Abstract Prof. Christian C. Sahner
Christian C. Sahner (Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford)
Abstract: Mardāwīj b. Ziyār (d. 323/935): The Last of the “Nativist Prophets” in Early Islamic Iran
The history of Iran in the early Islamic period is punctuated by a series of uprisings at the hands of non-Muslim or partly-Islamized rulers. Patricia Crone famously referred to these men as "nativist prophets," who mixed and matched elements of Zoroastrian and Muslim beliefs. Although Crone's story ended in the ninth century, she could have profitably extended it to the tenth, when we find the last of these "nativist prophets," Mardāwīj b. Ziyār (d. 935). Hailing from Gīlān on the Caspian Sea coast, Mardāwīj was a non-Muslim who harnessed the dissident religious and political currents of his mountainous homeland in order to conquer much of western Iran. He also aspired to abolish the ʿAbbasid caliphate and found a new, reformed version of Zoroastrianism. This article, the first to examine Mardāwīj's career in detail, explores the Caspian as a haven for Zoroastrian and Sasanian revivalism; it also explores Mardāwīj's revanchist ideas against the backdrop of three hundred years of Islamic history in Iran.