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Al-Muqanna‘ was a Persian man who claimed to be a prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 and is viewed as a heretic
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 by mainstream Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...



Al-Muqanna‘ was an ethnic Persian from Merv
Merv , formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria and Antiochia in Margiana , was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of...

 named Hashim ibn Hakim, originally a clothes pleater. He became a commander for Abū Muslim
Abu Muslim
- External links :* *...

 of Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

. After Abū Muslim's murder, al-Muqanna‘ claimed to be an incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 of God, a role, he insisted, passed to him from Abū Muslim, who received it via ‘Alī
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 from the Prophet Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

. Al-Muqanna‘ was reputed to wear a veil in order to cover up his beauty; however, the Abbasids claimed that he wore it to hide his ugliness, being one-eyed and bald. His followers wore white clothes in opposition to the Abbasids' black. He is reputed to have engaged in magic and quackery to impress his followers as a maker of miracles. Al-Muqanna‘ was instrumental to the formation of the Khurramiyya
The Khurramites were an Iranian religious and political movement with its roots in the movement founded by Mazdak. An alternative name for the movement is the Muḥammira "Red-Wearing Ones" , a reference to their symbolic red dress.-Origins and History:The sect was founded by the Persian cleric...

, a sect that claimed Abū Muslim to be the Mahdi
In Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on Earth for seven, nine or nineteen years- before the Day of Judgment and, alongside Jesus, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny.In Shia Islam, the belief in the Mahdi is a "central religious...

 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 set fire to his house when he was on the verge of being captured. After his death, the sect continued to exist until the 12th century, waiting for al-Muqanna‘ to return again.

Cultural references

The first poem in Lalla Rookh
Lalla Rookh is an Oriental romance by Thomas Moore, published in 1817. The title is taken from the name of the heroine of the frame tale, the daughter of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb...

(1817) by Thomas Moore
Thomas Moore
Thomas Moore was an Irish poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, now best remembered for the lyrics of The Minstrel Boy and The Last Rose of Summer. He was responsible, with John Murray, for burning Lord Byron's memoirs after his death...

 is titled The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, and the character Mokanna is modeled loosely on al-Muqanna‘.

St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

, businessmen referenced Moore's poem in 1878 when they created the Veiled Prophet Organization and concocted a legend of Mokanna as its founder.
For many years the organization put on an annual fair and parade called the "Veiled Prophet Fair," which was renamed Fair Saint Louis
Fair Saint Louis
Established in 1878 and reconstituted in 1981, the Veiled Profit Fair, nominally the Fair Saint Louis starting in in 1992, is an annual festival held during the July 4 holiday in downtown St. Louis, Missouri at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Some call it "America's largest birthday party"...

 in 1992. The organization also gives a debutante
A débutante is a young lady from an aristocratic or upper class family who has reached the age of maturity, and as a new adult, is introduced to society at a formal "début" presentation. It should not be confused with a Debs...

 ball each December called the Veiled Prophet Ball
Veiled Prophet Ball
The Veiled Prophet Ball is a dance held each December in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, by a secret society named the "Veiled Prophet Organization" , first founded by prominent St. Louisans in 1878, and originally part of the Veiled Prophet Fair , which today is Fair St. Louis...


The Mystic Order of the Veiled Prophet of the Enchanted Realm (founded 1889), a social group with membership restricted to Master Masons
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, and its related organization, The Daughters of Mokanna (founded 1919), also take their names from Thomas Moore's poem.
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 writer Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

 used a fictionalized al-Muqanna‘ as the central character of The Masked Dyer, Hakim of Merv
A Universal History of Infamy
A Universal History of Infamy, or A Universal History of Iniquity , is a collection of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, first published in 1935, and revised by the author in 1954. Most were published individually in the newspaper Critica between 1933 and 1934...

, a 1934 short story, and in another story fifteen years later, The Zahir
The Zahir
The Zahir is a short story by the Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It is one of the stories in the book The Aleph and Other Stories, first published in 1949, and revised by the author in 1974....

, as a past avatar of the titular object.

External links