The Qarāmiṭa of Baḥrayn and their relationship with the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate (AH 273–375 / 886–985 CE)

  • Mohammad Aljumaiaan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This study seeks to illustrate the Qarāmiṭa of Baḥrayn and their relationship with the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate (AH 273–375 / 886–985 CE). The Qarāmiṭa were part of the Ismāʿīlī branch of Shīʿa Islam, which operated primarily in Iraq, Syria, eastern Arabia, Yemen and Persia from the 3rd / 9th to the 5th / 11th centuries. The Qarāmiṭa had a substantial influence on medieval Islamic history and sociopolitical thought. This was mainly represented in their theory of the Imamate and the social systems that shaped their later political actions.

In the primary and secondary sources, the conflict between the Shīʿa Qarāmiṭa and the Sunnī ʿAbbāsids is chiefly portrayed as a clash motivated purely by religion and ideology. Unfortunately, there is a relative lack of sources on the Qarāmiṭa, and most of the available records are either unorganised, abstruse or contradictory. As a result, this research examines the existing primary and secondary sources, as well as the material remains, to understand the broad picture of Qarāmiṭan history and their relations with the ʿAbbāsids to show that behind the hostility, there existed a form of peaceful cooperation between the two parties. This fills a gap left by current scholarship, which has focused chiefly on the Qarāmiṭa’s relations with the Fāṭimids (both of whom were Ismāʿīlī) until now. This thesis is important because it offers a much-needed examination, based on hitherto unexamined primary sources of the Qarāmiṭa’s history, of how the ideology of religious and sociopolitical elements was established and developed within the community of the Qarāmiṭa.

This research is divided into five chapters: Chapter 1 provides an overview of the emergence of the Qarāmiṭa in Iraq and Syria, including an examination of the daʿwa. This daʿwa contains the Qurʾānic verses and sermons that were used to broadcast the Qarāmiṭa’s message and were the basis for their doctrine. Chapter 2 discusses the Qarāmiṭa of Baḥrayn, who depended more on Bedouins and used social systems to attract the people there. It also provides an outline of Baḥrayn’s geography, economy, community and the early history of the Qarāmiṭa there. Chapter 3 considers the formation of the Qarāmiṭa’s state and deals first with the shift of their relations from hostility to peaceful with the ʿAbbāsids. Moreover, it studies the launching and application of their political activities with a particular focus of the official correspondence between the Qarāmiṭa and ʿAbbāsids from the early period. Chapter 4 looks at comparative historical analysis by examining the most detailed primary sources that depicted these relations with the ʿAbbāsids. Chapter 5 explores how the Qarāmiṭa’s political action reached its final form at the peak of their relations with the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate, of which comparatively little is known. In addition, it analyses the official correspondence between the Qarāmiṭa and the Buwayhids from the late period of their relations.
Date of Award4 Dec 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorAndrew Peacock (Supervisor)


  • Islamic history
  • Qarāmiṭa
  • ʿAbbāsid Caliphate

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 23 May 2027

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