Hakim Ben-allah or Ben-hashem

Hakim Ben-Allah or Ben-Hashem surnamed MOKANNA (the veiled) and SAGENDE NAH (moon-maker), the founder of an Arabian sect, flourished in the latter half of the 8th century. He began his career as a common soldier, rose to a captaincy, but subsequently became the leaver of a band of his own. Having lost one of his eyes by the shot of an arrow, he constantly wore a veil to conceal his ugliness, as unbelievers assert, but, according to the belief of his disciples, to prevent the dazzling brightness of his divinely illuminated countenance from overpowering the beholder. Hakim is said to have been an adept in legerdemain and natural magic, so as to be able to produce grand and startling effects of light and color, in virtue of Which he laid claim to miraculous powers, and asserted that he was a god in human form, having been incarnated in the bodies of Adam, Noah, and other celebrated men, and, last of all, in that of Abu Moslem, prince of Khorassan. On one occasion, to the "delight and bewilderment of his soldiers," he is said for a whole week to have caused to issue from a deep well a moon or moons of such surpassing brilliancy as to obscure the real moon. Many flocked to his standard, and he seized several strong places near Nekshib and Kish. The sultan Mahadi marched against him, and finally captured his last stronghold; but Hakim, "having first poisoned his soldiers with the wine of a banquet," had destroyed his body by means of a burning acid, so that only a few hairs remained, in order that his disciples might believe that he had "ascended to heaven alive." Remnants of the sect still exist on the shores of the Oxus, having for outward badge a white garb in memory of that worn by their founder, and in contrast to the black color adopted by the caliphs of the house of Abbas. The life of Hakim has been the subject of many romances, of which "the best known and most brilliant" is the story of "The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan" in Moore's Lalla Rook. — Chambers, Cyclopaedia, s.v. Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, 1, 82; D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orientale, s.v. Mocanna. (J. W. M.)

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