BOKAYR B. MĀHĀN MARVAZĪ, ABŪ HĀŠEM, a leading ʿAbbasid propagandist (dāʿī). Towards the end of the Omayyad caliphate he was the translator (tarjomān) or secretary (kāteb) to Jonayd b. ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān, the governor of Sind (Ṭabarī, years 105 and 124), and was said to be a Shiʿite (Dīnavarī, ed. Guirgass, pp. 335-36). Some historians have recorded his name as Bakr (Maqdesī, Badʾ VI, p. 59; Yaʿqūbī, Taʾrīḵ II, p. 383; Jahšīārī, Cairo, 1938, p. 55). From Sind he returned to his native town, Kūfa (Ṭabarī, II, p. 1467); there he met the ʿAbbasid dāʿīs (Abd ʿEkrema, Moḥammad b. Ḵonays, Maysara ʿAbdī, etc.), was recruited by them to join the ʿAbbasid movement, and spent the fortune he had amassed in Sind, which consisted of three silver and one gold bullions, in the service of this cause (Ṭabarī, II, p. 1467; Dīnavarī, loc. cit.). After the death of Maysara ʿAbdī, Imam Moḥammad b. ʿAlī, the head of the ʿAbbasids, appointed Bokayr, who had come to visit him in Ḥomayma in Syria, in his place and returned him to Iraq to propagate the ʿAbbasid cause. In 107/725, Bokayr sent a number of dāʿīs to Khorasan, all of whom except one were killed by Asad b. ʿAbd-Allāh Qasrī, the governor of Khorasan (Ṭabarī, II, p. 1488). In 118/736 Bokayr sent ʿAmmār b. Yazīd—or, according to Maqdesī (p. 60), ʿAmmār b. Bodayl—to Khorasan as the leader (wālī) of the ʿAbbasid movement there. ʿAmmār went to Marv, but after a time he gave up his allegiance to the ʿAbbasid cause, changed his name to Ḵedāš, and called the people to the Ḵorramī religion. He was finally killed on the orders of Asad b. ʿAbd-Allāh Qasrī (Ṭabarī, II, pp. 1588-89). Imam Moḥammad b. ʿAlī, who had been infuriated at the action of ʿAmmār, sent Bokayr to Khorasan. However, the people of Khorasan refused to accept Bokayr as the imam’s envoy. Bokayr returned to Imam Moḥammad b. ʿAlī but was sent back to Khorasan with staffs (ʿeṣīy) which signified a message from the imam. He showed the staffs to the leaders (noqabāʾ) of the movement, who then accepted him (Ṭabarī, II, p. 1640; Maqdesī, p. 61). In 126/743-44 Ebrāhīm b. Moḥammad b. ʿAlī, known as Ebrāhīm the Imam, who had succeeded his father, sent Bokayr to Khorasan with his will and testament (waṣīya and sīra). Bokayr went to Marv, gathered together the noqabāʾ and dāʿīs, informed them of the death of Moḥammad b. ʿAlī, and read them the letter of Ebrāhīm. He was well received by them and was sent back to the imam with the donations which they had collected (Ṭabarī, II, p. 1869). On the day of his death in 128/745-46, Bokayr wrote a letter to Ebrāhīm and appointed his son-in-law, Abū Salama Ḵallāl, as his successor.

Bokayr was also the person who introduced Abū Moslem to the imam. Discussing the events of the year 124/741, Ṭabarī has narrated a story according to which Bokayr got to know ʿĪsā b. Maʿqel in prison, bought his slave Abū Moslem from him, and after being released from prison sent Abū Moslem to Ebrāhīm. However, this story seems to have been fabricated by the ʿAbbasids in order to taint Abū Moslem’s reputation.


Bibliography: Given in the text.

Search terms:

 بُکیر بن ماهان bokayr ibn mahan bokayr ebn e mahan bokayr ebne mahan

(ʿAbbās Zaryāb)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 3, p. 332