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From Abu Muslim al-Khorasani to Qassem Soleimani, and vice versa

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

I have recently watched an old video of Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in which he was talking in a “Persian” nationalistic way and not a Shiite, religious and “Karbala-like” way, as if he was a preacher of Shah Pahlavi or as if he’s a student of nationalist Persian thinker Ahmad Kasravi!

The supporters of the Khomeini regime have sung songs and written poems about Qassem Soleimani, and he was presented as a brave “Persian” hero like Rostam or Abu Muslim al- al-Khorasani!

For example these days, Soleimani is active in gathering Iraqi Shiite parties in support of Iran and preventing any distance between Baghdad’s rulers and Tehran’s reference despite the loudness of Muqtada al-Sadr and his people.

Iran did not settle with dispatching Soleimani to intervene in the negotiations to form a cabinet, as he has been in Najaf for several days now, but it also involved Mohammed al-Kawtharni, the man in charge of Iraqi affairs in the Lebanese Hezbollah Party, to mediate and bring together Shiite political parties who support Iran. This is according to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Speaking of Iraqi Shiite parties in support of Iran, the name of the Khorasani militias, which is considered one of the Mobilization Forces’ most dangerous militia in shape and content, has surfaced. It’s an announced organic substantial part of the Revolutionary Guards and which is managed by Qassem Soleimani himself, according to the Tasnim news agency which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards.

According to a report published by Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily, some analysts in Iran think that selecting this name for the Khorasani Brigades implies that the militias will play the role of Abu Muslim al- al-Khorasani who toppled the Umayyad Caliphate and avenged for the Persians.

Past and present


According to the dictionary of Islamists themselves, including Khomeini, mixing between Islamic religious slogans and the mentality of Persian “Jahiliyyah” vendetta is what draws the comparison between Abu Muslim al-Khorasani from the past and Soleimani at present!

In the history he wrote about the Umayyad and the Abbasid, Egyptian historian Mohammed al-Khudari explained the reason as to why the real founder of the Abbasid state Caliph Al-Mansur ordered killing Abu Muslim al- al-Khorasani. “It’s because Abu Muslim wanted to be in command of Khorasan, topple Al-Mansur and then select another man for the caliphate who is under his command and authority so the decision is that of the people of Persia.” (Page: 431)

We’re not recalling a “mummified” historical figure but a figure that’s active in the Iranian political sentiment, or in its elite, and proof to that is that Abu Muslim’s biography was included in the history curriculum in intermediate school. There is a football team in Mashhad called Abu Muslim al-Khorasani club.

The difference so far is the violent end of Abu Muslim al-Khorasani at the hands of Al-Mansur and the destruction of his hybrid dreams between religion and nationalism. So will the circle of resemblance between Qassem al-Khorasani, or al-Soleimani, be complete with his predecessor Abu Muslim?

We are still spreading out the carpets of history.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.