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The Shī‘ah-Populated Places during the Second Century Hijrī

Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami

At the beginning of the second century AH, Shī‘ism extended beyond the frontiers of the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq as it encompassed the entire Muslim domain. In view of the scattering of the Shī‘ah and ‘Alawīs in the Muslim territories, this matter can be discerned. From the time of Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf, the migration of the Shī‘ah and ‘Alawīs to the other regions had begun. These migrations were further expedited during the second century AH with the beginning of the propaganda and movements by the ‘Alawīs. After the failure of the uprising of Zayd in Kūfah, his son Yaḥyā along with a number of his supporters went to Khurāsān. After him, the uprising of ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mu‘āwiyah, a descendant of Ja‘far ibn Abī Ṭālib aṭ-Ṭayyār, covered the regions such as Hamedān, Qum, Rey, Qirmis, Iṣfahān, and Fārs, and ‘Abd Allāh himself lived in Iṣfahān. Abū’l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī says, “The notables of Banū Hāshim went to him and he designated each of them to rule over a district. Even Manṣūr and Safāḥ (who later became the first two ‘Abbāsid caliphs) had connivance with him and this continued till the time of Marwān Ḥimār and the emergence of Abū Muslim.”
During the ‘Abbāsid period, the ‘Alawī movements always emerged, one definite consequence of which was the scattering of the ‘Alawīs in the different regions. For example, after the uprising of Muḥammad Nafs az-Zakiyyah during the reign of Manṣūr and his defeat, the descendants of Imām al-Ḥasan (‘a) were scattered in the different places. In this regard, Mas‘ūdi thus says: The brothers of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh (Nafs az-Zakiyyah) were scattered in the different places. His son, ‘Alī ibn Muḥammad, went to Egypt where he was killed later. His other son, ‘Abd Allāh ibn Muḥammad, went to Khurāsān and from there proceeded to Sind where he was killed. His third son, Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad went to Yemen where he was put behind bars and passed away while in prison. His (Nafs az-Zakiyyah’s) brother, Mūsā, went to Mesopotamia. Another brother of Nafs az-Zakiyyah, Yaḥyā, went to Rey and from there he proceeded to Ṭabaristān. Another brother of his, Idrīs, went to Maghrib. Yet another brother, Ibrāhīm, went to Baṣrah where he formed an army composed of men from Ahwāz, Fārs among other cities, but his uprising ended in failure.
Although most of them were pursued by the ‘Abbāsid agents and were unable to remain in one place and were later killed, their impact remained. Sometimes, their children lived in those places. For example, ‘Abd Allāh, son of Muḥammad Nafs az-Zakiyyah, as narrated by Mas‘ūdi, was not able to remain in Khurāsān and thus, he went to Sind. Yet, the author of the book, Muntaqilah aṭ-Ṭālibiyyīn, narrates that the son of ‘Abd Allāh, Ibrāhīm, remained in Khurāsān and had two sons named Qāsim and Muḥammad.
Similarly, there was a group in Transoxiana which was tracing itself back to Irahim ibn Muḥammad Nafs az-Zakiyyah.
Now, we shall survey the condition of the cities and regions in which the Shī‘ah lived in large number during the second century AH.

a. Khurāsān
At the beginning of the second century AH, the movement of the campaigners of Banū Hāshim commenced in Khurāsān and many people there embraced Shī‘ism. Ya‘qūbī narrates, When Zayd was martyred, the Shī‘ah in Khurāsān were in great commotion and expressed their faith in Shī‘ism. The preachers were openly stating the atrocity and tyranny of the Umayyads against the descendants of the Prophet

It remained so until such time that Yaḥyā ibn Zayd went to Khurāsān and lived there in disguise for sometime. And when he rose up, many people gathered around him. Mas‘ūdī narrates, “On the year when Yaḥyā was killed, every infant that was born in Khurāsān was named Yaḥyā.”
Of course, due to the presence of Zaydīs and ‘Abbāsid campaigners, Shī‘ism of the people of Khurāsān had more Zaydī and Kaysānī color. This is particularly true in view of the fact that in the beginning, the ‘Abbāsids laid the foundation of their legitimacy upon the succession of Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī to Abū Hāshim, son of Muḥammad al-Ḥanafiyyah. As Abū’l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī writes in describing ‘Abd Allāh ibn Muḥammad al-Ḥanafiyyah: He is the same person whom the Shī‘ah of Khurāsān were thinking to be the heir of his father whom they thought was the Imām. His heir in turn was Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-‘Abbās while Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī designated Ibrāhīm as his successor. In this manner, succession among the Abbasids was institutionalized.
The Khurāsānīs had always been supporters of the ‘Abbāsids, and when the dichotomy between the ‘Alawīs and ‘Abbāsids occurred, they sided with the latter. For example, during the battle against Muḥammad Nafs az-Zakiyyah most of the ‘Abbāsid soldiers were Persian-speaking Khurāsānīs. Abū’l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī narrates, When Khuḍayr Zubayrī, one of the commanders of Muḥammad Nafs az-Zakiyyah, was coming to the battlefield from Medina, the Khurāsānīs were saying in Persian, “Khuḍayr āmad; Khuḍayr āmad” [Khuḍayr came; Khuḍayr came].

b. Qum
Qum has been one of the most important Shī‘ah-populated cities since the second century AH. This city, apart from being founded after the advent of Islam, has been founded by the Shī‘ah and Shī‘ah resided in and populated it from the very beginning. It is Shī‘ah Imāmiyyah that has always been there without experiencing any deviation. Not only have Sinyān ever lived there but also the Ghulāt did not find their way there, and even if they had, the people would have rejected them. Many of the people there used to come to the pure Imāms (‘a) to learn from these great personages, always maintaining contact with their Imāms.
In 82 AH when the revolt of Ibn Ash‘ath against Ḥajjāj was crushed and he fled to Kābul, a number of his soldiers were also Shī‘ah such as ‘Abd Allāh, Aḥwaṣ, Na‘īm, ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān, and Isḥaq, sons of Sa‘d ibn Mālik ibn ‘Āmir al-Ash‘arī, who went to the districts of Qum after the defeat of Ash‘ath. There were seven villages there one of which was known as “Kamandān”. After these brothers’ stay in this village, their kith and kin joined them and resided in all the seven villages. Gradually, these seven villages merged together and they all become “Kamandān”. Kamandān was Arabized and shortened into “Qum”.
From then on, Qum has become one of the most important concentration centers of the Shī‘ah, and the ‘Alawīs in particular, who arrived and resided there from everywhere. At the end of the second century AH, the arrival of Lady Fāṭimah al-Ma‘ṣūmah (Imām ar-Riḍā’s (‘a) sister) is considered the turning point in the history of this city, bringing about ample blessings to it.

c. Baghdad
Baghdad was founded during the second century hijrī, 145 AH in particular, by Manṣūr, the second ‘Abbāsid caliph, and soon became one of the demographic concentration centers of the Shī‘ah. This fact was unambiguously proved in Imām al-Kāẓim (‘a) burial procession. The huge number of attendants seriously alarmed the ‘Abbāsids so much so that Sulaymān ibn Manṣūr, Hārūn ar-Rashīd’s uncle, participated in it barefooted just to appease the people. Baghdad was founded in Iraq and most of the people of Iraq were Shī‘ah. Although Baghdad at the beginning was a military and political city, with the passage of time the intellectual center of the Muslim world was also transferred there and Shī‘ah of the neighboring cities such as Kūfah, Baṣrah, Madā’in among others took residence there and very quickly constituting a large population. After the minor occultation [ghaybah aṣ-ṣughrah], Baghdad became the intellectual and religious center for the Shī‘ah who flourished there by virtue of the Shī‘ah government of Āl Būyah (Būyeds), until such time that Shaykh aṭ-Ṭūsī transferred the Shī‘ah center to Najaf.

3. The Shī‘ah-Populated Places during the Third Century Hijrī
The geographical expansion of Shī‘ism in the third century AH can be discussed and studied in two ways; the first is through the formation of the Shī‘ah states in the Muslim territories. In 250 AH the ‘Alawīs in Ṭabaristān formed a government. During the latter part of the third century AH, descendants of Imām al-Ḥusayn (‘a) set up a Zaydī government in Yemen. In 296 AH the Fāṭimid state was established in the north of Africa. These governments were not based on Shī‘ah Imāmiyyah fundamentals, but their existence showed the extent of Shī‘ism and indicated the fertile ground for its acceptance in the Muslim territories—an opportunity which had been utilized by the Ismā‘īlīs and Zaydīs.
The second way is through the list of regions where the pure Imāms (‘a) designated proxies. The institution of deputyship [wikālah] had been founded since the time of Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (‘a), and during the time of Imām al-Hādī and Imām al-‘Askarī (‘a) the activity of this institution had reached its climax. The regions where the Imāms’ (‘a) deputies were dispatched included Ahwāz, Hamedān, Sīstān, Bust, Rey, Baṣrah, Wāsīṭ, Baghdad, Egypt, Yemen, Ḥijāz, and Madā’in.
Of course, Kūfah, Qum, Sāmarrā, and Nayshābūr were considered as the most important Shī‘ah-dominated cities till the end of the third century AH, and the Shī‘ah jurisprudence based on the traditions of the pure Imāms (‘a) was taught there. After the third century, nevertheless, Kūfah declined in importance being gradually replaced by Baghdad, and with the arrival of the Āl Būyah and the presence of distinguished figures such as Shaykh al-Mufīd, Sayyid Murtaḍā, Sayyid Raḍī, and Shaykh aṭ-Ṭūsī, the religious seminary in Baghdad flourished.
Regarding the Shī‘ah influence in Baghdad during the fourth century AH, Adam Mitch (?) thus writes: But in Baghdad which was the capital of Islam in its true sense and where the waves of all intellectual currents were strong, all schools of thought had followers. Of all these schools of thought, two were the strongest and most uncompromising—Ḥanbālī and Shī‘ah. The followers of Shī‘ism were particularly concentrated around the market of Karakh and only at the end of the fourth, this direction to the major bridge in Bab aṭ-Ṭāq was also populated. In places west of Dajlah, especially Bāb al-Baṣrah, Hāshimīs (‘Abbāsid sādāt) constituted a strong community with intense enmity toward the Shī‘ah.
Yāqūt thus writes: “The residents of the district of Bāb al-Baṣrah, between Karakh and Qiblah, were all Ḥanbalī Sunnīs, and those on the left and western parts of Karakh were also Sunnīs. But the people of Karakh were entirely Shī‘ah and no Sunnī could be found among them.”
…As recorded by historians, the first time the Shī‘ah of Baghdad gathered in Barāthā Masjid in 313 AH, it was reported to the caliph that a group is gathering there to collectively curse the caliphs. The caliph ordered for it to be besieged on Friday at the time of congregational prayer, and thirty worshippers were arrested and searched. Baked clays [muhr] with the name of the Imām engraved therein were found on them… In 321 AH, ‘Alī ibn Yalbakh, the Turkish commander, ordered for the cursing of Mu‘āwiyah and Yazīd on the pulpits. The public made a hullabaloo, and Barbahārī, the leading Ḥanbalī, and his supporters were identified as the ones responsible for the unrests. On account of the seditions and attitudes of the Ḥanbalīs toward the people in 323 AH, it was ordered that two Ḥanbalīs should not be seen together anywhere in Baghdad, and the ‘Abbāsid caliph Rāḍī issued an order in which the offenses to be committed by the Ḥanbalīs and their corresponding punishments were indicated.

During the ‘Abbāsid period, the ‘Alawī movements constantly emerged, a definite consequence of which was the diaspora of the ‘Alawīs in the different regions. As such, during the second century AH, Shī‘ism transcended beyond the frontiers of the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq.
The journey of the ‘Abbāsid campaigners to Khurāsān began at the beginning of the second century AH, where many people initially embraced Shī‘ism though Shī‘ism with more Kaysānī influence.
Since the second century AH, Qum has become one of the most important Shī‘ah-dominated cities. This city was founded by the Shī‘ah and Shī‘ism there has always been Ithnā ‘Ash‘arī Imāmiyyah. Although Baghdad was the capital of the ‘Abbāsid caliphate, by the transfer of Shī‘ah from the neighboring cities such as Kūfah, Baṣrah and Madā’in, it became one of the demographic concentration centers of the Shī‘ah.
During the third century AH, Shī‘ism was extended in many regions in the Muslim territories. This fact is clearly illustrated from the list of the regions where the pure Imāms (‘a) had their representatives. It was for this reason that the Shī‘ah governments in Ṭabaristān, Yemen and Africa were set up.
Up to the end of the third century AH, Kūfah, Qum, Sāmarrā, and Nayshābūr were regarded as the most important Shī‘ah-populated cities.

1. Name the regions populated by the Shī‘ah during the second century AH.
2. In what periods did Shī‘ism in Khurāsān start?
3. Which type of Shī‘ism has been in Qum?
4. How did Baghdad become one of the Shī‘ah-populated cities?

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