The Period of Imām as-Sajjād (‘a)
The period of Imām as-Sajjād (‘a) can be divided into two (2) stages: The first stage covers the events after the martyrdom of Imām al-Husayn (‘a), the destabilization of the Umayyad rule and finally the end of rule of the Sufyānīs (descendants of Abū Sufyān) and the succession to power of the Marwānīs (descendants of Marwan ibn al-Ḥakam), the internal struggle among the Umayyads and their entanglement with the uprisings and revolts up to the stabilization of the rule of the Marwānīs. The second stage covers the time of governorship of Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf and the defeat of ‘Abd Allāh ibn Zubayr in Mecca up to the commencement of the ‘Abbāsid movement, which is also related to the initial period of the Imamate [imāmah] of Imām al-Bāqir (‘a).
After the martyrdom of Imām al-Husayn (‘a), the Umayyads were, on the one hand, entangled with the uprisings of the people of Iraq and Ḥijāz, and experiencing internal struggle on the other. The government of Yazīd did not last long. Yazīd died in 64 AH after three years of rule.
After Yazīd, his son Mu‘āwiyah II came to power. He ruled for not more than 40 years when he stepped down from the office of the caliphate and died soon after. With his death the internal squabble among the Umayyads began. Mas‘ūdī describes the event after the death of Mu‘āwiyah II which indicates the intense greed and rivalry among the Umayyads over the leadership, as thus: Mu‘āwiyah [II] died at the age of 22 and was buried in Damascus. With the burning ambition of becoming the next caliph, Walīd ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abī Sufyān came to the front to lead the prayer for the corpse of Mu‘āwiyah [II], but even before finishing the prayer he received a fatal blow and was killed. Then, ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abī Sufyān led the prayer for him, but he was also not approved by them to assume the office of the caliphate. So, he was forced to go to Mecca and join Ibn Zubayr.
Three years had not yet passed when the rule of the Sufyānīs came to an end. Many of the people throughout the Muslim lands including a number of the Umayyad chiefs and governors such as Ḍaḥāq ibn Qays and Nu‘mān ibn Bashīr had inclined toward Ibn Zubayr. It was at this time when Ibn Zubayr drove the resident Umayyads out from Medina including Marwān. The Umayyads proceeded toward Shām and since there was no caliph in Damascus, the Umayyads elected Marwān for the caliphate, followed by Khālid ibn Yazīd and after him ‘Amrū ibn Sa‘īd as his successor. After sometime, Marwān removed Khālid ibn Yazīd and appointed his son ‘Abd al-Malik as his successor. For this reason, Khālid’s mother who was married to Marwān poisoned Marwān killing him. ‘Abd al-Malik also removed ‘Amrū ibn Sa‘īd on his way and appointed his son instead as his heir apparent.
Meanwhile, the Umayyads were gripped by revolts and uprisings. These upheavals can be divided into two distinct types: One type was the uprisings without Shī‘ah underpinning. The Ḥirrah uprising and the revolt of Ibn Zubayr belonged to this type. The essence of Ibn Zubayr’s revolt is obvious because the leader of the revolt, ‘Abd Allāh ibn Zubayr was a staunch enemy of the progeny of the Prophet
#7779;). He nursed this grudge in his heart owing to the defeat he and others, including his father, suffered in the Battle of Jamal (Camel) and the ensuing events. His brother Muṣ‘ab, however, had Shī‘ah inclination and married the daughter of Imām al-Husayn (‘a), Sakīnah. As such, his campaign gained momentum in Iraq and the Shī‘ah of Iraq joined with him in the resistance against the Umayyads. After Mukhtār Ibrāhīm al-Ashtar was in his company and was killed beside him.
The Ḥirrah uprising had also no Shī‘ah underpinning and Imām as-Sajjād (‘a) had no hand in it. When Muslim ibn ‘Uqbah was asking the allegiance of the people in Medina, compelling them to pay allegiance, like slaves, to the Umayyad caliph (Yazīd), he accorded him due respect to Imām as-Sajjād (‘a) and did not complain against the Imām (‘a) (for not expressing allegiance).
The other uprisings had Shī‘ah underpinning.
The Shī‘ah Uprisings
The uprising of the tawwābūn [the repentant ones] and that of Mukhtār were Shī‘ah uprisings. The base of these two uprisings was Iraq, Kūfah in particular, and the constituent forces were Shī‘ah of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a). In the army of Mukhtār, non-Arab Shī‘ah could also be amply noticed.
There is no doubt about the essence of the uprising of the tawwābūn. This uprising was based upon correct motives and yearning for martyrdom, and it had no objective other than avenging the blood of Imām al-Husayn (‘a) and wiping off their sin for not assisting the Imām (‘a) by being killed in the way of fighting against his murderers. After leaving Kūfah, the tawābūn proceeded toward Karbalā’, rushing toward the grave of Imām Husayn (‘a) for ziyārah and at the beginning of their movement, they thus said: O God! We did not assist the son of the Prophet
#7779;). Forgive our past sins and accept our repentance [tawbah]. Shower mercy [raḥmah] upon the soul of Husayn (‘a) and his righteous and martyred votaries. We bear witness that we believe in the things for which Husayn (‘a) was killed. O God! If You would not forgive our sins and reckon us under the scale of mercy and clemency, we will be doomed to perdition and wretchedness.
After the arrival of Muslim ibn ‘Aqīl in Kūfah Mukhtār was collaborating with him. But because of this collaboration, he was apprehended and imprisoned by ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn Ziyād. After the event of ‘Ashūrā’ he was freed through the mediation and petition of ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Umar, his brother-in-law (his sister’s husband). He arrived in Kūfah in 64 AH and after the tawwābūn movement, he started his movement and by using the slogan, “Ya lithārāt al-Husayn” [O helpers of Husayn!] he was able to gather the Shī‘ah, the non-Arabs in particular, around him. With these forces, he succeeded in punishing the murderers of Imām al-Husayn (‘a) for what they had done, such that in one day he was able to kill 280 of these criminals and destroy the houses of those who escaped such as that of Muhammad ibn Ash‘ath, and on the contrary, he mended Ḥujr ibn ‘Addī’s house, a loyal supporter of ‘Alī (‘a), which was destroyed by Mu‘āwiyah.
Contradictory views have been expressed about Mukhtār. Some have regarded him as a true Shī‘ah while others have said that he was a liar. Ibn Dāwūd thus says about Mukhtār in his book on rijāl
Mukhtār is son of Abū ‘Abīd ath-Thaqafī. Some Shī‘ah ‘ulamā’ have accused him of Kaysāniyyah and in this regard, they have cited Imām as-Sajjād’s (‘a) refusal of his gift. But this cannot be a reason for rejecting him because Imām al-Bāqir (‘a) thus said about him
: “Do not speak ill of Mukhtār because he killed our murderers, did not allow our spilled blood to be disregarded, gave our daughters in marriage, and at the time of difficulty he distributed properties among us.
When Abū’l-Ḥakam, son of Mukhtār, came to Imām al-Bāqir (‘a), the Imām (‘a) showed him a great deal of respect. Abū’l-Ḥakam asked about his father, saying
: “The people are talking about my father, but your view, whatever it is, is the criterion.” At that moment the Imām (‘a) praised Mukhtār and prayed for God to have mercy on him, saying: “Glory be to Allah! My father said that the affection of my mother was from the property that Mukhtār sent to my father.”
And the Imām (‘a) said many times
: “May God have mercy upon your father! He did not allow for our right to be trampled. He killed our murderers and did not permit our blood to be disregarded.”
Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (‘a) also said
: “In our family there was a woman who did not comb and apply henna to her hair until Mukhtār sent the heads of the murderers of al-Husayn (‘a).”
It has been narrated that when Mukhtār sent the head of the accursed ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn Ziyād to Imām as-Sajjād (‘a), the Imām (‘a) prostrated and made benevolent prayer for Mukhtār.
Meanwhile, the reports that have been transmitted to reproach Mukhtār are fabrications of the enemies.
With regard to the charge of Kaysāniyyah against Mukhtār and his alleged role in the creation of the Kaysāniyyah sect, while defending Mukhtār and rejecting this accusation against him, Āyatullāh al-Khū’ī thus writes
: Some Sunnī ‘ulamā’ associate Mukhtār with the Kaysāniyyah sect and this is definitely a false statement because Muhammad al-Ḥanafiyyah never claimed Imamate [imāmah] for himself for Mukhtār to call on the people to recognize his Imamate. Mukhtār was killed prior to Muhammad al-Ḥanafiyyah’s demise and the Kaysāniyyah sect came into being after Muhammad al-Ḥanafiyyah’s death. But as to the fact that they regard Mukhtār as “Kaysān” (it is not because he was following the Kaysāniyyah sect), granting that this label is appropriate for him, its origin is traceable to the same questionable report from the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) who is alleged to have said: “O Kays! O Kays!” Thus, he was called, “Kaysān”.
Stabilization of the Rule of Marwān’s Descendants (Period of Strangulation)
As mentioned earlier, the second phase of Imām as-Sajjād’s (‘a) period was the stabilization of the rule of the Marwānīs (descendants of Marwān ibn al-Ḥakam). After the killing of ‘Abd Allāh ibn Zubayr in 73 AH, the clan of Marwān stabilized its own rule, and on this path, they took advantage of the existence of notorious headsmen such as Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf. Ḥajjāj would not spare from committing any crime in the way of eliminating an enemy. He even targeted the Ka‘bah destroying it by a shower of catapulted fire stones. He would kill the opponents of the Umayyads, Shī‘ah or non-Shī‘ah, wherever he would find them. The uprising of Ibn Ash‘ath against him in 80 AH gained nothing, and Ḥajjāj’s despotism engulfed the whole of Ḥijāz and Iraq until 95 AH. Imām as-Sajjād lived during that period, conveying the Islamic and Shī‘ah knowledge and teachings through supplications. During that period, the Shī‘ah were either fugitives, languishing in prison, killed at the hands of Ḥajjāj, or exercising extreme dissimulation [taqiyyah] by hiding their true faith. As such, the people had no courage to approach Imām as-Sajjād (‘a) and his close supporters were very few. The late Majlisī thus narrates: “Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf killed Sa‘īd ibn Jubayr because of his contacts with Imām as-Sajjād (‘a).” Of course, during that time, on account of the pressures exerted against the Shī‘ah, they migrated to the various parts of the Muslim lands and became the agents of the spread of Shī‘ism. During the same period, some Shī‘ah in Kūfah migrated to territories surrounding Qum, stayed there and contributed to the spread of Shī‘ism in that place.
The initial period of Imām al-Bāqir’s (‘a) Imamate also coincided with the persistent dominance of the Umayyad rule. During at time, Hishām ibn ‘Abd al-Malik, an authoritative and despotic caliph, summoned Imām al-Baqīr (‘a) along with his son, Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (‘a), to Shām. He did not neglect to annoy and vex them. During his reign, Zayd ibn ‘Alī ibn al-Husayn staged an uprising and was martyred. Although the restraints and pressures exerted on the Shī‘ah were somehow mitigated during the caliphate of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz, the period of caliphate was, nevertheless, short. After two odd years of rule, he passed away in a suspicious manner.
Of course the Umayyads were not able to extinguish the light of truth through pressure and restriction, and failed to erase the virtues and excellence of the Commander of the Faithful ‘Alī (‘a) from the people’s memory, and that was the will of God. Ibn Abī’l-Ḥadīd thus says in this regard: If God, the Exalted, had not endowed leadership to this man (‘Alī), even a single hadith concerning his virtues and excellences would not have been narrated because the Marwānīs were so harsh in relation to the narrators of his virtues.
Imām as-Sajjād’s (‘a) period can be divided into two stages. The first stage covered the instability of the Umayyad rule, the downfall of the Sufyānīs (descendants of Abū Sufyān) and the ascendance to power of the Marwānīs (descendants of Marwān ibn al-Ḥakam). The second stage covered the stabilization of the rule of the Marwānīs.
During the first stage, the Umayyads were grappling with the Shī‘ah and non-Shī‘ah uprisings in Ḥijāz and Iraq.
The second stage began with the murder of ‘Abd Allāh ibn Zubayr in 73 AH in which the Umayyads made use of the existence of notorious headsmen such as Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf in a bid to stabilize their grip.
1. How many stages can Imām as-Sajjād’s (‘a) period be divided into?
2. How many types of uprisings were there during Imām as-Sajjād’s (‘a) period?
3. Describe the period of strangulation and stabilization of the Marwānīs’ rule.