Hashim (Arabic/Persian: هاشم), better known as al-Muqanna‘ (Arabic: المقنع "The Veiled", died ca. 783.[1]) He was among the first few to resist the Arab-imposed religion Islam, and he organized many attacks on Arab armies and took back whatever they looted. He was a chemist, and one of his experiments caused an explosion in which a part of his face was burnt. For the rest of his life he used a veil and thus was known as "Almughanna" ("the veiled one"). Nafisi and Aryanpoor have elaborated on Khorram dinan. A Persian man who claimed to be a prophet, he founded a religion which was a mix of Zoroastrianism and Islam. He is viewed as a heretic by mainstream Muslims.

Name and early life

Before he came to be known by the nickname of "al-Muqanna", he was called by his birth name, Hashim. Early scholars believed that he was born in Sogdia. However, it is now agreed that his birthplace was in Balkh, a city close to Sogdia.


Al-Muqanna‘ was an ethnic Persian from Merv named Hashim ibn Hakim, originally a clothes pleater. Zarrinkoob states that al-Muqanna was originally a goldsmith, who later studied material sciences. He also learned magic, spells, and trickery.[2] Furthermore, Hakim is a title for a learned or sage. He became a commander for Abu Muslim of Khurasan. After Abu Muslim's murder in 755 AD, al-Muqanna‘ claimed to be an incarnation of God, a role, he insisted, passed to him from Abū Muslim, who received it via ‘Alī from the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Al-Muqanna‘ was reputed to wear a veil in order to cover up his beauty; however, the Abbasid Caliphate claimed that he wore it to hide his ugliness, being one-eyed and bald. His followers wore white clothes in opposition to Abbasid black. He is reputed to have engaged in magic to impress his followers as a maker of miracles.

Al-Muqanna‘ was instrumental in the formation of the Khurramiyya, a sect that claimed Abū Muslim to be the Mahdi and denied his death. When al-Muqanna‘'s followers started raiding towns and mosques of other Muslims and looting their possessions, the Abbasids sent several commanders to crush the rebellion. Al-Muqanna‘ poisoned himself rather than surrender to the Abbasids, who had set fire to his house. Al-Muqanna‘ died in a fort near Kesh.[1] After his death, the sect continued to exist until the 12th century, waiting for al-Muqanna‘ to return again.

Cultural references

In 1787 Napoleon Bonaparte wrote a two-page short story about Al-Muqanna called "Le masque prophete". [3]

The first poem in Lalla-Rookh (1817) by Thomas Moore is titled The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, and the character Mokanna is modeled loosely on al-Muqanna‘.

St. Louis businessmen referenced Moore's poem in 1878 when they created the Veiled Prophet Organization and concocted a legend of Mokanna as its founder.[4] For many years the organization put on an annual fair and parade called the "Veiled Prophet Fair," which was renamed Fair Saint Louis in 1992. The organization also gives a debutante ball each December called the Veiled Prophet Ball.

The Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (founded 1889), often known as "the Grotto", a social group with membership restricted to Master Masons, and its female auxiliary, the Daughters of Mokanna (founded 1919), also take their names from Thomas Moore's poem.[5] [6]

Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges used a fictionalized al-Muqanna‘ as the central character of The Masked Dyer, Hakim of Merv, a 1934 short story, and in another story fifteen years later, The Zahir, as a past avatar of the titular object.

See also



  1. 1 2 The Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd ed. Vol. 7. Page 500.
  2. ʻAbdolhossein Zarrinkoob (2016). Two Centuries of Silence) translated by Avid Kamgar (1st ed. 2016 ed.). Bloomington, USA: AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-52462-253-4. p.135
  3. Le masque prophète
  4. History, Veiled Prophet Organization, 2009, retrieved 2009-12-15
  5. The Grotto,, 2007, retrieved 2009-12-15
  6. Lalla Rookh Caldron, Daughters of Mokanna, Lalla Rookh Grotto, archived from the original on 2009-10-31, retrieved 2009-12-15

External links

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