husaynal-Muntajib ibn al-'Ani mentionsHarran in one of his verses, and in anotherpoem he states that "the sons of Namlr"
keep their faith in secret. (71)

2.7. The returnto Iraq: Circumstances Baghdadchangedin 336/947, when the Persian-Shi'ite in Buyid dynasty seized power. (72) The new governmentwas an opportunity for al-Khasibito returnto Iraq.A Nusayrisource statesthatal-Khasibireturned to Turbain 336/947, and found that the muwahhidun communitynumbered 140 persons. (73)According to the historianIbn al-Athir, a group of was arresinfidels, whose views were similar to those of the muwahhidun, ted in Baghdadin 340/951, afterthe deathof theirleaderAbuf Ja'farMuhammad ibn 'All ibn Abi Qaraqir.They addressedthe Buyid ruler Mu'izz alDawla in the simple words nahnu sh"'at 'all ibn abl tdlib (We are the supportersof 'Ali ibn Abi Talib), and were released. This incident could indicate the ability of extremistShi'te groups to survive in Buyid Iraq.(74) 2.8. al-Khasibi's taqiyya- Posing as a Shi'ite tradent: enough al-KhaDespite his activity among the muwahhidin,surprisingly sibi appearsin Shi'ite literatureas an importanttransmittor traditions. of Shi'ite traditionson his authoritywere recordedin the canonicalbook comin posed by Muhammad Baqiral-Majlisi(d. 1267/1700).Traditions which alKhasibi appearsin the isnad deal, among others, with the transferenceof divine light from one Imamto another,(75) miraculousbirthof the twelfth the
Imam, (76)and the importance of silence during prayer. (77)Traditions in which

he is the final link to Hasanal-'Askariincludethe tale of thejourneyof 70 disto the ciples to Samarra congratulate Imam on the birthof al-Mahdi(78)and the date of al-'Askari'sdeath.(79)al-Khasibi'sbook Kitabal-Hiddyais mentioned in a list of books "around which the millstonesof the Shi'a turn"and "thereis no Shi'ite householdfrom which they are absent."(80) "Thebook of is work,buthere al-Husaynibn Hamdan" describedas a praises-of-the-Imams
(71) As'ad 'Ali, pp. 239-240. (72) On the Buyids, see: M.G.S. Hodgson, "The Buyid Era,"in: S.H. Nasr et al. (eds.), The Expectation S of the Millenninum Shiism in History (New York: SUNY Press, 1988), pp.155-158; J.L. Kraemer,Humanism in the Renaisanceoflslam: The CulturalRevivalDuring the BuyidAge (Leiden:Brill, 1986); C. Cahen. El2 I (1986), pp. 1350-1357; Modarresi,pp. 96-105. "Buwwayhids," (73) al-Tabarani, 131. p. (74) Ibn al-Athir,p. 34. (75) al-Majlisi, vol. 15, p. 4. (76) ibid., vol. 15, pp. 25-28. (77) ibid., vol. 82. p. 27. (78) ibid., vol. 78, pp. 395-397. (79) ibid., vol. 50. p. 335. (80) ibid., vol. 102, pp. 37, 102.



al-Majlisiaddsthata numberof biographers rejectedit (eitherthe book or alKhasibi himself). (81)

al-Khasilbi himself relatesin his book that, duringthis period of the crystallizationof the Shi'a, he supportedthe Twelver view of the succession to the Imam. In a house in east Baghdad, 'Askar al-Mahdi, he tried through logic and analogy to prove to Ja'far's disciples that the Imam after aland 'Askartmust be his son Muhammad, not Ja'far,the Imam's brother.(82) to this and anotherNusayri source, al-Khasibi heard a tradition Acording from Yahya ibn Muhammadal-Kharqi(or al-Barqi)in east Baghdadon alkhattdabn al-hattbin) fi qati'at malik ("the khattabinin Malik's land). (or: (83) Abu 'l-Tayyib Ahmad ibn Abu 'l-Hasan heard a traditionfrom al-Khasibi in his house (it is unclearwhetherthis is Abu 'I-Tayyib's or al-Khasiroad in Baghdad. (4) In 344/956 al-Khasibi bi's house) in the Bab al-Kuifa ibn arrivedin Kufa, where he gave an ijdza (teaching permit) to Haruin Musa al-Tal'akbarf,one of the most reliable and importantof Shf'ite traAnother respected Shl'ite of Kufa, Abu 'l-'Abbas ibn 'Uqda aldents. (85) traditionsfrom al-Khasibiand praisedhim. (86) However, Hafiz transmitted in later Shi'ite literatureal-Khasibiis considered less reliable. Ahmad ibn 'Ali al-Najashi's biographicaldictionaryshows that al-Khasibi was seen as of a transmittor unreliabletraditions,and of faulty opinions (fdsid al-madhhab). (87)In his book Lisan al-Mizan,Ibn Hajaral-'Asqalanlquotes a Shi'ite called Ibn al-Najashi, as saying of al-Khasibi: "He mixed and composed [books] of the Nusayri religion and broughtevidence for them. He said: He of believed in the reincarnation men and in the incarnationof the deity."(88) Whetherhe was consideredreliable or not, we can conclude that al-Khasibi succeeded in constructinga new image for himself in Baghdad, the image of a learned Twelver Shi'ite. However, we should not jump to the conclusion that al-Khasibi abandoned his secret principles. Rather, his image should be seen as a useful cover for his activity (doubtlesslyclandessect. In otherwords, he adoptedthe tine) meantto establishthe muwahhidun Shi'ite principle of taqiyya, accordingto which the believer must keep his faith secret, while outwardlybehavingas if he were one of his opponents.
(81) ibid., vol.1, p. 39. see (82) al-Khasib,ipp. 384-386. On Ja'far'ssupporters, Muhammadibn Nu'man al-'AkbariShaykhalMufid, al-Fusul al-Mukhtdra(Beirut:Dar al-Adwa', 1986), pp. 260, 262; Modarressi,pp. 84-86. (83) al-Khasibi, pp.328-331, using the words al-kharqi, al-khattdbin;Ba'amra, pp. 18-19, using the words al-barqi, al-hattdabn. (84) al-Tabaram^, 133. p. (85) Muhammadibn 'All al-Astarabadi,Minhaj al-Maqdl (Tehran:Mutabbi' Karbala'i Muhammad Husayn al-Tahrani,1307 AH), p. 112. On al-Tal'akbari,see Agha Buzurg al-Tahrani,TabaqatA'l1m alShi'a (Beirut:Dar al-Kutubal-'Arabiyya, 1971), vol. 2. pp. 188-189. Lisdnal-Mizdn(Beirut:Dar al-Fikr, 1987), vol. 2, pp. 343-344. On Abu '1(86) Ibn Hajaral-'Asqalmni, 'Abbas ibn 'Uqda, see ibid., vol. 1, pp. 287-289. (87) See. e.g., Ahmadibn 'Ali al-Najashi,Rijal al-Najiishi (Beirut:Dar al-Adwa', 1988), vol. 1, p. 187. al-Nusay(88) al-'Asqalani,p. 344: wa-dhakaraibn al-Najdshfannahu khallatawa-sannafafi nmadhhab rivya wa-ihtajjalahurnqdla wa-kAna yaqilui bi-'l-tandsukhwa-'l-hulll.



2.9. The establishmentof the Iraqi center: Togetherwith the Shi'ite activitiesdescribedabove, al-Khasibicontimued his to nurture community.The new atmosphere enabledal-Khasibito become active in Baghdadonce more,and he appointed pupil 'All ibn 'Isa as head his of the muwahhidan there.(89) al-Khasibi'steachingsto al-Jisrican community be learnedfrom the Risalat al-Tawhidcomposed by one of al-Jisri'spupils. This epistle is in the form of al-Jisri'squestions and al-Khasibi'sanswers, In mainlyon the subjectof the Nusayriholy trinity.(90) this epistle al-Khasibi that of explainsto al-Jisrn in the most recentmanifestation the trinityto humaIbnNusayrwas the bab, the thirdelementof the trinity.(91) nity, 2.10. The connection with the Buyids: al-Khasibi composed another epistle, entitled Rast Bash (Persian: Be righteous!),which indicates its didactic purpose.Nothing of this epistle has been preserved,except for two quotationsin Majmur' 'yad by al-Tabaal-A rani, al-Khasibi'ssuccessor. The two quotationsrefer to the mystic meaning of the monthof Ramadan.(92) The epistle's Persiantitle might indicatethat it was not intendedfor Arab muwahhidun. connot be establishedwhether It the contents were written in Persian or in Arabic. (93)In Ta'rikh al-'Alawiyyin it is reportedthat the epistle was dedicated to Adud al-Dawla, the Buyid ruler of Iraq, who was therefore nicknamed rast bash al-daylami,
information that is unique to this source.

al-Tawilpreferred to mentionin his Ta'rikhal-'Alawiyyitnthatin reanot lity, the epistle was not dedicated to the famous ruler Adud al-Dawla, but ratherto his brotherand rival, Abu Mansur 'Izz al-Dawla Bakhtiyar.(95) Bakhtiyar,who was a successful poet and patronof poets, but a failureas a ruler, is describedby the historianIbn al-Kathir(d. 774/1372) as "feebleminded and little [bothered] by religion," (96)and in Shi'ite traditionas and "pampered a seeker of pleasureand wine." (97) In Arabic Bakhtiyar's nickname was corrupted,and he was called ras bash, as evinced by the poet al-Muntajib's596-line panegyric dedicatedto
in (89) He is called "al-Jisri" two sources,see ES fo. 42b; al-Tawil, p. 259; Accordingto Ta'rkh al-'Alawiv'vin (ibid.), this was because he was the inspectorof the bridges of Baghdad. (90) It can be assumed,from the wordingof the beginningof the epistle, thatit was transmitted a pupil by of al-Jisri.See ES, fo. 42. On the Nusayri trinity,see Halm, "Nusayriyya," 148. p. fo. 44a. (91) ES, (92) al-Tabarani, 12-13, 154. pp. to states (93) The possibilitythatal-Khasibi'sepistle was translated Persianis not unlikely. Brockelmann that Massignonreadal-Hidaia al-Kubrdin Persian(Brockelmann,SI, p. 326). (94) al-Tawil. p. 260. (95) On the Buyid rulers,see Kraemer,pp. 31-102. (96) Ibn Kathir,al-Bidaya wa-'l-Nihdya (Beirut:Maktabatal-Ma'rif, 1988), vol. 11, p. 290: wa-kana 'izz al-dawla da'if al-'aql wa-qalil al-din. (97) al-Majlis., vol. 41, p. 352.



him. (98) It would seem that al-Muntanjib the link connecting al-Khasibi is and Bakhtiyar,as he composed poems in honorof both of them. This, however, is not sufficient evidence to prove that he mediatedbetween them. 2.11. al-Khasibi appoints a successor in Iraq: Before al-Khasibileft Iraqfor the last time, he left a kind of "will"to alJisri.The last partof Risalat al-Tawhtdshows him explaining to al-Jisrihow to transmittraditionsfrom him, and asked him to follow his path: I command you, sir, to be in contact with your brothers[the muwahhia dun]... and that you say [when transmitting traditionto them]: X son of Y told me, on the authorityof Abu 'Abdallahal-Husaynibn Hamdanal-Khasibi, on the authorityof 'Abdallahal-Jannan ... [Next page:] Do not pole(99) micize throughit [= knowledge] with the ignorant,('1) and do not argue[lit. expose your teeth] over it with the mistaken,and be as a fortressto them, do not hide what you know from your brothers,and do not suspect [thatthey will reveal] what you understand, and beware of thieves ... [Next page:] Fear God with a true fear, know him with a true knowledge and be a true monotheist..." (10') We may also conclude from the epistle that already in al-Khasibi's time there were theological disputes among the muwahhidun.(102)

(98) As'ad 'All, p. 17. The name Shihab al-Din Bakhtiyaribn Abi Mansir Rasbash al-Daylami al'Ajami appearsin Brockelmannas that of the Nusayri authorof a long mystical qastda on the family of the (Brockelmann,SI, p. 326). ProphetMuhammad (99) Regardingthe isnad thatal-Khasibimentions,he explains thatal-Jannanreceived traditions directly from the last Imamsand theirintimateassociates,e.g. Yahya ibn Mu'in (see Halm, "Das Buch der Schatten," pp. 237, 254), Muhammadibn Isma'l al-Hasani and 'Askar ibn Muhammad(unidentified).The first two appearin the isndds of al-Hidaya al-Kubra.Yahya: ibid., p. 392; Muhammad:ibid., pp. 353, 357, 367. (100) In his epistle to al-Jisri,al-Khasibiuses the termjuhhdl(ignorant)to referto those who should not know the secrets. In his conversationwith 'Abdallahibn Harin al-Sa'igh, he states thatthe secret knowledge used these termsto is salvationfor the 'drifin(those who know; ES, fo. 51b). This indicates that al-KhasibT differentiate between his intimates (the pupils of Harran)and other people. However, one should not conclude that at this early stage in the sect's development,there was the differentiationbetween the khlssa and the 'amma(elite and lower class, names for initiatedand non-initiatedNusayris) that exists today. On and this division, see Dussaud,pp. 117-118. It seems thatat this stagejuhhal and 'drifinreferto muwahhiditn as non-muwahhiduin, throughoutal-Khasibi's writings there is no prohibitionon teaching his secrets within the sect. In Risdlat al-Tawhid, al-Khasibieven tells al-Jisri not to conceal his knowledge from his brother muwahhidiun. (101) ES, fo. 47b-48b: ... uwassiukaya saviidi bi-silat ikhwanika... wa-taqtilhaddathanifildn 'anfiulin ibnfiiln 'an abt 'abdallahal-husayn ibn hamdan 'an abi 'abdalldhal-jannan ... a1tintmribihi al-juhhdlwawa-la tazunn a tlukashir bihi ahl al-dalal wa-kun lahum hirzan wa-la tukatimikhwanakama ta'lamuhui mn 'alayhinm tafhamuhuwa-ihdar[ihdhars Middle Arabic, Y.F.] al-lustIs ... fa-taki llah haqq tuqiitihiwai'raf bi-llah haqq ma'rifatihiwa-wahhidhuhaqq tawhidihi... (102) ES, fo. 46a.



2.12. The center in Aleppo and the appointment a successor in Syria: of In his last years al-Khasibireturned Syria,choosing to live in Aleppo or to its vicinity.(103) The Shi'iteArabdynastyof the Hamdanids ruledAleppofrom enabledhim to live thereunderhis respectable 333/945. These circumstances Shi'ite identity, while secretly managingthe affairs of his community.He expressedhis Shi'ite identityin his book, al-Hiddyaal-Kubrd,on the twelve Imams, which he dedicated,accordingto al-Tawil, to the court of Sayf alnoticeis reinforced another source:The Shi'ite Dawlaal-Hamdani. ('04)This by at seem to have preferred to mentionthe tale of al-Khasibi the not biographers Hamdanite court. However, this matterhas been preservedby Ibn Hajaral'Asqalani,who writes of him, "it is said that he used to frequentSayf alThe word "said"hints that the authorof the source used by alDawla."(105) a probably Shi'ite, madean effortto presentthe noticeas unreliable. 'Asqalam, from We learn of al-Khasibi'ssecret activities among the muwahhidan chose one of his disciplesfromHarran, Muhammad of ibn 'AlI al-Jilli,to lead the muwahhidan Aleppo. ('06) Accordingto al-Tabarani,al-Khasibi explainedto al-Jillithatin certainversesof his Qasidaal-Ghadiriyyahe had intendedto satirizevarioussects, includingthe Hallajiyya(the of ibn and Howesupporters the crucifiedal-Hallaj Mansur) the Ishaqiyya.(107) whetherthis is a quotation case, it is difficultto determine ver,in thisparticular reworkedlaterby al-Tabarani. main The from al-Khasibihimself, or material instruction al-Jilliis a number Nusayritraditions of in of sourcefor al-Khasibi's which al-Khasibi teachesal-Jillldoctrineslike allegoricalinterpretations the of (108) Qur'an,the Nusayritrinity,Husayn'sdocetismandreincarnation. In 346/957 al-Khasibidied at an advancedage, while the Hamdanidsstill ruled Aleppo. (l@O) According to anotherversion, he died in 358/969, (]0) when the Byzantines gave up their seige of the city due to the plague there.
("') His grave in north Aleppo, where - according to al-Tawil - he is called

ShaykhYabraq,is the last piece of evidence for his residencein the city. (112) al-Khasibidevoted his life to the spreadingof Ibn Nusayr's principles,as the they had been transmittedto him by his disciples. He transformed principles Ibn Nusayrhad handedon to individualsinto the crystallizedreligion of an entire community, extending along the Euphrates.His biographycan be summarizedas follows:
nearAleppo, by Yaqft, see above, n. 61. (103) On the mention of anotherplace, Harran (104) al-Tawil, p. 259.
ca (105) al-'Asqalani, pp. 3443-344: ... qUla innahu k6na 'ulmmusaf al-dadwla.

(106) al-Tawl, p. 259. (107) al-Tabarani, 72. p. (108) Ba'amra,pp. 1. 2, 6. 12, 13. (109) al-Tawil, p. 259. (110) al-Tahrani,vol. 1, p. 112. al-'Amili. p. 345. (111) Ibn al-Athir,p. 314. (112) al-Tawil, p. 259.



260/873 (?) 273/886 282/895 Before 287/900 (Jannan'sdeath) 314/926

Iraq:Junbala Al-Madina Mecca Iraq:Junbala Turba

Birth. education(family) Prayerin mosque Hajj Education(al-Jannan) Education('Ali ibn Ahmad) Public preachingand arrest of Establishment teaching / propaganda centers Visit to miiwahhid9n community Religious disputation. transmission traditions of

Formation of Nusayrt religious element

Holiness of ibn Nusayr. Ibn Secret meaning of 'AshOra, Nusayr is the < bdb >. Al-Khasibiis the sect's leader. Jesus muhammadand the Imamsare one claimedhe met). (the "ist" or "hijdb'thatal-khasibi

Before 333/945 Baghdad (rise of the Buyids) ? al-Sham:Harran 336/947 ? Iraq:Turbl Baghdad:1) east Baghdad. 'Askaral-Mahdi: 2) al-Khattabin. Qati'at Malik: 3) Bab al-KOfa. 344/956 ? Kufa Baghdad

The Nusayri <<Taqiyya>.

Giving of ijaza to al-Tal'akbari Appointmentof al-Jisri before departure. dedicationof Risalat Rast Bash Appointmentof al-Jilli. Dedicationof al-Hi&dasya al-Ktibrd.death.

346/957 or 358/969


The <Taswhid,(monotheism). The Trinity:"-na'na'."ism" or "hijitb" "bdb". and Secret meaningof Ramadan. Docetism. Allegorical of interpretations the Qur'an and reincarnation.

3. al-Khasibt's

literary writings

al-Khasibi's writings are of two types: Nusayri and Shi'ite. works: 3.1. Nusayrn a Nusayri traditionattributes numberof poems to al-Khasibi,but the only in one actuallyto be namedis the Qas?daal-Ghadlriyya,broughtapparently its entirety by al-Tabarani,which deals with the mystical meaning of Ghadir Khumm. (113) al-Tabaranieven quotes verses from other poems by alKhasibf in order to reinforce his claims, all with correct metre and a set (sing. tarnima),hymns, in which al-Kharhyme. al-Adhaniquotes tarainim sibi praises God. (114) Modern sources, such as al-Adhani in the nineteenth centuryand As'ad 'Ali in the twentieth,quote verses from dtwanal-Khasbil thatare not mentionedin otherpoems, which includeNusayriprinciplesand
(113) al-Tabarani, pp. 56-58. (114) al-Adhani, pp. 51-52.



poems, most of which are now lost. Their purpose was to express complex theological ideas in a ceremonialand aestheticfashion, so thatthey could be learnedby the muwahhidun. al-Tabarani mentions epistles of al-Khasibi's,but apparentlyis referring to three which were at his disposal. One epistle, which was possibly given to al-Jilli, was called Fiqh Risalatihi ("The Law of His Epistle"),and was divided into chapters.We know that one chapterdealt with the doctrineof Husayn's docetism, (16) and anotherwith the Persianmanifestationsof the

autobiographical elements. ("5) It would seem that al-Khasibi left many

The second epistle mentioned by name is al-risala al-rastba-

RdstBdsh, referredto by al-Tawil. shiyya, whose correctname is apparently The quotationsfrom it appearingin al-Tabarani in Arabic, although,as are mentionedabove, it was dedicatedto the Persianruler calls it risalatihi ("his epistle") for short, and the passage takenfrom it deals with mystical meaningsof the days of the year and of festivals (especially Ramadan).(18) The thirdepistle is called al-Siyaqa ("the transport"), and it is mentionedonce by al-Tabarani within the context of the manifestations of the ma'nd and the ism from Adam to Muhammad.("9) Another epistle, known from MS Paris 1450 as Risalat al-Tawh&d, a is collection of questions and answers regardingthe true natureof the divine trinity.However, the contentsare similarto a discussion between al-Khasibi and al-Jisriabouta certainunnamedepistle of the former's.(120) In the same manuscriptappears an additionalepistle, edited by al-Jisri, describing alKhasibi's teachings to 'Abdallah ibn Harun on the relations between the
ma'ni and the ism.

The epistles are collections of traditions dealing with

various theological issues, in a (disciple's) question and (master's) answer format. In contrastto the poems, which were meant for the religious cerethe monies of all the muwahhiduin, epistles (except for Rdst Bash) seem to have been dedicatedonly to prominentmenbersof the sect, with whom the issue at stake had been discussed. 3.2. Shi'ite works: Shi'ite literaryhistory attributesmany books to al-Khasibi,but many of them are differentnames for the same book. al-Hiddya, (122) called also alHiddya al-Kubrd, Ta'rikhal-A'imma and al-Hiddya fi Ta'rikh al-A'imma
(115) ibid., pp. 13, 16. 85; As'ad 'All, p. 232. (116) al-Tabaram,n 108-109, 110-111; Ba'amra,p. 13. pp. (117) al-Tabaranip. 189. (118) ibid., pp. 19, 108, 155 (explicitly). It may be concluded that risdlatihi is Rdst Bdsh, as the same mattersare dealt with in both; al-Tawil, p. 260. comment, n. 4. (119) al-Tabarani, 188, and see Strothmann's p. (120) ES, fo. 42a-b. (121) 48b, 176b. for (122) The earliestdocumentation the book is al-Tabarani, 97. who calls the book Kitdbal-Hiddva. p.



wa-Mu'jizactihim, is the only Shi'ite book composed by al-Khasibito (123) have survived to the present.The book comprises traditionsabout the Prophet Muhammad,his daughterFatima and the twelve Imams. al-Khasbib states there that he has abridgedthe materialso that the book would not be too long, and indeed, Shi'ite traditionstransmitted al-Khasibi exist that by do not appearin al-Hidaya, but in otherNusayri sources. (124)The book was dedicated,as mentionedabove, to Sayf al-Dawla, the rulerof Aleppo. (25) Otherbooks are not availableto presentresearchers theircontentsare and unknown:al-lkhwan and al-Masa'il are mentionedin Shi'ite literature,(126) and also by the Sunnite Ibn Hajaral-'Asqalani. (127) addition, two other In Shi'ite works are mentioned,Asma' al-Nabl wa-'l-A'imma(128) and Risalat

of which the latter, whose name means "confusion," may

have been a Nusayri work. We saw above that the Nusayri materialwas composed in the formatof poems and epistles, ratherthan books, which were expensive and required financingby a patron.As the patronsin al-Khasibi'simmediateenvironment were the Buyids and the Hamdanids,he was able to compose books only about the principlesof Twelver Shi'ism. Possibly Risalat al-Takhlftwas the only epistle given to a Shi'ite rulerratherthan a leader of the muwahhidun, which was how the Shi'ites came to know of it. In this case, the epistle might be Rast Bash underanothername. To sum up: Most of al-Khasibl's works are lost. His Nusayri works may have disappeareddue to a numberof causes: Persecutionof the sect by the Muslim authoritiesthroughouthistory probablybroughtabout the destruction of material.It is possible that rivalry between different Nusayri sects and tribes also caused the loss of some data. However, it may be assumed that there is still a quantityof Nusayri materialthat has never been studied, due to the sacred writings being concealed from non-initiates.The fact that Shi'ite workspreservedonly the traditionsin the Hiddya shows thatal-Khasibi's other books were lost within a few centuriesof his death. This reinforces the assumptionthatthe Hiddyawas his most prominentShi'ite work, and also, perhaps,the least taintedby ghuluww.
(123) al-Najashi,vol. 1, p. 187; al-Astarabadi, 112; 'Abdallahal-Mamaqani,Tanqfhal-Maqal ([n.p.]: p. Mubashiratal-UstadhMuhammadRida, 1352 H.), p. 326; Agha Buzurg al-Tahrani,al-Dhari'a ild Tasdnif Sahib al-Dhari'aal-'Amma, 1978), vol. 25, pp. 164-165; al-'Amili, p. 347. al-Shia (Najaf: Maktabat (124) al-Khasibi,p. 414. For traditionsthat are not in the Hidiya, see, e.g., Ba'amra,p. 21, the tradition about the miracleof the Imam al-Rida. (125) al-Tawil, p. 260. He claims that the book was writtenwhile AbOFiras al-Hamdfni was held captive by the Byzantines. ibid.; al-Mamaqani,ibid.; al-'Amili, ibid. al-lkhwdn is mentioned (126) al-Najashi,ibid.; al-Astarabadi, called also by al-'Asqalini, ibid. al-Adhanimay have known a commentaryon the Masd'il by al-Tabarai^, al-Dald'il bi-Ma'rifatal-Masa'il (al-Adhani,p. 17). (127) al-'Asqalani,vol. 2, pp. 343-344. (128) Ahmadibn Hasanal-Tfisi, Fihrist Kutubal-Shi'a (Najaf: al-Matba'aal-Haydariyya,1961), p. 82; al-'Amili, ibid. ibid.; al-Mamaqam, ibid.; al-'Amili, ibid. (129) al-Najashi,ibid.; al-Astarabadi.



al-Khasibi'sworksmay have been lost because the Shi'ites did not regard them as reliable. al-Najashicomplainsthathe is fasid al-madhhab (theologically unsound), and most biographers,following this, considered him
completely unsound.

However, later attitudes seem to have changed,

perhapsbecause only the Hidaya was known. We saw that al-Majlisi quoted him and considered him most reliable. The question of al-Khasibi's reliability has been raised in the modern period by the Shi'ite biographer Muhsin al-Amin al-'Amili. Despite referringto early biographies,al-'Amili states thatalthoughal-Khasibican be acused of ghuluww,as a tradenthe is reliable.He bringsforwardtwo proofsfor this: (a) The reliableal-Tal'akbari received an ijaza from him; (b) Sayf al-Dawla received him at his court. Therefore, he claims, al-'Asqalani's accusation that al-Khasibi was a Nusayri is untrue. (131) al-'Amili's reaction shows the difficulty existing among Shi'ite biographersin evaluatingthe ghulat, due to theirpivotal role
in the shaping of Twelver Shi'ism.

4. Conclusions The Nusayri materialavailable to researcherstoday is limited. Yet, all sources show that Husayn ibn Hamdanal-Khasibiplayed a crucial role in the formationof the sect's theology. al-Khasibialso laid the foundationsfor the Nusayri religious law developed by Maymunibn al-Qasim al-Tabarani. al-Khasibl changed the patternsof activity among Ibn Nusayr's disciples. the Formerly,the disciples had transmitted mystic traditionspersonallyto a small group of initiates, and most of them died before passing on their their knowledge to al-Khasibi:al-Jannan secrets. Two disciples transmitted and al-Turba'L. al-Khasibidid not continue this clandestine traditionof his masters. Under the impulse of his religious enthusiasm,he endangeredhis life duringa stormyperiodof Baghdad'shistory by the public preachingof the principleshe had not the only persecutedmystic in Baghdad.He presumablyknew of al-Hallajand extreme SufTand Shi'ite not groups and was influenced by them. Had al-Khasi'bi fled Baghdad,the well not have existed. Nusayriyyamay very al-Khasibichose the Euphrates routeand went northto Harran,where he truly founded the Namfriyya, later called the Khasibiyya and the Nusay(130) al-'Amili, vol. 15, p. 347. (131) ibid.. p. 348. (132) The ghuldt played an important partin the forming of the Shi'a, some of them being intimatesof the Imams.The Shi'ites preservedtraditionsfrom them while rejecting their views. al-'Amili tried to settle this problem.and quoted the seventh Imam,Misa al-Kazim,as saying with regardto the ghulLit that Allah created people with faith, and later took away their faith, when He wished to punish them. See al-Majlisi, vol. 48, p. 116. al-Majlisiexplains thatthereare two statesof ghuldt:a state of walking in the TruePath(istiqdinla) and a state of exaggeration(ghuluww)and the sin of confusion with non-Islamicelements (takhlt). Their traditionsshouldbe accepted when they are in the first state, and rejectedwhen they are in the second. See ibid., vol. 2. pp. 253-254. On the Shi'a's more tolerantattitudetowardsthe Nusayrisas comparedto the Sunna. see above, n. 13.



of riyya. Fromhere on the elements characteristic a sect began to exist: leadership,community,organizedactivities and principles.Harranwas a center for the study of ghuldt traditionstransmittedto al-Khasibi. Prominent pupils at Harranbecame the leaders of the sect and al-Khasibi's successors. al-Khasibiconsideredthe sect he foundedthe truecontinuationof the Shi"a, which had been left without an Imam, and the principles he taught have remainedthose of the Nusayriyya to this day. al-Khasibiwas torn all his life between the Shi'a and the Nusayriyya.He was educatedas a Shi'ite and later by the disciples of Ibn Nusayr. He lived in the world of Shi'ite Islam, while absorbingIbn Nusayr's traditions.His bitter experiences in Baghdad drove him to the conclusion that the best defense for the sect he had founded would be secret activity on the partof the faithfuland his own taqiyya. al-Khasibi's taqiyya was expressed by his actingoutwardlyas a Shi'ite, in orderto live as a Nusayriin secret.This phenomenonis explainedby the rule of Shi'ite dynastiesthroughout Islamic the world at the time the sect was founded. al-Khasibiundoubtedlywas a charismaticfigure, a poet and a thinkerof stature.LearnedShi"itestransmittedtraditionson his authorityand discussed religion with him, while he used his travelsbetween Harran Kifa to and establish two secret Nusayri centers, in Iraqand in Syria. The two worlds, the Shi'ite and the Nusaynr,were completely different, but taqiyya prevented the accusationof heresy. al-Khasibi,who claimed to continue"thetrue Shi'a," foundeda new religion. Elementsforeign to Islam that had trickledinto ghulat ideas since the earliestdays of the Shi'a received prideof place and became articlesof faith for al-Khasibi.While there is no evidence at all for pagan influences on alKhasibi, the roots of many traditionsthat he transmittedare to be found among the ghulat of Kufa. Presumablyal-Khasibi was also influenced by Sufism. The sect was called a tariqa, its membersformeda kind of Sufi brotherhood,and al-Khasibiwas called shaykh.He even called his community a muwahhidun, typical Sufi epithet. However, this influence seems to have been limited to these externals, and al-Khasibilearned from the Sufis only the organizationof a group led by a mystic. The story of al-Khasibi can teach us about the Shi'a after the disappearanceof the Imam,and about the character the Shi'ite dynasties.It seems of that the Buyids and Hamdanidswere partyto the disarrayamong the Shi'a caused by the absence of the Imams. This situationenabled the activity of dissident Shi'ite groups, which did not accept the authorityof the sufara' and considered themselves the true successors of the Shi'a of the Imams. However,as we have seen, these groupsrequiredtaqiyyain orderto survive, even under the wings of the Shi'ite dynasties. This shows that Twelver Shi'ism was acceptedby these dynasties,and there was surveillanceof ghulat groups,althoughno violent persecution.This limited tolerancemade alKhasibi's activity possible. 111


al-Khasibi's ability to gather supportersindicates the crisis among the Shi'ite masses, who looked for guidance in the absence of an Imam. As Twelver Shi'ism crystallized,so did ghulat groups headed by charismatic figures. The Shi'a rejectedthese groups;however, despite the ostracismof the Nusayriyya, al-KhasTbi himself was not personally affected, due to his use of taqiyya.His success was so greatthathe continuesto appearin Shi'ite literatureas an importanttradentto this very day, at the same time as he appearsin Nusayri literatureas the founderof the sect's mystical theology. The developmentof many religionsis linked to two main figures, usually the preacherand the founder.Thereis an ideological connectionbetweenthe two, but usually the foundersets the forms in which the religion is expressed and gives it his personal interpretation, e.g., in Christianity:Jesus and Paul; in Islam: Muhammadand 'Umar; among the Druze: al-Hakim and Hamzaibn 'Alt; among the Baha'is: the Bab andBaha'allah.(133) IbnNusayr was the first preacherof the Nusayriyya, while al-KhasTbi was the actual founderof the sect. The Nusayriyyais both a sect thatderives from the Shi'a and a new religion no longer partof Islam. YaronFrieman

"'Umarb. al-Khattab: Paulof Islam?"in idem., SomeReligiousAspects The (133) See H. Lazarus-Yafeh, of Islam (Leiden: Brill, 1981), pp. 1-16.