The Alawi of Basra Ali bin Mohammad Known as Sahib Al-Zandj (killed in 270 AH/ 883 AD): a new Approach to his Ancestry and Creed

Modar Adnan Telfah


This article sheds light on Ali bin Mohammad, known as Sahib Al-Zandj, his ancestry and his religious beliefs and analyzes the goals he strived to achieve in his uprising against the Abbasid Caliphate (255-270 AH / 869-883 AD). Due to his Zaydi-Alawite association, Ali bin Mohammad considered himself Imam and heir to ‘Isa bin Zayd and his family and some confirmed the validity of his ancestry and claim to the Imamate. His rebellion, calling for reform and social and economic justice, represented both an intellectual and military threat to the Abbasid Caliphate, who organized a counter informational and military campaign denying his ancestry and Zaydi-Alawite connection and rejecting his claim to be the heir of the Zaydiyyah beliefs in order to block expansion of the uprising and reduce public sympathy for him and so easily crush the uprising. He faced the enmity of other Shi‘ites, who sensed the danger of his uprising and identified with the Abbasids, helping the Abbasid Caliphate to achieve victory. The position of other Shi‘ites against him created a negative image for him in the historical sources referred to in recent studies.


Ali bin Mohammad, Alawi of Basra, Sahib Al-Zandj, Shi‘ites, Zaydiyyah, Abbasid caliphate.

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