Seyyed Hassan al-Utrush, known as “Nasser li’l-Haq”
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 23rd of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 304 AH, Seyyed Hassan al-Utrush, known as “Nasser li’l-Haq” (or Defender of Faith) passed away at the age of 75, after an eventful life and a 3-year reign as reviver of the Alawid state of Tabaristan in what is now the Caspian Sea Provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan in northern Iran. His shrine in the city of Amol is still a site of pilgrimage.
Born in Medina, he was fifth in line of descent from Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), the great-grandson and 4th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). His mother was an Iranian lady from Khorasan. When Hasan ibn Zayd, a descendant of the Prophet’s elder grandson, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (AS), was invited by the people of the Caspian coast of Iran to set up his rule over Tabaristan, Hassan al-Utrush joined him, but after falling out with his successor, Mohammad ibn Zayd, he left for the east where he allied himself with the ruler of Khorasan, Mohammad ibn Abdullah al-Khujistani.
Soon, however, Khujistani imprisoned and scourged him, as a result of which he lost his hearing and received the sobriquet al-Utrush or "the Deaf". On release from prison, he returned to Tabaristan, but had to flee to Rayy when Mohammad ibn Zayd lost the battle and his life near Gorgan against the Samanids of Bukhara, who ended the Alawid state and occupied the region for fourteen years.
Hassan al-Utrush now engaged in Islamic missionary activities and his efforts led to the people of Gilan and the Daylamites to become Muslims. His efforts were crowned by success, as the mountain Daylamites and the Gilites east of the Safid Roud River hailed him as their Leader. The Samanid ruler Ahmad ibn Isma'il sent an army to oppose the revival of the Alawid state of Tabaristan, but al-Utrush inflicted a crushing defeat upon the invaders at Burdidah on the River Burroud, west of Chalous.
He made Amol his capital and extended his sway till Gorgan. The famous Iranian Islamic historian Abu Ja’far Tabari, has said about him: "The people had not seen anything like the justice of al-Utrush, his good conduct, and his fulfillment of the right". Hassan al-Utrush wrote an exegesis of the holy Qur’an titled “Tafsir al-Kabir”, and his grand-daughter Fatema, who was married to Seyyed Hussain ibn Musa (fifth in line of descent from Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS), the 7th Infallible Heir of the Prophet), was the mother of the celebrated scholars of Baghdad, Seyyed Murtaza alam al-Huda and Seyyed Razi, the compiler of Nahj al-Balagha – the famous collection of the sermons, letters, and maxims of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS).