Abbasids at the time of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.)


The Reign of Al-Muntasir

Al-Muntasir assumed the rule after the coup he led against his father. The Shi’a felt delight and joyful after the nightmare of oppression disappeared. Al-Muntasir followed a rightly, fair policy towards the Alawids and the Shi’a. From the good he did to the Alawids were that he returned Fadak1 to the Alawids, cancelled the interdict on the entails of the Alawids and gave those back to them, deposed the wali of Yathrib Salih bin Ali, who treated the Alawids badly, and appointed Ali bin al-Hasan instead of him. He ordered him to treat the Alawids kindly and do good to them. He gave him some money to distribute it among the Alawids and among his family according to their ranks. Al-Muntasir permitted Muslims to visit the tomb of Imam Husain (a.s.) after al-Mutawakkil had forbidden that and decreed severe penalties against whoever visited that holy tomb. Poets praised al-Muntasir in their poems and people appreciated his favors and good situations towards the Alawids.

This noble man, who refreshed the hearts of the Alawids, did not live long. Death came over him in the beginning of his rule. Most of historians said he did not die a natural death but he was poisoned. The Turks assassinated him fearing that he might kill them and do away with their influence and domination over the Fadak was a very vast, fertile village that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had donated to his daughter Fatima (s.a.). It was rich of date palms and other fruitful trees. Islamic nation. The Turks bribed his physician ibn Tayfur by giving him thirty thousand dinars to assassinate him. Al- Muntasir was ill and the physician advised to bleed him. He bled him with a poisoned blade and he died soon.2 He died on Saturday, the fourth of Rabius Saani,3248 AH and was buried in al-Jawsaq.4 By his death, people lost much. It was he who destroyed his father’s throne, which was based on oppression and tyranny, and enmity towards the infallible Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). The books of history at hand did not mention any meeting or event that took place between Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) and al-Muntasir. The certain thing is that the Imam (a.s.) was delighted for al-Muntasir’s procedures towards the Alawids that returned to them safety and settlement which they missed during the reign of al-Mutawakkil. People, especially the Shi’a, were refreshed during his reign, though it was very short.

The Reign of Al-Musta’een

After the death of al-Muntasir, al-Musta’een assumed the rule on Sunday, the fifth of Rabius Saani in the year 248 AH. He was as a puppet controlled by the Turks. He had no political influence over the body of his government. One of the poets remarked on that,

page7image5767168page7image3789408“A caliph in a cage between Waseef and Bugha,

he says what they both say to him as a parrot does.”

(Tareekh al-Khulafa’, p.357)Al-Musta’een before the Turks was as a corpse in a washer’s hands. He had no power or authority. The state was run by the Turks while he was busy with lusts, pleasures, drinking, and listening to singing.

His Spite Towards The Imam

Al-Musta’een bitterly hated Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.). The following are some of the reasons that were behind his grudge towards the imam: First, people, in their meetings, always talked about the Imam (a.s.)’s high position, talents, and intellect. Besides that, a good part of the nation believed in his imamate and followed him, whereas al- Musta’een, though he was the caliph, had no respect or value near Muslims. Second, mercenaries and agents of the government often flattered the rulers by falsely informing against the Imam (a.s.), claiming that great monies came to him from the Shi’a and that he might rise in a violent revolt against the Abbasid rule. This made al-Musta’een fear the Imam (a.s.). Third, from the reasons that made al-Muta’een bear a grudge against Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) was his fear of his (the Imam (a.s.)’s) son, the awaited Imam (a.s.) whom the Prophet (a.s.) had brought good  news about. Many true traditions said that it was he who would repair religion, do away with injustice and oppression, and relieve the oppressed and the wronged. The hearts of the Abbasids were full of fear from him thinking that he would do away with their rule, and therefore they bore a grudge against Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.). They put him under strict observation and sent women to spy on the birth of the awaited Imam (a.t.f.s.) in order to arrest him.

Arresting The Imam

Al-Musta’een gave order to his policemen to arrest Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.). He was arrested and put into the prison of Ali bin Awtamish who was from the bitterest enemies of the progeny of Abu Talib. The authority insisted on this jailer to harm and press the Imam (a.s.), but he was affected by the Imam (a.s.). He changed and his grudge towards the Imam (a.s.) was removed from his heart. He put his cheek on the ground out of humbleness to the Imam (a.s.), and did not raise his eyes before the Imam (a.s.) out of glorification and respect. He turned to be one of the best people in thought and faith towards the Imam (a.s.). (Usool al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 508)‘Isa bin al-Fath was in prison with Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.). Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) said to him, ‘O ‘Isa, you are sixty-five years and a month and  two days old.’ Isa was astonished. He reviewed his birth date in a book with him and found it was as the imam told. Then the Imam (a.s.) asked Isa if he had a son and he said he had not. Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) prayed Allah for him saying, ‘O Allah, give him a son to be a support for him. The best of support a son is…’ Isa said, ‘O my master, and you? Do you have a son?’ Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) said, ‘By Allah, I shall have a son who will fill the earth with justice and fairness, but not now.’ (Jawharat al-Kalam, p. 155)

Fear of The Shi’a

The frightening news of the imprisonment of Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) reached all milieus of Muslims, who reacted in sorrow and desired to take revenge against the Abbasids. The Twelver Shi’a, who believed in the imamate of Abu Muhammad (a.s.), were shocked after they were informed that al-Musta’een had determined to kill their Imam (a.s.) by ordering his chamberlain, Sa’eed, to take the Imam (a.s.) to Kufa and assassinate him on the way. Muhammad bin Abdullah and al-Haysam bin Subabah wrote a letter to Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) saying, ‘May we die for you! We have heard news that worried and distressed us…’ Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) calmed them down and told them that no fear should be on him and that his oppressive enemy (al-Musta’een) would be deposed after three days. It was as he said. (Muhaj ad-Da’awat, p. 273)Amr bin Muhammad bin Rayyan said, ‘Once, I went to Abu Ahmad bin Abdullah bin Tahir and found in his hand the letter of Abu Muhammad (a.s.) written in it: “I prayed to Allah against this tyrant (al-Musta’een) to take him after three (days).’ On the third day, the Turks deposed him.

The Deposition of Al-Musta’een

The Turks snubbed al-Musta’een and feared him. One day, he set out towards Baghdad. The Turks sent for him asking him to return to Samarra’. He refused and went on to Baghdad. They deposed him and took al-Mu’tazz out of prison and paid him homage as the caliph. They prepared a great army to occupy Baghdad. The two armies met and both sides suffered great losses but the war continued. At last, they agreed that al-Musta’een should announce his resigning and give the caliphate to al-Mu’tazz on certain conditions that they both agreed upon. Al-Musta’een handed the caliphate over to al- Mu’tazz, who did not observe the conditions required from him and he put al-Musta’een in the prison of Wasit. He remained for nine months in that prison. The Turks felt fear of al-Musta’een although he was in prison. They took him out of prison and brought him to Samarra’. Al-Mu’tazz asked his chamberlain Sa’eed to kill him and he did.1 The author of al-Fakhri said he was weak in mind, reason, and administration, and that several seditions happened during his reign and his state was full of troubles and confusion.

(Al-Fakhri, p. 132)

The Reign of Al-Mu’tazz

He was az-Zubayr son of Ja’far al-Mutawakkil. He assumed the rule while he was in the prime of youth. He was experienced neither in politics nor in administration. The Turks appointed him as king to be, as a bridge for them to pass across in order to achieve their aims and wishes. He had no will or option. He inherited from his fathers that enmity towards the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). He hated Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.). Once, he tried to kill him but he failed. He asked Sa’eed the chamberlain to take the Imam (a.s.) to the palace of ibn Hubayrah and assassinate him there, but Allah saved the Imam (a.s.)2 after some events took place that made them busy and diverted their attention

from the Imam (a.s.).
Al-Mu’tazz ordered his men to arrest the Imam (a.s.) and put him into prison, for he could not bear to hear all people talk about his virtues, vast knowledge, and piety; besides that, the Imam (a.s.) was also the father of the awaited Imam (a.t.f.s.) who would remove oppression and injustice and do away with the governments of the oppressive. Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) became unable to bear the oppression of al-Mu’tazz any more, and so he prayed Allah to save him from the evils of this tyrant, and Allah responded to him after not long. Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) had told his followers about the deposition of al-Mu’tazz before it took place. He replied to Abul Haytham bin Subabah saying, ‘After three (days) deliverance shall come to you.’ On the third day, al-Mu’tazz was deposed.

(Dala’il al-Imamah, p.225. Akhbar ad-Duwal, p. 117)

The Deposition of Al-Mu’tazz

After the prayer of Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.), Allah took revenge on al-Mu’tazz. Some Turk leaders asked al-Mu’tazz to give them their salaries, but there was nothing in the treasury. Al-Mu’tazz went to his mother, who was very wealthy, possessing millions of dinars, but she refused to give him any. When the Turks became desperate about getting their salaries, they attacked al-Mu’tazz. They drew him by his leg, stung him with pins, and stood him under the sun on a very hot summer day saying to him, ‘Depose yourself!’ Then, they brought the judge of Baghdad and some prominent men and  announced his deposition. Five nights after his deposition, the Turks took him to the bathroom. After washing, he felt thirsty. They did not give him water for a period, and then they gave him icy water and he died. (Tareekh al-Khulafa’, p. 360)The men of Salih bin Waseef followed after Qabihah, mother of al-Mu’tazz, and took her money that was about five hundred thousand dinars. They found wardrobes of her under the ground containing large amounts of money. They found one million and three hundred thousand dinars in an underground room. They found a quantity of emeralds in a basket, large pearls in another, and rubies in a third. All this wealth was taken to Salih bin Waseef. He abused her and said, ‘She exposed her son to killing for fifty thousand dinars while she had all this wealth!’

(Tareekh ibn al-Aseer, vol. 5, p. 344)

The Reign of Al-Muhtadi

After the deposition of al-Mu’tazz by the Turks, al- Muhtadi, who was thirty-seven years of age, assumed the rule.1 He, like his fathers, bore a grudge towards Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) and afflicted him with distresses and pains. He ordered his men to arrest the Imam (a.s.) and put him into prison. He determined to kill him as he determined to annihilate all the Shi’a. Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) remained for some days in prison, where Abu Hashim was with him. He said to Abu Hashim, ‘O Abu Hashim, this tyrant wanted to kill me  this night, but Allah has cut his old. I have no son but Allah will give me a son.’

(Muhaj ad-Da’awat, p. 274)Some of the Imam (a.s.)’s followers wrote to him, “We have been informed that he (al-Muhtadi) threatens your Shi’a and says, ‘By Allah, I will remove

them from the face of the earth.’
Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) replied, ‘That is beyond his life. Count, from this day five days, and he shall be killed in the sixth day after disgrace, meanness, and lowness befall him.’ It was as the Imam (a.s.) said.(Ibid.) The Turks became displeased with al-Muhtadi. They attacked him with daggers and killed him.
(Murooj az-Zahab, vol. 4, p. 127)

The Reign of Al-Mu’tamid

The caliphate came to al-Mu’tamid while he was twenty-five years old.1 Historians say, ‘He was dissolute, and interested in lusts and amusements. He was busy with music and singing paying no attention to his subjects. He committed sins that made people hate him.’ (Tareekh al-Khulafa’, p. 363)In his reign, Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) died after meeting distresses and misfortunes from him.He ordered his mento arrest Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) and his brother Ja’far and put them into prison. He instructed the jailer Ali bin Jurayn to inform him of his activities and his conversations at all times. The jailer told the caliph that the Imam (a.s.) did not do anything that might oppose the Abbasid policy, and that he turned his back to this world and turned to Allah the Almighty. He fasted during the day and spent the night in worships. Another time, the caliph asked the jailer to inform  him about everything the Imam (a.s.) did or said, and he answered with the same. He ordered him to set the Imam (a.s.) free, send him his greeting, and apologize to him. The jailer hurried to the Imam (a.s.) and found him ready to get out. He had put on his clothes and shoes. The jailer wondered at that. He informed the Imam (a.s.) of the decision of al-Mu’tamid. Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) rode on his horse but did not move. The jailer asked him why and he said, ‘Until Ja’far comes.’ The jailer said, ‘But he ordered me to set you free alone without him.’ The Imam (a.s.) said, ‘Go and tell him that I and he were taken together from the house. If I go back alone, there will be something that you know!’ The jailer went and told al-Mu’tamid what the Imam (a.s.) said. He ordered him to set Ja’far free too. Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) left the prison while reciting, ‘They intend to put out the light of Allah with their mouths but Allah will perfect His light, though the unbelievers may be averse.’

(Qur’an, 61:8) (Muhaj ad-Da’awat, p. 274)

Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) suffered different kinds of harms and distresses from al-Mu’tamid. He surrounded the Imam (a.s.) with detectives and policemen to watch him and to chase all the jurisprudents, ‘Ulama’, and the Shi’a who tried to meet him. He remained under watch until he was assassinated with poison by the order of al-Mu’tamid. Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) was contemporary with these Abbasid kings, who oppressed him, threw him into prison, and tried to do away with him, but Allah protected him from that by afflicting those kings with important events like rebellions or the domination of the Turks over them.