The Second Discussion: The Stance of the Abbasid Rulers

Module two: The personality of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the circumstances surrounding his assassination. Section One: The personality of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan and his life.
October 14, 2019
Discussion Three: The Shar’i perspective of nepotism and analysing this issue in the light of historical details.
November 19, 2019

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The Second Discussion

The Stance of the Abbasid Rulers[1]


Despite the weakness that had befell the Umayyads in the last phase of their rule, it was not possible for any group to eliminate them from power individually, as was evident from the revolts of the Khawarij, some of the Alawids and others. Hence the success of eliminating them was linked to having the capacity to fully subdue the efforts of all the parties which resented the Umayyad Rule. This is something that the forerunners of the Abbasid campaign had realised.

The best groups, who could help them in reaching their goals, were two: the Shia who hated the Umayyads and denounced their rule, and the Mawali[2] many among who resented the Umayyads and despised them.[3] However the primary difference between the two groups was that the opposition of the Shia for the Umayyads (the Kaysaniyyah[4] specifically[5]) was rooted in religion and thus could not be altered due to it being rooted in faith and perception, as opposed to the Mawali whose opposition was rooted in social matters (which by nature are susceptible to change), i.e. like the manner in which the dynasty treated them; their enmity was thus lighter than the enmity of the Shia in this sense.

The question might arise as to the reason why the Khawarij were completely politically inactive, and as to why they did not openly participate in establishing the Abbasid Rule despite them indirectly contributing, due to being an obstacle in the way of the Umayyads from the beginning of their rule right up till the end.[6]

The primary reason for this was that it was very difficult to permeate the ranks of the Khawarij, even though few attempts were made.[7] This is because they had principles, beliefs and societies unique to themselves and thus it was not possible for them to collaborate with those who were not their kind.

The Abbasids had found what they required in the Alawids because of the status they enjoyed amidst people which they wanted to exploit in order to win their sympathy without any difficulty. Added to this was exploiting their Shia who believed in obedience to them being compulsory and Imamah being a mainstay of their household.[8] Hence the Abbasids did not need to incite the emotions of hatred in them against the Umayyads due to them existing already, but they only needed to channel them towards serving their goals in ways which suited their interests best.

And because it was known that the Alawids were not a tool of warfare by themselves without but alongside their Shia, it was impossible for them to revolt for the establishment of the Abbasid Rule. Because according to them there was no difference in terms of both this party (the Abbasids) and that party (the Umayyads) not being worthy of the Caliphate. Thus the Abbasid propagandists were keen on provoking the feelings of hatred by focusing on the oppression of the Umayyad dynasty which would hopefully earn them the support and collaboration of every resenter no matter what the reason for his resentment be. At the head of them were the Shia.

Similarly, at that time a misleading slogan was raised which easily appealed to every person, i.e. the slogan ‘For the Rida (chosen one) of the household of Muhammad.’[9] This slogan did not emerge by the way, rather it was intentionally used so that the Abbasids could exploit it for their interests very cleverly. Hence it is narrated regarding the Abbasid propagandist Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah that he would order some of his cohorts to call toward ‘the Rida of the Ahlul Bayt’ and not mention anyone.[10] It is obvious that the slogan a ‘Rida of the Ahlul Bayt’ included the Alawids and the Abbasids, but the first to occur to the people when it was mentioned was the Alawids. Especially because of their insistence on their right of rulership and their demands against the Abbasids who had not previously chanted that sort of slogan.

According to many of the Shia.[11] This Rida was not going to be anyone other than a man from the Alawids. As to why did they still obey the Abbasid propagandists, it was due to latter promising office for him,[12] and also because they had popularised that Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah had informed that the Caliphate will be shifted to the progeny of Muhammad ibn ‘Ali.[13] Al Dhahabi has alluded to some of this broadly.[14]

Nonetheless, by analysing the following aspects, the position of the Abbasids regarding Nasb becomes determinable:


1. The stance of the Abbasids regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu

The Umayyads and the Abbasids have differed tremendously regarding their positions regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Whilst we find that many of the Umayyads were disillusioned with him, whether it was because they assumed he played a role in the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu or they criticised his Caliphate, etc., the Abbasids stood starkly different; they revered him, held him in high esteem and deemed his Caliphate to be legitimate.

The Abbasids felt no qualms in naming their children ‘Ali who later on even became rulers, as opposed to the Umayyads.[15]

Some of the Abbasid rulers have also lauded him in their poetry of. Hence one of them says:

كلاب الأعادي من فصيح وأعجم

ولا عجبا للأسد إن ظفرت بها

وموت علي من حسام ابن ملجم

فحربة وحشي سقت حمزة الردي ملجم

It is no surprise if the dogs of the enemies, Arabs and non-Arabs, get hold of the lion.

The spear of Wahshi made Hamzah drink of death, and the death of ‘Ali was from the sword of Ibn Muljim.[16]


Due to the reverence they held for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, their clash with those of the Alawids who revolted against them did not prompt them to disrespect him, criticise him regarding his Din and his knowledge, and denounce his leadership;[17] despite all these matters politically demanding them to do so. Even if at times denigrating did occur it was restricted to the individuals they were disillusioned with,[18] it did not exceed them to others of their family, let alone extending to their father ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Despite their long history, they are not known for any sort of resentment toward ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, with the exception of what is reported about al Mutawakkil,[19] as opposed to the Umayyads who continued to disrespect him decades after he passed away.

Some books of history also state that the Khalifah Mahdi[20] released some of the Alawids from prison after merely seeing ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu saying the following to him in a dream:


يا محمد: فَهَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ أَن تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَتُقَطِّعُوا أَرْحَامَكُمْ

O Muhammad! So would you perhaps, if you came into power, cause corruption on earth and sever your family ties.[21]


Contingent on this difference between the Umayyad Rulers and the Abbasid Rulers was the conduct of their governors. Hence on the one hand the Umayyad Rulers, with the exception of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz rahimahu Llah, displayed open Nasb. As a result, most of their governors were not free from the effects of it and falling prey to it. On the other hand the Abbasids were completely and fundamentally different, for none of their governors have been convicted of Nasb despite the many and fierce encounters they had with the Alawid Revolutionists, with the exception of Ibn al Jahm.[22]


2. The stance of the Abbasids regarding the Alawids

Just as the Umayyads and the Abbasids had differed in their stances regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, in a like manner they had differed in their stances regarding his children.

The Umayyads had disregarded and ignored the Alawids throughout their era, as opposed to the Abbasids whose interaction with the Alawids generally can be deemed as good, with the exception of the era of al Mutawakkil in which they lived in fear.[23]

It was not uncommon for the Abbasids to shower tremendous amounts of wealth upon them and settle their debts. These favours were not confined to those who were partisans of the Rulers or those from who the rulers sensed no threat, rather at times it would also include those who rebelled against the Caliphate from amongst them.

It is a known fact that the Umayyads had failed to do anything of this sort, except for ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz rahimahu Llah.

Probably the most outstanding proof regarding the Alawids enjoying such prominence in the Abbasid era is that al Mutawakkil, the only Khalifah accused of Nasb, sought a ruling from ‘Ali ibn Muhammad[24] and cried whilst he advised him and gave him four thousand Dirhams.[25]

If this was the state of the Khalifah who was disillusioned with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, what then would be the state of those who had Shia leanings like al Maʾmun,[26] and those who fully embraced the Shia dogma like al Nasir?[27]

There is no doubt that the inclination of some of them toward Shi’ism was a clear sign of them being pleased with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the Alawids. As for their pleasure with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, that is obvious. And as for them being pleased with the Alawids, the proof of that is that Shi’ism was widespread among the Alawids; there was hardly an Alawid who was not a Shia, as stated by al Dhahabi:


النوادر ثلاثة: شريف سني، ومحدث صوفي، وعالم متهتك

Three people are very odd: an Alawid who is a Sunni, a hadith scholar who is a Sufi, and a scholar who violates the commands of Allah.[28]


If this was the case, then for the Khalifah to adopt Shi’ism and express it would only increase the prominence of the Alawids between the people, something which their detractors like the Umayyads could never accept due to being the most distant people from Shi’ism and its people.[29]

Nonetheless, the following are the probable reasons why the Abbasid were so keen on honouring the Alawids:

Firstly, fostering the kinship which existed between them, for they were all from the Banu Hashim, irrespective of whether this was on the basis of religious obligation or on the basis of tribalism. The most outstanding in this regard was al Maʾmun who was drawn toward the Alawids and was extremely kind to them,[30] even to those who revolted against him.[31]

Akin to him was al Wathiq[32] regarding who it is said:

ما أحسن أحد إلى الطالبيين ما أحسن إليهم الواثق، ما مات وفيهم فقير

No one was more benevolent to the Talibis than al Wathiq. There was not a single poor person among them when he died.[33]


Similar was al Muntasir[34] who after assuming the Caliphate displayed love for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and his household and gave amnesty to the Alawids.[35] He also gave Fadak to the family of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[36] It was said regarding him:

ذموا زمانا بعدها وزمانا

ولقد بررت الطالبية بعدما

بعد العداوة بينهم أخوانا

ورردت ألفة هاشم فرأيتهم

You have been kind to the Talibis after they had been condemned time after time.

And you restored the love of Hashim and thus you saw them unite as brothers after they were enemies.[37]


Another figure who was like them was al Mustadiʾ bi Amr Allah[38] who would distribute wealth amongst the Alawids.[39]

And Al Muktafi bi Allah[40] also clearly displayed this phenomenon. Hence when a poet praised him with a poem in which he made mention of the merit of the children of ‘Abbas over the children of ‘Ali, he stopped him and said, “As if they are not cousins, even if they are not Khalifas. I do not prefer that our household be addressed with any of this.” He did not listen to his poem and did not reward him upon it.[41]

Secondly, being benevolent to them in order to appease them and be safe from their evil. This is obvious from a letter Abu Jafar al Mansur[42] wrote to al Nafs al Zakiyyah[43] in which he promised him, his children, his family, his Shia, and whoever pledged allegiance to him amnesty. He also promised therein to fulfil all his needs and release from prison all his family and partisans.[44]

Likewise, when Harun al Rashid[45] apprehended an Alawid revolutionist after several attempts which spanned over several years, and that also after giving him amnesty, he was kind to him; he honoured him and gave him a lot of wealth.[46]

Maybe a third reason can be added to the aforementioned, and that is in order to give the Alawids the impression that there was a vast difference between them and the Umayyads at whose hands the Alawids had suffered for very long.

However, this amiable treatment was mostly due to them not revolting against them and the Abbasids not suspecting them and not sensing danger in them. But at times they dealt with the revolutionists amongst them with the same type of harshness with which they treated others.

The Alawids started to show contempt at the exclusivity the Abbasids came to enjoy over the newly attained dynasty. They were not happy with this new setting, as it was their belief which persisted till then that they were the most deserving of rulership, and that every other person who assumed it was a usurper, without differentiating between an Umayyad and an Abbasid. Hence it was expected that they would draw their weapons against the Abbasids immediately after they came into power.[47] Just as it was expected that their revolts would continue unabated, it would not die down in some region but that it would regain momentum in another region.[48]

It is also not far-fetched to assume that what had aggravated their anger was the realisation that the Abbasids had channelled the alliance of the Kaysaniyyah among the Shia to their advantage; they realised that the Abbasids were pouring all their efforts in the direction of serving their purpose. They were using Shi’ism as a stepping stone to the Caliphate,[49] whether by way of that misleading slogan (regarding the Rida of the Ahlul Bayt) or by way of the passionate support of the Shia for them, especially after the incident of the Wasiyyah (bequest) and their eagerness to put an end to the Umayyads.[50]

To further elaborate, all the people who study history will realise that the person who played the greatest role in eliminating the Umayyad Dynasty was Abu Muslim,[51] a Shia from Khurasan. He was the primary campaigner, the defeater of the Umayyad armies and the one who undertook the task of creating the Abbasid dynasty.[52] After his emergence the rule of the Umayyads rapidly dwindled.[53]

Khurasan was the locus of the Kaysani Shia.[54] What had provoked its Shia into action was the murder of Yahya ibn Zaid ibn ‘Ali[55]. This resulted in them becoming infuriated with the Umayyads.[56] This heated atmosphere of Khurasan was one of the reasons why it was chosen as the starting point of the Abbasid campaign.[57]

So the Abbasids, out of fear for their kingdom, entertained the possibilities which had caused the end of the Umayyads before them. Hence they sensed in the Alawids a threat which could not be ignored at all, especially because they were continuously active[58] and mentally prepared to take over.[59] This is what had prompted them to, alongside being good to those whom they did not fear, exercise caution with the others in order to put a limit to their ambitions, as in the era of al Saffah.[60]

The reality is that in general they had dealt with the revolutionists from among the Alawids with the same amount of intensity and fierceness that the Umayyads had dealt with them with, or even more. To the extent that it is said, “The blood of the Ahlul Bayt has been shed in every direction,”[61] during their era.

It is no surprise to note that the rulers of both dynasties were no different in their fierceness and harshness, for the objective was one, i.e. securing rulership and saving it from every person who tried to snatch it, irrespective of who he may be. This also explains al Saffah’s treatment of his opponents which at times was barbaric due to him not hesitating in shedding blood.[62] It also explains the doings of Abu Jafar al Mansur who started off his rule with killing Abu Muslim al Khurasani, the man who campaigned for them and paved the way to rulership for them, [63] and together with that his uncle who rebelled against him[64] and also many other people. Only thereafter did he manage to secure uncontested rule for himself and his children.[65]

Al Mansur had made his general policy clear to the people in a sermon which he delivered after killing Abu Muslim. He said:


أيها الناس، لا تنفروا أطيار النعم بترك الشكر فتحل بكم النقم، ولا تسروا غش الأئمة فإن أحدا لا يسر منكم شيئا إلا ظهر في فلتات لسانه صفحات وجهه وطوالع نظره، وإنا لن نجهل حقوقكم ما عرفتم حقنا، ولا ننسى الاحسان إليكم ما ذكرتم فضلنا، ومن نازعنا هذا القميص أوطأنا أم رأسه حتى يستقيهم رجالكم وترتدع عمالكم

O people, do not repel the bounties by ingratitude, for calamities will befall you. And do not conceal treachery against your rulers, for whoever conceals treachery, it will become clear from the slips of his tongue, the expressions of his face and the looks of his eyes. We will not be unmindful of your rights as long as you acknowledge our rights, and we will not forget being kind and good to you as long as you keep our status in mind. And whoever will try to usurp from us this garment (leadership) we will crush his brains so that your men remain straight and your governors are struck with fear.[66]


Similarly, what supports the fact that the Abbasids were only brutal and harsh to the Alawids due to preserving their rule and confining it to themselves is that when al Mahdi released one of the Alawids who had rebelled against him he took a promise from him that he will not rebel against him or any of his children.[67]

However, the following are the most distinct differences between the Umayyads and the Abbasids in this regard:

  1. The Umayyads harassed only those who rebelled against them, whether by killing or by imprisoning, but their harassment did not extend to their families and children. As for the Abbasids many of them done the exact opposite. In an effort to subdue those revolutionists they even harassed innocent Alawids who had no share whatsoever in the rebellion. They did this so that no one in the future entertain the thought of rebelling, for his family and the closest of people to him were sure to suffer because of him.
  2. Most of the Umayyads, with the exception of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, all despised the Alawid household, those who they feared and those who they did not. As for the Abbasids many of them honoured those who they did not fear from the Alawids even if he be the close relative of one of the revolutionists.

This is actually surprising as reason actually demands that the Umayyads, whose penalisation was restricted to the revolutionist himself and whose harassment did not extend to his family and children, be just to the distant people who had nothing to do with the revolutionist other than kinship. And on the other hand it demands that the Abbasids whose harassment had extended to the family of the revolutionist be unjust to the distant people. But this is not what had happened.


Manner in which the Abbasids countered Alawid rebellions

Nevertheless, the Abbasids had countered the rebellions of the Alawids in two different ways:


1. Military confrontation

Since the beginning of the Abbasid rule, they had tried to establish their worthiness for the Caliphate, as is clear from the sermon of al Saffah and his uncle thereafter upon the pulpit of Kufah.

The Alawids did not mobilise during the era of Abu al ‘Abbas, but were rather quite. Hence there were no clashes between them and the Alawids regarding anything. In fact he had brought them close and had honoured them. The affinity between them was pure.[68]

Ostensibly, the Alawids did not rebel against al Saffah for the following reasons:

Firstly, due to him being preoccupied with eliminating the Umayyads who were the enemy number one according to them as well.[69] They were satisfied because he was doing something which they had failed to accomplish for a very long time despite their numerous and repeated attempts.

Secondly, due to him going out of his way in honouring them, like giving some of their leaders a million Dirhams, being forbearant with the wrongdoers among them and overlooking some of the offences that reached him regarding some of them. Likewise, he also insisted that the children of ‘Abbas and the children of ‘Ali were one due to them both being Hashimids. Hence the affliction of one was the affliction of the other. In the following poem he describes what he had done to the Umayyads:

وحزت تراثي اليوم عن سلفي قسرا

تناولت ثأري من أمية عنوة

وألبستها عزا وأعليتها قدرا

وألقيت ذلا من مفارق هاشم

I forcefully took my revenge from the Umayyads, and I forcefully attained my legacy today from those who preceded me.

I done away with humility from the foreheads of the Hashimids and I adorned them with pride and I elevated them in rank.[70]


His uncle, Dawood[71], who delivered a sermon after him in Kufah, had expressed similar sentiments. He said:


إنما أخرجتنا الأنفة من انتزاع حقنا، والغضب لبني عمنا

Our indignation over the usurpation of our right and our anger for our cousins is what propelled us to come out to the fore.[72]


This is despite the fact that the Abbasids had not suffered any harassment at the hands of the Umayyads.

Thirdly, the harshness which he displayed and the bloodbath that he brought about against the various groups who rebelled against him, in fact even with the most sincere of his cohorts and campaigners like Abu Salamah al Khallal[73] who endeavoured to shift the Caliphate to the family of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[74]

He ordered Abu Muslim al Khurasani to penalise people based on suspicion and also kill people merely on the basis of scepticism.[75] This kind of approach surely implanted an impression of great fear in the hearts of people, even in the hearts of elite scholars.[76]

Nonetheless, this amiable relationship did not last for very long between the two households, due to the Alawids’ assumption that they were most deserving of the Caliphate and their indignation at their failure in obtaining it.[77] This is added to the fact that the people of Madinah had already pledged allegiance to al Nafs al Zakiyyah even before the establishment of the Abbasid dynasty.[78]

Hence, as soon as al Saffah passed away and his brother Abu Jafar al Mansur assumed office they started coveting the Caliphate. They wanted to dethrone the Abbasids due to the circumstances which the newly arising dynasty was still grappling with, especially cementing its rule and doing away with those whose ambitiousness it feared, like Abu Muslim al Khurasani.[79] Consequently, a long chain of Alawid rebellions ensued. It is probably enough to state that five people revolted against Abu Jafar himself.[80]

Abu Jafar himself had alluded to the reason for the nature of his policies in a discussion with his uncle who was condemning his excessive usage of brutality. He said:


لأن بني مروان لم تبل رممهم وآل أبي طالب لم تغمد سيوفهم

Because the corpses of the Banu Marwan did not fully disintegrate and the swords of the Banu Talib were not sheathed.[81]


This reality had compelled Abu Jafar to impose upon an individual who he appointed as the governor of Madinah to track some of the Alawid revolutionists. He also dismissed one of them when he learnt that he was drawn toward the family of Abu Talib.[82]

Similarly when he dismissed another individual he apologised to al Mansur saying:


إن دماء بني فاطمة علي عزيزة

The blood of the Banu Fatimah is dear to me.[83]


Sort of suggesting that he knew what al Mansur wanted from him as a governor.

Thus, as a results of these revolts, many of the Alawids suffered for a very long time for no reason other than being relatives of a revolutionist[84] or due to being feared even if they done nothing. To the extent that some of them died in prison,[85] others were murdered therein through poisoning and other ways,[86] and a group of them were compelled to go undercover.[87] Even many of the prominent Alawid members, like Jafar al Sadiq, Musa al Kazim[88] and others[89] were not spared from harassment.

The most brutal thing that al Mansur probably did was that when he arrested one of their revolutionists he ordered that a pillar be hallowed, and the individual be placed in it thereafter. Hence it was sealed upon him whilst he was alive. He was the first person to die from those imprisoned from the children of Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[90]

What also explains his immense fear and great caution is that he lashed and imprisoned Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah[91] and thereafter killed him. He was the uncle of two Alawids who revolted against him. He killed him merely due to the fear the he would attract the affinity of the people of Sham in order to support them, whereas the murdered man had not denounced his allegiance.[92]

This brutality, confinement and appointing of spies and scouts against the Alawids was not specific to the era of al Mansur, rather they continued in the eras of other rulers as well,[93] sometimes in ways which dwarfed the brutalities of the Umayyads. Hence in the time of al Musta’in[94] when an Alawid revolted against him he sent an army for him which defeated him and killed many of his cohorts. A thousand houses were burnt and all the wealth of those who had revolted was usurped. Over and above this every Alawid in Kufah was arrested and one of the daughters of the Alawid revolutionist was sold whereas she was free.[95]

The matter had reached such proportions that they started abusing people on the basis of the suspicion that he might have some sort of collaboration with the Alawids who were feared. For example, Imam al Shafi’i was sent from Yemen to Baghdad shackled in chains.[96] Likewise someone had spied on Imam Ahmed that he gave refuge to an Alawid in his house and that this Alawid was secretly accepting allegiances from people. This had prompted the Khalifah to order his deputy in Baghdad to raid his house by night. The people of the household were unaware till they saw lanterns surrounding their house from all directions, even on top of the roof.[97]

Hence, the conflict between the Alawid and the Abbasid households had returned. And the extent of harassment which they suffered during the Caliphate of the Hashimids was more than the harassment they suffered at the hands of the Umayyads, for they were killed and they were mercilessly banished.[98] What the Hashimids had did to one another is far greater than even what Yazid had did to them.[99]

Some Shia writers have also alluded to this reality.[100]

This suffocating situation which the Alawids were suffering from: murder, imprisonment, confinement, banishment and placing of spies, etc., had caused some of them to relish the memories of the Umayyads and their goodness and entertain the notion that their era, despite all its flaws, was lesser in evil than the era of the Abbasids. Hence one of them said:

لقد كنا نقمنا على بني أمية ما نقمنا، فما بنو العباس أخوف لله منهم، وإن الحجة على بني العباس لأوجب منها عليهم، ولقد كان للقوم (يعني بني أمية) أحلام ومكارم وفواضل ليست لأبي جعفر

We despised the Umayyads previously, but the Abbasids are not more fearful of Allah than them. In fact the evidence against the Abbasids is more binding upon them. Indeed the people (i.e. the Umayyads) enjoyed intellect, feats and merits which Abu Jafar does not enjoy.[101]


And a poet has said:

يا ليت جور بني مروان عاد لنا      وليت عدل بني العباس في النار

If only the oppression of the Umayyads returned for us, and if only the justice of the Abbasids was in hell-fire.[102]


And another said:

تالله ما فعلت علوج أمية             معشار ما فعلت بنو العباس

By Allah the gruff Umayyads did not do a tenth of what the Abbasids are doing.[103]


The conclusion of the aforementioned discussion is the following two things:

  • Amiable relationship was the default nature between the Alawids and the Abbasids, even in the eras in which there were multiple clashes between them. For example, when Abu Jafar al Mansur, who was considered to be the harshest to them when he clashed with them, performed Hajj in 140 A.H he distributed huge sums of money to the Alawids[104] and he also pardoned one of the revolutionists after Jafar al Sadiq interceded for him.[105]

Likewise al Rashid would also not delay in settling the debts of the Alawids who sought assistance from him as big as they might have been. But at the same time he would fight the revolutionists and subdue them.[106]

  • The struggle between them was due to worldly matters, for in essence it revolved around seeking rulership.


2. Ideological clashes

The Abbasids had learnt from the very beginning the importance of an ideological clash and the impact it might have in supporting their viewpoint and grounding them, similar to what had transpired with the Umayyads before them.

This clash had taken more than one form:

Firstly, the Abbasids had violated the Umayyads by burying their good and spreading their evil, even if it be by way of lying and slandering which proved to be the most instrumental tools in eliminating them. However, the approach had to be a bit different with the Alawids due to them being two branches of the same household, i.e. the Hashimid household. Hence impugning them would be impugning the Abbasids themselves. Hence, they realised the importance of devising another plan in order to defeat the Alawids, a plan which was suited for them and which primarily revolved around the method of dealing with the issue of Imamah from a religious perspective. This was a plan which the leading propagandists and campaigners could not deny at all, which explains why they had exploited that misleading slogan. The matter, however, rapidly changed after the Abbasids became firmly grounded in power and when they became the sole rulers of the lands. The need for misleading the people no more remained, and thus they moved on to the next phase, and that is to prove their deservingness of the Caliphate.[107]

The Abbasids learnt that, despite their importance, military clashes were not enough to put an end to the ambitions of the Alawids due to them having set agendas which they deploy to win the support and interest of the people; hence, it was important that their ideology be challenged with an ideology, and that the claim of enjoying exclusive right to leadership be challenged with a similar claim which expounds upon the Abbasids’ deservingness of the Caliphate. This would cause the Alawids to lose their influence because of them losing their central and most core campaigning argument: inheritance. This is something that the Umayyads did not do and they did not bother to do because they knew that they had nothing to back it up had they gone down that route.[108]

Probably the first indication toward this was given in the sermon of al Saffah which he delivered in Kufah, the hub of Shi’ism. In this sermon he alluded to the fact that the Abbasids were from the Ahlul Bayt. He said:

وما توفيقنا أهل البيت إلا بالله

We the Ahlul Bayt are not inspired and encouraged but by Allah.


He was pointing to the fact that they are part of all the merits and the exhortations of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding the Ahlul Bayt which the Alawids continuously repeated. Thus, the Umayyads had technically usurped their right which Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala later returned to them. These were the very same claims the Alawids were making.

In fact, he clearly stated that the Abbasids were more deserving of the Caliphate in the following statement:


زعمت السبئية الضلال أن غيرنا أحق بالرياسة والسياسة والخلافة منا، فشاهت وجوههم

The astray Sabaʾiyyah claim that others besides us are more deserving of leadership, politics and the Caliphate than us. May their faces be disfigured.[109]


It is obvious that he intended the Alawids when saying ‘others’, because the Sabaʾiyyah never did see anyone else deserving of leadership.

This continued during the era of his brother, al Mansur, who openly gave preference to ‘Abbas over ‘Ali and who emphatically claimed his deservingness of the Caliphate due to him being the heir of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his nominee.[110] And if that was true for him then the Abbasids were his heir, to the exclusion of all else. This exactly was the reasoning of the Alawids.

The most glaring evidence that both parties clung to the same argument is the correspondence that took place between him and al Nafs al Zakiyyah. Hence when al Nafs al Zakiyyah wrote to him saying that they were the children of Fatimah in Islam and that their father was ‘Ali who was the nominee of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the rightful Imam, he further asked, “So how did you inherit his right whereas his children are alive?”

Al Mansur rejected his claim by making a similar one saying, “We are the actual inheritors of the seal of Prophets alayhim al Salam not you.” Thereafter he retorted to the boasting of the Alawids about Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha by saying:


بنو بنته وإنها لقرابة قريبة ولكنها لا يجوز لها الميراث، ولا ترث الولاية ولا يجوز لها الإمامة، فكيف تورث بها؟ وبأن الله لم يجعل النساء كالعمومة والآباء ولا كالعصبة والأولياء لأن الله جعل العم أبا.

The children of his daughter, surely a very close bond of kinship. But inheritance was not admissible for her and she could, thus, not inherit rulership. And Imamah was not permissible for her, so how could it be inherited from her? Also, Allah has not given the women equal status as the uncles and fathers, nor as the male inheritors and guardians, because Allah has deemed the uncle a father.


And he said the following in response to their claim that ‘Ali was nominee of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:


ميراث النبي له (يعني للعباس) والخلافة في ولده، فلم يبق شرف ولا فضل في جاهلية ولا إسلام في الدنيا والآخرة إلا والعباس وارثه ومورثه.

The inheritance of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was for him [‘Abbas] and the Caliphate is now in his children. Hence there remains no honour or merit in Islam or the pre-Islamic era in this world and the afterlife but that ‘Abbas has inherited him in it and has passed it on after him.[111]


Al Mansur would also, for the sake of argument, say that even if is accepted that they were most deserving of the Caliphate, as they claim, due to them being the heirs of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, then too their right is long gone; because the Caliphate of their father ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ended during his time out of his personal choice when he accepted the proposal of arbitration which had resulted in him being denounced. If that was the case then what did they inherit, for he left nothing for them? Likewise his son, al Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, relinquished his rule for Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu willingly and thus nothing remained for them thereafter.[112]

This dispute had pushed both of them to disrespecting ‘Abbas,[113] ‘Ali, and Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhum; whereas prior to this, the Abbasids coming into power, the Alawids are not reported to have disrespected ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu in any way.

The argument of al Mansur regarding an uncle having preference over the daughters was utilised by many Abbasid Rulers and their partisans after him. Hence Abu Dulamah[114] said the following to al Mansur:

يا بني وارث النبي الذي ح     ل بكفيه ماله وعقاره

O the sons of the inheritor of the Nabi in whose hands his wealth and property came.[115]


Likewise when Marwan ibn Abi Hafsah[116] entered upon al Mahdi during his rule he said the following poem to him:

دون الأقارب من ذوي الأرحام

يا ابن الذي ورث النبي محمدا

قطع الخصام فلات حين خصام

الوحي بين بني البنات وبينكم

نزلت بذلك سورة الأنعام

ما للنساء مع الرجال فريضة

لبني البنات وراثة الأعمام

  أنى يكون وليس ذاك بكائن

O the son of the one who inherited the Nabi Muhammad, to the exclusion of all the other relatives and people of kinship.

The revelation was between the sons of the daughters and between you. He ended all disputes and thus there remains no time for disputes.

There is no share for women in the presence of men. This is the injunction that came down in Surah al An’am.[117]

How can it ever be? And it will never be that the sons of the daughter get the inheritance of the uncles.[118]


Al Mahdi rewarded him with seventy thousand dirhams, which prompted Marwan to say the following:

وما نالهافي الناس من شاعر قبلي

بسبعين ألفا راشني من حبائه

He gave me seventy thousand as a gift from him. And no one before him attained such a huge gift.[119]


Likewise he said the following in another poem referring to difference between the Alawids and the Abbasids:

بأكفكم أم تسترون هلالها

هل تطمسون من السماء نجومها

جبريل بلغها النبي فقالها

أم تدفعون مقالة عن ربكم

بتراثهم فأردتم أبطالها

شهدت من الأنفال أخر أية

لا تولغن دمائكم أشبالها

فذروا الأسود خوادرا في غيلها

Will you wipe out the skies of the heaven with your hands, or will you cover its moon?

Will you reject a message from your lord, which Jibril brought to Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and thus he conveyed it?

The last verse of al Anfal has testified to their inheritance and you want to discard it.

So leave the lions concealed in their dens. Do not give their cubs your blood to drink.[120]


Upon this he was rewarded with a hundred thousand. It is said that he was the first poet who was given a hundred thousand in the Abbasid era.[121]

Obviously, these huge sums indicate to the importance these poems enjoyed according to the Khalifah al Mahdi.

What is noteworthy in the above poem is that he alluded to the Imamah of ‘Abbas by way of emphatic appointment. He also warned the Alawids of the bloodbath which was impending if they tried to question the legitimacy of the rule of the Abbasids.

Yet in another poem he says:

أباه ذوو الشورى وكانوا ذوي فضل

علي أبوكم كان أفضل منكمو

بخطبته بنت اللعين أبي جهل

وساء رسول الله إذ ساء بنته

على منبر بالمنطق الصادع الفصل

فذم رسول الله صهر أبيكمو

فقد أبطلا دعواكمو الرثة الحبل

وحكم فيها من بعده الحسن ابنه

وطالبتموها حين صارت إلى الأهل

وخليتموها وهي في غير أهلها

‘Ali, your father, was more virtuous than you. But the members of the council denied him and they were people of virtue.

And it hurt Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam due to hurting his daughter that he proposed to the daughter of the accursed Abu Jahl.

Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam condemned the marital relatives of your father upon the pulpit with a speech which was powerful and decisive.

And your father appointed two arbitrators in it (Siffin) who removed him just as a person with shoes removes his shoes.

Thereafter al Hassan, his son, gave it away and thus they have nullified your weak and tenuous claim.

You left it when it was in the hands of those who were not deserving of it. And now you demand it when it is in the hands of those who deserve it.[122]

The impugning and tarnishing of ‘Ali and his son, Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, that this poem holds is obvious, something which is very rare.

It was because of these themes which he continuously included in his poetry did he become the special poet of the Abbasids.[123]

Similarly some poets expressed the same themes in their poetry due to knowing its impact upon the Abbasids, akin to what one of them had did with al Muktafi and others.[124]

One such poem was said by Mansur al Namiri[125] in the court of Harun al Rashid. Therein he denigrated the Alawids saying:

 من الأحزاب سطر في السطور

يسمون النبي أبا ويأبى

وردوا ما يناسب للذكور

وإن قالوا: بنو بنت فحق

مع الأعمام في ورق الزبور

وما لبني بنات من تراث

 عليكم بالسداد من الأمور

بنى حسن ورهط بني حسين

وأحلاما بعدن عدات زور

أميطوا عنكم كذب الأماني

They dub the Nabi ‘father’ and they by doing so reject a verse from the verses of Surah Ahzab.[126]

And if they say: ‘the children of the daughter’ it is true, but then they reject what is suited for the males.

There is no inheritance for the sons of the daughters in the presence of the uncle in the pages of the Holy Scripture.

O the sons of Hassan and the sons of Hussain, hold onto uprightness in all matters.

Obliterate the lies of false hopes and dreams which are like false promises.[127]


Similarly Abu al Simt[128] said the following whilst praising al Mutawakkil:

وبعدلكم تشفي الظلامة

لكم تراث محمد

ب وما لهم فيها قلامة

يرجو التراث بنو البنا

والبنت لا ترث الإمامه

والصهر ليس بوارث

ميراثكم إلا الندامة

ما للذين تنحلوا

فعلام لومكم علامه

أخذ الوراثة أهلها

لا والإله ولا كرامه

ليس التراث لغيركم

For you is the inheritance of Muhammad. And with your justice all injustices are settled.

The sons of the daughters hope to attain the inheritance, whereas there is not for them the amount of a clipping (of a nail).

A son-in-law is not a legal inheritor, nor can a daughter inherit rulership.

There is not for those who falsely claim your inheritance anything besides regret.

The inheritance has been claimed by its rightful people, so for what reason are you reproving?

Inheritance is not for anyone besides you. No, by the name of Allah, never can it be for anyone else.[129]


Al Mutawakkil rewarded him by appointing him as the governor of Bahrayn and Yamamah. He also gave him four garments and ordered that he be given three thousand Dinars. The reason for this extraordinary gift is not unclear.

And Ibn al Mu’taz[130] said:

ونحن أحق بأسلابها

قتلنا أمية في دارها

We killed the Umayyads in their abode, and we are most deserving of their remains.


And part of this poem is the following verses as well:

فكم تجذبون بأهدابها

ونحن ورثنا ثياب النبي

ولكن بنو العم أولى بها

لكم رحم يا بني بنته

And we inherited the clothes of the Nabi, so for how long will you pull its edges.

You enjoy kinship, O sons of his daughter, but the children of the uncle are more deserving.[131]


On the other hand the Khalifas had extended threats to any poet who was known to be drawn toward the Alawids and to support them by enumerating their virtues and stating that they were most deserving of rulership. This is exactly what Abu Jafar had did to Ibn Harmah[132] who said the following poem regarding them:

فإني أحب بني فاطمة

ومهما ألام على حبهم
وبالدين والسنة القائمة

بني بنت من جاء بالمحكمات

سواهم من النعم السائمة

فلست أبالي بحبي لهم

As much as I am criticised for loving them, I love the children of Fatimah.

The children of the daughter of the one who came with clear verses, the Din, and the established Sunnah.

Therefore, I do not bother, because of loving them, about anyone besides them who are like grazing animals.[133]


Similarly, al Rashid was extremely infuriated at al Namiri when he learnt of his leaning toward the Alawids and when his poetry was said before him in which he encouraged the people to support them. To the extent that he ordered that he be summoned immediately and did not know that he had passed away not very long ago. And when learning of his death he ordered that he be exhumed and burnt. His minister had to pacify him till eventually he left him.[134]

Furthermore, it is also important to note that just as the Shia had forged hadiths regarding the emphatic appointment of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his children in order to support their views and claims, so did the partisans of the Abbasids forge hadiths regarding the emphatic appointment of ‘Abbas and his children.[135]

This conflict was not going to carry on without leaving its impact upon the lives of people who would side with one of the two sides, as is observed in all conflicts. Hence just as the conflict between the Umayyads and the Alawids contributed to the emergence of Nasb in order to counter Shi’ism, similarly the conflict between the Alawids and the Abbasids had given birth to something similar to it, although much lighter in magnitude; for there emerged the Rawandiyyah who were the fanatic partisans of the Abbasids from Khurasan who believed that the most deserving person of rulership after Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

They based their belief on the fact that he was the male inheritor of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says in the Qurʾan:


وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَىٰ بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ

But those of blood relationship are more entitled to inheritance in the decree of Allah


They averred that the people had denied him his right and had wronged him till Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala returned it to his children.[136]


[Continuing with the forms the clash had taken]

Secondly, the Abbasids tried to decrease the social standing of the Alawid notables who they feared so that people are not drawn toward them. Hence, it is reported regarding Abu Jafar al Mansur that he summoned Imam Abu Hanifah and told him:


يا أبا حنيفة، إن الناس قد فتنوا بجعفر بن محمد فهيء له من مسائلك الصعاب

O Abu Hanifah, people have become drawn toward Jafar ibn Muhammad,[137] so prepare for him some of your difficult questions.[138]


His motive thereby was to denigrate him by proving his inability to answer those questions. That would result in the reverence of the people and admiration diminishing. It is obvious that al Mansur was not just fearful of the admiration of people, rather he was fearful of the challenges that it could potentially lead him to due to the people being drawn to him.

Thirdly, the Abbasids were very keen on learning the genuine lineages of the Alawids in order to shut the way for any person who tried to win the sympathy and support of the people by claiming that he was an Alawid revolutionist. Especially when this affiliation had become a stepping stone for many ambitious people and detractors alike. Probably this was the reason why the scholars paid due importance to the family trees of the Alawids and recorded them, as al ‘Aqqad said:


عظمت العناية خاصة بذرية النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم صونا للنسب الشريف ودفعا للأدعياء من طلاب الخلافة

Much importance was paid to the progeny of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in order to preserve the noble lineage and repel the fraudsters who sought the Caliphate.[139]


Therefore, the strongest argument which the Abbasids relied on in countering the Ubaidis was exposing the lie that they were from the children of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha. The Abbasid Ruler al Qadir al ‘Abbasi[140] wrote a treatise regarding the Egyptian Rulers and criticised their lineage and beliefs. Copies of it were read in Baghdad and letters were sought from the judges, rulers, and notables due to them having knowledge regarding the lineage of the Daysanis,[141] the brothers of the disbelievers and the semen of the devils. They testified hoping thereby to attain closeness to Allah and believing in the obligation of disseminating to the people what they knew as binding.[142]



[1] In principle, the Abbasids should be part of the Ahlul Bayt. However, the term Nasb is specific to stances regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his children, to the exclusion of all else, as has been mentioned already.

[2] Freed Slaves.

[3] The Umayyads were better than the Abbasids in general, in terms of treating their subjects well in their worldly affairs and bringing their oppressors to justice. Harun al Rashid once asked Abu Bakr ibn ‘Ayyash, “Are we the best of rulers or the Umayyads?” He said, “They were of more benefit to the people and you establish Salah more.” (Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/47).

[4] One of the Shia sects, the followers of Mukhtar ibn Abi ‘Ubaid whose title was Kaysan according to one view. They held the view that Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah was emphatically appointed as the Imam and they believed in Badaʾ. They thereafter sub-divided into many groups. See: Firaq al Shia p. 36; al Farq bayn al Firaq p. 27; al Milal wa al Nihal 1/28, 147; Minhaj al Sunnah 3/474.

[5] Al Khudri: al Dawlah al ‘Abbasiyyah p. 14.

[6] Tarikh al Tabari 4/302; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/29.

[7] Al Muntazam 7/276; Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 3/154.

[8] Al Ma’sumi says, “As for the lineages of the Talibiyyin most of them return to Hassan and Hussain, the sons of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, the grandsons of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and to their brother Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah. Although ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had other children; however, those who demanded their right of Caliphate and had fanatic followers who advanced their agenda in all directions were these three, no one else.” Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 4/123.

[9] The first person to use this slogan, according to my knowledge, was Mukhtar ibn ‘Ubaid al Thaqafi. Thereafter it was excessively used by others. See: al Fihrist 1/269; Tarikh al Tabari 5/361; al Muntazam 11/41; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 58/237; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/38, 415; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/235.

[10] Tarikh al Tabari 4/320; al Muntazam 7/297; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/63; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/58.

[11][11] Al ‘Ilaqat bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin 15, 42, 54. Note: Some scholars opine that the Abbasid dynasty was from the dynasties of the Shia. Al Ma’sumi says in Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/359, “This dynasty was from the dynasties of the Shia, specifically a subsect from among them which was known as the Kaysaniyyah. The Kaysaniyyah believed in the Imamah of Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah after ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, thereafter his son, Abu Hashim ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad, and thereafter ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas.” But in reality the Abbasid dynasty has nothing to do with Shi’ism. Yes some of its rulers and men had Shia leanings, but in general the dynasty stood in stark contrast with the Shia. However, it is not far-fetched that the initial propagandist of the Abbasids actually subscribed to the Kaysani sect, or that they feigned being Shia thereby winning the support of the Shia and their sympathy (this seems to be more likely). The following factors support the aforementioned possibilities: Firstly, the immense support of the Kaysaniyyah for them. Secondly, the propagandist would give Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas a fifth of their wealth, something which only the Shia do, as is known. See: Tarikh al Tabari 4/291; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/15; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/25. Thirdly, the rulers of the Abbasids would dub themselves ‘Imams’, a title which was coined by the Shia, as is stated in Maʾathir al Inaqah 1/21. Fourthly, the Shia affiliations of the Abbasid propagandists, amongst them was Abu Salamah al Khallal al Kufi who tried to overthrow the Abbasids and put one of the household of ‘Ali into office. See: al Wafi bi al Wafayat 17/232; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/40. Fifthly, When Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas stated the reason for why he chose Khurasan as a base for his campaign, he enumerated various places, like Basrah and Sham, and stated the obstacles therein. One of the obstacles in Kufah was that its people were ardent supporters of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his children. If he really was a Shia this type of circumstance would not avert him from Kufah but would rather propel him to act there. But he feared the rejection of people because it was popularised that ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah, who was known as Abu Hashim, had bequeathed rulership for Muhammad ibn ‘Ali. See: al Muntazam 7/56. Sixthly, the message which featured in the first sermon of al Saffah after assuming rulership. In it he said, “O the people of Kufah, you are the mainstay of our love and the station of our affection. You did not change from that… till you witnessed our rule rise. You will be the most fortunate of people with us and the most honoured by us.” (Tarikh al Tabari 4/347; al Muntazam 7/299; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/41; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 257. The following poem of ‘Ali ibn al Jahm, which appears in his compilation p. 34,  also alludes to this:

ن أولو قوة وبأس شديد

نحن أشياعكم من أهل خراسا

د وأهل التشيع المحمود

نحن أبناء هذه الخرق السو

We are your partisans from Khurasan, the people of strength and might.

We are the sons of these black cloths and the people of Shiasm which is praiseworthy.


As for the view of al Ma’sumi, it is inaccurate, unless his intent was that it was a Shia dynasty in terms of its initial propagandists and supporters. This is understandable, as is stated by Ibn Khaldun in his Tarikh 4/6, “From amongst them, i.e. the Kaysaniyyah, were the partisans of the Abbasids.”

[12] Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 54/365; al ‘Ibar fi Khabar man Ghabar 1/116; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/16; Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 6/58.

[13] Al ‘Ibar fi Khabar man Ghabar 1/116.

[14] Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 367.

[15] Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 376.

[16] Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 19/563; Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah al Kubra 7/258; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 24/16; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 434.

[17] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/42.

[18] Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/212.

[19] I did not make mention of Ibn al Mu’taz despite some accusing him of disillusionment with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu because the period of his rule only lasted for one day and one night. Al Ma’sumi says in Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/485, “It is not appropriate to consider him among the rulers.”

[20] Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah al Hashimi, Abu ‘Abdullah al Mahdi, the third Abbasid Ruler. He was born in 127 A.H. He was courageous and generous, was a man of prominence, and was loved by his subjects and affectionate to them. He was extremely concerned with settling injustices and doing away with heretics. He was the first person who ordered that books be authored to counter them. He passed away in 169 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 5/391; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 7/400; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/151; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ 271.

[21] Tarikh Baghdad 13/30; al Muntazam 9/87; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/272; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/183.

[22] ‘Ali ibn al Jahm ibn Badr ibn Mas’ud al Qurashi, Abu al Hassan al Khurasani al Baghdadi. A profound poet who was religious. He was accused of having reservations against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He was from the special people of al Mutawakkil. But al Mutawakkil became infuriated with him due to his remarks about some of his companions. He thus banished him to Khurasan and ordered that he be lashed whilst bare. He was killed close to Halab after encountering a group of horsemen from the Banu Kalb in 249 A.H. His compilation of poetry is quite popular. See: Tarikh Baghdad 11/367; al Muntazam 12/26; Wafayat al A’yan 3/355; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/4.

[23] Maʾathir al Inaqah 1/238.

[24] ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Musa al ‘Alawi, Abu al Hassan al ‘Askari, famously known as ‘al Hadi’. An ascetic scholar and a prominent leader of the Ahlul Bayt. He was born in Madinah in 214 A.H. Al Mutawakkil was informed about him subsequent to which he summoned him and made him settle in Samarraʾ. He is the tenth of the twelve Imams according to the Imamiyyah. He passed away in Samarraʾ in 254 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 12/56; Wafayat al A’yan 3/272; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 22/48; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/15.

[25] See: Wafayat al A’yan 3/272; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 12/41; al ‘Ibar fi Khabar man Ghabar 2/12; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/15.

[26] ‘Abdullah ibn Harun ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah al Hashimi, Abu al ‘Abbas al Maʾmun. One of the acclaimed rulers of the Abbasids. He was born in 170 A.H. He studied knowledge, literature, history, logic and the sciences of the Greeks. He also ordered that their books be translated into Arabic. He built a watch post on the mountain of Dimashq. He is the one who called the people to the belief of the Qurʾan being created and started an inquisition based on it. He passed away in 118 A.H and was buried in Tarsus. See: Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p.306; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 33/275; al Muntazam 10/49; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 10/272. Note:  the following alludes to the fact that al Maʾmun had Shia leanings:

  1. His view that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the best among the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and his expression thereof. See: Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 10/286; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/279; Maʾathir al Inaqah 1/213.
  2. He appointed an announcer to announce that he disassociates from anyone who prays that mercy descend upon Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu or who makes good mention of him. See: Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 10/281; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 17/351; Fawat al Wafayat 1/586.
  3. He ordered that an announcement be made that Mut’ah is legal. Thereafter he withheld it because it reached him that the prohibition thereof was established from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu See: Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 10/283; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/446.
  4. He appointed ‘Ali ibn Musa (also known as al Rida) as the ruler after him who is deemed the eighth Imam according to the Jafariyyah. This was followed by doing away with black which was the symbol of the Abbasids and adopting green which was the symbol of the Alawids. See: Tarikh Baghdad 10/184; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/342; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 10/284; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/247.
  5. He appointed Fadl ibn Sahl (who was given the title Dhu al Riʾasatayn) despite being a Shia. See: al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/342.

Also see: al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/275; al ‘Ilaqat bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin p. 179.

Despite al Dhahabi stating that al Maʾmun was extreme in his Shi’ism, as in Tarikh al Islam 15/6, the reality of the matter is that he was merely a Tafdili. To further elaborate, as stated in Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 13/33, 28,474 and Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 1/306, the Shia during the era of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu were of three types:

  1. The Muʾallihah: those who dieficated ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He had incinerated them.
  2. The Sabbabah: those who reviled Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.
  3. The Mufaddilah: those who gave preference to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu over Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.

Maʾmun belonged to the third category, as stated by Ibn Kathir in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/277. The following poem, which appears in Tarikh al Islam 15/238; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 10/282; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 17/352; Fawat al Wafayat 1/586, supports this:

ولست منه الغداة متعذرا

أصبح ديني الذي أدين به

أشتم صديقا ولا عمر

حب علي بعد النبي ولا

أبرار ذاك القتيل مصطبرا

ثم ابن عفان في الجنان مع ال

طلحة إن قال قائل غدرا

إلا ولا أشتم الزبير ولا

من يفتريها فنحن من بر

وعائش الأم لست أشتمهابر

My religion which I subscribed to has become, and I will not apologise for it tomorrow,

Loving ‘Ali after Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and I will not revile Abu Bakr and ‘Umar,

Then, Ibn ‘Affan who is in paradise with the virtuous and who was killed with patience.

Behold, and I will not revile al Zubair and Talhah, even if anyone else says anything evil.

And Aisha the mother, I will not revile her. Whoever accuses her we are free from him.


And al Dhahabi states in Tarikh al Islam 15/6, “Al Maʾmun was an extremist in his Shia leanings, but he did not say anything disrespectful regarding the Sheikhayn. Rather he would supplicate for them.”

[27] Tarikh al Islam 45/90; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 451; Shadharat al Dhahab 5/98.

[28] Al Nujum al Zahirah 13/164.

[29] A very interesting fact in this regard is that Abu al Faraj al Asfahani, the author of al Aghani was an Umayyad by blood but a Shia by dogma. This had bewildered the historians and they did not know what to say about him. Al Dhahabi said about him in al ‘Ibar fi Khabar man Ghabar 2/311, “It is strange that he is a Marwani who is a Shia.” And Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Malik al Hamadani in Takmilah Tarikh al Tabari p. 200, “No Umayyad is known to be a Shia besides him.”

[30] Al Kamil fi al Tarikh 6/13.

[31] Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah 2/531.

[32] Harun ibn Muhammad ibn Harun ibn Muhammad al Hashimi, Abu Jafar al Wathiq bi Allah. An Abbasid Ruler. He was born in 190 A.H. Allegiance was pledged to him the day his father passed away. He had gone out of his way in putting the people to test regarding the issue of the creation of the Qurʾan. He had also assassinated Ahmed ibn Nasr al Khuza’i because of that. It is claimed that he retracted his opinion toward the end of his life. He passed away in 232 A.H. His rule lasted for five years and nine months. See: Tarikh Baghdad 14/15; al Muntazam 11/119; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 10/306; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ 340.

[33] Al Muntazam 11/120; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 10/307; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/310; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 342.

[34] Muhammad ibn Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Harun al Hashimi, Abu Jafar al Muntasir Bi Allah. An Abbasid Ruler. He assumed office after the murder of his father al Mutawakkil in Shawwal 247 A.H. He was awe inspiring, a man of great intelligence and very little transgression and was benevolent to the Alawids. He was accused of conspiring with the Turks in the murder of his father. He passed away in 248 A.H at the age of twenty six and only remained in power for a month. See: Tarikh Baghdad 2/119; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 2/216; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ 356; Shadharat al Dhahab 2/118.

[35] Maʾathir al Inaqah 1/238; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 6/149.

[36] Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 12/43.

[37] Said by Yazid al Muhallabi. See: Tarikh al Islam 18/419; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 2/216; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 357.

[38] Al Hassan ibn Yusuf ibn Muhammad al Hashimi, Abu Muhammad al Mustadiʾ bi Amr Allah. An Abbasid Ruler. He was born in 536 A.H. and assumed office in 566 A.H. He was just and praiseworthy for his interaction with his subjects. He was generous and would hardly take people to task for their wrongs. He also loved to forgive. He passed away in 575 A.H. See: al Kamil fi al Tarikh 10/97; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 21/68; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 12/192; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 444.

[39] Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 21/69.

[40] ‘Ali ibn Ahmed ibn Talhah ibn Jafar al Hashimi, Abu Muhammad (titled al Muktafi bi Allah). An Abbasid ruler. He was born in 264 A.H. and was appointed to office by his father in 289 A.H. He presided over the matters of the people in a good way. Several wars took place between him and the Qaramitah and in most of them he was successful. He passed away in 294 A.H. after having remained sick for months. See: Tarikh Baghdad 11/316; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 13/479; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 376; Shadharat al Dhahab 2/219.

[41] Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/482.

[42] ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah al Hashimi, Abu Jafar al Mansur. The second of the Abbasid Rulers. He was born in 95 A.H. He was elder than his brother al Saffah and was appointed to office after him in 136 A.H. He was the ‘man’ of the Abbasids in terms of his awe inspiring nature, courageousness, seriousness, intelligence, and firm grasp. He loved amassing wealth and avoided frivolities. He had a good share in knowledge. He killed many people in order to stabilize his authority. He passed away in 158 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 10/53; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 7/83; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/121.

[43] Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn al Hassan ibn al Hassan al ‘Alawi, Abu ‘Abdullah al Madani. One of the prominent members of the Ahlul Bayt. He was accorded the title al Nafs al Zakiyyah (the pure soul) and al Mahdi. He revolted against al Mansur in Madinah in 143 A.H. and many people had joined him, but he was later defeated by the army of al Mansur in 145 A.H. He was courageous, one of self-esteem, abundant knowledge and was a reliable transmitter of hadith. His narrations appear in the Sunans of Abu Dawood, al Tirmidhi and al Nasaʾi. See: al Muntazam 8/94; Tahdhib al Kamal 25/465; Tahdhib al Tahdhib 9/224; al Tuhfah al Latifah 2/491.

[44] Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 4/172.

[45] Harun ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad al Hashimi, Abu Jafar al Rashid. One of the great rulers of the Abbasids and the great kings of the world. He was born in 149 A.H. He was appointed to office after his brother al Hadi in 170 A.H. He would excessively go for Jihad and Hajj. He had many outstanding traits and his grasp would be very severe when infuriated. He passed away in Tus in 194 A.H. at the age of forty five. He remained in office for twenty three years. Tarikh Baghdad 14/5; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 9/286; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ 283; Maʾathir al Inaqah 1/192.

[46] Shadharat al Dhahab 1/338.

[47] Al ‘Ilaqat Bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin p. 55.

[48] Al Ma’sumi has probably given the most comprehensive account of the Alawid revolutionists. He says:

  • Thereafter his brother (i.e. the brother of al Nafs al Zakiyyah), Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdullah al Mahd, revolted. He was based in Basrah.
  • Thereafter Ibrahim al Ghamr ibn al Hassan al Muthanna, the brother of Abu ‘Abdullah al Mahd.
  • Thereafter, al Hassan ibn Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdullah, in the days of al Mansur as well.
  • Thereafter, in the days of al Mansur as well, ‘Abdullah al Ashtar ibn Muhammad al Nafs al Zakiyyah. He emerged in Sindh.
  • Thereafter, al Hassan ibn Ibrahim ibn al Hassan, who revolted in Basrah during the days of al Mahdi ibn al Mansur. He went undercover due to not having supporters till he passed away.
  • Thereafter, ‘Isa ibn Zaid ibn ‘Ali Zayn al ‘Abidin. He emerged in the days of al Mahdi. The people of Kufah pledged their allegiance to him alongside the people of Basrah and Ahwaz. Likewise the allegiance of the people of Hijaz came to him whilst he was in hiding.
  • Thereafter, ‘Ali ibn al ‘Abbas ibn al Hassan who also revolted during the era of the Mahdi in Baghdad.
  • Thereafter, al Hussain ibn ‘Ali ibn al Hassan al Muthallath. He revolted during the days of al Hadi ibn al Mahdi ibn al Mansur in 169 A.H.
  • Thereafter Yahya ibn ‘Abdullah al Mahd during the era of al Hadi as well.
  • Thereafter, his brother Idris ibn ‘Abdullah al Mahd.
  • Thereafter, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Tabataba ibn Ismail al Dibaj.
  • Thereafter, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Musa ibn Jafar al Sadiq. He was a promoter for Muhammad ibn Muhammad, mentioned above. He attained stability in Yemen and few events transpired for him there. He then moved to Khurasan and was killed with poisoning in Jurjan.
  • Thereafter Muhammad ibn Sulaiman ibn Dawood ibn al Hassan al Muthanna. His helpers forsook him whereafter he went into hiding in Madinah till he passed away.
  • Thereafter, Idris ibn Idris ibn ‘Abdullah ibn al Hassan al Muthanna who revolted in the west after his father. His matter intensified and he gained stability. His children’s rule has lived up to the present day.
  • Thereafter, al Qasim al Rassi revolted during the era of al Maʾmun. He started his revolt in 210 A.H. and he passed away in 246 A.H. during the era of al Mutawakkil.
  • Thereafter Muhammad ibn al Qasim ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Umar al Ashraf, the governor of Taliqan, rebelled in the days of al Mu’tasim. Initially his influence expanded, but thereafter he went to Nasaʾ where he went undercover. After that he was apprehended and imprisoned, but he managed to escape from prison. The scholars have differed as to what happened to him after that: some say that he returned to Taliqan whilst others say to Wasit where he poisoned and killed by al Mu’tasim.
  • Thereafter Muhammad ibn Jafar ibn Yahya ibn ‘Abdullah revolted during the era of al Wathiq. He took control of southern Hirat and was succeeded by his children till the year 290 A.H.
  • Thereafter Muhammad ibn Salih ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Musa revolted in Sawiqah, a place near Madinah. He was later imprisoned in Surr Man Raʾa and passed away in prison. During his time most of the Alawids had gone into hiding and they suspended their agenda.
  • Thereafter, al Hassan ibn Zaid ibn Muhammad Ismail revolted and took control of Tabrastan and some parts of Daylam. He ruled over them for forty years and passed away in 250 A.H.
  • Thereafter Muhammad ibn Jafar ibn al Hassan ibn ‘Umar revolted in the era of al Mutawakkil. He was based in the lands of the ‘Ajam and was later imprisoned by al Mutawakkil. It is also alleged that besides the aforementioned there were many others who revolted during the era of al Mutawakkil. Some made their emergence in public, some remained discreet, some were imprisoned and others were killed.
  • Thereafter Yahya ibn ‘Umar ibn Yahya ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Ali Zayn al ‘Abidin emerged in Kufah. The people loved him. He revolted during the era of al Musta’in.
  • Thereafter, emerged al Hussain ibn Muhammad ibn Hamzah ibn ‘Abdullah ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Ali Zayn al ‘Abidin. Al Musta’in imprisoned him and he eventually passed away in prison.
  • Thereafter Muhammad ibn Jafar ibn al Hassan ibn Jafar ibn al Hassan ibn al Hassan revolted during the era of al Musta’in. He campaigned in Arminiyyah or Kufah. He was deceived and consequently imprisoned. He was later poisoned and thereafter passed away in 250 A.H.
  • Then came about al Kawkabi, Ahmed ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Ali ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Ali Zayn al ‘Abidin. He revolted in Kufah in the era of al Mu’taz in 255 A.H.
  • Thereafter, Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Ibrahim ibn Tabataba revolted during the era of al Mu’tamid. He got embroiled in a few wars with Ibn Tulun and then was killed at the door of Iswan. His head was taken to al Mu’tamid.
  • Then came Muhammad ibn Zaid ibn Muhammad ibn Ismail who revolted in 277 A.H. during the era of al Mu’tadid. He fought a few battles and was eventually killed in one of them in Jurjan.
  • Thereafter, al Nasir al Atrush al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Umar revolted. He started his movement in Jil and Daylam in 284 A.H. His matter became one of concern till he passed away in the era of al Muqtadir in 304 A.H.
  • He was succeeded by al Hassan ibn al Qasim ibn al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdur Rahman. He emerged in era of al Radi bi Allah. He gained authority over Tabrastan, Nisabur and Ray and his opposition was great. He was later succeeded by his son al Mahdi Muhammad ibn al Hassan ibn al Qasim ibn al Hassan during the era of al Muti’ in 353 A.H. He gained authority over Jil and Daylam. He passed away 360 A.H.
  • Thereafter al Thaʾir fi Allah Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn al Hussain revolted. He became a formidable threat till he died in 367 A.H.
  • He was succeeded by his son Abu al Hussain al Mahdi ibn Jafar during the era of al Qadir bi Allah. He ruled with stability till he passed away.
  • Thereafter, Ahmed ibn al Hussain ibn Harun ibn al Hussain revolted during the era of al Qadir in 380 A.H. He engaged in a few wars and eventually was successful in gaining authority over Tabrastan.
  • He was succeeded by his brother al Natiq bi al Haqq Abu Talib Yahya ibn al Hussain ibn Harun ibn al Hussain during the era of al Qaʾim bi Amr Allah. He ruled with stability till he passed away in 424 A.H.
  • Thereafter al ‘Aqiqi ‘Ali ibn Jafar ibn al Hassan revolted during the era of al Qaʾim as well in 404.
  • Thereafter Manaldim Sandim Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al Hassan revolted in 417 A.H.
  • Thereafter, al Nasir al Hussain ibn Jafar ibn al Hussain ibn al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn al Nasir al Atrush revolted toward Daylam.
  • Thereafter al Muwaffaq bi Allah al Hussain ibn Ismail ibn Zaid ibn Jafar revolted. He was succeeded by his son al Murshid bi Allah Yahya ibn al Hussain.
  • Thereafter Abu Talib Yahya ibn Ahmed ibn al Amir Abu al Qasim al Hussain ibn al Muʾayyad bi Allah revolted in after 490 A.H. during the era of al Mustazhir toward Daylam.
  • Over and above these individuals there are others whose history in unknown. They are:
  • Imam Muhammad ibn Abi al A’rabi ibn Muhammad ibn al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Umar al Ashraf ibn ‘Ali ibn Zayn al ‘Abidin, Imam ‘Ali al ‘Iraqi ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Isa ibn Zaid ibn Zayn al ‘Abidin, Imam Ahmed ibn ‘Isa ibn Zaid ibn Zayn al ‘Abidin, Imam al Hadi ibn al Mahdi ibn al Hassan ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ali ibn al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Imam al Radi bi Allah Nasir ibn al Hussain ibn Zaid ibn Salih, Imam Zaid ibn Salih ibn al Hassan ibn Zaid ibn Salih, Imam ‘Ali ibn Muhsin ibn Ahmed ibn ‘Ubaidullah ibn al Hassan, Imam al Hussain ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Jafar ibn ‘Ubaidullah and his brother Imam al Hassan ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali.
  • Similarly, those regarding who it is not known how are they related to the Alawids are the following:
  • Imam Ashraf ibn Zaid, from the children of Zaid ibn al Hassan, Imam al Sayed al Azraqi, Imam Abu al Riha al Kaytami. All these individuals had revolted in the Qazwin, Tabrastan, al Jil, al Daylam, Jurjan al Hijaz, Iraq and the western regions.

Thereafter, al Ma’sumi goes on to enumerate all those who revolted in Yemen alone. See: Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 4/177 (with slight adulteration).

[49] Tarikh al Tabari 4/431; al Muntazam 8/65; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/152; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 4/172.

[50] Al ‘Ilaqat Bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin p. 56.

[51] ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Muslim (some say: ‘Uthman) ibn Yasar, Abu Muslim al Khurasani. The murderous commander. He is deemed the man who paved the way to rulership for the Banu ‘Abbas. He was born in Asbahan in 100 A.H. He was a man of intelligence, valuable input and master planning. He was eloquent in both Arabic and Persian and was a profound narrator of poetry. He was killed by Abu Jafar al Mansur when the latter feared that he will soon covet the Caliphate in 137 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 10/207; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/48; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/67; Shadharat al Dhahab 1/179.

[52] Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/48.

[53] Al Badʾ wa al Tarikh 6/55.

[54] Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 4/6.

[55] Yahya ibn Zaid ibn ‘Ali ibn al Hussain al Hashimi. An Alawid notable who had rebelled with his father against the Umayyads. When his father was killed he ran away to one of the outlying areas of Khurasan. There he campaigned secretly and many of the Shia followed him. They fought alongside him till he was killed 125 A.H. His head was sent to Hisham and he was crucified in Juzajan. His body was only taken down later by the order of Abu Muslim who had established a wailing ceremony for seven days after his demise. See: Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 64/224; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 4/471; Tarikh al Islam 8/299; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/5.

[56] Tarikh al Yaqubi 2/362.

[57] Al ‘Ilaqat Bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin p. 60.

[58] For example, when al Mu’tadid decided to prepare a book which contained curses against Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the only thing which averted him from preparing it was the fear that the Alawids, who were revolting in all the places, would use it to their advantage. See: al ‘Ibar fi Khabar man Ghabar 2/78; Tarikh al Islam 21/19; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/76; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 371.

[59] The following poem of al Sharif al Radi in which he addresses the Khalifah al Qadir bi Allah alludes to this:

عطفا أمير المؤمنين فإننا في دوحة العلياء لا نتفرق

ما بيننا يوم الفخار تفاوت أبدا كلانا في المعالي معرق

إلا خلافة ميزتك فإنني إنا عاطل منها وانت مطوق

Be easy, O Amir al Muʾminin, for surely in the tree of highness we do not differ.

On the day of boasting and displaying pride we are not distinct. Never can that be for each one of us is deeply steeped in heights.

With the exception of the Caliphate which has distinguished you, for I do not possess it and your neck is beautified with it. (Diwan al Sharif al Radi 2/39.


[60] Tarikh al Yaqubi 2/360. Al Saffah was ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ‘Abdullah, Abu al ‘Abbas al Saffah al Hashimi. The first ruler of the Abbasids. He was a person with awe. He was dignified, generous and quick to shed blood. He was appointed as the Khalifah in Kufah in 132 A.H. He thus arrived with black flags and eliminated Marwan ibn Muhammad. He then strove toward cementing his rule and putting an end to his opponents. But his days never last long and he passed away in 136 A.H. He lived for twenty eight years. See: al Badʾ wa al Tarikh 6/88; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/77; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 6/247; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 256.

[61] Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 4/6; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 4/154.

[62] Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 259; al Muqrizi: al Suluk 1/116.

[63] Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 260; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/371.

[64] ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ali. See: al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/61.

[65] Al Wafi bi al Wafayat 17/232; Fawat al Wafayat 1/568.

[66] Al Muntazam 8/13; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/71.

[67] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/183; Shadharat al Dhahab 1/204.

[68] Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/362; also see: al ‘Ilaqat bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin p. 105.

[69] See what al Saffah did to the Umayyads in Makkah and Madinah in Tarikh al Tabari 4/366; al Muntazam 321; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/89; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/56.

[70] Al Wafi bi al Wafayat 17/232; Fawat al Wafayat 1/567.

[71] Dawood ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas al Hashimi, Abu Sulaiman al Shami. The governor of Makkah and Madinah. He was eloquent and profound in oratory. Al Saffah had appointed him as the governor of Kufah at first. Thereafter he sent him to Makkah and Madinah and appointed him as governor there. He performed the Hajj with the people, the first Hajj under the Abbasid rule. He also killed all the Umayyads in the two cities. He did not live for long for he passed away in 133 A.H. His narrations appear in Sunan al Tirmidhi and al Adab al Mufrad of al Bukhari. See: Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 17/156; al Muntazam 7/322; Tahdhib al Tahdhib 3/168; al Tuhfah al Latifah 1/328.

[72] Tarikh al Tabari 4/347; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/67; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/41.

[73] Hafs ibn Sulaiman al Sabi’i, an ally to them, Abu Salamah al Khallal al Kufi (famously known as the governor of the household of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). The first governor appointed by al Saffah. He was popular for his sincerity for the campaign and for spending huge sums of money for its cause. He was a person of stature, bravery, and administration. Al Saffah got him killed in 133 A.H. See: Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 14/409; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/79; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 13/63; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/56.

[74] Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 14/409; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 13/63; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/56.

[75] Tarikh Baghdad 10/208; al Muntazam 8/8; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/69.

[76] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/52, 118.

[77] Al ‘Ilaqat bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin p. 85.

[78] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/80; Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 4/6; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali  4/167.

[79] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/71.

[80] Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 4/167, 177, 178, 179).

[81] Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 32/331; Tarikh al Islam 9/470; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 7/85; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ 267.

[82] Al Tuhfah al Latifah fi Tarikh al Madinah al Sharifah 1/52.

[83] Tarikh al Tabari 4/409; al Muntazam 8/46.

[84] Al Muntazam 8/46; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/212; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/95; Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 3/238.

[85] Al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/143; Tahdhib al Kamal 6/85; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/360, 4/178.

[86] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/148; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/360.

[87] Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah 2/524.

[88] Musa ibn Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al Hashimi, Abu al Hassan al ‘Alawi (accorded the title al Kazim). He was an ascetic who was generous and forbearant and was a man of prominence. He was born in 128 A.H. He is considered the seventh Imam of the Imamiyyah. Al Rashid persuaded him to accompany him to Baghdad. He thereafter imprisoned him and eventually he passed away in prison in 183 A.H. His narrations appear in the Sunans of al Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah. See: Tarikh Baghdad 13/27; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/270; Tahdhib al Tahdhib 10/302; Shadharat al Dhahab 1/304.

[89] Al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/320; al Muntazam 9/88; Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 4/57; al Kashif 2/303; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/183; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/360.

[90] Al Muntazam 8/48; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/214.

[91] Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan al Umawi, Abu ‘Abdullah al Madani. A notable who was generous and a man of chivalry. He was accorded the title al Dibaj (silk) due to his handsomeness. Imam al Nasaʾi has made conflicting remarks regarding him, he has deemed him reliable and deemed not very strong. Ibn Hibban has enlisted him in his al Thiqat. He was killed in 145 A.H. His narrations appear in Sunan Ibn Majah. See: al Thiqat 7/417; Tahdhib al Kamal 25/516; al Mughni fi al Du’afaʾ 2/597; al Tuhfah al Latifah 2/498.

[92] Al Muntazam 8/48; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/145; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/213; Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 3/238. The details thereof is that Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah al ‘Uthmani was the uterine brother of ‘Abdullah al Mahd (both of them were the sons of Fatimah bint al Hussain). And ‘Abdullah was the father of Muhammad and Ibrahim who revolted against al Mansur. See: Tarikh al Tabari 4/415; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/143.

[93] Shadharat al Dhahab 1/338; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/360.

[94] Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Harun ibn Muhammad al Hashimi, Abu al ‘Abbas al Musta’in bi Allah. An Abbasid Ruler. He was born in 221 A.H. He was appointed to office after al Muntasir. The Caliphate sustained great defects during his era and matters went out of control. The Turkish generals had assumed control and thus he deposed himself because of al Mu’taz bi Allah after several wars and clashes. He was imprisoned for nine months and thereafter was killed in Qadisiyyah of Samarraʾ in Ramadan in 252 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 5/84; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 12/46; Fawat al Wafayat 1/177; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/2.

[95] Tarikh al Tabari 5/395; al Muntazam 12/50; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/9.

[96] Hilyah al Auliyaʾ 9/126; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 1/86; Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah al Kubra 2/121.

[97] Sirah al Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal of Salih ibn Ahmed p. 94; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/337.

[98] Al Khudri: Al Dawlah al Umawiyyah 1/150. Also see: al ‘Ilaqat bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin p. 73.

[99] Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 4/553.

[100] Al Darajat al Rafi’ah p. 8.

[101] Al Wafi bi al Wafayat 17/200.

[102] Abu al ‘Ataʾ al Sindi. See: Kitab al Aghani 17/333; Muhadarat al Udabaʾ 1/223.

[103] I don’t know who said this. See: Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/362; al Darajat al Rafi’ah p. 8.

[104] Al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/140.

[105] Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 4/141.

[106] Al Muntazam 9/210.

[107] Al ‘Ilaqat bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin 55, 74.

[108] What makes this clear is that the poet Ibn Mayadah said the following poem in the presence of al Walid ibn Yazid:

وغير بني مروان أهل الفضائل

فضلتم قريشا غير آل محمد

You surpassed the Quraysh but not the family of Muhammad, and not the Banu Marwan—the people of merits.


So al Walid said to him, “I see you are giving preference to the family of Muhammad over us.” He replied, “I don’t think it’s possible any other way.” See: Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 252.

[109] Tarikh al Tabari 4/347; al Muntazam 7/299; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/41; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 257.

[110] Al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/63.

[111] These are snippets from these letters. They can be studied in their entirety in Tarikh al Tabari 4/431; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/151; al Muntazam 8/64; Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 4/7.

[112] Tarikh al Tabari 4/432; al Muntazam 8/66; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 5/154; Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 4/9; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 4/174.

[113] For example al Nafs al Zakiyyah said that ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a captive who was freed, as appears in his letters. The Shia repeatedly raised this. Hence one of their poets, Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn Abi Murrah al Taghlibi, said the following in a poem which he wrote as a response to the poem of Marwan ibn Abi Hafsah:

صلى الطليق مخافة الصمصام

ما للطليق وللتراث وإنما

What does the free captive have to do with inheritance? He only performed salah out of the fear of the sword. (Al ‘Ilaqat bayn al ‘Alawiyyin wa al ‘Abbasiyyin p. 116).


[114] Zand ibn al Jawn al Asadi, their client, Abu Dulamah. An impertinent poet and a famous amuser. He was originally from Kufah and was an Abyssinian Muwallad (born to a mixed couple). He found the last part of the Umayyad rule but did not gain much prominence. In the era of the Abbasids he earned acclaim and prominence and devoted himself to al Saffah, al Mansur, and al Mahdi. He enjoyed much prestige from al Mansur due to making him laugh, rendering poetry, and lauding him. He passed away in 163 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 8/488; Wafayat al A’yan 2/320; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 7/374; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/134.

[115] Diwan Abi Dulamah p. 63; Tarikh Baghdad 1/87.

[116] Marwan ibn Sulaiman ibn Yahya ibn Abi Hafsah (his name was Yazid), Abu al Haydham (and it is said: Abu al Simt). He was a poet of high standing from the Mawali. He was born in 150 A.H. He praised a group of Khalifas and governors and attained much of their gifts. Al Kisaʾi said about him, “Poetry is milk which has been purified. The butter of was given to Marwan Ibn Abi Hafsah.” He died in 182 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 13/142; al Muntazam 9/69; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 57/285; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 8/479.

[117] Diwan Marwan ibn Abi Hafsah p. 94.

[118] This verse is not in his compilation, but it appears in Tarikh al Tabari 4/590; Kitab al Aghani 3/220; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 57/292; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/395.

[119] Diwan Marwan ibn Abi Hafsah p. 88.

[120] Ibid. p. 77.

[121] Tarikh Baghdad 13/145; Wafayat al A’yan 5/253.

[122] Al Aghani 23/214; Sharh Nahj al Balaghah of Ibn Abi al Hadid 4/65; Bahr al ‘Ulum: al Fawaʾid al Rijaliyyah 1/89.

[123] Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 57/292.

[124] Al Wafi bi al Wafayat 27/236; Fawat al Wafayat 2/528.

[125] Mansur ibn Salamah ibn al Zabriqan (and some say Mansur ibn al Zabriqan ibn Salamah ibn Sharik, Abu al Qasim al Namiri. A poet of the Abbasid court. He was originally from the Arabian Peninsula. He came to Baghdad and lauded Harun al Rashid. It is said that he did not laud any other ruler besides him. He passed away around in 210 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 13/65; al Muntazam 9/211; Fawat al Wafayat 2/528.

[126] Referring to a verse no. 40 thereof which translates as, “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but the messenger of Allah and the seal of the prophets.”

[127] Ibn Qutaybah: al Shi’r wa al Shu’araʾ p. 590; Ibn al Mu’taz: Tabaqat1 al Shu’araʾ p. 245; Zahr al Adab 3/704; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/426.

[128] Marwan ibn Abi al Junub (Yahya) ibn Marwan ibn Sulaiman, Abu al Simt. One of the brilliant poets of his time. He was known as the small Marwan due to him being the grandson of Marwan ibn Abi Hafsah the acclaimed poet. Abu al Simt lived during the era of al Wathiq and al Mutawakkil. He has said several poems regarding al Mutawakkil and Ahmed ibn Abi Dawood. He would stay in Surr Man Raʾa. He passed close to 240 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 13/153; Wafayat al A’yan 5/1935/193; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 8/481; al A’lam 7/209.

[129] Tarikh al Tabari 5/339; al Aghani 23/215; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 6/140.

[130] ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Jafar ibn al Mu’tasim al Hashimi, Abu al ‘Abbas al Ghalib bi Allah. A natural poet who was a master in literary criticism. The army pledged allegiance after the instability of al Muqtadir and his dismissal. Thereafter they reinstated him and obeyed and Ibn al Mu’taz went into hiding and was eventually killed when he was found in 296 A.H. at the age of 48. He ruled for one day only. He has written Tabaqat al Shu’araʾ, al Sariqat and al Zahr wa al Riyad. See: Tarikh Baghdad 10/95; Wafayat al A’yan 3/76; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 14/42.

[131] Diwan Ibn al Mu’taz 1/25.

[132] Tarikh Baghdad 6/130; al Muntazam 9/21; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 7/72; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/170. Ibn Harmah: Ibrahim ibn ‘Ali ibn Salamah ibn ‘Ali ibn Harmah al Fihri, Abu Ishaq al Madani. One of the outstanding poets from the pre-Islamic era. He witnessed both the Umayyad and the Abbasid rule. He praised some from both the dynasties but was known to be fully drawn to the Alawids. Al Asmaʾi has deemed him to be one of those with who pure Arabic poetry came to an end. He passed away in 150 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 6/128; al Muntazam 9/21; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 6/129; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/169.

[133] Kitab al Aghani 4/380; Tarikh Baghdad 6/129; al Muntazam 9/23; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 7/76.

[134] Tarikh Baghdad 13/69; al Ansab 5/526; Fawat al Wafayat 2/531.

[135] Al Manar al Munif 117/; al Radd al Qawim ‘ala al Mujrim al Athim p. 212.

[136] Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/359. They also disassociated from Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum. But deemed allegiance to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be valid because ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu had said to him, “O my nephew, Should I pledge allegiance to you so that no two people will dispute regarding you.” And because Dawood ibn ‘Ali had said on the pulpit of Kufah the day al Saffah was elected as the ruler, “O the people of Kufah, There has not arose amidst you a leader after Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam besides ‘Ali and this leader who has risen now.” Referring to al Saffah. The Rawandiyyah were considered to be sub-sect of the Kaysaniyyah. For more details see: al Fisal fi al Milal wa al Ahwaʾ wa al Nihal 4/75; al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim p. 258; Talbis Iblis 1/125; I’tiqadat Firaq al Muslimin wa al Mushrikin p. 63; Nihayah al Arab fi Funun al Adab 22/56; ‘Asr al Dawlatayn al Umawiyyah wa al ‘Abbasiyyah of al Sallabi p. 79. Jahiz authored a book titled al ‘Abbasiyyah in which he enlisted their views and evidences, but it seems as if they came to an end at a very early stage. Hence, al Tusi (died 460 A.H), a Shia scholar says, “As for those who believe in the Imamah of ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu not a person amongst them is known. Had Jahiz not written this book and not quoted this view it would have been unknown before him and after him.” See: al Iqtisad al Hadi ila Tariq al Rashad p. 207.

[137] Referring to Jafar al Sadiq.

[138] Tarikh al Islam 9/89; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/258.

[139] Fatimah al Zahraʾ wa al Fatimiyyun p. 51. The following books have been authored regarding the lineage of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

  1. Yahya al ‘Aqiqi (d. 277 A.H.): Ansab Al Abi Talib. The first book written regarding the lineage of the Talibis.
  2. Fakhr al Din al Razi (d. 606 A.H.): al Shajarah al Mubarakah fi Ansab al Talibiyyah.
  3. Ismail al ‘Alawi (d. after 614 A.H.): Ghunyah al Talib fi Nasab Al Abi Talib.
  4. ‘Ali al ‘Alawi (d. 709 A.H.): al Majdi fi Ansab al Talibiyyin.
  5. Al Qalqashandi (d. 821 A.H.): ‘Umdat al Talib fi Ansab Al Abi Talib.
  6. Bahr al Ansab fi Nasab Bani Hashim of the previous author.
  7. ‘Abdul Qadir al Hassani (d. 1099 A.H.): Taʾlif fi Ansab al Ashraf al ladhina lahum Shuhrah bi Fas.
  8. Nashr al ‘Ulum al Darisah bi Rasm Shajarat al Jutiyyin al Adarisah of the previous author.
  9. Al Qadir al Hassani (d. 1133 A.H.): Nasab al Shurafaʾ al ‘Alamiyyin.
  10. ‘Ali al Saqqaf (d. 1203 A.H.): al Shajarah al ‘Aliyyah.
  11. Al Jifri al Hussaini (d. 1222 A.H.): al Kawkab al Durri fi Nasab al Sadah Al al Jifri.
  12. Idris al ‘Alawi (d. 1316 A.H.: al Durar al Bahiyyah wa al Jawahir al Nabawiyyah. A book dedicated to the lineage to the Alawids of Morocco.
  13. Ibn al Mashhur (d. 1320 A.H.): Shams al Zahirah fi Ansab al Sadah al ‘Alawiyyah bi Hadramawt.
  14. Al ‘Alawi al Saqqaf (d. 1335 A.H.): Ansab Ahlul Bayt.
  15. Mahdi al Musawi (d. 1343 A.H.) Ansab al Hashimiyyin.
  16. Abdur Razzaq al Hussaini (d. 1390 A.H.): ‘Uqud al Tamaʾim fi Ansab Bani Hashim.

[140] Ahmed ibn Ishaq ibn Jafar ibn al Mu’tadid al Hashimi, Abu al ‘Abbas al Qadir bi Allah. An Abbasid Ruler. He was elected as the ruler after the dismissal of al Taʾi’. He was a great ruler and was known to be a follower of the Sunnah, an ascetic and a person who dispensed a lot of charity. He was known to be the poorest of all rulers. He passed away in 422 A.H. at the age of 87 and he ruled for 41 years. See: Tarikh Baghdad 4/37; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 15/127; al ‘Ibar fi Khabar man Ghabar 3/149; Tarikh al Khulafaʾ p. 411.

[141] A sect of the fire worshippers known as Daysan. They believe in light as a source of good and darkness as a source of evil. Hence all good is from light and all evil is from darkness. They believed that light is alive, knowledgeable, capable and sensitive and that from it emerges movement and life. As for darkness it is dead, ignorant, incapable, and inert and has no will or perception. They hold other beliefs as well. See: Maqalat al Islamiyyin p. 338; al Maturidi: al Tawhid p. 163; al Fisal fi al Milal wa al Nihal 1/37, al Milal wa l-Nihal 1/250.

[142] Tarikh al Islam 28/11; al Nujum al Zahirah 4/229 (with a bit of condensation). For more Information of the Ubaidis who masqueraded as Alawids and others of their kin refer to: al ‘Ibar fi Khabar man Ghabar 3/79; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 4/108; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/180; Maʾathir al Inaqah 3/163; Shadharat al Dhahab 3/162; Simt al Nujum al ‘Awali 3/560, 4/142.

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