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Qarmatians (Arab., al-Qarāmiṭah). Members of a broad, often revolutionary, movement in Islam, which sought social reform and justice during the 9th–12th cents. CE, in Khurāsān, Syria, Yemen, and Egypt. The Qarmatians were named after their 9th-cent. leader, Hamdān al-Qarmaṭ. They emerged from the Ismāʿīli Seveners, accepting Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl as the final Imām. Their teaching was kept as a secret ‘gnosticism’ among initiates.

Their most notorious act was the abduction, in 930 (AH 317), of the Black Stone, refusing offers to ransom it. They threw it back into the mosque in Kufah in 951 (AH 340), saying, ‘By command we took it, and by command we return it’—now in seven pieces, perhaps to affirm the seven Imāms? Although they disappeared as a sect, their influence continued in other movements, e.g. perhaps the Alawis (see NUṢAIRI).

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