The rebels were next expelled from Khuzistan, and, in the spring of 881, al-Muwaffaq laid siege to al-Mukhtārah from a special city built on the other side of the Tigris River. Early efforts by the Abbasid government to crush the revolt proved ineffectual, and several towns and villages were occupied or sacked, including al-Ubulla in 870 and Suq al-Ahwaz in 871. In August 883, the capital of Basra, Al-Mukhtarah was placed under heavy restriction. Zanj Rebellion as proof of his earlier view. , The significant arms and resources that the Abbasid government was required to throw against the Zanj meant that it was forced to divert its attention from other fronts for the duration of the conflict, resulting in the effective loss of several provinces. In 869 amidst a brawl in Basra, Muhammed went to the city to inquire about the living and working conditions of the slaves. They became adept at raiding towns, villages and enemy camps (often at night), seizing weapons, horses, food and captives and freeing fellow slaves, and burning the rest to cinders to delay retaliation. ʿAlī’s offers became even more attractive with his subsequent adoption of a Khārijite religious stance: anyone, even a black slave, could be elected caliph, and all non-Khārijites were infidels threatened by a holy war. In his opinion, although a few runaway slaves did join the revolt, the majority of the participants were Arabs and free East Africans, and if the revolt had been led by slaves, they would have lacked the necessary resources to combat the Abbasid government for as long as they did.. Citizens were encouraged to abandon their cause. "A large number of [people] hid among the houses and in the wells. The African slaves were captured so that they could tend to plantations and marshland that needed extensive work to be cultivable. , Both the rebels and their opponents engaged in looting, destroying supplies that were likely to fall into enemy hands, and massacring or executing captives. , Passage describing conditions in Basra during the war. Wasit and Ramhurmuz were sacked and the rebels advanced northwest along the Tigris, coming to within fifty miles of Baghdad. In the present day, the descendants of the Zanj are known as Afro-Iraqis and Afro-Iranians; they inhabit certain provinces throughout Iraq and Iran. The landowners subjected the Zanj, who generally spoke no Arabic, to heavy slave labour and provided them with only minimal subsistence. These included "semi-liberated slaves, clients of prestigious families, a number of small craftsmen and humble workers, some peasantry and some Bedouin peoples who lived around Basrah. To him, the massive uprising of slaves called Zanj indicates the presence of huge numbers of East African slaves in the Muslim world.3 Needless to say, Coupland's Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. In an attempt to stop the Zanj, supporters of Abu Ahmad ibn al-Mutawakkil (an Abbasid prince and military leader) attempted to fight the Zanj and failed. Seeking to take advantage of violence caused by the city’s enemy groups, the Bilaliyyah and Sa’diyyah, he tried to stage another insurgency; he didn’t garner the support he needed. In 863, he made his way from Samarra to Bahrain (modern eastern Arabia), where he pretended to be Shi'i and started to rouse the people into rebellion against the caliphate. Basra fell in September 871 following an extended blockade, resulting in the city being burned and its inhabitants massacred. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Ghada Hashem Talhami, a scholar of the Zanj rebellion, argues that modern views of the revolt are distorted by mistakenly equating the Zanj with East Africans. Search Face2Face Africa is black owned and operated. At Córdoba the Umayyads had declared their independence, and the Maghrib was divided among several dynasties of differing persuasions—the Shīʿite Idrīsids,…, …rose up in 820–835; the Zanj, African blacks brought into Mesopotamia for agricultural slave labour, rebelled about 869–883 (. The Zanj Rebellion (Arabic: ثورة الزنج Thawrat al-Zanj / Zinj) was a major revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate, which took place from 869 until 883. It was here that he claimed to be the descendant of Zayd ibn Ali; he was able to gain supporters for his cause.  Al-Suli gave a figure of 1,500,000 dead, which was subsequently quoted by multiple sources, while Ibn al-Taqtaqi provided a high-end number of 2,500,000. The Iraq theater was one of two major areas of operations during the Zanj Rebellion, the other being the neighboring province of al-Ahwaz.  Al-Tabari's History contains no comprehensive figures, but the author frequently noted the number of soldiers killed or injured in individual battles, with amounts ranging from hundreds to thousands. The caliphal armies, now entrusted to al-Muwaffaq, a brother of the new caliph, al-Muʿtamid (reigned 870–892), still could not cope with the rebels. The Zanj Rebellion (Arabic: ثورة الزنج Thawrat al-Zanj / Zinj) was a major revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate, which took place from 869 until 883. The Zanj Slaves' Rebellion (869-883 A.D.) began in similar humble circumstances. This continuing instability greatly facilitated the initial success of the Zanj revolt, as the government proved incapable of committing sufficient troops and resources to subdue the rebels.  It has been the subject of research by such famous Orientalists as Theodor Nöldeke (Sketches from Eastern History) and Louis Massignon (The Passion of al-Hallaj). Out of the conflict, a Navy, fortresses and a mini-financial system in which coins were made were set up. , Local magnates were able to gain ownership of this land on the condition that they would make it arable. , The continuing inability of the Abbasid army to suppress the revolt, caused in part by its preoccupation with fighting against the Saffarid Ya'qub ibn al-Layth's advance into al-Ahwaz and Iraq, eventually encouraged the Zanj to expand their activities to the north. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Though there is not much documentation on the life of Muhammed, it is known that his paternal grandmother was a slave from Sindhi while his mother was a member of the Banu Asad ibn Khuzaymah.  Shortages of basic necessities, such as food and water, at times became severe, and instances of cannibalism are reported to have occurred. Muhammed spearheaded the rising of the slaves. This environmental sanitation pioneer was the first practising male medical doctor in Nigeria, Meet Cuffy, the West African slave who led a 1763 revolt that made him a Guyanese hero, Popular African figures who are proud homosexuals, Be respectful and put Harriet Tubman on the 20 dollar bill as planned, Afro-Iranians: African slaves captured by Arab slave traders in the 5th Century, Afro-Turks: Africans enslaved in the 1300s in Turkey before the transatlantic slave trade, How Haiti became the first country before Britain to abolish slavery after revolt, The little talked about slave route in the Indian Ocean plied by Eastern slave traders.  As the rebellion grew in strength, they also constructed fortresses, built up a navy for traversing the canals and rivers of the region, collected taxes in territories under their control, and minted their own coins. The inhabitants were also killed. , The anarchy in Samarra allowed a number of provinces to fall into the hands of rebels, while provincial governors were free to act in an independent manner in the territories assigned to them. The Zanj sacked Basra in September 871, and subsequently defeated al-Muwaffaq himself in April 872. It was only after a time, after most of the other slaves were freed, that the actual Zanj-imported slaves took hold. Alas, the future caliph Abu al-Abbas was able to successfully ward off the Zanj forces. , In Basra Ali sought to take advantage of disturbances caused by the city's rival groups, the Bilaliyyah and Sa'diyyah, and attempted to secure the support of one of the factions. The Zanj rebellion which occurred from 869 to 883 took place in Basra, which is modern-day Southern Iraq. The demand for servile labor during this period was fueled by wealthy residents of the port city of Basra, who had acquired extensive marshlands in the surrounding region.