“Prophetic Sect” First armed group in Islamic and Sunni history

Dr.Hani Nasira

In order to control the concept, we should differentiate between the outlaw brigades and the outlaw groups. The first one has ideological pattern, near or far, and it is an intellectual, social and perhaps political authority separated from the authority of the state and the prevailing belief. As for the extremists or outlaw group, it remains within the doctrinal and jurisprudential pattern within the sect or the state that it represents and defends this belief and perception against the challenges faced by both even against the state itself. This group moves independently in this direction, against the state if the ideology is the challenge and this is the situation in the modern era after the arbitration of man-made laws, or against other sects as it was the case in religious and sectarian conflicts and wars throughout the history.

According to this previous standard setting, it is not correct to say that a difference such as the Kharijites, the ultra-Shiite, or the first various outlaw movements are the first and origin of the all extremist groups, because many of them expressed the division in clear isolation from the authority and the prevailing ideology, Umayyad and Abbasid, and what came after it. Despite the similarities in the features of their extremist trend, its doctrinal and intellectual distinction and their ideology makes them ultra—conservative groups and not extremist group that represents a part or faction within one group.

And here we can note the development of some extremist groups, when their principles and beliefs are distinguished from the society’s such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Takfir Walhijra groups.

Nevertheless, it is important to realize here that most of the outlaw groups came out against the power of the Sunni world at the beginning in an armed, violent and ideological way refusing the fundamentals and the sections and this did not prevent the emergence of the artificial Shiite armed groups after the contemporary Iranian failure from the jurisprudence of backbiting and waiting, represented in the contemporary system of the Wali “supreme leader” and al-Faqih “jurist”, the Iranian Islamic Revolution and the doctrine revolution export – as Khomeini described it , which initially relied – until the early 1980s – on Sunni groups and then created and produced loyal groups and parties within the framework of their self-given authorization to speak on behalf of the Shiites and the Imamate.

The question here, what is the first extremist group that worked independently of the state’s top authority in the Sunni world and in the framework of the Sunni?

Actually, this article tackles this group known as the “Prophetic Group” or the “Prophetic Sect” which appeared in 580 AH independently of power in the Sunni world, and here we see – with Bernard Lewis – the first Sunni group armed Sunni extremist appeared in history.

The Prophet’s Sect: Violence crystallized in the face of violent sectarianism

The first person talked about this group was the traveler Ibn Jubayr, who visited the city ​​of Damascus in the year of 580 AH and referred to the spread of the Shiites with their various sects, then provided us with information about a sect known as the Prophetic, who were killing the Shiites. With communal sense, Ibn Jubair expressed his delight due to the emergence of this group, which described with bravery and strength. Below is the text where Ibn Jubair enioned the group

“Allah gave power to a group known as “prophetic group” to stand against this Rafeda “rejectionist “sect. they kill these Rejectionists wherever they find them.” Said Ibn Jubair describing how strong they were but did not tell us anything else about this sect.

Ibn Jubayr mentioned what this sect had done in the village of ” Al- Bab ” – today it is a city – administratively affiliated to the Governorate of Aleppo, and it is about 38 km away from the Aleppo to the northeast of it . He had visited this place before arriving Damascus, in the same year, 580 AH. He pointed to a great massacre committed against the followers of the Ismaili sect in the aforementioned village, detailing “… it was inhabited by [ meant the village of al-Bab ] ,eight years ago, a group of Ismaili atheists whose number could not be counted ….,….and this path was interrupted by their corruption, until the people of these serious groups entered…. and they …..,and they had swords with them, and hurriedly cut their backs, and puffed up their skulls….. ” Then he continued saying :

“…, and praise be to God, Lord of the worlds ! And its inhabitants today are Sunni people .”

The Prophetic Sect, Saladin and the Assassins:

The emergence of this group that had gathered from Iraq and the Levant, in the late era of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, when the Assassins and the remnants of the Nizari Ismailis were of great concern to him, perhaps more than the Crusaders themselves, which may suggest that the man supported the emergence of this group that lasted a period of then it disappeared as the case of the Assassins, who appeared nearly a century before Saladin as well, which we will discuss here.

The number of elements in the prophetic group that was the first Sunni armed group in history, was estimated ten thousands and some said more. They killed more than 13 thousand from Ismaili group in Bzagh and Elbab in one day. According to “Ibn Eljuzi Sabt “tribe” (654AH) in “Prophetic sect ” were the ones who carried out this massacre, at the beginning of the days of Salah al-Ayyubi’s rule over the Levant,” while it was mentioned in the” Time’s Mirror in the History of notables” (654AH) (  Dar al-Risalah al-Alamiya, vol. 21 , p. 231) in the events of the year 570 AH: “ And in it the prophetic arrived from Iraq in ten thousand knights and footmen, and they went to mazza and al-Bab, so they killed three Ten thousand Ismailis, cursed their women, and returned to Iraq, with spoils, heads on their spears….., And Saladin sent the soldiers, and they raided the lands of Ismailia, and they burned Sarmin, Maarat Masreen and the Jabal Sumum, and they killed most of its people.”

For this reason, some – such as the Iraqi writer Ahmed al-Katib – see that this massacre took place under the auspices of Salah al-Din, as part of his raids and attacks on the Ismailis in their cities and villages in the Levant, especially with the rooted hostility between Salah al-Din and this sect that brought down their Fatimid state, and was between him and a sheikh Jabal who was severely hated and alienated. The Assassins made five attempts to assassinate Saladin, one of which his head was he was bowed.

However, we think that there is no organizational link between Saladin and this different sect, which consisted of tens of thousands spontaneously, in order to defend the Sunnis against what they saw as Ismaili betrayals, despite the similarity between their situation and Saladin’s situation towards the Ismailis and the Shiites in general, as history did not prevent mentioning this. He mentioned that Saladin himself carried out a campaign in al-Jabal while the Ismailis there, just as history does not lie or forget, and there was no problem mentioning this if there was real coordination between the government of Saladin and the independent group known as the Prophet’s sect. It was also noticed that at a time of the rise of the Prophetic sect and its operations that were in 580 AH, after a little more than a decade of activity, Salah al-Din, and the repeated attempts to assassinate him and stormed his bedroom more than five times, according to some historians, he had reached important peace agreements with Sheikh al-Jabal Sinan, who used later his elements to the Crusaders’ side.

Likewise, if the connection was clear and direct, it would be a place of pride and a place of motivation in a general jihad situation, and coordination has occurred in other periods in public, and there was no embarrassment such as those campaigns against the Shiites of Kesrouan and others, and Ibn Taymiyyah participated in one of them, 728 AH later .


Perhaps the first observation here is that the sectarian drive was behind the emergence of the first armed group in Islamic or Sunni history in particular, especially in contexts of crisis and mutual polarization. At this date the issues of governance, Sharia and the fall of the caliphate – despite its crisis at the time – did not exist and the hostility against the state was the same in the modern era and the twentieth century … but the external enemy, sectarian diaspora and internal betrayal were the signs of the stage … which we always found in sectarian conflict, from the Shiite army of Muhammad to the army of the Companions in Pakistan in the seventies of the last century, or the Nosra Army or the counter- Nosra army in Syria 2011.

Secondly, it was reasonable in this era such group to be in the context of independent emirates within a short Khilafid framework that plays a specific role and ends, as this group was without political or power ambitions, like the Hamdani, Ayyubid or others later, but it was a case of the popular and emotional Sunni awakening In the face of the Ismaili awakening in the fourth century AH that was described by Massignon described as the Ismaili century.

To be continued ……..

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