It was the 129th year following the Hijrah and Amirul Mu’mineen Marwan II – the last of the Damascene Umayyad Caliphs was preoccupied with military campaigns against rebels and renegades causing him a thousand and one problems. If he wasn’t engaged in some sort of internal power struggle or plot emanating from internal family feuds, he was preoccupied with trying to put an end to the relentless and continual Kharijee insurgency that had plagued the Umayyad realms following the death of Hisham Ibn Abdul-Malik.
During the final phase of the Umayyad Khilafa, it would seem as if everything that could possibly go wrong was going wrong, all at the very same time.
Meanwhile, several hundred miles away – a solitary figure saddled gallantly into town under the cover of secrecy, this harbinger of doom came bearing some very unexpected yet urgent news, coming from “The Imam” himself.
Several hours later, the shadowy figure arrived at his destination, Al-Khurasan, the eastern region in the Iranian Plateau between Western and Central Asia.
The arrival of this messenger marked not only the beginning of the first day of Ramadan, but it would also cement the beginning of the end for the Umayyad hegemony.
“Oh people of Khurasan! Imam Ibrahim Ibn Muhammad, the great grandson of Abdullah Ibn Abbas has sent me -Abu Muslim- to you, bearing news of a tremendous victory and of your deliverance from the oppressive and tyrannical reign of the Umayyads and their corrupt administration!
People of Khurasan, listen attentively, the time has come for the Banu Abbas to proclaim their legitimacy and eligibility for the Khilapha, openly and without further secrecy.
The Imam has hereby invested in me the authority with which to invite you all to pledge your allegiance and loyalty to his mission, openly and publicly. Do not hesitate to come forth and pledge your allegiance to the new Abbasid Caliph! “
Abu Muslim Al-Khurasani had finally disclosed the secret mission that had been so long been concealed. Now that the Imam had signalled his approval, the Abbasid campaign was made public and deliberately, there was no backtracking – the Umayyads were going to be tremendously shaken by Imam Ibrahim Ibn Muhammad al-Abbasi.
Abu Muslim Al-Khurasani was an agent provocateur and also a key figure employed by Imam Ibrahim owing to Abu Muslim’s reputation for being a ruthless yet reliable enforcer, despite his youth and very modest circumstances.
Thus Abu Muslim Al-Khurasani was sought out and entrusted to serve as the official Abbasid envoy (chosen by Imam Ibrahim himself) to convey news throughout the land, ensuring that no house or gathering remained ignorant to this call. Abu Muslim performed his task with exceptional proficiency.
Throughout Ramadan, Abu Muslim would meet daily with chieftains and clansmen who were arriving in order to pledge their allegiance to the Imam – through his representative in Khurasan, Abu Muslim.
Events in Khurasan took on a new order of magnitude during the final week of Ramadan on a Thursday evening, five days before the end of the blessed month – when Abu Muslim gathered a select group of people before whom he would unveil the secret documents and items that were sent to him by the “Imam”.
This most unexpected and solemn ceremony was in fact the official inauguration for the new “Abbasid Era”, a line in the sand and a historical event of seismic significance for the Muslim world.
Prior to this watershed moment, the Abbasids had long concealed their plans under the cover of secrecy having waited ever so patiently and intently as the Umayyad Caliphate rapidly imploded and collapsed under the mounting internal and external pressures that were daily multiplying. Thus when the opportunity finally arose and all the necessary conditions were present, the Abassid plot was unveiled, emerging from the shadows and stepping into the light, plain for all to see.
However, there was one final ritual yet to unfold.
That evening, Abu Muslim Al-Khurasani arrived while he was dressed in Black attire from head to toe, he began the evening’s events by unveiling two Black banners, both of which had been sent to him by the Imam.
The first banner was called “the Cloud” and the second banner was called “the Shade”. These banners were symbolic of the rise and reign of the mighty Abbasids whose sovereign rule would spread to encompass all that is on earth, just as the clouds move and encompass the terrestrial realms, while also permeating and penetrating every corner and crevice, just like the shade.
The symbolism was clear, the Abbasids were going for a complete takeover. They would mark their stamp of sovereignty from the farthest corners of the Arabian peninsula to the farthest corners of Asia and everything in between. There was simply no space for two dynasties to reign at once.
Black became the official emblem and marker for the Abassid movement. They would henceforth be seen to wear black attire while carrying the black banners overhead.
As the inaugural meeting continued, Abu Muslim raised the banners on two spears, he recited the following Qur’anic verse from Surah al-Hajj (which is interesting because before this point, Abu Muslim and his supporters were travelling through the land under the guise of making Hajj).
“Permission to fight has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. Verily Allah is capable of granting them Victory”
From this very moment onwards, the Abbasid enterprise was no longer an underground movement for it had finally transitioned into the mainstream and was rapidly growing in numbers and support.
And on the day of Eid, following Abu Muslim’s tremendously successful Ramadan masterplan, the population of Khurasan were addressed from a pulpit erected especially for this much anticipated speech.
To mark the occasion on which the Umayyad boat was to be sunk and the Abbasid Ship unveiled, Abu Muslim ordered for the replacement of the Adhan (that had been established as a Sunnah by the Umayyads for the Eid prayers) with the Proper and Orthodox call to the Eid prayer
As the people gathered, Abu Muslim ordered that the Eid prayer be performed BEFORE the Khutbah and not after it (as had been done by the Umayyads). Additionally, he started the prayer with seven Takbirs instead of the four Takbirs that had been practiced by the Umayyads.
With these simple yet very acute configurations to the Eid ceremony, the Abbasid envoy demonstrated how much of the Eid prayer and ceremony was changed (and seemingly corrupted) by Umayyad administration, thereby demonstrating the need to “Restore the Real Sunnah” while expunging all remnants of Umayyad excess and innovation from the land.
Abu Muslim Al-Khurasani’s tactical preparation and delivery of the Eid prayers and Khutbah virtually effaced and drained all and any remaining Umayyad credibility in the lands of Al-Khurasan, it was clear as day – the only way forward was under Abbasid leadership.
When the prayers were concluded, Abu Muslim delivered an eloquent yet unrelenting Khutbah wherein the Umayyads were spared neither blame nor condemnation. The message had to be as clear as day, the Umayyads had to go, for good.
To conclude this most eventful Ramadan and Eid ceremony, Abu Muslim prepared food and provisions which would be distributed among the people present that day.
Alas, the horse had bolted out of the stable, the deed was done and there was no moving backwards.
Abu Muslim’s mission in Al-Khurasan was now almost complete, however this was only the preliminary phase of a much more elaborate plan that would result in a complete Abbasid Revolution.
Abu Muslim had performed his role faithfully and outstandingly, all he had to do now was await the signal from Imam Ibrahim.
( to be continued…)
Authored by; AZHistorian
This blog first appeared on ILMFILM’s YouTube Channel