Masters Thesis

Social utopia in tenth century Islam the Qarmatian experiment

This thesis explores the root causes of the Qarmatian revolution as one of the several anti-Caliphate uprisings during the ninth and the tenth centuries. The study compares the Qarmatian movement against two contemporary insurgencies. The Qarmatian movement, an offshoot of Shi’a Ismāʿīli Islam, is an experiment in pre-modern socialist grassroots statehood. The Qarmatians established, in the Islamic heartland, the only communist society before the twentieth century that endured for more than a generation. The study explores the philosophical and scientific foundations of Qarmatian ideology. Those foundations enabled the movement to scrutinize two centuries of Islamic legacy under the lens of logic and common sense, and to subject inherited dogmas to reform. This thesis argues that the Qarmatian movement differed from the earlier ninth-century Babakian and Zanj revolts in that it had clear objectives of promoting, instituting, and maintaining a state that embodied the avant-garde principles of that movement.