Abu Yazid Khariji

Abu Yazid Khariji, or Abu Yazid Makhlad bin Kaydad, traced his tribal origin to the clan of Ifran, one of the leading branches of the Zanata. He was a schoolmaster at Taharat, and had a leaning towards the doctrines of the Kharijis. He learnt the doctrines from Abu Ammar al-A'ma. Abu Yazid had been elected then the leader of the Kharijis, and became more interested to acquire political power. After spending sometime in Taharat, he returned to Qastilia, where he started his anti-Fatimid agitation in 316/928 and soon procured a large following. With the Berbers moving quickly to his side, Abu Yazid engineered his revolt against the Fatimids in 332/944, and swiftly conquered almost all the southern regions, and seized Kairwan in 333/944. Abu Yazid advanced and laid a seige over Susa when al-Mansur ascended. Ibn Khallikan (1211-1282) writes in "Wafayat al-A'yan" (1st. vol., p. 219) that, "Al-Mansur was charged by his father (al-Qaim) to wage war against Abu Yazid, who had revolted against his authority. Abu Yazid Makhlad bin Kaidad belonged to the sect of Ibadites; he made an outward show of rigid devotion, but was in reality an enemy of God; he never rode but on an ass, nor wore any dress but woollen."

The first task of al-Mansur was to relieve Susa. He himself commanded the forces and inflicted a severe defeat on Abu Yazid, and drove him back to Kairwan, then he went to Sabta. Al-Mansur reached Kairwan and helped the suffered people. Al-Mansur had been warmly received in Kairwan, and he also personally conducted a close chase, defeating Abu Yazid near Tubna and then around Masila. In 336/947, al-Mansur assisted by his general Ziri bin Manad, inflicted a final defeat on the Khariji Berbers in the mountains of Kiyana, where the rebels had entrenched themselves in a fortress, called Qalat Bani Hammad. According to Ibn Khallikan (1st Vol., p. 219), Abu Jafar al-Marwaruzi narrates the following anecdote: "I went forth with al-Mansur on the day he defeated Abu Yazid, and as l accompanied him, he dropped from time to time one of the lances which he bore in his hand; so I picked it up and wiped it, and gave it to him, pronouncing it to be a good omen, and quoting to him the following verse:

`She threw away her staff, and a distant land became the place of her abode; (yet, she felt) as the traveller on his return, when his eyes are delighted (by the sight of home)'

On which, al-Mansur replied: "Why did you not quote what is better and truer than that: `And We spoke by revelation to Moses, saying, `throw down thy rod'. And behold, it swallowed up that which they had caused falsely to appear. Wherefore the truth was confirmed, and that which they had wrought vanished. And they were overcome there, and were rendered contemptible' (7:114-116). To this I said: "O, my Lord! you, who are the son of God's Apostle, utter that knowledge of which you are the sole possessor."

Abu Yazid was suppressed and taken prisoner, but was died of his wounds. Jafar bin Mansur (d. 365/975) is the contemporary authority, who had also composed few poems about the revolt of Abu Yazid and the marvellous actions of al-Mansur. Ibn Athir (7th vol., p. 171) tells us that, "Al-Mansur personally took charge of the military operations and put an end to Abu Yazid's menace. Had al-Mansur failed in checking this menace, it is probable that the Fatimid empire would not have survived long. With all this, al-Mansur behave generously with his implacable foe. He came to Kairwan in 334/945 and gave protection to the family of Abu Yazid who had despaired of life. He even granted his wives and children monthly allowances. He also granted Abu Yazid's request to restore his wives and children to him on condition that he would not wage war. But Abu Yazid soon broke his promise and tried to launch another insurrection."

Fazal, the son of Abu Yazid continued the revolt in the Awras for a few months until he, too, was subdued and was brought to Mahdiya by Batit bin Ya'la bin Batit in 336/948. Other sons of Abu Yazid fled to Spain and took refuge under the Umayyads. The rebellion of Abu Yazid, however, had sucked away the resources of the state, forcing the Fatimids to pay a heavy price.

"The failure of Abu Yazid's rising," writes H.U. Rahman in "A Chronology of Islamic History" (London, 1989, p. 153), "left the Fatimids far stronger than before and with a much firmer grip on the rein."

When al-Mansur was subduing Abu Yazid's revolt, a report reached to him about a petty uprising of Hamid Bazaltain, the chief of the Maghrib, who had laid a siege over Tahrat soon after announcing his loyalty with the Umayyads of Spain. After crushing the revolt of Abu Yazid, al-Mansur focused his attention at the new rising, and himself commanded his army. He inflicted a defeat to Hamid and appointed Yala bin Muhammad, the chief of Banu Ifran in Maghrib.

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