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Al-Hasan al-Utrush

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Descendant of Imam
Al-Hasan al-Utrush
Al-utrush 3.jpg
The mausoleum of Hasan al-Utrush after reconstruction in Amol
Role The third ruler of the Alavids in Tabaristan
Name Hasan b. 'Ali b. Hasan b. 'Ali b. 'Umar b. Zayn al-'Abidin (a)
Kunya Abu Muhammad
Epithet Al-Nasir al-Kabir, Nasir al-Haqq, Nasir al-Utrush,
Religious Affiliation Shia (Imamiyya)
Birth about 230/845
Place of Birth Medina
Place(s) of Residence KufaBaghdadTabaristan
Demise Sha'ban 25, 304/February 26, 917
Place of Burial Amol, Tabaristan (Mazandaran), Iran

Abū Muḥammad Ḥasan b. ʿAlī al-Ḥusaynī (Arabic: أبومحمد حسن بن علی الحسیني), known as al-Nāṣir al-Kabīr (Arabic: الناصر الکبیر), Nāṣir al-Uṭrūsh (Arabic: ناصر الأطروش), and al-Nāṣir li l-Ḥaqq (Arabic: الناصر للحق, defender of the true faith), was a progeny of Imam al-Husayn (a) and the third ruler of the Alavids in Tabaristan in the 3rd/9th century. He was called "al-Utrush" (deafen) because he was deafened as a result of a sword stroke by Rafi' b. Harthama.

He is referred to as the first propagator of Islam in northern parts of Iran. Utrush encouraged many people in these areas to convert to Islam. He was considered as a distinguished figure by his followers. They attribute many works to him. There is a disagreement as whether he was a Zaydi or an Imami. Al-Sharif al-Murtada and al-Najashi maintained that he was an Imami Shi'a, and al-Shaykh al-Tusi mentioned him among the companions of Imam al-Hadi (a).

Al-Nasir al-Kabir rioted against, and defeated, the Samanid rulers of Tabaristan, and then expanded the Alavids base. Until his death, he ruled Gilan, Tabaristan, and parts of Gorgan (all in northern part of Iran). He died in Amol on Sha'ban 25, 304/February 21, 917, and was buried there.

Biography

His name was Nasir al-Haqq Hasan b. 'Ali b. Hasan b. 'Ali b. 'Umar b. Zayn al-'Abidin (a). His lineage goes back to 'Umar al-Ashraf, a son of Imam al-Sajjad (a), through three generations. He was the maternal grandfather of al-Sharif al-Murtada and al-Sharif al-Radi. Al-Nasir al-Kabir's father was among people who were taken from Hijaz to Iraq in the military base, and thus, his father was known as 'Ali al-'Askari ('Askar in Arabic means army). His mother was a bondwoman from Khorasan.

Hasan was born around 230/845 in Medina. There is no clear-cut information about his early life. He was a student of prominent figures of Kufa and other cities, and transmitted their hadiths, as they also transmitted his hadiths.

He went to Iraq in his early teenagerhood. His heritage shows that he also lived in Kufa and Baghdad, because there are people from whom he transmitted hadiths or who transmitted his hadiths, who never lived in northern Iran; rather they were residents of Kufa or Baghdad. We can speculate that he had contacts with the Shiite schools of Kufa and Baghdad and their scholarly centers around 240/855 until 260/874—the twenty years in which Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) was martyred and Nasir was a very young man.

Children

It is said that Hasan al-Utrush had 4 sons and 4 daughters. Here are his sons:

  • Muhammad.
  • Abu l-Husayan Ahmad, who was, according to some people, an Imami Shi'a.
  • Abu l-Hasan 'Ali, who was, according to some people, an Imami Shi'a.
  • Abu l-Qasim Ja'far.

The lineage of al-Sayyid al-Murtada and al-Sharif al-Radi goes back, through their mother, to Abu l-Husayn Ahmad—who was, according to some sources, an Imami Shi'a—and through him, to Hasan al-Utrush.

Al-Utrush in Tabaristan

Hasan al-Utrush immigrated to Tabaristan in the period of Hasan b. Zayd b. Muhammad, a grandson of Imam al-Hasan (a), known as al-Da'i al-Kabir. When Hasan b. Zayd died in 270/884, al-Utrush joined al-Da'i al-Kabir's brother, Muhammad b. Zayd.

There is a quote from Nasir in Zaydi sources as saying: "I was present in the funeral and the burial of Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) in 260/874 when he passed away." Thus, Nasir must have immigrated to Iran after 260/874, and since he allegedly immigrated to Iran in the period of Hasan b. Zayd al-'Alawi and it is known that Hasan b. Zayd reigned as the first Alavids ruler of Tabaristan between 250/864 and 270/884, Nasir must have moved to Iran immediately after the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a), that is, in 260/874.

Imprisonment

Nasir secretly travelled to Khorasan to call and encourage people to follow Muhammad b. Zayd. After the murder of Ahmad b. 'Abd Allah al-Khujistani, the ruler of Khorasan found out about Nasir's plans and arrested him. He tortured Nasir to force him to reveal the names of his companions. As a result of these tortures, Hasan b. 'Ali's hearing was damaged, and thus, he came to be known as "Utrush" (deaf) and "Asamm" (deaf).

Because of his high scholarly position, Hasan al-Utrush was honored by Hasan b. Zayd and Muhammad b. Zayd, but he never served as their agent. He only was commissioned by them to distribute money among Alavids. He reluctantly undertook the position of judgeship for a short time.

=Cooperation with Jastan

When Muhammad b. Zayd was defeated and killed in Gorgan in 287/900, Hasan al-Utrush was there with him. Hasan went to Rey through rudsar, and from Rey, he departed to Daylaman at the invitation of Jastan b. Wahsudan, the king of Daylam who was friends with al-Utrush. Jastan, who had vowed with al-Utrush to be committed to the religion and avoid sins, gave refuge to al-Utrush and his family and pledged his allegiance to him. They attacked Tabaristan once in 289/902 and once again in 290/903, but to no avail.

Propagation of the Religion and the Leadership of Alavids

Hasan al-Utrush resided in Daylam and called people of Daylaman to Islam. He then went to Gilan and called its people to Islam. As a result, many people in the eastern bank of Sipidrud converted to Islam. People's dissatisfaction with their rulers played a significant role in their attraction to Hasan al-Utrush.

He then claimed Imamate (leadership) for the first time, and followed the practice of Alavids to wear "Qalansuh" (coif or a long hat), and chose the title, "al-Nasir li l-Haqq" (the helper of the truth), for himself.

After his failure to take over Tabaristan, he returned to Daylaman and Gilan once again. Since then, in order to protect Biah Pish of Gilan, he spent part of every year in Husam (today's Rudsar) and the rest of the year in Gilakjan in Daylaman. Al-Amuli and al-Mas'udi pointed out that al-Utrush built a mosque during this time.

A Vain Effort to Conquer Tabaristan

In 293/906, Hasan al-Utrush sent an army to Tabaristan under the commandership of the father of Makan al-Kaki and the father of Firuzan. The army was defeated by Abu l-'Abbas 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad, the ruler of Tabaristan, and a great number of people in the army were killed, including Makan al-Kaki and Firuzan, and the rest of the army fled to Daylaman.

Conquest of Amol

After Abu l-'Abbas's death in Safar, 298/November, 910, Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Su'luk, the ruler of Rey, went to Tabaristan and took over its government at the command of the Samanid king. He changed Abu l-'Abbas's practices and stopped giving gifts to the heads of Daylam. This led to dissatisfactions among the heads of Daylam. Hasan al-Utrush seized the opportunity and encouraged them to rise against Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Su'luk. When Gils and Daylamis gathered, al-Utrush made his third attempt to conquer Tabaristan in Jumada II, 301/January, 914.

After his defeat, Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Su'luk fled to Amol, and then went to Rey through Gorgan. In Amol, Hasan convinced prominent figures and faqihs (jurisprudents) to stop their support for the Samanid dynasty. Thus, in the absence of the Samanid agent, he could enter Amol without any problems or resistances in Jumada II, 301/January, 914.

Domination of Tabaristan after the Conquest of Amol

When Hasan al-Utrush settled in Amol, 'Abd Allah b. al-Hasan al-'Aqiqi, an Alavid from Sari, called people to pledge their allegiance to him. 'Abd Allah b. al-Hasan al-'Aqiqi—whose father was beheaded in the period of al-Da'i al-Kabir because of asking people to pledge their allegiance to him, after he had fled to mountains—began an uprising in Sari, and then went to Nasir with a big army. Hasan sent a group of Gils and Daylamis, together with al-'Aqiqi, to fight Shahriyar b. Badusban. Al-'Aqiqi was defeated and murdered in this battle.

Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah al-'Uzayr was sent from Bukhara to Tabaristan to combat Hasan al-Utrush. He stayed in Tabaristan for 40 days. There were skirmishes between Ibn 'Abd Allah and Hasan's army, but Ibn 'Abd Allah could not achieve a full victory.

Hasan went from Amol to Chalus and then returned to Amol and conquered it, and thus dominated Tabaristan.

Religious Tendencies

It has for long been a matter of disagreement whether Hasan al-Utrush was Zaydi or Imami. Al-Sharif al-Murtada emphasized that Hasan was Imami. al-Najashi also stated that he believed in Imamiyya, and referred to a book of al-Utrush under Ansab al-A'imma wa mawalidihim ila sahib al-amr 'alayhim al-salam (the genealogy of Imams and their progeny up to "Sahib al-Amr" [that is, Imam al-Mahdi (a)]).

In later periods, al-Afandi al-Isfahani considered Hasan al-Utrush to be Imami, and cited the same view about him by al-Shaykh al-Baha'i. Madelung also believed that al-Utrush's works concerning Kalam and fiqh were close to the work of the Imamiyya.

Another support for the view that Hasan al-Utrush's jurisprudential views were close to those of the Imamiyya is that he believed in the permissibility of taqiyya (dissimulation), while it is impermissible in the Zaydi jurisprudence. Al-Utrush's jurisprudential school is also known as the school of Nasiriyya.

Al-Utrush's Characteristics

For many people, Hasan al-Utrush was considered as a prominent commander. Al-Tabari, the historian, who was contemporary with al-Utrush and was from Amol, praised him for his justice and good behaviors saying that "people of Tabaristan saw no government as just and insistent on truth as that of Nasir." According to Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, Hasan al-Utrush overthrew the hierarchical system established by Fereydun.

Scholarly Position

According to al-Sharif al-Murtada, al-Utrush's scholarly position as well as the degree of his piety and jurisprudential knowledge were known to everyone. Abu Talib al-Haruni, known as "al-Natiq bi l-Haqq", also talked about the great deal of his knowledge, piety, and asceticism. Al-Daylami considered Hasan al-Utrush as a reviver in the 4th/10th century. He said that al-Utrush was a poet, a man of literature, and a jurisprudent. Many books are attributed to him. He also held debates with scholars and jurisprudents as well as meetings for studies of hadiths.

Students

Students of Hasan al-Utrush include Abu 'Abd Allah al-Walidi, Abu Talib Yahya b. Husayn al-Haruni, Abu l-Hasan 'Ali b. Mahdi al-Mamtiri (the author of Nuzhat al-absar), Husayn b. Harun al-Husayni, Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Mansur al-Muradi, Bushr b. 'Abd al-Wahhab al-Umawi, his brother, and Husayn b. 'Ali known as Husayn al-Sha'ir (Husayn the poet). Among his many students, Abu 'Abd Allah al-Walidi collected some of his remarks and hadiths in a book called al-Alfaz. The book was available until the 5th/11th century.

Works and Views

It is alleged that Hasan al-Utrush wrote over 300 books, but some people cast doubts on this claim. Ibn al-Nadim attributed 100 books to him and mentioned the ones he saw on his own. Al-Najashi also mentioned some of his work. Here are some of al-Utrush's books:

  • Al-Ihtisab: a jurisprudential book about hisbiyya affairs (that is, things related with law and order of the community). Nasir outlined the rules and laws for what a supervisor of hisbiyya affairs should do. An edition of the book was published in 1953 in Italy.
  • Al-Bisat: this is a theological book and one of the most reliable books of Nasir al-Utrush. In fact, Nasir's name is associated with al-Bisat. The books, al-Ihtisab and al-Bisat, are published in the same volume by Maktaba al-Turath al-Islami in Yemen as edited by 'Abd al-karim Ahmad Judban.
  • Al-Nasiriyyat: this is a jurisprudential book. Al-Sayyid al-Murtada wrote an exposition for the book, and it was published in Iran.

Death and Resting Place

The tomb of Hasan al-Utrush before the recent reconstruction.

After 3 years and 3 months of reign, Hasan al-Utrush died in Amol on Sha'ban 25, 304/February 26, 917. He was buried in the house of Qasim b. 'Ali in Amol, northern Iran. His grave was honored by Zaydi Shi'as. Ibn Isfandiyar said in the 8th/14th century that Hasan's mausoleum was a pilgrimage destination of people in which ascetics used to sit. Today the mausoleum is a well-known place in Amol. Hasan founded a school in Amol which had remained until the period of Zahir al-Din al-Mar'ashi.

The first mausoleum of Nasir al-Haqq, called the "Blue Dome", was a huge monument. It was a pilgrimage destination for 900 years until it was destroyed by Timur. After that, a smaller construction was built over Nasir al-Haqq's grave. The current mausoleum is a tower tomb dating back to the 9th/15th century.

International Conference of Utrush

The first International Conference for the Commemoration of al-Nasir al-Kabir was held on January 21 and 22, 2014 in Mahmudabad, Mazandaran attended by a number of scholars in the Islamic world and prominent Zaydi figures of Yemen in order to discuss and exchange ideas about the role of scholars in the explanation and propagation of Nahj al-balagha and al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya. The conference was held by Ahl al-Bayt (a) World Assembly.

The proceedings of the conference were published under "Collection of the papers of the International Conference of Nasir Kabir."

Nasir al-Haqq in the Iranian TV

A scene from the Nasir al-Haqq tele-theater

A tele-theater was produced and broadcast by the Iranian TV under "Nasir al-Haqq." It is concerned with the oppression and mass murder of the Shi'as by Abbasid caliphs and the uprising of Nasir al-Haqq (Utrush). The tele-theater was written and directed by Muhsin Mu'ini.

References

  • The material of this article is mainly taken from حسن اطروش in Farsi WikiShia.