Babak Khorramdin

Babak Khorramdin

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Bābak Khorram-Din was one of the main Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 revolutionary leaders of the Iranian Khorram-Dinān
Khurramites
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...

 ("Those of the joyous religion"), which was a local freedom movement fighting the Abbasid Caliphate. Khorramdin appears to be a compound analogous to dorustdin (orthodox
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

) and Behdin "Good Religion" (Zoroastrianism), and are considered an offshoot of neo-Mazdakism
Mazdak
Mazdak was a proto-socialist Persian reformer and religious activist who gained influence under the reign of the Sassanian Shahanshah Kavadh I...

. Babak's Iranianizing rebellion, from its base in Azarbaijan in northwestern Iran
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

, called for a return of the political glories of the Iranian past. The Khorramdin
Khurramites
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...

 rebellion of Babak spread to the Western and Central parts of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and lasted more than twenty years before it was defeated. Babak's uprising showed the continuing strength in Azerbaijan of ancestral Iranian
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 local feelings.

Early life


Bābak was born into a Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 family in Āzerbāijān (northwestern Iran
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

) close to the city of Artavilla (modern Ardabil
Ardabil
Ardabil is a historical city in north-western Iran. The name Ardabil probably comes from the Zoroastrian name of "Artavil" which means a holy place. Ardabil is the center of Ardabil Province. At the 2006 census, its population was 412,669, in 102,818 families...

). According to Wāqed ben Amr Tamimi, the oldest biographer on Babak, Bābak's father was a Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 from Madā'īn (formerly known as Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

, capital of Sassanian Persian Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

, 35 km south of modern Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

) who left for the Āzarbāijān frontier zone and settled in the village of Balālābād in the Maymadh district. According to Fasīh, his mother - a native Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 of Āzarbāijān - was known as Māhrū (meaning Moon-Face/Belle in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

).

After his father's death in his early teens, Babak was given the responsibility of his 2 brothers and mother during a traditional Zoroastrian ceremony in a fire-temple. By the age of 18, Bābak had established himself in the city of Tabrēz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

 and was engaged in the arms trade and industry.
Later on, this engagement gave him the opportunity to travel to some regions and become familiar with regions like the Caucasia
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, the Middle East, and the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

.

Movement


In 755, Abū Muslim of Khorassan
Abu Muslim
- External links :* *...

, a famous and popular Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 nationalist, was murdered. Although he had helped the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

s to defeat the former Caliphs, the Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

 dynasty, the ruling Caliph had given the order to kill him, probably because of his increasing popularity among Iranians and Non-Muslims. Many Iranians, who had expected more freedom and more rights from the new rulers, could not believe that their hero was killed by the ruling Caliph whom they had considered a friend of Iran and Iranians.

This incident led to many revolts, mostly by angry Zoroastrians
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

. This, in turn, forced the Caliphs to use more violence against the Iranian population in order to keep the eastern provinces under control. The constant revolts did not come to an end in the following decades, and the Iranian population of the Caliphate was constantly being oppressed.

Babak joined the Khurramiyyah (Khorram-Dinān). The story of joining the Khorrami movement is being told in Waqed's account, in summary, as follows:
Under the direction of his mentor Javidan Shahrak, a leader of one of the sects of the Khorramdin, Babak's knowledge of history, geography, and the latest battle tactics strengthened his position as a favorite candidate for commander during the early wars against the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 occupiers.

Bābak was a highly spiritual person who respected his Zoroastrian heritage. He made every possible effort to bring Iranians together and also with leaders such as Maziar
Maziar
Maziar was an Iranian aristocrat of the House of Karen and feudal ruler of the mountainous region of Tabaristan...

 to form a united front against the Arab Caliph. According to the medieval historian, Ibn Esfandyar, who composed the book Tarikh-e Tabaristan "History of Tabaristan", Maziar
Maziar
Maziar was an Iranian aristocrat of the House of Karen and feudal ruler of the mountainous region of Tabaristan...

 said:However, one of the most dramatic periods in the history of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 was set under Bābak's leadership between 816-837. During these most crucial years, they not only fought against the Caliphate, but also for the preservation of Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and culture.

After the death of Javidan, Babak married Javidan's wife and became the Khorramis' leader, sometime in the year 816-17 during al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
Abū Jaʿfar Abdullāh al-Māʾmūn ibn Harūn was an Abbasid caliph who reigned from 813 until his death in 833...

's reign. Babak incited his followers to rise in rebellion against the caliphal regime. The reports state that Babak called Persians to arms, seized castles and strong points, thereby barring roads to his enemies. Gradually a large multitude joined him.

According to Vladimir Minorsky, around the 9th-10th century:There had long been groups of Khorramis scattered in Isfahan, Azarbaijan, Ray, Hamadan, Armenia, Gorgan, and elsewhere in Iran, and there had been some earlier Khorrami revolts, e.g., in Gorgan jointly with Red Banner (Sorkh-'alamān) Bātenis in the caliph Al-Mahdi
Al-Mahdi
Muhammad ibn Mansur al-Mahdi , was the third Abbasid Caliph who reigned from 158 AH to 169 AH . He succeeded his father, al-Mansur....

's reign in 778-79, when 'Amr b. 'Ala', the governor of Tabarestān, was ordered to repulse them, and at Isfahan, Ray, Hamadan
Hamadan
-Culture:Hamadan is home to many poets and cultural celebrities. The city is also said to be among the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities.Handicrafts: Hamadan has always been well known for handicrafts like leather, ceramic, and beautiful carpets....

, and elsewhere in Harun al-Rashid
Harun al-Rashid
Hārūn al-Rashīd was the fifth Arab Abbasid Caliph in Iraq. He was born in Rey, Iran, close to modern Tehran. His birth date remains a point of discussion, though, as various sources give the dates from 763 to 766)....

's realm, when 'Abd-Allah b. Malek and Abu Dolaf 'Ejli put them down on caliph's behalf - but none had the scale and duration of Babak's revolt, which pinned down caliphal armies for twenty years. After Babak's emergence, the Khorrami movement was centered in Azarbaijan and reinforced with volunteers from elsewhere, probably including descendants of Abu Moslem's supporters and other Iranian enemies of the 'Abbasid caliphate. The figures given for the strength of Babak's Khorramdinan army, such as 100,000 men (Abu'l-Ma'ali), 200,000 (Mas'udi), or innumerable (Baghdadi) are doubtless highly exaggerated but at least indicate that it was large. At that time of Babak, there were Khorramis scattered in many regions of Iran, besides Azerbaijan, reportedly in Tabarestan, Khorasan, Balkh, Isfahan, Kashan, Qom, Ray, Karaj, Hamadan, Lorestan, Khuzestan as well as in Basra, and Armenia.

Tabari
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari was a prominent and influential Sunni scholar and exegete of the Qur'an from Persia...

 records that Babak claimed he possessed Javadan's spirit and that Babak became active in 816-817. In 819-820 Yahya ibn Mu'adh fought against Babak, but could not defeat him. Two years later Babak vanquished the forces of Isa ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Khalid. In 824-825 the caliphal general Ahmad ibn al Junayd was sent against Babak. Babak defeated and captured him.

In 827-828 Muhammad ibn Humayd Tusi was dispatched to fight Babak. He won a victory and sent some captured enemy, but not Babak, to al-Ma'mun. However, about two years later, on June 9, 829, Babak won a decisive victory over this general at Hashtadsar. Muhammad ibn Humayd lost his life. Many of his soldiers were killed. The survivors fled in disarray.

In 835-836 the caliph al-Mu'tasim
Al-Mu'tasim
Abu Ishaq 'Abbas al-Mu'tasim ibn Harun was an Abbasid caliph . He succeeded his half-brother al-Ma'mun...

 sent his outstanding general Afshin
Afshin (Caliphate General)
Khaydār b. Kāvūs Afshīn known by his hereditary title as Afshin was a senior general at the court of Abbasid caliphs and a son of the vassal prince of Oshrūsana.-Name and family background:...

 against Babak. Afshin rebuilt fortresses. He employed a relay system to protect supply caravans. Babak tried to capture the money being sent to pay Afshin's army, but was himself surprised, lost many men and barely escaped. He did succeed in capturing some supplies and inflicting some hardship on his enemies. Amongst Babak's commander, various names have been mentioned including Azin, Rostam, Tarkhan, Mua’wiyah and Abdullah.

The next year Babak routed the forces of Afshin's subordinate, Bugha al-Kabir
Bugha al-Kabir
Bugha al-Kabir al-Sharabi or Bugha the Elder, also known as Bugha al-Turki , was a 9th-century Turkic general who served the Abbasids....

. In 837-838 al-Mu'tasim
Al-Mu'tasim
Abu Ishaq 'Abbas al-Mu'tasim ibn Harun was an Abbasid caliph . He succeeded his half-brother al-Ma'mun...

 reinforced Afshin and provided him clear military instructions. Patiently following these enabled Afshin to capture Babak's stronghold of Badhdh. Babak escaped. Al-Mu'tasim sent a safety guarantee for Babak to Afshin. This was taken to Babak who was very displeased. He said:

"Better to live for just a single day as a ruler than to live for forty years as an abject slave."

He made his way to the Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

n leader Sahl Smbatean
Sahl Smbatean
Sahl Smbatjan Eṙanshahik was an Armenian prince of Arran and Shaki, who played a considerable role in the history of eastern Caucasus during the 9th century and was the ancestor of the House of Khachen established in 821 .-Name:...

 (Sahl ibn Sunbat in Arab sources), Prince of Khachen. Sahl Smbatian, however, handed Babak over to Afshin, for big amount of reward. Al-Mu'tasim commanded his general to bring Babak to him. Afshin informed Babak of this and told him since Babak might never return, this was the time to take a last look around. At Babak's request, Afshin allowed his prisoner to go to Badhdh. There Babak walked through his ruined stronghold one night until dawn.

Eventually, Bābak, his wife, and his warriors were forced to leave Ghaleye Bābak after 23 years of constant campaigns.

Death


He was eventually betrayed by Afshin
Afshin
Afshin is a common Persian and Turkish given name, derived from the princely title of the rulers of Ošrūsana at the time of the Muslim conquest...

 and was handed over to the Abbasid Caliph. During Bābak's execution, the Caliph's henchmen first cut off his legs and hands in order to convey the most devastating message to his followers. The legend says that Bābak bravely rinsed his face with the drained blood pouring out of his cuts, thus depriving the Caliph and the rest of the Abbasid army from seeing his pale face, a result of the heavy loss of blood. He was then gibbeted alive whilst sewn into a cow's skin with the horns at ear level to gradually crush his head as it dried out.

Legacy



Babak Khorramdin was not well known outside academia until the 20th century; however, due to Soviet nation building efforts and Babak's following of teaching of Mazdak
Mazdak
Mazdak was a proto-socialist Persian reformer and religious activist who gained influence under the reign of the Sassanian Shahanshah Kavadh I...

 with its pseudo-communist and socialist themes, Babak Khorramdin was proclaimed a national hero in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. For example, the Soviet era scholar Ziya Bunyadov, claimed that "Babak was a national heroe of Azeri people" while the Russian ethnologist, historian and anthropologist Victor Schnirelmann dismisses Bunyadov's theory, criticizing Bunyadov for not mentioning that Babak spoke Persian, and ignoring the witness accounts of Babak's contemporaries who call him Persian. To this day, in the modern Republic of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Babak is a cult figure and celebrated as a national hero. In modern Iran, due to rise of nationalism in 20th century, and renewed interest in pre-Islamic Iran, Babak Khorramdin was rediscovered during the reign of Reza Shah
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

, and is celebrated as a national hero. However, Babak remains a controversial figure in the Islamic Republic, whose idolization is criticized by some Shia clerics.

See also

  • Abu Muslim Khorasani
  • Sassanid family tree
  • Manichaeism
    Manichaeism
    Manichaeism in Modern Persian Āyin e Māni; ) was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived...

  • Babak Fort
  • Mazdak
    Mazdak
    Mazdak was a proto-socialist Persian reformer and religious activist who gained influence under the reign of the Sassanian Shahanshah Kavadh I...

  • Maziar
    Maziar
    Maziar was an Iranian aristocrat of the House of Karen and feudal ruler of the mountainous region of Tabaristan...

  • Mardavij
    Mardavij
    Mardāvīj , was the founder of the Ziyarids dynasty, who successfully defeated the Abbasid's army firstly in Hamadan , and finally in Kashan and Isfahan...

  • Babek (film)
    Babek (film)
    Babek is a 1979 film produced by Azerbaijanfilm, an Azerbaijani movie company, in the Soviet Union. Its director was Eldar Kuliyev and its writer was Enver Mamedkhanly. It tells the story of Babak Khorramdin.-External links:*...