Islam takes great care of combating against poverty, for it regards it as a destructive disaster which should be driven away from the public life, and hence it has made it incumbent on Muslim rulers to develop economy, to increase individual income, and to spread welfare among people. Among the things which Islam takes care of is improving economy, so it has made it obligatory on Muslim rulers to spend the state money on the public interest through developing agriculture, establishing public projects and others through which the land is prosperous. It also prevents them from taking something from state treasury for themselves and their relatives. However, the 'Abbāsids turned aside from this creative policy; they seized the money of Allah and enslaved His servants, spent a lot of money on their desires and pleasures, building their palaces and songsters, so this policy led to critical crises and divided society into two classes:
The first class included the capitalists who controlled the wealth of the community, while they had no work except unemployment, amusement, and extravagance in the unlawful.
The second class included workers and farmers. This class was miserable, for poverty and deprivation spread among it. This division among the classes of society resulted in losing the balance of the economic life, tranquillity in both political and social lives.
We will briefly talk about the matters of the public economic life, unhappiness and deprivation which the citizens faced.
As for the returns of the state during the time of Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him, they were plentiful, for examples only the incoming of land taxes was counted and it was four hundred million dirhams. It is worth mentioning that money was not counted but weighed because it was abundant, so they said: "It (money) is six or seven thousand quintals of gold."
Unfortunately, this plentiful money was not spend on improving the life of the Muslims, helping the poor and the deprived; rather most this money was spent by kings, their ministers, their children, and their retinues on their pleasures and desires. They spent on their red nights countless money; as well as the singers, the mischievous, and the dissolute became extremely rich.
The 'Abbāsid kings were so extravagant that they spent the money of the Muslims on their pleasures and desires, for example, al-Ma'mūn faced financial straits when he was in Damascus, hence thirty million dirhams of the money of land taxes were carried to him, and he ordered twenty-four dirhams to be spent on his companions and the remainder of the money to be spent on his soldiers.
Wasting the money of the Muslims was a dominating
phenomenon with the 'Abbāsid kings, for example, al-Mahdi built a
park and spent on it fifty million dirhams. Al-Mutawakkil spent fifty million dirhams on his palace called al-Māhūza, thirty million dirhams on his palace called al-'Arūs, and twenty-five million dirhams on the lobby (bahū). Al-Shābishti said: "As al-Mutawakkil was among the men of taste and sociability, he devoted himself in an amazing manner to building sixteen magnificent palaces in Sāmarrā' and spent on them an unbelievable amount of money." Yet a further example of his wastefulness is that he spent eighty-six million dirhams on the circumcision of his sons.
Another example of wasting the money of the Muslims is the abundant, astonishing amount which al-Ma'mūn spent on his taking lady Bourān in marriage; the like of what he spent on that marriage has not occurred since Allah created the earth.
Al-Ma'mūn gave his wife one
million dinars as a dower. It is worth mentioning that the value of a dinar
was equal to a camel. Al-Hasan b. Sahl, the father of lady Bourān, stipulated
that al-Ma'mūn should marry his daughter in his village situated at Fam
and he responded to that. When he wanted to marry her, he traveled to Fam
al-Sulh and spent one million dinars on the soldiers who were with him. He
took with him thirty thousand young boys and seven hundred slave-girls. As for
the soldiers who were with him, they were four hundred thousand horsemen and
three hundred thousand infantry soldiers. As for al-Hasan b. Sahl, he
slaughtered thirty thousand sheep, a similar number of chicken, four hundred
cows, and four hundred camels. The people called this invitation the
Invitation of Islam, but this title is wrong, for such extravagance from the
money of the Muslims does not belong to Islam. The expenditures of al-Ma'mūn on
Anyhow, when al-Ma'mūn married Bourān, ambergris hazelnuts were scattered from the roof of the house of al-Hasan b. Sahl, but the people disdained them and abstained from them, so a person called out to them, saying: "Whoever has taken a hazelnut, let him break it, for he will find in it a piece of paper on which it has been written either one thousand dinars or ten silk garments or five garments or a retainer or a slave-girl." Those who obtained pieces of paper sent them to the Divan and received what was written on them. Likewise, al-Ma'mūn spent one million dirhams on the commanders of his army. Congratulating al-Hasan b. Sahl, his daughter, and al-Ma'mūn, al-Bāhili said:
May Allah bless al-Hasan and Bourān regarding the
marriage. O son of Hārūn, you have gained, but whose
daughter is she? 
When the hour of wedding came, Bourān was seated on a mat made of gold. Then al-Ma'mūn came in to her and he was accompanied by his aunts and a group of the 'Abbāsid women, so al-Hasan b. Sahl scattered three hundred pearls over al-Ma'mūn and his wife. The weight of each pearl was a weight (mithqāl). None stretched out his hand to take them, so al-Ma'mūn ordered his aunts to take them; he stretched out his hand to take one, and thus the 'Abbasid women hurried to take some. Accordingly, al-Ma'mūn said: "May Allah kill Abū Nu'ās! He described wine as if he was present at this gathering of ours; he said:
'Its small and big bubbles are like pearl pebbles on a 'ground of gold!"
Al-Ma'mūn and al-Hasan b. Sahl spent on his marriage abundant money which was, without doubt, stolen from the Treasury of the Muslims, and which had to be spent, according to Allah's Law, on combating poverty and removing misery from the world of Islam.
It is worth mentioning that when Hārūn al-Rashid married lady Zubayda, he made a banquet the like of which was not made in Islam. He ordered the gifts to be unlimited, hence gold wares full of silver, silver wares full of gold, pieces of musk and ambergris were offered (to the guests). This is the extravagance and wastefulness which Islam has forbidden in order to protect the economy of the community from collapse.
During the time of al-Ma'mūn and others, the overwhelming majority of Islamic society led a life of misery and deprivation, for it fell down under terrible poverty and wretchedness. Now let us listen to Abū al-'Atāhiya in order that he may tell us about the misery and wretchedness of the common people. Addressing the 'Abbāsid king, he said:
Who gives on my behalf successive pieces of advice to the
Surely I see that the prices of the subjects are high.
And I see that the earnings are insignificant. And I see that
the necessity is widespread.
And I see that the worries of the time come and go.
And I see that the orphans are in the miserable, empty
They, hopeful male and female, yearn for you.
They complain (to you) of hard work with weak, loud
They hope for your relief out of what they have faced, that
they may see well-being.
The misfortunes of hunger enter into evening and upon
the morning (causing) hunger.
Who relieves the hungry stomachs and naked bodies?
I have reported to you conclusive news from the subjects.
This social poetry gives an account of the state which dominated the time of Abū al-'Atāhiya, for millions of Muslims were naked, weak, and hungry, while the treasuries of the 'Abbāsid kings were full of the money of the Muslims, but this money was not spent on the interest of the Muslims; rather it was spent on the pleasures of the kings and the ways through which they corrupted the life of the common people.
Now, let us listen to the following poetry lines in which Bashshār praises Yazid b. al-Muhallab, the governor of al-Mansūr al-Dawāniqi over Africa. He says:
The boys whose eldest is still young frequent to you out
of fear of tribulations.
Don't you see, and you are aware of me, that I am the
seeker of good whose steps are short?
The drought and the corrupt time have driven him; rather
a mad seller has stolen my sleep.
He walks through his own written skin; his dangerous meeting me terrifies me.
I am terrified by seeing him; he frightens me and I have no protector.
I am grateful (to you) for your favor. Is there anyone to change the harm which has befallen me?
Have you seen how famine dominated the early 'Abbāsid ages? This poet seeks the aid of Yazid b. al-Muhallab in order to save him from poverty and misery. Hoping for Ya'qūb b. Dāwud, he says:
O man who goes early in the morning for his need with the Caliph, who some times postpones it and sometimes accomplish it,
The doors to the needs have been closed, so send for (the one with) high rank, Ya'qūb b. Dāwud.
said: Fast among us. So I said to her: If Ya'qūb (b.
 Bashshār, Divan, vol. 3, p. 190.
Dāwud) desires, we will fast, O daughter of munificence.
If (Ya'qūb) b. Dāwud gave me a relief, I would be free from need and would not return (to beg him).
Have you seen this submissiveness and entreaty? All avenues of livelihood were closed before most people, and they suffered from famine and deprivation.
Another example of the oppression and tyranny of the 'Abbāsids is that they imposed heavy taxes on the inheritances of the dead. In his poetry lines, Ibn al-Mu'taz gives us an account of the condition of the people, their sufferings, oppression and tyranny which they faced. He says:
Woe unto him whose father dies rich, isn't this clear and
His prison is in the Abode of Tribulation, and it is said:
Who knows that you are his son?
So he says: My neighbors and those who know me. So
they pull out his mustache, to the extent that he perishes;
they go too far in boxing and pushing him; and their palms
of the hand rush to slap him.
He is still in the narrowest prison until he throws the sack
(of money) to them.
The 'Abbāsid kings went too far in oppression and
tyranny, hence they plundered the properties of the people without any right.
The historians said: "After the death of the possessors of wealth, many
('Abbāsid) rulers tried (to say) that they had no inheritors in order to
control their inheritances."
This severe procedure clashes with the Islamic teachings which decide that
what the dead leaves as inheritance is for his own inheritor, and that the
ruler has no authority over it. Yes, he who dies and has no inheritor, his
inheritance is moved
to Muslims' Public Treasury. Torture and confiscating the properties of the people was not confined to a special class of people; rather they included the mothers of the Caliphs, for example, al-Qāhir, the 'Abbāsid, tortured the mother of his brother al-Muqtadir. He hung her from her leg in order that she might bring out her properties, carry her endowments, and entrust selling them to (him). She refused (to do that), but al-Qāhir forced her to do it after severe torture and punishment."
The Muslims were subject to cruelty during taking land taxes from them, for the government employed over them terrorist collectors who did not respect Allah; nor did they fear the evil reckoning. They were more wicked than snakes, for they hung the fat person from one hand to the extent that he was about to die. Hence, in his poetry lines, Ibn al-Mu'taz describes this abominable manner through which land taxes were taken:
Many times I saw the helpers take to prison and to the
Divan a noble man with a great mount.
That he might be stood in the inferno of the midday heat;
and his head was like a boiling pot.
They placed around his hand hemp ropes which cut off the
They hung him on the wall handles as if he was (iron)
They slapped his back as the drum is slapped and
installed him in front of the eyes of the gloaters and the
When he appealed for the help against the blaze of the
sun, a jailer answered him with kicking; and a jailer
poured oil on him, and after that he looked like a brown-
When the exertion lasted long and there was no escape for
 Ibid., p. 234.
him from what they wanted, he said: Give me a
permission to ask the merchants for a loan; otherwise, I
will sell an immovable property.
But they annoyed him and appointed four (days), and he
found no profit in the speech.
The dissolute helpers came to him and loaned him one for
Then he paid what was against him and went out, while he
had not craved after the nearness of relief.
The helpers came to him in order to ask him as if they
were pampering him.
If he lagged, they took his turban, smashed his two jugular
veins and his head.
Now, all of that has vanished, and tyranny is
repressed by justice.
Ibn al-Mu'taz describes the extreme cruelty which the collectors showed toward the people in order to take land taxes from them. They made them tired and tortured them. An example of their torturing them is as the historians say: "They hit them on the head with the iron whips and the tips of reed were stabbed into their finer-nails. As for al-Mansūr (al-Dawāniqi), he would hang the people from their legs in order that they might pay what was imposed upon them."
As for land taxes during the time of al-Mahdi, the 'Abbāsid, they were taken with extreme cruelty, for the people were tortured with various kinds of torture such as (employing) beasts of prey and wasps.
As for (Hārūn) al-Rashid, he
was very cruel in taking land taxes. He punished the people severely and
appointed over them collectors who had neither compassion nor mercy. For
example, he appointed
'Abd Allah b. al-Haythem as governor for taking this tax, and he tortured the people with terrible kinds of painful torture, so Ibn 'Ayyād came in to him. He saw his cruelty and torturing the people, so he said to him: "Raise (torture) from them! Surely, I heard Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, say: 'On the Day of Resurrection Allah will torture him who tortures the people in this world.' So he ordered torture to be raised from the people."
About the extreme cruelty toward the people upon whom land taxes were imposed, Abū Yūsuf wrote to (Hārūn) al-Rashid, saying: "I have been informed that the governor respects some of his retinues and uses the rest as means, while they are not pious nor righteous. He (the governor) seeks help through them and employs them in his works in order not to violate (men's) rights and sacredness, but they do not keep what they have been order to; nor do they treat the people with justice. Rather their only concern is to take something from land taxes or from the properties of the people. Then they take all of that, as I have been informed, by tyranny, oppression, and aggression."
He added, saying: "Likewise, I have been informed that they (land tax collectors) make men of land taxes stand in the sun, hang on them jars, and shackle them with that which prevent them from performing prayer, and this is (something) dreadful with Allah and ugly in Islam."
Through this cruel procedure the land tax collectors opposed the Islamic teachings which ordered them to treat people kindly and to refrain from cruelty. However, the 'Abbāsid kings turned aside from these teachings and went far away from them.
The treasuries of the 'Abbāsid kings were full of the abundant funds which were taken from the Muslim nations by force and overcoming. The following is the list of the inheritances which some of their kings left behind:
After his death, al-Mansūr al-Dawāniqi left behind him fourteen million dinars and six hundred million dirhams.
Al-Mahdi left twenty-seven million dirhams in his treasuries.
As for Hārūn al-Rashid, he left behind him nine hundred million dirhams.
The 'Abbāsid kings left behind them such funds while they had not gathered them; rather it was the Muslims who gathered them through enduring poverty, misery, and depravation. These are some aspects of the economic policy which was practiced throughout the 'Abbāsid reign. In short this policy was not based on sound foundations; nor did it match the Islamic economy, which aimed at refreshing the nations, spreading welfare among them, destroying misery and poverty. Like the Umayyad king, the 'Abbāsid one was the Shadow of Allah on earth, so he moved about in the abilities of the people according to his desires. Did (al-Mansūr) al-Dawāniqi not say: "Men, I am the Authority of Allah on His earth and rule you according to success and guidance from Him. I am His treasurer over war booty gained without fighting. I work in accordance with His desire, divide it (among you) according to His will, and give it (to you) according to permission from Him. Allah has made me as a lock for it. If He wills to unlock me, He unlocks me; and if He wills to lock me, He locks me!"?
Islam does not adopt this unjust policy, for the
properties of the Muslims belong to them. They should be spent on their
to raise their economic and intellectual levels. As for the head of the state, he has no authority over them.
The Muslims hated the 'Abbāsid government, were very indignant with it, and had wished that the Umayyad government would have return to them regardless of its cruelty and torture, for they (the Abbāsids) ruled the community with oppression and tyranny. 'Abd al-Rahmān al-Afriqi said to al-Mansūr al-Dawāniqi: "Oppression has appeared in our country, so I have come to inform you (of it). Suddenly, (I have seen) oppression comes out of your country; I have seen evil deeds and widespread oppression. I think that oppression has occurred because the country is far from you. The more I approach you, the more dreadful the matter is!"
Al-Mansūr was very displeased with these words of 'Abd al-Rahmān al-Afriqi and ordered him to be driven out.
Al-Mansūr asked b. Abū Dhu'ayb: "Which a man am I?"
He answered him with the statement of the free one who does not submit to authority, saying: "By Allah, you are the most wicked man in my opinion! You have seized the property of Allah and His Apostle, the share of the near of kin, the orphans, the needy! You have destroyed the weak and followed the strong and taken hold of their properties!"
The policy of the 'Abbāsid kings was the same in oppression and tyranny. Ahmed b. Abū Na'im says:
I do not thing that tyranny will terminate while over the
people is an Emir from the family of 'Abbās!
Because of this line poetry, al-Ma'mūn banished him to al-Sind. Abū 'Atā' al-Sindi says:
I wish that the tyranny of the Banū of Marwān lasted for
us and wish that the justice of the Banū of 'Abbās was in
Salim al-'Adawi urged the community to revolt against the 'Abbāsid government, saying:
Till when will we not see justice pleasing us and not see
helpers for those who undertake the truth?
We are clinging to the truth and undertaking it when the
tyrants are changeable.
O men, surely this is an illness for which there is no
medicine, and a blind leader who leads blind people!
Sudayf, the poet of the free, says:
We hope that our friendliness will return after the
alienation, the enmity, and the malice, and that the state
whose leaders (implement) among us laws like those of people worshipping idols will terminate.
This poetry spread and al-Mansūr heard of it, so he ordered his governor 'Abd al-Samad to bury him (Sudayf) alive, and he did.
Dr. Ahmed Mahmūd Subhi says: "However, that ideal of justice and equity for which the people waited from the 'Abbāsids was one of the imaginations, for the wildness of al-Mansūr and al-Rashid, their greediness, the oppression of the sons of 'Ali b. 'Īsā and their playing with the properties of the Muslims remind us of al-Hajjājj, Hishām, and Yūsuf b. 'Amrū al-Thaqafi. Displeasure dominated the people when Abū 'Abd Allah better known as al-Saffāh and al-Mansūr started (their government) with going too far in shedding blood in a manner which had never been known before."
The Muslims were indignant with the 'Abbāsid government, for it did not achieve their aims and hopes. Rather it was busy with recklessness, violence and forcing the people to do what they hated.
Discords surged over Islamic world and popular revolts spread in it. Without doubt, these discords and revolts resulted from the evil 'Abbāsid policy, which did not take care of the interests of society and its ambitions aiming at achieving political and social justice among the people. The following is an example of the important revolts which broke out during the time of Imām al-Ridā:
As for the revolt of Abū al-Sarāyā, it was among the most important revolts which broke out in that time. At this revolt the Muslims lost two hundred fighters. We will talk about some characteristics of this revolt as follows:
As for the leader, designer, and planner of this revolt, he is the great 'Alawide, Mohammed b. Ibrāhim, better known as al-Tabātabā'i. This great, noble 'Alawide saw that the 'Alawides and the Muslims were liable to oppression, persecution, exemplary punishments, and exhaustion, so he got ready to announce his revolt in order to save them from the ruling 'Abbāsid band. The historians said that he was gentle and kind to the poor and the deprived. One day while he was walking in a street in Kūfa, he saw an old woman following the loads of dates, picking up those falling dates and putting them into a ragged garment. He asked her about that and she answered him: "I am a woman with a husband who undertakes my provisions, and I have daughters who do nothing, so I follow these dates on the road. My children and I live on them."
When he heard these words, his strength collapsed, he burst into tears, turned to her and said to her warmly: "By Allah, you and the like of you will make me go out (with the sword) and my blood will be shed."
This mercy toward the poor moved him to announce his revolt, that he might save them from the oppressive who plundered the properties of the community.
Accordingly, Mohammed began making arrangements through communicating with men of opinion and influence from among Arab leaders and Muslim great figures. He asked them to join him and to take part in resisting oppression and overthrowing the standing government, and hence he met the great Arab leader Nasr b. Shayth and presented the matter before him, and he began announcing his support to him and urging him to revolt against the government, saying to him: "Till when will you be submissive, your Shi'ites oppressed, and your right usurped? "
These words moved the sentiments and feelings of Mohammed and he hurried to revolt against the 'Abbāsid government. That was when he saw that the 'Abbāsids were different, their word was separated, and their unity was broken up because of the dreadful discord which took place between al-Amin and al-Ma'mūn, and which split the government and made society think of a revolt against them to save itself from the persecutions of the 'Abbāsid government.
The revolt increased in strength and firmness when Abū al-Sarāyā, the experienced leader, joined it. Abū al-Sarāyā was an 'Alawide in opinion, so he felt burning desire for the 'Alawides who suffered from the persecutions of the 'Abbāsids. It is an act of good to talk about some affairs of this inspired leader.
He is al-Sari b. Mansūr al-Shaybāni. He was a brave
revolutionist from among the 'Usāmi commanders. He took part in many battles.
When the discord took place between al-Amin and al-Ma'mūn, he joined the army
of Herthama b. 'Ayun along with two thousand fighters. Then he was given the
title of Amir (i.e. commander). When al-Amin was killed, Herthama decreased
the gifts and salaries of the army. This step displeased Abū al-Sarāyā, and he
 Ibid., 519.
decided to leave him. Abū al-Sarāyā asked Herthama for permission to make the pilgrimage, he permitted him and gave him twenty thousand dirhams. He took this sum of money and divided it among his followers, and with this he was able to make their hearts incline to him, and then he ordered them to follow him to 'Ayn al-Tamr. When they arrived at it, they captured its governor and took his belongings. They met another 'Abbasid governor and took his properties and divided them among themselves. When Herthama heard of this news, he lost his mind and sent an army to fight against Abū al-Sarāyā. When the two armies met, a violent battle occurred between them, hence the army of Herthama suffered heavy casualties and turned the back in flight. Then Abū al-Sarāya headed for al-Anbār (a city in Iraq). When he arrived in it, he controlled the local administration, killed its governor Ibrāhim al-Sharwari, and confiscated all his properties.
Abū al-Sarāyā and his army continued their advance towards the 'Abbāsid centers. When they arrived in a certain country, they killed its 'Abbāsid governor. Then they reached al-Riqqa and therein they met the great leader Mohammed b. Ibrāhim. They held talks and discussed the oppression of the 'Abbāsids toward the Muslims. As a result they decided to put an end to the 'Abbāsid government and to summon (the Muslims) to pledge allegiance to al-Ridā from among the family of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family.
Mohammed entrusted the general military leadership to Abū al-Sarāyā, gave him confidence, and entrusted him with all the affairs and plans of the revolt.
Abū al-Sarāyā declared the
revolt against the 'Abbāsid government; he took his army and advanced towards
 Hayāt al-Imām Mūsā b. Ja'far, vol. 2, pp. 400-401, quoted from Ibn Khaldūn's Tārikh, vol. 7, p. 243.
he headed for the Holy Shrine of the Father of the free and master of martyrs, Imām al-Husayn, peace be on him. He visited the Pure Shrine for a long time. Then he recited the following poetry lines of al-Nimry, saying:
May my own soul be sacrificed for al-Husayn when he
left early in the morning for death running, not returning.
That day attacked with its sword the hump and shoulder of Islam.
You hurried (to death) lest an urgent vengeance should befall the people.
Allah does not hasten when you hasten; your Lord is not heedless of what you see.
She (Fātima) is wronged and the Prophet, her father, turns (his) eye in all directions, (and he is) interested (in the tragedy).
Are there any brave men to rise for her through drawing their sharp swords and spears?
Then he said in a loud voice: "If there is anyone of the Zaydiya, let him rise!"
A group of the army rose and he delivered a long sermon in which he lauded the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, mentioned their laudable deeds and excellent merits, oppression and persecution caused to them by their opponents and enemies, and then he reminded them of the master of martyrs, Imām al-Husayn, peace be on him, saying: "People, suppose that you were not present with al-Husayn and did not help him, then what has prevented you from (helping) him whom you have met and followed, while he will tomorrow go out (in revolt) to avenge his blood, his right, the heritage of his fathers and to establish the religion of Allah? What has prevented you from helping and supporting him? From this direction of mine, I am heading for Kūfa to carry out Allah's command, to defend His religion, and to help the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt)? So if you intend to go, then follow me!"
The Zaydiya and others responded to him, so Abū al-Sarāyā and his army headed for Kūfa.
 The poet has likened Islam to a camel.
As for Mohammed, he declared the revolt on the same day when Abū al-Sarāyā declared his revolt, and many people supported him. He impatiently waited for the arrival of Abū al-Sarāya. Many days passed to the extent that Mohammed's followers scattered from him and blamed him for seeking help from Abū al-Sarāyā. Mohammed was sad because of Abū al-Sarāyā's delay. While he was anxious and worried, Abū al-Sarāyā and his army reached them. So he became very pleased. He rose for him and embraced him. He stayed with him for some days, then they headed for Kūfa. When they arrived in it, they were warmly received by its people who were delighted at their arrival and pledged allegiance to them.
The army of Abū al-Sarāyā occupied Kūfa and plundered the palace of al-Fadl b. 'Īsā, the governor of Kūfa, of all things available in it. As for Abū al-Sarāyā, he was displeased with this behavior of his army, so he ordered it to refrain from taking anything and to return the looted things to their owners.
Al-Hasan b. Sahl, who was appointed by al-Ma'mūn as a ruler over Iraq, dispatched three thousand horsemen under the leadership of Zuhayr b. al-Hasan in order to fight against Abū al-Sarāyā. When they arrived in Kūfa, they met the army of Abū al-Sarāyā at a violent battle. As a result, they turned the back in flight, and the army of Abū al-Sarāyā took all their weapons. Abū al-Sarāyā gained a marvelous victory over the 'Abbāsids, hence fear and terror spread among them, most of them were sure that the revolt was successful, and that they would face a dreadful fate.
Unfortunately, Mohammed b. Ibrāhim, the great leader,
died. Most historical sources believed that he died a natural death, but some
sources said that Abū al-Sarāyā put poison in food and gave it to him in order
to assassinate him and get rid of him. More likely, he died a natural death,
and Abū al-Sarāyā had no role in his death, for the
revolt was at the beginning. It was not possible, any how, for Abū al-Sarāyā to assassinate him in those critical circumstances, for he was not sure of the success of the revolt.
Any how, Abū al-Sarāyā prepared Mohammed's pure corpse for burial. He ordered it to be washed and shrouded. Then the people carried it to the cemetery of al-Ghary in the darkness of night. They buried it there, and then they returned to Kūfa. In the morning Abū al-Sarāyā gathered they people and announced the death of the great leader Mohammed b. Ibrāhim and condoled them. The people wept in loud voices, so Abū al-Sarāyā turned to them and said: "Abū 'Abd Allah has appointed Abū al-Hasan 'Ali b. 'Ubayd Allah as his testamentary trustee. If you consent to him, then he is the consent; otherwise, choose (someone else) for yourselves."
The members of the army kept silent. So Mohammed b. Mohammed, an 'Alawide young man, addressed the 'Alawides, saying: "O family of 'Ali, surely the religion of Allah is not supported by failure, and the hand of this man (i.e. Abū al-Sarāyā) is not evil with us, for he has given vent to our anger and avenged (the blood of al-Husayn)."
Then he turned to 'Ali b. 'Ubayd Allah and asked him: "What do you say, Abū al-Hasan? For he advised us (to choose) you. Stretch out your hand, that we may pledge allegiance to you."
'Ali b. 'Ubayd Allah replied: "Surely, Abū 'Abd Allah (i.e. Mohammed b. Ibrāhim), may Allah have mercy on him, chose (me). He had confidence in himself, and he did his best to (accomplish) Allah's right. (As for me), I will not refuse his will neglect his command and leave this (matter). However, I fear that I may busy myself with it and leave other things which are more praiseworthy and better than it in the final result. So undertake leadership, may Allah have mercy upon you. We have entrusted you with leadership over us. You are the consent with us and confidence in ourselves."
Then he turned to Abū al-Sarāyā and asked him: "What do you see? Are you content with him?"
"My consent conforms with your consent and my view conforms with your view," replied Abū al-Sarāyā.
Mohammed b. Mohammed stretched out his hand, and the people pledged allegiance to him. In the meantime he began organizing the affairs of his government with firm resolution, and then he appointed governors over the Islamic cities conquered by Abū al-Sarāyā as follows:
1. He appointed Ismā'il b. 'Ali as governor over Kūfa.
2. He appointed Ibrāhim b. Imām Mūsā b. Ja'far as
governor over Yemen.
3. He appointed Zayd b. Mūsā as governor over
4. He appointed al-'Abbās b. Mohammed as governor over
5. He appointed al-Hasan b. al-Hasan al-Aftas as governor
6. He appointed Ja'far b. Mohammed b. Zayd as governor
He also appointed Rouh b. al-Hajjājj as commander over the police and entrusted the judiciary to 'Āsim b. 'Āmir.
Currency was minted in Kūfa and it was written in it this holy verse: Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall.
The Muslims were tired of the 'Abbasid government, so they happily responded to the 'Alawide government, and the revolt quickly began to spread in Islamic world.
The 'Abbāsids understood the danger which would threaten their lives and remove their authority. The ruler of Iraq, al-Hasan b. Sahl, was defeated, so he wrote to Tāhir b. al-Husayn in order to join him in the fighting against Abū al-Sarāya. But a letter was written to him in which were the following poetry lines:
Certainty uncovers the mask of doubt; and the sedate
opinion is your best scheming.
Act carefully before he will execute against you an affair
whose evil will excite a hidden illness.
Do you entrust Tāhir with fighting the people while he has
adopted support for them and obedience to them?
He will cause to you difficulties which will result in a fierce war.
And he will send out the things hidden in his heart; when
the safeguarded things manifest, they will not disappear.
So take care of sureness, for its features have become
luminous, while doubts have become dark.
Then take what you want through a decisive opinion;
consider it carefully and leave that which does not occur.
When al-Hasan read these poetry lines, he changed his mind and wrote to Herthama b. A'yun asking him to come quickly to him and delegated al-Sindi b. Shāhik to meet him. There was an enmity and mutual alienation between al-Hasan and Herthama. When al-Sindi met him and handed him the letter. He read it and said: "We paved the way to the caliphate and cleared its sides for them, and then they took hold of the affairs and possessed alone the direction over us. When they face a certain attitude because of their bad direction and their losing the affairs, they want to set it right through us. No, by Allah, we will not honor them until the Commander of the faithful (i.e. al-Ma'mūn) know their evil traces and ugly deeds."
Al-Sindi turned away from him and despaired of him. Then
a letter came to him from al-Mansūr b. al-Mahdi. When he read the letter, he
responded and returned to Baghdad. When he arrived at al-Nahrwān, the people
of Baghdad went out to receive him. At the head of them were the prominent
figures and the commanders of the army. When they saw him, they dismounted. He
stopped at his house. Al-Hasan b. Sahl ordered the records of the army to be
brought to him. They were brought to him and he chose whomever he liked of
men. The public Muslim treasuries were opened for him. So Herthama gathered an
army and made arrangements to fight against Abū al-Sarāyā. When he completed
his army, which was composed of thirty thousand fighters raging between
horsemen and infantry soldiers, he took them and advanced towards Kūfa. In the
first place, he passed through al-Madā'in, defeated its governor and occupied
it. Then he advanced towards Kūfa and his army met the army of Abū al-Sarāyā.
They clashed and terrible fights occurred between them. Many followers of Abū al-Sarāyā were killed and his military forces collapsed. Abū al-Sarāya was unable to protect Kūfa, his Capital, so he left it for al-Qādisiya (in Iraq), and then he left it for al-Sūs, whose inhabitants closed the gates at his face. He asked them to open the gates and they did. Then a fight took place between the inhabitants of al-Sūs and Abū al-Sarāyā, who was forced to leave the city for Khurasān. He stopped in a village called Barqānā. The governor of Khurasān went to him and gave him security, and he responded to him. In the meantime the governor sent Abū al-Sarāyā to al-Hasan b. Sahl, who was then in al-Madā'in. When Abū al-Sarāyā arrived in al-Madā'in, al-Hasan b. Sahl ordered him to be killed, and he was killed. Then he ordered his head to be crucified at the eastern side of Baghdad as well as he ordered his body to be crucified at the western side of it. The period between Abū al-Sarayā's revolt and his murder was ten months.
With that this important revolt ended and about two hundred thousand fighters were killed during it. Without doubt this revolt and the like resulted from the bad 'Abbāsid policy which spared no effort to oppress the people and to force them to lead a life of abasement and enslavement.
Any how, the political life in the time of the Imām, peace be on him, was disorderly and ugly, for disorders spread and rebellions against the 'Abbāsid government dominated most regions of Islamic world.
The 'Abbāsids openly persecuted the 'Alawides, inflicted severe punishments on them, and killed them. As for Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him, he witnessed some of these severe punishments.
Al-Mansūr al-Dawāniqi was the first to bring about the discord between the 'Alawides and the 'Abbāsids. It was he who said: "I killed one thousand or more (persons) of the progeny of Fātima, and I left their master, protector, and Imām, Ja'far b. Mohammed."
He killed this number of the children of Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, that he might make them provisions for him through offering them to Allah, the Exalted, and their grandfather, Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family. It was he who left behind him the case of the heads of the 'Alawides, and attached to each head a piece of paper on which he wrote the name of the 'Alawide. The case contained the heads of old men, children, and youths.
He said to Imām al-Sādiq, peace be on him: "I will kill you and your family, that I may leave none of you on earth!"
When Abū al-Qāsim al-Rassi escaped from al-Mansūr and went to al-Sind, he said:
The tyrant is not satisfied with our blood which he sheds
every where, and he does not fall short of looking for (us).
Nothing will quench his thirst except that he will not see
on earth a son belongs to the daughter of the Prophet.
Al-Sayyid Amir 'Ali said: "Shedding the blood of the children of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, is the worst page in the history of the 'Abbāsid state."
In the time of al-Hādi, the 'Alawide family suffered from
fear and terrorism, for he (al-Hādi) terrified them, looked for them, stopped
their livelihoods, and wrote to (the governors of) the distant regions in
order to summon them. He was the leader at the Battle of Fakh, which was similar to the Battle of Karbalā' in tragedies, for the number of the heads which were sent to him was more than one hundred. Children and women were captured. The captives along with the children were killed.
In the time of al-Rashid, the 'Alawides suffered from severe and cruel oppression. In this regard al-Fakhri said: "He (i.e. al-Rashid) was not afraid of Allah and His acts with respect to the leading members of 'Ali, while they were the innocent children of the daughter of his Prophet. He swore (by Allah) that he would kill them and their followers. He said: 'Till when will I be patient toward the family of Abū Tālib? By Allah, I will kill them and their followers.'" He ordered his governor over Medina (Yathrib) to force the 'Alawides to guarantee each other. It was he who demolished the grave of the master of martyrs and sweet basil of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, Imām al-Husayn. He ordered the nabk in whose shade the visitors sat to be cut down. This was done by his governor over Kūfa Mūsā b. 'Īsā al-'Abbāsi.
The most dreadful sin which he committed was his assassinating the Imām of the Muslims and master of the Allah-fearing, Mūsā b. Ja'far, peace be on him. That was after he had spent many years in his (al-Rashid's) prisons.
In his poem al-'Asmā', Di'bil al-Khazā'i lamented for Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him, and described the sufferings of the 'Alawides such as killing, prison, and torture at the hands of the 'Abbāsids. He says:
We know that all the districts which belong to Dhi
Yamān, Bakr, and Mudar took part in shedding their blood
just as the gamblers take part in gamble.
They killed them, took them as captives, burnt them, and
plundered them just as the invaders did toward the People
of Rome and Khazar.
I think that the Umayyads were excused when they had
done (what they did), but I think that the 'Abbāsids have no excuse.
Mansūr al-Nimri says:
The family of the prophet and those who love them hide
themselves out of fear of killing.
The Christians and the Jews feel secure, while they (the
Prophet's family) eternally belong to the community of
In his poem in which he laments for Yahyā, the immortal martyr, Ibn al-Rūmi, a great poet, displays the sufferings of the 'Alawides as follows:
O people, your harm has lasted (through your losing) the family of Allah's Messenger. So fear (Allah) or hope for (Him).
Every time one of the pure (children) of the Prophet Mohammed is killed and stained (with his own) blood.
Through him, you sell the religion to evil Imāms. So, by Allah, the religion of Allah is about to be corrupt and confused.
Then he says:
O children of the Chosen One (the Prophet), until when do
the people kill your children?
Your tribulation will soon be dispelled.
Isn't there anyone who conforms to the right
of his Prophet and fears his Lord?
In their many poems, the free poets have shown that the
tyrannical rulers persecuted and oppressed the 'Alawides. We have mentioned
many of their poems in our books on the Imāms of the
members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, that the dear reader may refer to them. We will end this research with the following letter, which shows the sufferings of the 'Alawides.
In his letter to the people of Nishābūr, al-Khawārizmi
demonstrated the ordeals and tribulations which befell the 'Alawides. We will
narrate some of the letter as follows: "When they (i.e. the Umayyads) violated
that sanctity and committed that dreadful sin, Allah became angry with them
and removed the dominion from them, so He sent against them (Abū Mujrim), not
Abū Muslim, and he looked, may Allah not look at him, at the firmness of the
'Alawides and at the leniency of the 'Abbāsids, so he left his reverential
fear and followed his caprice, and sold his hereafter for his world through
his killing 'Abd Allah b. Mu'āwiya b. 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far b. Abū Tālib, and
empowered the tyrants of Khurasān, the Kurds of Asfahān, and the Khārijites of
Sijstān over the family of Abū Tālib. He killed them everywhere, and sought
them in every plain and mountain until Allah empowered over him the most
lovable of people to Him, and he killed him as he killed the people in obeying
him, and punished him as he punished the people in pledging allegiance to him;
it does not benefit him that he has made Allah angry through his pleasure, and
committed what He does not desire. Al-Dawāniqi dominated the whole world, so
he oppressed and wronged (the people) and treated (them) unjustly, hence his
prisons were full of the members of the House of the Message (ahl Bayt
al-Risāla), the source of goodness and purity. He traced their absent and
arrested their present until he killed 'Abd Allah b. Mohammed b. 'Abd Allah
al-Husayni in al-Sind at the hand of 'Umar b. Hishām al-Tha'labi; then what do
you think of those who
Husayni (faced) in prison; (and what) Ghassān b. Hādir al-Khazā'i (faced) when he ordered him to be taken. Generally speaking, before his death, Hārūn had reaped the Tree of Prophethood and uprooted the Plant of the Imāmate; you, may Allah set you right, have a greater share in religion than al-A'mash, for they have cursed him; more than Shurayk, for the they have removed him (from the office); more than Hishām, for they have frightened him; and more than 'Ali b. Yaqtin, for they have accused him...."
After this part of his letter, al-Khawārizmi mentioned the Umayyads, and then he mentioned the 'Abbāsids, saying: "And say about the 'Abbāsids, for you, through praising Allah, will find a statement; pass through their wonders and you will see whatever you like.
"Their (the Imāms') war booties are collected and divided among the Daylami and the Turkish and they are carried to the Moroccan and the Forghāni, but when one of the Imāms of guidance or one of the 'Alawides from among the Household of the Chosen One (al-Mustafā, i.e. the Prophet) dies, none follows his coffin or plasters his grave. However, if insignificant one of them (the 'Abbāsids) dies, men of justice and judges follow his coffin. The leaders and the governors go to mosque for condolences on his behalf. They (the 'Abbāsids) give security to him who is an atheist or sophisticate, and they do not oppose him who reads a philosophical or Māni book. However, they kill him who is a Shi'ite and shed the blood of him who names his son 'Ali.
"If none of the Shi'ites of the ahl al-Bayt other
than al-Mu'llā b. Khanis, killed by Dāwud b. 'Ali, was killed, and if none of
them was imprisoned apart from Abū Turāb al-Marwazi, then that would be a
wound which never recovered, anger which never calmed, a crack which never
closed, and an injure which never healed. It is sufficient for them that the
poets of Quraysh in the pre-Islamic times composed poems in which they
satirized the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, and opposed the
poems of the Muslims; yet their poems have been reported, and their stories
have been recorded and transmitted by narrators like al-Wāqidi, Wahab b.
Munabbih al-Tamimi, al-Kalbi, al-
Sharqi b. al-Qatāmi, al-Haythem b. 'Adi, and Da'b b. al-Kin`ani. Some Shi'ite poets spoke of the laudable deeds of the Revelation; rather they mentioned the miracles of the Prophets, may Allah bless him and his family; nevertheless their tongues were cut off and their divans were torn, as it was done toward 'Abd Allah b. 'Ammār al-Barqi, as it was wanted toward al-Kumayt b. Zayd al-Asadi, as the grave of Mansūr b. al-Zubrqān al-Nimri was dug up, and as it was schemed against Di'bil b. 'Ali al-Khazā'i. They (the 'Abbāsids) associated with Marwān b. Abū Hafsa al-Yamāmi and 'Ali b. al-Jahm al-Shāmi for nothing except for their extremism in opposition (to the Imāms), and their worthiness of the detest of the Lord, to the extent that Hārūn b. al-Khayzarān and Ja'far, who relied on Satan not on the Merciful (Allah), did not give money to anyone except to those who cursed 'Ali b. Abū Tālib and supported the creed of his opponents such as 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ab al-Zubayri, Wahab b. Wahab al-Bakhtari, and the poet Marwān b. Abū Hafsa al-Amawi. During the days of Ja'far, there were (persons) such as Bakkār b. 'Abd Allah al-Zubari, Abū al-Samt b. Abū al-Jawn al-Amawi, and Ibn Abū al-Shawārib al-'Abshami."
After this speech he (al-Khawārizmi) mentioned the Umayyads and their oppression toward the 'Alawides, and then he continued his speech about the 'Abbāsids, saying: "And this is not more amazing than the shouting of the poets of the 'Abbāsids at their heads with the truth, even if they hated it. Giving details of him whom they (the 'Abbāsids) disparaged and killed, Mansūr b. al-Zubarqān said on Hārūn's carpet:
"'The family of the prophet and those who love them hide
themselves out of fear of killing.
The Christians and the Jews feel secure, while they (the
Prophet's family) eternally belong to the community of
"Di'bil, the creature of the 'Abbāsids and their poet,
 Di'bil al-Khazā'i was not the creature of the 'Abbāsis; rather he was the creature of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, and their poet. For them, he faced difficulties and persecutions.
you not see that I have gone and come for thirty years, and I am always in sorrow? I see that their booty is divided among other than them, and their hands are void of their booty.'
"'Ali b. al-'Abbās al-Rūmi, al-Mu'tasim's retainer, said: 'I have sworn that none of you will be hit on the forehead. We will be patient toward you, O the Banū al-'Abbās, just as the brave one heavily armed is patient toward the sword. Every time one of the pure (children) of the Prophet Mohammed is killed and stained (with his own) blood.'
"Ibrāhim b. al-'Abbās al-Sawli, who was the scribe of the people and their governor, said concerning al-Ridā when al-Ma'mūn brought him near: 'He bestows upon you through your properties, and you are given one percent.'
"And how does a group of people not revolt against them (the 'Abbāsids), while they have killed their cousins, filled the houses of the Turks and the Daylamis with silver and gold, ask for the help of the Maghribi and the Farghāni; the black Nabatis have undertaken their ministries; the non-Arabs ('ajam) and the Timtimis have surrounded their leadership; nevertheless the family of Abū Tālib have been deprived of the inheritance of their mother and of the booty (fayya') of their grandfather; the 'Alawide feels appetite for a certain meal, but he is deprived of it; he asks the days for the appetite but he does not get it. The land tax (kharājj) of Egypt and of al-Ahwāz, the alms of the two sacred cities (Mecca and Medina) and of al-Hijāz are spent on Ibn Maryam al-Madini, Ibrāhim al-Mousili, Ibn Jāmi' al-Sahmi, Zalzal al-Dārib, and Barsomā al-Zāmir. The feudal estates of Bakhtishiyū' al-Nasrāni, Jāri al-Turki, and al-Afshin al-Ashrawasani are enough to be the food of a country and sufficient to numerous communities.
"They claim that al-Mutawakkil spends the night with
twelve thousand mistresses, while the Sayyid from among the Sayyids of the
Household is chaste through a Negro or a Sindi woman; the choice of the fund
of land tax is confined to the provisions of the Safā'ina, the dining tables
of the Makhātina, the foods of the Kallābin, the rites of
 The Timtimis are those who speak Arabic incorrectly.
the Qarrādin, Makhāriq, 'Ilwiya the singer, Zarzar, and 'Umar b. Bāna al-Mahlabi, while they (the 'Abbāsids) are miserly toward the Fātimids through a meal or a drink. They (the 'Abbāsids) spent it on a Danek (weight) of a meal; they buy the songstress for ten thousand dirhams and spend on her (an amount) sufficient to the provisions of an army.
"While the people to whom one-fifth (khums) is lawful, alms is unlawful, dignity and love is obligatory, beg out of distress and perish owing to poverty; they mortgage their swords, sell their garments, look at their booty (fayya') with a satisfied eye, and are strong toward their time through weak souls. They have no guilt except that their grandfather is the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, their father is the testamentary trustee (wasi), their mother is Fātima, their grandmother is Khadija, their creed is faith, and their Imām (leader) is the Qur'ān; yet their rights are spent on the woman housekeeper, the barmaid, the masseuse, and the dressmaker; and their one-fifth (khumus) is divided among the pecking of the blood roosters, monkeys, the heads of the games, and the she-camel of journey.
"What shall I say concerning the people who incited the wild animals and birds to attack the Muslim women, plowed the grave of al-Husayn, peace be on him, and banished his visitors from their regions? What shall I say in the description of the people who were the sperms of the drunk in the wombs of the songstresses? What shall I say concerning the household from whom prostitution stemmed, through whom effeminacy spread, and through whom sodomy was known? Ibrāhim b. al-Mahdi was a singer; al-Mutawakkil was lowly and womanish; al-Mu'tazz was feminine; Ibn Zubayda was an idiot masseur; al-Ma'mūn killed his brother; al-Muntasir killed his father; Mūsā b. al-Mahdi poisoned his mother; and al-Mu'tazid killed his uncle."
After this paragraph al-Khawārizmi presented the tragedies
tyrannical and spent the funds of the Muslims on amusement centers and sins."
I (i.e. the author) think that there is no inclusive political document similar to this one, for it contains all qualities of the 'Abbāsid kings and gives an account of their evil policy of which is the extreme cruelty towards the 'Alawides and depriving them of their natural rights, to the extent that they could not bear poverty; the 'Abbāsids spent enormous funds on lusts, the mischievous, the singers, and the dissolute, whereas the Household (of the Prophet) and their followers were unable to find a loaf of bread, a garment, and other life requirements.
Similarly, this document gives an account of affairs of great importance; there is no need to explain them, for their meanings are clear.
Another example of the events which occurred in the time of Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him, and annoyed him very much was that the creed of the Wāqifities spread among the classes of the Shi'ites. The Wāqifities maintained that Imām Mūsā b. Ja'far, peace be on him, was alive, did not die, and would never die, that he was raised to the heaven just as al-Masih b. Maryam was raised, and that he was the awaited one who would undertake (the office of the Imāmate, al-qā'im) and fill the world with justice and fairness as it was filled with oppression and tyranny. They claimed that the one who was in the prison of al-Sindi was not Imām Mūsā, peace be on him, rather the people imagined that he was in prison. It is necessary for us to give a brief account of this group of people.
As for the reason for the
Wāqifites's doctrines, it is that when Imām al-Kāzim, peace be on him, was in
the prison of Hārūn (al-Rashid), he appointed some agents on his behalf in
order to collect the
 Hayāt al-Imām al-Ridā, pp. 100-106, quoted from al-Khawārizmi's Letters.
legal rights which had come to him from his Shi'ites, so some agents gathered many funds, for example, Ziyād b. Marwān al-Qandi collected seventy thousand dinars, and 'Ali b. Abū Hamza gathered thirty thousand dinars. When the Imām died, they dined his death and bought country estates and houses for the money which they had. When Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him, demanded them to give the money to him, they denied the death of his father and refused to hand it over to him.
The Wāqifites' doctrines were spread by the summoners who lavishly spread enormous properties in order to buy the minds and to misguide the people. In this connection Yunus b. 'Abd al-Rahmān narrated, saying: "Abū Ibrāhim Mūsā, peace be on him, died and every one of his people had a lot of money; this is the reason for their doctrines and their denying his death as a sign of desire for the properties, for example, Ziyād b. Marwān al-Qandi had seventy thousand dinars, and 'Ali b. Abū Hamza had thirty thousand dinars. When I saw that, I realized the truth and knew the affair of Abū al-Hasan al-Ridā, peace be on him. I began speaking and summoning the people to him. So they sent for me and said: 'What makes you do this? If you want money, we will help you.' They guaranteed me ten thousand dinars and said: 'Refrain from (this matter).' However, I refused (that) and said to them: 'We have been told on the authority of the two truthful ones, peace be on them, who said: 'When heresies appear, then it is obligatory on (religious) scholars to manifest their own knowledge. If they do not do (that), they will be deprived of the light of faith.' Any how, I will not leave jihād according to Allah's command. Accordingly, they showed enmity toward me and harbored malice against me."
Through such deceiving ways, the Wāqifites spread their doctrines, but shortly after that they were destroyed and their false claims were discovered.
Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him, condemned the Wāqifites for their creeds. One of his followers (Shi'ites) had written to him and asked him about them, and he, peace be on him, replied: "The Wāqifite has deviated from the True Religion and persisted in his evil deed. If he dies for it, then his abode is hell; and evil is the resort."
A Shi'ite asked Imām al-Ridā whether it was permissible for him to pay zakāt (alms) to the Wāqifites, and he prevented him from that, saying: "They (the Wāqifites) are unbelievers, polytheists, and hypocrites."
Mohammed b. Fudayl visited Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him, and told him about the conditions of the leaders of the Wāqifites, saying: "May I be your ransom, I have left Ibn Abū Hamza, Ibn Mahrān, and Ibn Abū Sa'id (who were some leaders of the Wāqifites), while they are the most violent of people in showing enmity toward Allah, the Most High."
The Imām answered him: "He who goes astray does not harm you when you are rightly guided. They (the Wāqifites) have accused Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, of lying; they accused so-and-so, so-and-so of lying; and they have accused Mūsā b. Ja'far, peace be on him, of lying; and I follow my fathers' example."
"You said to Ibn Mahrān: 'May Allah take away the light of your heart and enter poverty in your house,'" retorted Mohammed.
"How is he, and how are his brothers?" asked the Imām, peace be on him.
Mohammed told him about the acceptance of his supplication and about their being miserable and poor, saying: "They are in the worst condition; they are grieved in Baghdad."
The Imām, peace be on him, was severe in his attitude toward the Wāqifites, who mutinied against the True Religion and to denied the Imām.
1. The Imām and al-Husayn Bin Mahrān
As for al-Husayn b. Mahrān, he was among the eminent figures of the Wāqifites; and he wrote to Imām al-Ridā with an accent showing his hypocrisy and unbelief, for he ordered and prohibited the Imām; he did not respect the position of the Imām; and through that he did not conform to high moral traits in addressing. Accordingly, the Imām wrote a letter and ordered his companions to copy it, lest Ibn Mahrān (i.e. al-Husayn) should conceal it. The letter is as follows:
"In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, may Allah make you and me well; your letter have come to me; in it you have mentioned the man who is accused of treason and deception; and you say: 'Beware of him.' And you have mentioned that through which he received me, and sent to me other than him, so you have advanced (many things) as arguments; and you have claimed an affair against him and wanted to enter upon the like of it...You say: 'He has worked for my affair through his reason and his stratagem, seeking it for his own soul and willing to make the hearts of the people incline to him, that the affair may be at his hand and work according to his own viewpoint; and he claims that I have obeyed him in what he has advised me; and now you have counseled me according to what is right with you through reason and stratagem after you (through other than you). The affair is not right except through the two affairs: Either you accept the affair as it is or you give the people what they have demanded and put an end (to their demand); otherwise the matter is crooked in our viewpoint; and the people will not hand over my property which is in their hands and take it along with them; therefore, the matter is not according to your reason and stratagem.
"And we will not do what you have granted through opinion and consultation, but the affair belongs to Allah, the Great and Almighty, the One, and there is no partner with Him. He does toward His servants whatever He desires; he whom Allah guides is not misguided by anyone; and he whom He misguides is not guided by anyone, and you will not find any saint to guide him.
"You said: 'And work through their affair and practice
stratagem therein; and how is the stratagem? And Allah says: And they swear
Allah with the most energetic of their oaths: Allah will not raise up him who dies. Yea! it is a promise biding on Him, quite true, but most people do not know, to these words of Him, the Great and Almighty: And that they may earn what they are going to earn (of evil). If you answer them concerning what they have questioned, they will be righteous and hand over; and what I have ordered you belongs to me; you and they have denied after me; and my meeting has been lengthened for me; and that has not occurred through me except that I have hoped for righteousness according to the words of the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him: 'Approach and question (me).' He began rubbing his belly and saying: 'I have not filled it with food, but I have filled it with knowledge. By Allah, I know whether a verse was sent down on the sea or a land or a plain or a mountain, and I know concerning whom it was revealed.' Similarly, Abū 'Abd Allah, peace be on him, said: 'I complain to Allah of the people of Medina; I am among them just like a hair, for I do not move; they want me not to say the truth. By Allah I will always say the truth until I die.' I say the truth in order to spare your blood and unify you as you had been before, that your secrets may be hidden with you and not spread among those other than you.
"And Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, already said: 'A secret about which Allah secretly told Gabriel; and about which Gabriel secretly told Mohammed, and about which Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, secretly told 'Ali, and about which 'Ali secretly told whomever he wished.'"
Then he said: [Abū Ja'far,
peace be on him, said:] "Then you speak about it on the road, so I want, as
you your leader (sāhib), to explain you affair for you; lest you should
place it in other than its place and ask about it other than its men, and
hence your ruin occurs through your questioning them. How many a person
claimed (the affair) for himself and he did not fall under (it). Then you
said: 'If that belongs to him, it is necessary for him to maintain it and not
to turn from it to other than it.' I said: 'Because he practiced precautionary
dissimulation, and refraining from (it) is better. If he speaks, then it is
obligatory on him to answer everything about which he is questioned.
And what you claimed and demanded has occurred. So the affair concerns other than you and it is incumbent on you to follow them regarding it; but you have put into (effect) that which is right according to your reason, your viewpoints, and your analogy. When you claimed that my order was incorrect, you regarded your order as correct.'
"If you say that your leader (sāhib) was not such, then you have discarded the command of your Lord behind your backs. Accordingly, if I follow your caprices, then I will go astray and I am not among those who are rightly guided, and there will be no escape for you from that you will be like those who had been before you, while you have been told that the laws (sunan) and the examples are tit for tat.
"The refraining from harm which you demanded in the first place and the answer in the end will not make well your chests; nor will it take away your doubts; nor there will be an escape from that which occurred through you; nor will it leave your hearts until Allah takes it away from you. If all people are able to love us, recognize our rights and submit to our command, they will do, but Allah does whatever He wills and guides to Him those who turn (to Him in repentance).
"I already answered you about many questions. Then you and those who asked such questions must carefully consider the answers. If there is no cure in the answers, then I already gave you something which was regarded as an argument and a lesson. The many questions (which are asked as a sign of) blame are reprehensible in our viewpoint, for the questioners want nothing except to examine (us) in order to find a way to vague errors and mischief; and he who wants to make (things) unclear, Allah makes them unclear to him and entrusts him with his own soul; you and your companions do not see that I have answered (your questions); therefore, that is up to me. If I will and determine, that is up to me, not up to what you and your companions say. You do not know so-and-so; rather there is no escape for us from that, for we are sure of it, while you are doubtful about it."
 Al-Kashi, Mu'jam Rijāl al-Hadith, vol. 6, pp. 104-107.
This is the end of this letter which the Imām sent to al-Husayn b. Mahrān. It contains ambiguous matters as well as there is no logical coherence in its paragraphs. It is more likely that something necessary for logical coherence and clarity has been omitted from it.
Any how, this letter has expressed the hardships which the Imām and the community received from the Wāqifites, whom the world deceived.
2. Al-Husayn Bin 'Umar
He said: [I did my best with Yahyā b. Akthem (the judge of Sāmrrā'); I debated with him, conversed with him, communicated with him, and asked him about the knowledge of Mohammed's Household; yet I heard say:] "One day while I was circling the grave of Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, I saw Mohammed b. 'Ali al-Ridā, peace be on him, circling it, so I debated with him on some questions which I had, and he answered them. The I said to him: 'By Allah, I want to ask you a question but I am ashamed of that, so he said to me: 'I will answer you before you question me, you want to ask me about the Imām.' So I replied: 'By Allah, this is what I want,' and he said: 'I am he.' Then I asked him: 'Is there any sign?' There was a rod in his hand, and the rod uttered and said: 'Surely my master is the Imām of this time, and he is the argument.'"
Al-Husayn b. 'Umar b. Yazid narrated, saying: "I went to al-Rida, peace be on him, and I was then a Wāqifite; my father had asked his father about seven questions, and he answered him about sixth of them and refrained from (answering) the seventh (question). So I said: 'By Allah, I will ask him about what my father had asked his father in order to know whether he is able to answer as (his father did).' Then I asked him, and he answered six questions just as his father did, and he refrained (from answering) the seventh (question).
"My father had said to his father: 'I will protest
against you before Allah on the Day of Resurrection, for you have claimed that
'Abd Allah is not an Imām, so he, peace be on him, put his hand on his neck,
and then he said to him: 'Yes, protest against me through
 Usūl al-Kāfi, vol. 1, p. 353.
that before Allah, the Great and Almighty. If there is any sin therein, then it is in my neck (i.e. I will shoulder the responsibility for it), and so on.'"
Al-Washshā' reported, saying: "When I was a Wāqifite, I went to Khurasān; I carried a mask with me; there was with me a brocaded garment in one of the parcels, but I did not know where I had put it. When I arrived in Khurasān and stopped at one of its houses, a Medinan man came and said to me: 'Abū al-Hasan al-Ridā say to you: 'Send me the brocaded garment which is with you.' So I asked the man: 'Who told Abū al-Hasan about my arrival and having a brocaded garment?' He went to him and told him, and then he came back to me and said to me: [He (al-Ridā) says to you:] 'It is in the place so-and-so.' I looked for it where he said, and then I sent it to him." This was the reason for his being rightly guided.
These are some believers whom Allah guided to faith, who withdrew from the Wāqifites' doctrines and adopted the Imāmate of Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him.
Among the important event in the time of Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him, is the problem of creating the Qur'ān, for the religious scholars extremely differed over it, and a group of them suffered from the displeasure and vengeance of the state along with the anger of the people.
This opinion occurred at the end of the Umayyad
government; al-Ju'd b. Dirham, the teacher of Marwān b. Mohammed, the last
Umayyad caliph, was the first to originate it. He was the first to speak about
it; he already wrote and explained its chapters, and then he announced it in
Damascus. However the authorities there summoned him, but he left it for Kufa.
Al-Jahm b. Safwān, to whom the Jahmi
sect belonged, learned from him. In this respect Ibn al-Athir said: "Surely, Hishām b. 'Abd al-Malik ordered al-Ju'd to be captured and to be sent to Khālid al-Qasri, the governor of Iraq, in order to kill him. Khālid imprisoned him and did not kill him. When Hishām heard of that, he wrote to him, blamed him, and commanded him to kill him. Hence Khālid ordered al-Ju'd to be brought in chains out of prison. After he had performed the prayer of 'Īd al-Addhā, he said at the end of his sermon: 'Go and sacrifice (animals), may Allah accept (that) from you, for, today, I will sacrifice al-Ju'd, who says: 'Allah did not speak to Mūsā; nor did Allah take Ibrāhim as a bosom friend.' Allah is far above what al-Ju'd says.' Then he descended (from the pulpit) and killed him."
This idea remained hidden until the time of Hārūn al-Rashid. When the Mu'tazilites appeared, they announced that the Qur'ān was created. Bishr al-Marisi was the most important person in summoning the people to this idea. He wrote many books on it. When Hārūn heard of him, he said: "By Allah, if I find him, I will kill him." When Bishr hear of that, he hid himself throughout the government of Hārūn.
When al-Ma'mūn undertook the government, he said that the Qur'ān was created, forced the people to believe in this idea, and subjected them to vengeance and torture when they opposed it. Accordingly, this movement became active, and the idea grew and spread widely.
This matter is regarded as the most important event in the time of Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him; the philosophers from among the Mu'tazilites and others presented it and explained its sides. It is worth mentioning that this idea belongs to the psychological branches and researches. Had it not been for that the chapter would be diffuse and the book become too long, we would speak about it in detail.
Fabricating traditions and lies against the Imāms, peace be on them, was famous in the time of Imām al-Ridā, peace be on him, and other times. Some people fabricated traditions and ascribed them to the Imāms in order to degrade their rank and decrease their importance. Among the fabricated traditions is that which narrated by Abū al-Salt, who asked Imām al-Ridā, saying: "O Son of Allah's Apostle, what do the people narrate on your authority?"
"What is it?" asked the Imām.
"They say that the people are your slaves," replied Abū al-Salt.
The Imām denied that and renounced it, saying: "O Allah, the Creator of the heavens and earth, Knower of the things unseen and seen, You bear witness that I have never said that; nor have I heard any of my fathers say it. You know that this community has practiced injustices toward us; this is one of them."
Then he turned to Abū al-Salt and asked him: "'Abd al-Salām (i.e. Abū al-Salt), if all people were our slaves, as they say, then to whom should we sell them? 'Abd al-Salām, do you deny our authority, made obligatory by Allah, as the others do?"
Al-'Allāma al-Sayyid Hāshim Ma'rūf al-Husayni commented on this narration, saying: "The Imām criticized the questioner for that accusation through which their enemies wanted to defame them; he regarded it as one of the injustices which the community practiced toward them, for ascribing that to them means that they broke the laws of Islam and the texts of the Qur'ān, which demonstrates that there is no difference between a person and other except through reverential fear (taqqwā)"
With this matter we will end our talk about the time of
Imām al-Ridā. I (the author) have mentioned a detailed research about this
time in my book Hayāt al-Imām Mūsā Bin Ja'far, peace be on him, so I do
not want to mention it again.
 Sirat al-A'Imma al-Ithnā 'Ashar, vol. 2, p. 359.