Ya'qub-i Laith Saffari - Early Life

Early Life

Ya'qub was born in 840 in a small town called Karnin (Qarnin), which was located east of Zaranj and west of Bost, in what is now Afghanistan. Information about his genealogy and social background is lacking. Clifford Edmund Bosworth explains that a number of Sunni sources were invariably hostile to Ya'qub because of the disrespect he showed toward the Abbasid caliph. "Some sources accused Ya'qub of being a Khariji, Ibn Khallikan labelled him a Christian, and Nizam al-Mulk claimed that he converted to Ismailism". However, most sources agree on Ya'qub's ascetic lifestyle.

Many sources claim that he lived a very poor life, it is mentioned that he sometimes ate bread and onions due to poverty. His family moved to the city of Zaranj due that reason as well as the occasional sectarian violence between the Sunnis and Kharijites. His father's name was Laith, who was probably killed before the family arrived to the new city. Ya'qub began work as a coppersmith ("saffar"), while his brother Amr worked as a mule-hirer.

When the Tahirid dynasty of Khorasan came south to take control of the region, Ya'qub was fighting in 852 under a local commander of Bost (now Lashkar Gah), Salih Ibn an-Nadr. After killing in a single combat a dreaded Kharijite captain named Amman, Ya'qub was promoted to the position of a commander. He decided to give himself the title Emir at that point.

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