Political and Social Conditions During Imam's Time
Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) was born in the closing years of the Umayyad rule. Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) wasn't five years old when the Umayyads were overthrown. People were hoping that political and social conditions would get better. Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and the offspring of Abu-Talib, in general, bore the bulk of the Umayyads terror and oppression. The Umayyads shed the blood of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and the leading men from the descendants of Ali bin Abi-Talib and Fatimah al-Zahra' (a.s.) and dealt with them in the most brutal and savage ways. The most bitter and painful tragedy for Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) was the massacre of Karbala' which was perpetrated by the Umayyad dictator Yazid bin Mu'awiyah, on the tenth of Muharram, 61 A.H, in which Imam Hussein bin Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), the grandson of the Prophet (s.a.w.), along with a number of the members of his family and followers were martyred.
The second heart-rending tragedy took place in 121 A.H, in the month of Safar. Zayd bin Ali bin Hussein bin Ali bin Abi-Talib was martyred on the orders of the Umayyad ruler, Hisham bin Abd ul-Malik.
Abul-Faraj al-Asfahani, the famous historian, mentioned 33 martyrs from the descendants of Abu-Talib, who were slaughtered at the hands of the Umayyad rulers. The list begins with Imams Hassan and Hussein (a.s.), the two master youths of Paradise, and the sons of Imam Ali (a.s.) and Fatimah Mu'awiyah bin Abi-Sufyan, the first Umayyad ruler, was the first murderer of the sons of Abu- Talib. The victims were all descendants of Imam Ali (a.s.), Ja'far and Aqeel bin Abi-Talib, Imams Hassan and Hussein (a.s.) the two sons of Imam Ali (a.s.) and Fatimah al-Zahra' (a.s.), the Mistress of the Women of the World. They were all looked at by the people as men of outstanding merits and piety. The Umayyads couldn't tolerate them and unjustly and brutally slaughtered them. They liquidated them because they wouldn't yield to oppression and hated to be humiliated, and for such considerations they declared war on the rulers, in defence of Islam, hoping to implement its teachings. In his book Maqatil al-Talib (Murders of the Descendants of Abu-Talib), Abul-Faraj al-Asfahani says that 33 members of the family of Abu- Talib were killed as from the day Abul-Abbas al-Saffah seized power until the death of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.). The three most well-known martyrs among them were: Muhammad bin Abdullah bin al-Hassan (al-Nafs al-Zakyyah), who was killed in 145 A.H., Hussein bin Ali bin al-Hassan (Martyr of Fakh), who was killed on the 8th of Dul-Hijjah, 169 A.H. at the hands of the Abbassid ruler, Musa al-Hadi bin Abi-Ja'far al-Mansoor, near the well of Fakh in the vicinity of the holy city of Makkah, and Imam Musa bin Ja'far al-Khadhim (a.s.), the chief and Imam of Ahlul-Bait on the 25th of Rajab, 183 A.H, who was killed on the orders of the Abbassid ruler Haroon al-Rasheed. But these 33 victimized Shi'ites were only the leading men, famous and distinguished among the descendants of Abu-Talib. As for the actual number of the victims, it is believed, based on historical accounts, that the number is at least many times larger.
Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) lived in the most critical and crucial time in the life of Ahlul- Bait (a.s.).
The Abbassids hunted down the descendants of Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.) and their followers, prosecuting them in every part of the Islamic state. Men recruited for this purpose were treated lavishly. Their job was uprooting the Alawites, getting rid of their leaders because of their fear of the hostile activities of the Alawites and the love the common people held for them.
In this eventful period of time revolutions erupted, followed by arrests and single or mass murders of the descendants of Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.) and their followers. It was a dark age, men were caught and sentenced to death on the slightest suspicion. The Abbassids monopolized power and thought little of peoples' dignity. Eventually, imprisonment, beating and killing became common practices. The Islamic state was turned into an empire governed by a hereditary dictatorship in which the Islamic state was divided into fieldoms. Governors ruled, abusing power, and acting according to their own wishes as long as they remained loyal to the central government and the Abbassid caliph.
The rulers sought men of this caliber who would remain faithful to them. The Abbassids were not concerned with establishing justice, implementing Islamic laws and introducing reforms. They only thought of their thrones and lusts. They busied themselves laying plans to eliminate their Entertainment, singing and base arts permeated the Muslim Society. The palaces of caliphs, princes, governors, ministers and their entourage were filled with maidens and musical instruments and dancers, and poets whose main were collecting money.
The rulers began eagerly to buy maidens,[^53] jewels, perfumes, clothes, tools of entertainment, pleasure and luxury.
They pilfered millions and squandered the wealth of the ummah which they milked from the veins of the oppressed, the hunted, the prisoners or those sentenced to death In spite of this oppression, science, literature and culture bloomed. Knowledge in general, literary works, arts and discoveries prospered and new schools in philosophy and fiqh surfaced. Such trends had both positive and negative effects on the life of Muslims. They deepened division and dissension among Muslims. They split into numerous ideological schools that led to the growing of distrust, disbelief, and distortions in the beliefs of Muslims. Positively, such new trends contributed to the development of Islamic way of thinking, enrichment of the Islamic mentality and pushing it toward new horizons of innovation and advancement. Islamic studies expanded to new areas and realms.
Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) followed in the footsteps of his father, al-Sadiq (a.s.). He played a key role in standing against decadence in politics, morals and the Islamic way of life, brought about or helped by the Abbassid rule. Even in prison, Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) didn't give up his responsibility towards the faith and the faithful. Some scholars, and many of his followers and students, kept contact with him secretly, asking him about any aspect of Islamic thought and beliefs. He had his means of writing back to them answering to their questions.
Due to the harsh conditions Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) went through, during his Imamate, researchers find that the percentage of traditions and statements on the various branches of knowledge handed down from him is less compared to those of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), and Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.), his grandfather.
If his father and grandfather were mostly busy explaining the knowledge of Ahlul- Bait (a.s.) and outlining their school of thought and its methodology concerning fiqh, Islamic beliefs, Qur'anic exegesis, politics, morals, etc., which they took from their forefather Imam al-Sajjad (a.s.), who took it from his father Imam al-Hussein (a.s.), who took it from his father Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), who took it from the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.); Imam al-Kadhim's (a.s.) role was manifest in his political militancy. He peacefully challenged the rulers, and, as a result, was thrown into prison. He acted wisely according to the conditions of his time.
It is only natural that the "official" historians, who adhered to the rulers out of fear of their power, would endear themselves to them, falsifying the truth, lavishing the qualities of greatness, sacredness and idealism on these tyrants. They tried hard to drown the voice of right and avoid the mention of rejection and opposition to the oppressors. They would depict the political opponents in their writings, as subversives, mutinees and outlaws. Much have we read about the Abbassid era being described as "the golden age". It is correct that sciences and knowledge, in general, advanced clearly, thanks to the hard work of the scholars, men of letters, intellectuals, fuqaha', philosophers, and researchers, but the dynasty of the Abbassids only spread terror and savageness.
Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), and the reformers, fuqaha' and scholars were the victims, while the maidens, singers, entertainers, opportunists, royal poets, judges, governors, the well-off and their likes, basked in the wealth of the ummah.
The true value of the civilization can only be judged through its human side, its efforts to establish justice, and the course it tread, not through the material side which only represents the tool of the rulers to plunder and expand their power.
During that terrible era (148-183 A.H.) Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) took on the responsibility of Imamate.
Following is a brief look at the development of events which were to the disadvantage of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), during that critical era.
A. The Imam (a.s.) and Abu-Jafar al-Mansoor:
Under the rule of Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor, Alawites suffered beyond description. They were terrorized in the most heartbreaking way. As the picture was crystal clear for Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.), he knew in advance that armed struggle would yield nothing, he avoided making his real attitude public, preferring to keep his opposition to Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor secret. The years of al-Mansoor dragged on, heavy and bitter, for Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.), and the sons of Abu-Talib in particular, and the opposition of the broad sections of the ummah in general. Abu- Ja'far al-Mansoor confiscated the property of the Alawites, threw them behind bars, and hunted them down. He subjected them to unspeakable torture, innovated new ways of killing them, and shed their blood ruthlessly. He put them in half-built pillars and completed the building leaving them there to die. He also withheld food and water from the prisoners to let them die from starvation in the depths of his dark horrible cells. He also used to weigh them down with shackles and chains of which they slowly died. The term of Imam al-Kadhim's (a.s.) Imamate, under al- Mansoor's rule, lasted ten years. Historians agree that al-Mansoor didn't imprison Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.), but they said that he was under surveillance assigning a few men to spy on him.
When al-Mansoor died on the third of Thil-Hijjah 158 A.H., his son, Muhammad al-Mahdi, took over.
B. The Imam (a.s.) and Muhammad al-Mahdi:
The years of Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor, the miser and murderer, who plundered people's wealth, shed blood, stifled freedom and throttled people, finally came to a close. People received the news of his death with relief and delight, for they felt the chains broken which bound them. However, the fear, gloom and general mistrust in the Abbassid policy remained. In accordance with hereditary rule adopted by the Abbassids, Muhammad al-Mahdi succeeded his father and ascended to the caliphate. Al-Mahdi sensed the brutality of the policy his father had taken and tried to soothe people's pains at the beginning of his caliphate. He released prisoners and gave back confiscated property. This decision applied also to the descendants of Abu-Talib.[^54] The property of Imam Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.), taken by the Abbassid authorities, was turned back to his son, Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.).
That period, extending from 3 Thul-Hijjah 158 A.H. to 22 Muharram 169[^55] was a breathing space for the Imam and the descendants of Abu-Talib. But fear of the strong personality of Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) was eating away at al-Mahdi's heart. He saw how the masses rallied around the descendants of Abu-Talib, and he was worried that there would be an uprising against his rule. His enmity for Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) increased. As a result, he ordered his governor in Madinah to ask Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) to travel to Baghdad to stand trial and maybe face a prison sentence. The governor instantly did al-Mahdi's bidding. Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) didn't resist. He set out on a long journey, across extended deserts, to Baghdad. As he started his trip, the hearts of the Shi'ites and his followers hovered over his caravan, frightened and troubled. But Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) was sure that al-Mahdi wouldn't do him any harm. He assured his close associates and companions of this.
As soon as Imam Kadhim (a.s.) arrived in Baghdad, al-Mahdi ordered his guard to arrest him and throw him in prison. But Allah wouldn't forget his devoted servant. He guarded his servant against any evil.
A strange thing happened afterwards. Al-Mahdi, in a dream, saw the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.), threatening him and saying "O Muhammad, 'But if you turn away, you are sure to make mischief in the land and cut off the ties of kinship." Al-Mahdi awoke, seized with great panic. He sent for al-Rabi', his vizier, and ordered him to set Imam Kadhim (a.s.) free.
Imam Kadhim (a.s.), released from prison, returned to the city of his grandfather, the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), and resumed his religious, educational and cultural mission.
C. The Imam (a.s.) and Musa al-Hadi:
Al-Hadi's rule was one of the most difficult periods for the descendants of Abu- Talib. He adopted the policy of hatred toward the Alawites, the descendants of Ali bin Abi-Talib, and the sons of Abu-Talib in general. He persecuted and harassed them. The Alawites, who could endure such savageness no more, revolted against him under the leadership of al-Hussein bin Ali near a place called Fakh in 169 A.H. That was during the Imamate of Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.).
That revolt reflected the spirit of the struggle between Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and their followers, and the corrupt Abbassid rulers. Because the revolt took place in the time of Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.), and because of its historical importance, and its significance as a beacon for the militants, we provide, in the following pages, a nearly detailed account of it
- "Fakh": Star in the Sky of History:
In the Sky of Islamic history, places, events and personalities shone. From the heart of the ummah and its arteries too much pure blood flowed and irrigated the sapling of faith. With glittering titles and shining letters, this blood wrote the epics of glory and jihad. The land of Fakh is one of those never-forgotten places. So is the leader of the uprising, al-Hussein bin Ali bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin Ali bin Abi-Talib, and his devoted followers. Fakh was perpetuated the same way Badr, Karbala' and their likes were immortalized.
The great tragedy of Fakh is actually a repetition of Karbala', and an echo of the great martyr Imam Hussein (a.s.).
If you read the prosecution of Zainab to the people of Kufa, and listen to her complaint and lamentation, you will have no doubts that Karbala' was repeated at Fakh. The disaster that had befallen Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) at Karbala' was recounted on the pure dust of Fakh. Zainab, the daughter of Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), and her holiness Fatimah (a.s.), had only just addressed the people of Kufah--after she had witnessed the tragedy and surveyed the battlefield examining the bodies of her slaughtered family--with these words,
"Woe to you! Do you know how you tore the liver of the Apostle of Allah? Whom of his women folk you exposed? What blood of his you shed? What honour of his you defamed?"
History repeated itself. Years after the tragedy of Karbala', Zainab, the daughter of Abdullah bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin Ali bin Abi-Talib, the mother of al- Hussein bin Ali, the leader of the uprising of Fakh, lived the same tragedy, and suffered the same anguish. This woman mourned her father, brother, husband, her cousins and their sons who were put to the sword by Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor, and wore only callous hairy garments, as a sign of her deep grief over their death. This devout woman used to lament them, crying until she fainted. She wouldn't revile Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor, lest she should find consolation in something displeasing. She would say, "O You who created the skies and the earth, O You Who knows the unseen and the visible, Who judges between His servants, judge between us and our people fairly, and You are the best among those who judge."[^56]
"Zainab used to prance about with al-Hussein, who was still a little boy, and al-Hassan, his brother, chanting:
"You know, O the son of Zainab and Hind, how many men you have in the desert ready for battle. How many truthful, honourable maternal uncles you have, how many great grandfathers you have."[^57]
Time had come for her son, al-Hussein, the revolutionary Alawite to follow in the footsteps of Imam Hussein (a.s.), hoist the banner of jihad and martyrdom, shed his pure blood, and leave the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) to grieve over him, as he had done over the martyrs of Karbala'. Both tragedies, Fakh and Karbala', moved the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) and the members of his family to tears. He talked about them in advance and cried bitterly for the tribulations his family would face.
Shaikh Abul-Hassan Ali bin Muhammad al-Mawardi al-Shafi'i, in his book, A'lam al-Nubuwwah (Signs of Prophethood), p. 83, the edition published in Egypt, says:
"Of his forewarnings is that which was reported by Urwah, on the authority of A'ishah (a wife of the Prophet). Urwah said, 'Hussein bin Ali (a.s.) went to see the Messenger of Allah of the time when he was receiving revelations from his Lord. Hussein mounted the back of the Prophet (s.a.w.) who was prostrate. Hussein played there. 'O Muhammad,' called Gabrial, 'your ummah would certainly suffer from dissension after your death. This son of yours would certainly be killed after you.' Gabrial stretched out his hand and brought a handful of white dust, and said, 'On this land your son will be slaughtered. It is called al- Taff'" After Gabrial had gone, the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) came out to meet his followers, including Abu-Bakr, Umar, Ali, Hudaifah, Ammar and Abu-Thar. The Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) was crying. 'What makes you cry, O Messenger of Allah?' asked his followers, to which question he replied, 'Gabrial has just told me that my son, Hussein, will be killed after my death in the land of al- Taff He has brought to me this dust and said that it was taken from the spot where he would be murdered "[^58]
In addition to the tragedy of Karbala', the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) had told his companions about the battle of Fakh. Abu-Ja'far Muhammad al-Baqir bin Ali (a.s.) is reported to have said through a chain of transmitters, that, "the Prophet (s.a.w.) once passed by Fakh. He dismounted and offered two ruk'ah prayer. In the second ruk'ah his eyes welled with tears. When people saw the Prophet (s.a.w.) crying they cried When they left that place he asked them, mat made you cry.?' 'When we sawyou crying, we also cried, O Apostle of Allah, , said the people. 'At the end of the first ruk'ah, Gabrial descended,' replied the Prophet (s.a.w.), 'and said: 'O Muhammad, a man from your descendents will be murdered in this place. The divine reward for every one who would be martyred with him shall be twofold."[^59]
Imam Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.) stopped, on one of his journeys from Madinah to Makkah, at Fakh. There he offered a prayer. "May I be your ransom," asked al-Nadhr bin Arwash, the owner of the camels rented for the journey, "I have seen you do something. Is it one of the rites of hajj?"
"No," said the Imam (a.s.), "but a man from my household will be killed right here, fighting along side a bunch of men whose souls will fly ahead of their bodies towards Paradise."[^60]
Zayd bin Ali bin al-Hussein is reported to have said that the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) had performed prayer at Fakh and said, "Right here, a man from my own family will be killed along with a group of devout men. Their shrouds and perfume (which is ritually applied to the dead) shall be brought to them from Paradise. Their souls will outrun their bodies to Paradise."[^61]
If the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) and Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), who didn't witness the massacre, were greatly shocked at the horrendous news, Imam Musa bin Ja'far al- Kadhim (a.s.), the Imam of Muslims and the chief of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) of the time, must have been moved beyond description by the tragedy as it unfolded in front of him. That tragedy had a heavy impact on his life and mission. That is because the day of Fakh was a terribly saddening memory in the history of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (a.s.), the grandson of Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.), was quoted as saying, "After al-Taff we witnessed no massacre more horrible than that of Fakh. "[^62]
Musa al-Hadi, the Abbassid caliph, on whose order the massacre was perpetrated, blamed the uprising on Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) and the survivors from the house of Abu-Talib. Imam Kadhim (a.s.) endured all the atrocities against him and his followers with his great heart, endless patience and iron will.
That is the great leader. Muslim leaders have to be greater than tribulations, firmer than the hardships placed in their path, and braver than their adversaries, so that they can go on with their tasks. The Imams of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) were all possessed of such qualities. How truthful are the words of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), "We are members of a household to whom no one could ever be compared"
- Blood and Martyrdom in the Uprising of Fakh:
Musa al-Hadi was in constant fear of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), who enjoyed the support of the masses. He particularly feared Imam Musa (a.s.) and his leadership. His fear intensified when the Alawite revolutionary Abu- Abdullah al-Hussein bin Ali bin al- Hassan bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.) rose up in arms, in the historical battle of Fakh. By then he had no doubts that it was the leader of Ahlul-Bait, Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.), who was the motivator, director, planner, and backer of the revolt.
Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) were always there in the arena. Hardly freshly shed blood of theirs dried without other blood of theirs shed.
No sooner did a star of theirs fade in the sky of jihad than a new star rose. They were the blood of Islam, its heart, and its guiding brain. They were the driving force, and the hand that pushed forward the jihad, opposition, reform and change. They were the articulate tongue of right, in the name of the downtrodden and victims, and the drawn sword over the necks of the tyrants and oppressors.
Al-Hussein bin Ali bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin Ali bin Abi-Talib declared war against the Abbassid ruler in Dul-Qi'dah, 169 A.H., from the holy city of Madinah near the tomb of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.). His revolt failed, and he was killed at Fakh in the vicinity of Makkah.
Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) were shocked at the result of the uprising, and they were subjected to persecution, oppression and torture. Based on the traditions and statements handed down from his forefathers, Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) was fully sure, in advance, that the movement would be foiled. But al-Hussein insisted on his plan. He saw no other alternative beyond the uprising. He couldn't vision the consequences as clear as Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.). Furthermore, he could no longer endure the brutalities done to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). When Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) saw that al-Hussein bin Ali wouldn't yield, and that his decision to revolt was final, he expressed his grief over al-Hussein's inevitable fate, and took farewell of him, saying these words which signal his conviction that he would see al-Hussein no more:
"You will surely be killed So strike hard in the battle, for those people are irreligious. They pretend to be faithful, but they hide their hypocrisy and disbelief We are from Allah and to Him we shall return. I seek Allah's reward by your loss, O good people."[^63]
Historians wrote about this heroic uprising, analyzing its terrible and tragic outcome. Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani says:
"The reason why al-Hussein bin Ali bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin Ali bin Abi-Talib revolted was that Musa al-Hadi appointed Ishaq bin Isa bin Ali as the governor of Madinah. Ishaq put a man called Abul-Aziz bin Abdullah al- Umari[^64] in his place. Al-Umari hated the house of Abu-Talib. He offended them and went to excessive lengths in maltreating them. He ordered them to report to him every day at the reception hall of his palace. Each one of them stood surety for his companion or relative. Al-Hasan bin Muhammad bin Abdullah bin al-Hassan was guaranteed by both al-Hussein bin Ali and Yahya bin Abdullah bin al-Hassan.
Al-Hussein bin Muhammad arrived in the first days of hajj. About seventy men from the Shi'ites also came with him. They all stayed at the house of Ibn Aflah at al-Baqi'. There, they met al-Hussein, among many others. Al-Umari heard of that and he flew into a fury. Before that, al-Umari had arrested al-Hassan bin Muhammad bin Abdullah, Ibn Jundub al-Huthali, the poet, and a slave of Umar bin al-Khattab[^65] while they were present at a meeting. He claimed publically that they were caught drinking wine. He ordered al-Hassan to be given 80 lashes, Ibn Jundub 15, and the slave of Umar bin al-Khattab seven. Then he ordered them to be displayed throughout the city, with bare backs, so that they would be disgraced..."[^66]
Finally, he backed off although he once again began to persecute the descendants of Abu-Talib. Abu-Bakr bin Isa al-Ha'ik, whom he appointed in charge of their affairs, maltreated them. One Friday he locked them in the mosque till the time of the Friday prayer entered. He then allowed them only to do their ablution (wudoo'). Having finished the prayer, he threw them in the reception hall. In the afternoon he checked them, looking for al-Hassan bin Muhammad who had not presented himself for three successive days to Abu-Bakr bin Isa. Not finding him among the detained group he threatened both Yahya and al-Hussein, who stood surety for him, with imprisonment if they failed to bring al-Hassan to him. Yahya spoke roughly with him, reviling him. Ibn al-Ha'ik reported that to al-Umari who sent for Yahya and al-Hussein and scolded them severely. Al-Hussein managed to pretend to be friendly with al-Umari and discussed the matter calmly. "I will bring al-Hassan bin Muhammad to you," said Yahya to al-Umari. "I will bring him if I find him or I will knock on your door so that you will know that I have called on you." Later al-Hussein asked with great surprise, "How will you bring al-Hassan to him?" Yahya answered, "I did not mean that I would hand over al-Hassan to him. I only meant that I would knock on his door carrying my sword with me. If it was possible I would kill him." Al-Hussein narrated the whole story to al-Hassan bin Muhammad, and said in conclusion, "You have heard what took place between this depraved man and us. So you may go to wherever you wish." Al-Hassan refused and said, "Rather I will go right now and put my hand in his. Al-Hussein rejected this proposal and said to al-Hassan, "I myself will go with you so that Allah may spare me the fire."
Al-Hussein then called the Hashimites, his followers and servants. twenty-six men from the family of Abu-Talib, ten from the pilgrims and a band of servants answered his call.
When the dawn prayer was due, they went into the mosque. Abdullah bin al- Hassan al-Aftas asked the caller of the adan (prayer call) to include "hayyi ala khayril-amal" (hurry to the best deed) into his adan as it was recited in the time of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.). Frightened, the man recited the phrase at which point al-Umari knew that an Alawite revolution was announced. Confused and scared, al-Umari lost control of himself and began crying ravingly inside his palace, "Close the mule...the door," and, "Feed me two grains of water." These two sentences were soon spread among the people indicating his fear. They nicknamed his son, "Son of Two Grains of Water". The Alawites were true to their word. They stormed al-Umari's house but the man escaped death at the hands of the people by prayer and delivered a sermon at the end of the prayer. He then seized control of the city. That was in the month of Dil-Qi'dah, 169 A.H. For the sake of hajj, and winning people to his side, al-Hussein headed for Makkah.
Accompanied by about 200 people from his own family and followers, he set out on the journey hoping to meet as many pilgrims as he could. When they drew near Makkah and arrived at Fakh[^67] and the Valley of Baldah, the Abbassid army attacked them, and a ferocious battle ensued between the two parties on the morning of the day of Tarwiyah (the ninth of Dil-Hijjah). Due to their small number, the followers of al-Hassan were crushed. Al-Hussein, who was wounded, was offered amnesty if he surrendered. He said to his enemies, "By Allah, one cannot trust you, but, nevertheless, I accept your promise of amnesty." His sword broken, he gave himself up. Breaking their word, they put him to the sword after brutally torturing him.
This heroic uprising ended in a horrible tragedy and great sacrifice. More than one hundred men were martyred from these bold revolutionaries. Historians stated that the Abbassids cut off the heads of the martyrs. The rest of the small army was taken captive.
- Abbassid Authorities Blame the Imam (a.s.) for Battle of Fakh:
The heads were brought to Musa and al-Abbas. Present were men from the families of al-Hassan and al-Hussein. Also present was Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) who was asked by al-Abbas about the heads. "Is this the head of Hussein?"
"Yes," replied Imam Kadhim (a.s.), "We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. He died, by Allah, a righteous Muslim, who kept fasting, enjoining good and forbidding evil. In his family he had no match."
The captives were carried to al-Hadi who ordered them to be executed.[^68] Not only did the murderers shed the blood unjustly, mutilate the bodies of the martyrs and kill the prisoners, but they, namely al-Umari, razed the victims' houses to the ground, confiscated their property, and set their orchards on fire.
Historians say then, "when al-Umari, who was in the city of Madinah at the time, got word of the outcome of the battle, he burnt down the house of al-Hussein and the houses of his family, confiscated their wealth and date-palm orchards considering them as part of the spoils of war traditionally set aside for the ruler."[^69]
Another version says, "He hastened to the house of al-Hussein, and the houses of members of his family, and others who took part in the uprising of al-Hussein and tore them down. He set the date-palms ablaze, and took over those which he did not destroy considering it as part of the spoils of war traditionally set aside for the ruler."[^70]
Such is the practice of tyrants, anytime and anywhere, against the symbols of uprightness and vanguards of mujahideen. It is motivated by the black desire to kill and plunder, confiscate property and find comfort at the pain of others.
The heads of the martyrs were placed before the Abbassid caliph, Musa al-Hadi. At that point, he was boiling with spite and the spirit of revenge. He wanted to repress the family of Abu-Talib and its chief, the Muslims' Imam, Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.). He resorted to threats, and swore that he would get rid of Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.). He couldn't make a distinction between the supervision of Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) of the uprising and the actual leadership of this great Alawite Islamic revolt which was achieved by al-Hussein. Al-Hussein had stressed that he only wanted to restore the right of governance to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and to rule in accordance with the Qur'anic teachings and the sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.). He said:
"I give you my pledge to abide by the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Apostle of Allah, that Allah should be obeyed and not disobeyed I call you to please the household of Muhammad I promise you to rule according to the Book of Allah and the sunnah of His prophet, blessings of Allah be on him and his family, establish equality among people, and distribute money equally among Muslims. I demand that you stay with us to the end, fighting our enemy. If we were true to our word, stick to your pledge of support, but if we were not, consider your pledge of allegiance to us null and void."[^71]
A good look at these historical documents explains to us the nature of the political and social conditions Muslims in general, and the Alawites, their leaders and Imams in particular, went through and acquaints us with the grave dilemma of the ummah and the root cause of the revolts, uprisings and continuous opposition to the different despotic regimes by the Imams of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). Thanks to their unselfishness, bravery, frankness and leadership qualifications, they were acknowledged as the sole competent leaders of the ummah. Truthful are the words of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) concerning Ahlul-Bait, "We are members of a household to whom no one could ever be compared"
The Abbassid ruler, Musa al-Hadi, couldn't overlook this fact. He knew full well the real forces which dominated the social and political arena, which acted to bring about a social and political change and introduce reforms to the Islamic society. He attributed the uprising to Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) in the same way al-Mansoor before him blamed the uprising of Muhammad (al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah) on Imam al- Sadiq (a.s.), the father of Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.), and exactly as Hisham, the Umayyad ruler, had blamed the uprising of Zayd to Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.), the grandfather of Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.), despite the fact that all the three Imams had advised Zayd, Muhammad Thul-Nafs al-Zakiyyah and al-Hussein bin Ali, the leader of the uprising of Fakh, against resorting to armed struggle, because they knew beforehand that course of action would bring nothing. They spoke frankly to the three leaders before the uprisings. But these facts wouldn't convince the rulers who feared even the mention of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) who commanded people's respect and obedience. Historians say that Abu-Hanifah, the leader of an Islamic school of thought, supported Zayd and passed a religious decree (fatwah) allowing Muslims to give the Islamic tax of Zakat in favour of Zayd's movement. Abu-Yousif, the well-known judge, the companion of Abu- Hanifah, and one of the most famous official fuqaha' of his time, defended Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) before Musa al-Hadi when the latter made up his mind to kill the Imam, despite his religious differences with Ahlul- Bait (a.s.), and the fact that he led a different school of thought.
Let's have a look at the following historic document:
"When the head of Abu-Abdullah al-Hussein bin Ali, the leader of the well known uprising of Fakh, was brought to Musa al-Hadi and placed before him, he recited these lines of verse:
"O our cousins! Recite verse no longer after you have laid verse rhyme to rest "We are by no means like those people whom you can appease, and easily convince with mere words, or the arbitration of a judge.
"Nay, the edge of the sword is hanging above you. We shall be satisfied as soon as the sword is satisfied.
"Should you say that we have done injustice, it is not so, but we have gone to the wrong arbitrator.
"I am boundlessly upset by what the war has brought between us, O our cousins, if only that was an easy task!."
He then reviled the family of Abu-Talib until he mentioned Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) whom he swore by Allah to kill. Abu Yousif, the judge present, spoke well of him until al-Hadi calmed down."[^72]
Musa al-Hadi, Allamah al-Majlisi reports, sent for one of the captives. He scolded him severely then killed him. Another group of the sons of the Commander of the Faithful Ali bin Abi-Talib, blessings of Allah be upon him, faced the same fate shortly after. Then al-Hadi began to curse the family of Abu-Talib. He did not spare Imam Musa bin Ja'far, the blessings of Allah be upon him, whom he reviled. "By Allah, Hussein did not rebel until after being ordered by him.
Hussein has only done what he deemed on behalf of him (Imam Musa Kadhim (a.s.)), because he is the appointed trustee of this household. May Allah destroy me if I spare him." Abu-Yousif, Ya'qoob bin Ibrahim, the judge, who would not hesitate to speak his mind with al-Hadi said, "O Commander of the Faithful! Shall I talk or keep silent?! May Allah kill me if I for give Musa bin Ja'far. If I had not heard about what al-Mahdi had said to al-Mansoor about the outstanding merits of Ja'far, his faith, knowledge, and righteousness, and if I had not been informed of al- Saffah's praise of Ja'far, I would have dug up his grave and set it on fire."
Abu-Yousif, talked importunately, asking him to calm down until he did so.[^73] But Musa al-Hadi wouldn't feel comfortable or contented with his kingdom while Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) was free, playing his cultural role, and enjoying a leading social position. For these reasons, he decided to detain the Imam whom he continued to threaten with harsh measures.
Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) got word of al-Hadi's real intention. That didn't scare him. He gave no thought to it. He was sure that ruler would face his grave fate and his rule would soon come to an end.
Ali bin Yaqtin, one of Imam's closest companions, relates this story:
"Abul-Hassan Musa bin Ja'far was sitting with men from his own family when he was informed of Musa bin al-Mahdi's decision concerning him. 'What do you think I should do?', the Imam asked them. 'We think that you should keep apart from him and avoid meeting him, for he is an evil man.'"
Abul-Hassan Musa bin Ja'far smiled and said: 'Sukkaynah claimed that she would defeat her Lord But the One Who always defeats the heroes shall certainly prevail.' Then he raised his hands in prayer, 'O Lord, how many a foe has sharpened the blade of his knife, honed the edge of his sword, prepared for me the fatalist of his poisons, whose eye never slept, always watching me. Seeing me unable to endure disasters and ward off the disastrous calamities, You turned all that away from me with Your power and might. You threw him in the hole he had dug for me, disappointed at not achieving what he had hoped for in this world, being distanced from what he wished for in the next world. For that, I praise You as much as You deserve.
"'My Lord, O Allah! Punish him with Your might, weaken his strength with Your power, keep him busy finding no way to achieve his ends, and unable to do what he intends to. O my Lord! Grant me a quick victory over him that would heal me of my anger, and restore my right. O Lord! Accept my prayer, and bring about the change I desire as a result of my complaint. Show him soon what You promised the unjust, and show me what You promised as an answer to the prayer of the needy. Certainly You are the One whose grace is infinite and favours are abundant'
"Ibn Yaqtin then said, 'Thereafter, the people Scattered. They gathered after that only to read the letter sent to Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) informing him of the death of Musa bin al-Mahdi."[^74]
Thus the struggle between this Abbassid ruler and Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) came to an end, but it restarted with the new ruler, Haroon al-Rasheed.