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Uprising of Fakhkh

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Uprising of Fakhkh
Part of 'Alids' uprising against Abbasids
محله شهداء(محل شهادت ودفن صاحب فخ )در مکه.jpg
Graveyard of martyrs of Uprising of Fakhkh, Mecca
Date Dhu l-Qa'da, 169/May, 786 until Dhu l-Hijja 8, 169 (June 15, 786)
Location Fakhkh area, Mecca
Coordinates 21°27′11.3″N 39°48′24.4″E / 21.453139°N 39.806778°E / 21.453139; 39.806778
Result Uprising defeated
Cause Oppression of Abbasids
Belligerents
'Alids Abbasids
Commanders
Sahib al-Fakhkh Muhammad b. Sulayman
Strength
~300 4000
Casualties
Martyrdom of al-Husayn b. 'Ali b. al-Hasan and his companions

Uprising of Fakhkh (Arabic: وقعة فخّ) or the Uprising of the Fakhkh's martyr (Arabic: قیام شهید فخّ) was an uprising by the 'Alids against the Abbasids that occurred in Dhu l-Qa'da, 169/May, 786 under the leadership of Husayn b. 'Ali, a progeny of Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (a) in Medina, leading to his and his companions' martyrdom in an area called "fakhkh" near Mecca. According to some hadiths, Imam al-Kazim (a) refused to take part in the uprising, prognosticating its fate. According to a hadith from Imam al-Jawad (a): after Event of Taff, there was no crime worse than the Event of Fakhkh.

Lineage of the Fakhkh Martyr

Main article: Sahib Fakhkh

Al-Husayn b. 'Ali b. al-Hasan b. al-Hasan b. al-Hasan b. 'Ali (a) was known as "Sahib al-Fakhkh" (the companion of Fakhkh). His father, 'Ali b. al-Hasan was a pious person known as "'Ali al-Khayr" ('Ali, the good) and "'Ali al-aghar" ('Ali, the nice). And his mother, Zaynab, was the daughter of 'Abd Allah b. al-Hasan b. al-Hasan b. 'Ali, who was known as "'Abd Allah al-Mahd" (the pure 'Abd Allah); she was a sister of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya and Ibrahim b. 'Abd Allah, known as "Qatil Bakhamra" (killed in Bakhamra). This couple was known as righteous because of their piety.

After the Uprising of al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, 'Ali b. al-Hasan and some other 'Alawis were arrested at the command of al-Mansur al-'Abbasi, and soon after that he died in the prison.

Present location of Fakhkh

Fakhkh in Mecca

Fakhkh is now located at the northern entrance of Mecca, four kilometers from Masjid al-Haram. The road to this area crosses from the intersection of Tariq al-Madina al-Munawwara (The Glorious Medina Road, known as Tan'im) and Shari' al-Shuhada (Shuhada Street).

The mausoleums of the Fakhkh martyrs are located in an enclosed area in the skirts of the Fakhkh Mountain, near a flat area known as "Dhi Tuwa" in which Quraysh convened about Hudaybiyya Peace Treaty. Some martyrs of Fakhkh are buried in the enclosed area on which there is a sign reading "Maqbara 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar, Raqam 2" (the mausoleum of 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar, number 2), and others are buried in the opposite enclosed area in the skirts of the mountain.

The Prophet's (s) foretelling of the Event

It is reported that in one of his journeys, the Prophet Muhammad (s) arrived in Fakhkh; he said prayers with his companions and then said: "a man from my household and a group of faithful people will be killed in this place; their shrouds and embalmment will come from the heaven and their souls will go to the heaven before their bodies".

A similar hadith is narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (a).

Backgrounds of the Uprising

When al-Hadi al-'Abbasi took over the caliphate, he increased the pressure on the 'Aldis. He was insistent that the 'Alawis should be chased and found; he frightened them, and cut wages that his father, al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi, used to give them. He wrote to his rulers in every place that the 'Alawis should be chased, arrested, and extradited to the central government. He also dismissed the ruler of Medina who treated the 'Alawis in a rather good manner, and appointed a person from the progeny of 'Umar b. al-Khattab, 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz b. 'Abd Allah, who was known to be hostile to Ahl al-Bayt (a), as the ruler of Medina.

Daily Summons of the 'Alawis

The new ruler of Medina ordered his men to bring the 'Alawis to his Dar al-Imara (the emirate building) on a daily basis, and pejoratively recall them (to check if all of them are present). Each 'Alawi had to accept the bailment for the presence of one or more of his relatives (that is, they were responsible to find them in case they were absent).

The discriminatory whipping of one 'Alawi

Three people, including one 'Alawi and a person from the progeny of 'Umar b. al-Khattab, were arrested with the charge of having drunk wine. Though the charge was not proved, the ruler ordered that the 'Alawi be whipped 80 times, and the person who was affiliated to the household of 'Umar b. al-Khattab be whipped only 7 times. He then ordered that they be taken around the city with naked bodies. This was followed by a serious objection from al-Husayn b. 'Ali (the Martyr of Fakhkh).

Absence of an 'Alawi

An 'Alawi, called "al-Hasan b. Muhammad" (the son of al-Nafs al-Zakiyya), did not show up for the daily summons. The ruler reprimanded al-Husayn b. 'Ali and Yahya b. 'Abd Allah who were al-Hasan's bailsmen (or guarantors) and asked them to present him soon. After threatening remarks, the ruler took an oath that he will ruin the houses of the 'Alawis and whip al-Husayn b. 'Ali one thousand times if he does not bring al-Hasan until the night.

Early Occurrence of the Uprising

70 Shiite pilgrims of hajj met al-Husayn b. 'Ali in Medina and decided to rise that year in the days of hajj, but after the threats of the ruler of Medina and the arrest of some of al-Husayn's companions, they decided to start the uprising earlier than planned.

According to Tarikh al-Tabari, the uprising began on Dhu l-Qa'da 13, 169 (May 21, 786). At the time of morning prayers, 26 people from Imam 'Ali (a)'s progeny, 10 pilgrims of hajj, and some mawali entered the mosque chanting "Ahad, Ahad", and they had the mu'adhdhin (the caller to the prayers) to recite the Shiite version of adhan (calls for prayers) that included "Hayya 'ala khayr al-'amal" (hasten to the best action). When the ruler of Medina heard the Shiite adhan, he was scared and escaped from the city. People said their prayers with al-Husayn b. 'Ali. After the prayers, al-Husayn b. 'Ali gave a sermon, asking people to follow the tradition of the Prophet (s). People pledged their allegiance to him conditional upon the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet (s) and "al-Murtada min Al Muhammad" (that is, Imam Ali (a)).

Early Victories

After some hours, Khalid al-Barbari, the military commander of the city, and his soldiers attacked the mosque. However, Khalid was killed and his soldiers were defeated. The next day, there was another battle between the two groups leading to the defeat of the Abbasids. Then the Abbasids asked al-Mubarak al-Turki (a commander of the Caliph), who was then in Medina for performing the hajj rituals, for help. According to Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, al-Mubarak was reluctant to engage with those quarrels; so he sent a message to al-Husayn b. 'Ali to send some of his soldiers to launch a camisado against him so that he can find a pretext to flee. Al-Husayn did this, and al-Mubarak escaped to Mecca. Thus Medina was under al-Husayn's control. According to al-Tabari, their control of the city lasted only 11 days, until Dhu l-Qa'da 24 (June 1, 786). In this interval they equipped themselves.

Moving to Mecca

On Dhu l-Qa'da 24, 169 (June 1, 786), Husayn appointed one of his companions, Dinar al-Khuza'i, as the ruler of Medina, and moved with 300 soldiers to Mecca. Before that, he had a meeting with Shiites and they decided to rise in Mecca during the hajj days in Mina.

Day of the Event

When al-Hadi al-'Abbasi heard the news of the uprising, he ordered some Abbasid seniors who were in Mecca for hajj pilgrimage to fight al-Husayn b. 'Ali under the commandership of Muhamamd b. Sulayman. The Abbasids (with 4000 soldiers) and al-Husayn's army encountered on Dhu l-Hijja 8 (June 15, 786), the day of Tarwiya, in an area called "Fakhkh". The Abbasid commander offered al-Husayn a letter of security but he did not accept it. In the battle, al-Husayn and many of his companions were martyred, some were captivated and some escaped. The heads of the martyrs as well as the captives were first sent to Medina and then to Baghdad to al-Hadi al-'Abbasi.

The sons of 'Abd Allah al-Mahd were active in this event. Sulayman b. 'Abd Allah and al-Hasan b. Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah al-Mahd were killed, but Idris b. 'Abd Allah escaped to Morocco (Maghrib) and later established the Idrissid government there. Also another brother of his, Yahya b. 'Abd Allah, escaped to Daylam. He received a letter of security from Harun al-Rashid, but was then deceived into going to Baghdad and was killed there.

Abbasid Actions after the Event of Fakhkh

After the Fakhkh uprising, the ruler of Medina set the houses and palm groves of al-Husayn b. 'Ali and some of his household on fire, and confiscated the rest of their palm groves and property. Musa b. 'Isa al-'Abbasi went to Medina and called people of the city to the mosque and had them publically curse al-Husayn and his companions. There are contradictory reports about al-Hadi al-'Abbasi's reactions. On some accounts, he coldheartedly treated the captives of the event as well as the Abbasid rulers who failed to do their duties in the battle. For example, he captivated Qasim b. Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah al-'Alawi, and mutilated his body with a saw, and he was angered at his own commander, Musa b. 'Isa al-'Abbasi, who had killed Hasan b. Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah, instead of capturing him and letting the Caliph decide about him; because of this he confiscated Musa's property.

On the other hand, there are hadiths according to which al-Hadi reproached those who took al-Husayn's head to him and told them: "al-Husyan was from the progeny of the Prophet (s), rather than a rebel from Turk or Daylam. Thus people who killed him should at least be deprived of any rewards."

Event of Fakhkh in the History of Shiism

The Event of Fakhkh was one of the most bitter events in the history of Shiism and 'Alawi uprisings. Imam al-Jawad (a) referred to the event as the worst tragedy of Ahl al-Bayt (a) after the Event of Karbala, and the Prophet (s) and other Imams (a) had foretold the event. Also there are lamentations about the event. It is reported that Imam al-Kazim (a) cried for the martyrs of Fakhkh, asking the death of their killers and their intense divine torments from God. He also sponsored orphans, kids, and widows of the 'Alawis who were martyred in Fakhkh. There are hadiths from the Prophet (s) and earlier Imams (a) who foretold the event, such as the above hadith from the Prophet (s) and another one from Imam al-Baqir (a) according to which: the Gabriel told the Prophet (s) that in this desert (that is, Fakhkh) a man from your progeny will be murdered whose martyred companions will be rewarded by God.

Di'bil and the event of Fakhkh

Di'bil al-Khuza'i composed poems called "Madaris al-Ayat" or "Ta'iyya" involving lamentations of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and recited them for Imam al-Rida (a) in a meeting hosted by al-Ma'mun al-'Abbasi. His poems refer to the Event of Fakhkh as well. Part of his Ta'iyya to which Imam al-Rida (a) added two verses is as follows:

Graves in Kufan, others in Tayyiba / And still others in Fakh, my greetings be to them

Imam al-Kazim's (a) Position

After the martyrdom of al-Husayn b. 'Ali and his companions, the heads of the martyrs were exhibited in an assembly in which Imam 'Ali's (a) progeny, including Imam al-Kazim (a), were present. No one talked except Imam al-Kazim (a); when he saw the head of al-Husayn b. 'Ali, the leader of the Fakhkh uprising, he said:

To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. I swear to God that al-Husayn was martyred as a righteous Muslim; he frequently fasted and worshiped at nights; he enjoined the right and forbade the wrong. There was no one like him in his household.

Though this hadith shows that the character of the Fakhkh's martyr was praised by Imam al-Kazim (a), there are two views about the Imam's position about the uprising.

First View: Endorsement of the Uprising

According to a hadith, when al-Husayn b. 'Ali was in control of Medina, he asked Imam al-Kazim (a) to pledge his allegiance to him. Imam al-Kazim (a) told him: "Do not force me to what your cousin (Zayd b. 'Ali) forced your uncle (Imam al-Sadiq (a)) so that I have to treat you the way I do not want to, as Abu 'Abd Allah (Imam al-Sadiq (a)) had to treat Zayd the way he did not want to."

Al-Husayn replied: "I just suggested that you pledge your allegiance to me; but if you do not like it, I will not force you to do it."

When they were saying goodbye, Imam al-Kazim (a) told him: "My cousin! You will be killed, so be serious in your affair. For people express their faith but they hide their polytheism. To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. I ask God to reward you for your (uprising)".

'Abd Allah al-Mamaqani appealed to this hadith to show that Imam al-Kazim (a) endorsed the uprising. Though he did not accept al-Husayn's suggestion, his compassion for him and his companions shows that he did not accept the suggestion just apparently; since he was aware of the fate of the uprising, he rejected al-Husayn's suggestion in the public in order to hide his relations with al-Husayn's uprising so as to prevent subsequent reactions of the Abbasids.

And 'Allama al-Majlisi considered Imam al-Kazim (a)'s words, "be serious in your affair", to be evidence of his endorsement of the uprising, and his praying that they be rewarded by God as evidence of their high place before God.

According to some sources, al-Husayn consulted Imam al-Kazim (a) before his uprising. al-Husayn is quoted as saying that "we did not rise before we consulted our household and Musa b. Ja'far and he asked us to rise".

The second view: the rejection of the uprising

Some people claimed that since Imam al-Kazim (a) believed that the uprising was doomed to failure and he wanted to keep Shiism alive, since it was the heritage of his fathers, he found it irrational to attend the uprising or endorse it, and the mere fact that he prayed for al-Husayn and his companions is no evidence for his endorsement of their uprising.

Rasul Ja'fariyan maintains that though the Fakhkh uprising was one of the least problematic uprisings of the 'Alawis against the Abbasids, we are not sure that it was ordered by Imam al-Kazim (a). Though there were good intentions behind these uprisings, for different political reasons they were fruitless. Imamiyya Shiites disagreed with the 'Alawis over these uprisings.

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