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Auction 112  25 Nov 2021
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Lot 204a
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Starting price: 6400 GBP

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Anti-Fatimid Rebel, Abu Yazid Makhlad al-Nukkari (332-336h), dinar, al-Qayrawan 334h, obv., in field: rabbuna Allah | la hukm illa lillah | la ilaha illa Allah | wahdahu la sharik lahu | al-haqq al-mubin, rev., in margin: Qur'an vii, 157 (outer); ix, 33 (inner); in field: al- 'izza lillah | Muhammad | rasul | Allah | khatam al-nabiyyin, 4.04g (Nicol 202), minor edge marks, fine and excessively rare. Of Berber ancestry, Abu Yazid Makhlad was born circa 270h. He grew up in Tuzir (Byzantine Tusuros) in south-west Tunisia, later moving to Tahirt, the capital of the local Rustamid dynasty. Tahirt was the spiritual centre of the Ibadi movement, and Abu Yazid becoming a leader of the Nukkari sect. The Rustamids were overthrown by the Fatimid partisan Abu 'Abdallah al-Shi'i in 296h, and so Abu Yazid's opposition to the Fatimids was based on personal experience as well as doctrinal disagreement. Abu Yazid retuned to Tuzir after the fall of the Rustamids and for more than a decade thereafter was involved in stirring up anti-Fatimid feeling in the region. By 322h, when the Fatimid al-Mahdi died, Abu Yazid was leading a confederation of local tribes and attempting to form a broad coalition to oppose Fatimid rule. Having completed the hajj in 324-325h he returned to his home town of Tuzir, only to be recognised and thrown into prison. Released through the intervention of his sons, as well as a prominent Nukkari leader, he once again mobilized local tribes and in 332h launched an all-out assault on the Fatimids. At an early stage of this campaign someone brought him a grey donkey to ride, and the image of this old man, simply dressed and riding a donkey rather than a warhorse into battle, had a powerful effect in convincing his supporters of his piety and determination – and by extension of the justness of his cause. The first towns to fall to Abu Yazid were Sabiba, Tebessa, and Duqqa. Baja, which resisted, was sacked and burned but Tunis, which surrendered, was spared the flames. Raqqada, located just a few miles from Qayrawan, was abandoned by the fleeing Fatimid forces, and Qayrawan itself fell shortly afterwards. Abu Yazid allowed his Berber troops to pillage the city, remarking that even Jerusalem and Makka had been destroyed in the past. The future of the Fatimid caliphate hung in the balance as Abu Yazid marched onwards to Mahdiya and began to lay siege to it in 334h, with the caliph al-Qa'im himself trapped inside. But the besieged city held out, and gradually Abu Yazid's support began to dwindle as his fighters began to drift away at prospect of a protracted siege. Finally, al-Qa'im was able to break out and launch an assault on the rebel's waning forces. Abu Yazid fled, leaving al-Qa'im able to recapture Tunis and Sousse. Al-Qa'im died during the siege, and the fight against Abu Yazid was immediately and vigorously continued by his successor, Isma'il al-Mansur. Abu Yazid withdrew to Qayrawan, where the populace had initially welcomed him as their deliverer from Fatimid rule, but was now angered by the brutality of his Berber troops. On his arrival, Abu Yazid found the city gates closed against him and was forced to withdraw. Abu Yazid and his remaining followers were driven into the Hodna mountains, where they made their last stand before the Fatimid forces captured the hilltop fortress where Abu Yazid had taken refuge. It seems that the rebel himself almost managed to escape in the darkness, but fell into a ravine while trying to flee. He was captured and died of his wounds four days later, probably in Muharram of336h.
(8000-12000 GBP)
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