Uprising of al-Mukhtar
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Uprising of al-Mukhtār (Arabic: ثورة المُختار) was a movement under the leadership of al-Mukhtar b. Abi 'Ubayd al-Thaqafi for vengeance of the Martyrs of Karbala. The uprising began in 66/685 in Kufa. It led to the murder of many people who had a role to play in the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions: for example, 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, 'Umar b. Sa'd, Shimr b. Dhi l-Jawshan, and Sinan b. Anas. The Uprising of al-Mukhtar was formed in the name of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya. Some Shiite scholars hold that al-Mukhtar launched his movement at the command of Imam al-Sajjad (a).
- 1 Purpose
- 2 Accompanying 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr
- 3 Meeting with Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya
- 4 Entering Kufa
- 5 Uprising of Tawwabun
- 6 Preparations
- 7 A Representative of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya
- 8 Role of Ibrahim b. Malik al-Ashtar
- 9 Commencement
- 10 Entering the Palace of Kufa
- 11 Division of Governmental Positions
- 12 Avenging the Murdurers
- 13 Battle with Syria's Government
- 14 Al-Khashabiyya Army
- 15 Battle between al-Mukhtar and Mus'ab
- 16 Al-Mukhtar's Murder
- 17 Fate of the Surrounded People
- 18 Murder of al-Mukhtar's Wife
- 19 See Also
- 20 References
Accompanying 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr
'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad released al-Mukhtar from the prison provided that he would not stay in Kufa for more than 3 days. Thus, al-Mukhtar headed towards Mecca which was then under the rule of 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr. In his meeting with 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubyar, he said in response to the suggestion of people to pledge his allegiance to 'Abd Allah that his goal and 'Abd Allah's goal diverge, and thus, it would not be advisable for him to pledge his allegiance to Ibn al-Zubayr. However, after the insistence of people, he pledged his allegiance to 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr on two conditions:
- 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr had to consult him with respect to all affairs and never does anything on his own and never opposes him,
- 'Abd Allah should give al-Mukhtar the highest ranking position in his government.
When Yazid b. Mu'awiya's army attacked Mecca and 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr was besieged, al-Mukhtar fought the army of Yazid alongside Ibn al-Zubayr. According to some sources, when al-Mukhtar found that 'Abd Allah deceitfully treated him and claimed caliphate, he stepped aside from Ibn al-Zubayr's government and went to Kufa to prepare for his uprising.
Meeting with Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya
Before moving towards Kufa, al-Mukhtar met Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya in Medina and told him about his intention to launch an uprising, asking him for a permission. Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya gave him a permission in terms of a general remark and asked him to observe abstinence. According to al-Baladhuri's report, Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya explicitly gave al-Mukhtar the permission for an uprising.
Al-Mukhtar went from Mecca to Kufa. On his way, he cried for Imam al-Husayn's (a) tragedy and mourned for him. Other Shi'as saw him and joined him there. On Friday, al-Mukhtar arrived in al-Hira river and performed a ghusl there, wearing a perfume and a turban. He then put a sword on his waist and went to al-Sakun Mosque of al-Kinda. On his way there, he promised people of his victory.
Uprising of Tawwabun
- Main article: Tawwabun Uprising
After entering Kufa, al-Mukhtar received an invitation from Sulayman b. Surad and members of the Tawwabun Uprising. He refused to cooperate with them. He told people of Kufa that Sulayman was not experienced enough to launch a war and is ignorant of the secrets of a war. 'Umar b. Sa'd went to the ruler of Kufa and told him that Tawwabun were no threat to him; the real threat for Kufa, as he said, was al-Mukhtar. Thus, al-Mukhtar was imprisoned by agents of 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr when Tawwabun launched their battle.
When Tawwabun were defeated, al-Mukhtar wrote letters to their survivors and asked them to join him. They agreed with al-Mukhtar's request and expressed their readiness to attack the prison and release al-Mukhtar. Al-Mukhtar asked them to hold on, since he would be released a few days later. He wrote a letter to 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar who was the husband of his sister, Safiyya bt. Abi 'Ubayd and asked him to intercede for his release. Thus, al-Mukhtar was released with the help of 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar.
The ruler of Kufa, released al-Mukhtar on the condition that he would take no actions against the government and swear that if he did so, he would slaughter 1000 camels and emancipate all his slaves, both males and females. Al-Mukhtar swore and was released from the prison.
When he was released, he told his companions: "to slaughter 1000 camels is nothing in comparison to my goal. I prefer to achieve my goal and have no slaves."
Since governmental agents monitored al-Mukhtar's actions, he first commissioned some people to gather forces surreptitiously. Al-Mukhtar's representatives and close companions consisted in:
- Rifa'a b. Shaddad, a head of the Tawwabun Uprising
- 'Abd Allah b. Shaddad al-Bajali, another head of the Tawwabun Uprising.
A Representative of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya
In Kufa, al-Mukhtar claimed that he was a representative of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya, and called himself his trustee, minister, and ruler. He claimed that he launched his uprising at the command of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya for the vengeance of Ahl al-Bayt (a).
Some Shi'as gathered in Sa'r b. Abi Sa'r al-Hanafi's house. 'Abd al-Rahman b. Shurayh said that al-Mukhtar claimed to be Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya's representative. He suggested that they go to Medina by themselves and see if al-Mukhtar was honest.
'Abd al-Rahman b. Shurayh and others went to Medina and met Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya and inquired about the Uprising of al-Mukhtar and his claim to be Ibn al-Hanafiyya's representative. Ibn al-Hanafiyya replied: "I swear to God that I like God to avenge for us with the hands of any of His servants."
Al-'Allama al-Majlisi quoted Ibn Nama as saying that Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya took them to Imam al-Sajjad (a) in order to ask him about their obligations. The Imam (a) said: "Dear Uncle! If a person from Zanzibar rises to support us, others are obliged to help him. I appoint you as my representative with respect to this, so do whatever you find appropriate."
They left Medina to Kufa, and said: "Imam al-Sajjad (a) and Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya gave us the permission." When they arrived in Kufa, they confirmed al-Mukhtar's claim.
It might be on the basis of this hadith that some prominent Shiite scholars, such as al-Khu'i and al-Mamaqani believe that the Uprising of al-Mukhtar was done with the particular permission of Imam al-Sajjad (a).
Role of Ibrahim b. Malik al-Ashtar
In order to realize the goals of his uprising, al-Mukhtar accepted the proposal of the Shiite heads to invite Ibrahim b. Malik al-Ashtar to help him in the uprising. Ibrahim was first hesitant, but he pledged his allegiance to al-Mukhtar after seeing Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya's letter endorsing al-Mukhtar and hearing the testimonies of Shiite figures about the authenticity of the letter. He played a role as the second ranking person in the uprising.
According to the plans, the uprising was supposed to start on Thursday, Rabi' I 14, 66 (November 18, 685), but with the early conflict between Ibrahim and Ayas b. Mudarib, the commander of military forces in Kufa and the latter's murder, the uprising started two days earlier on Tuesday Rabi' I 12, 66 AH (November 16, 685).
Al-Mukhtar ordered 'Abd Allah b. Shaddad to commence the uprising with the slogan, "Ya Mansur, Amit" (O Victorious! Bring Death!). It was a slogan of the Prophet (s) in battles of Badr and Banu l-Mustaliq. This slogan was a sign of later Shiite uprisings. It was also used later in the uprisings of Zayd b. 'Ali, Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, and Ibrahim b. 'Abd Allah. Al-Mukhtar also ordered Sufyan b. Layla and Qudama b. Malik to use the slogan, Ya la-Tharat al-Husayn (O the avengers of al-Husayn).
The uprising was then publicized, and after a few days, al-Mukhtar's army ousted 'Abd Allah b. Muti', the ruler of Kufa, from the city. 'Abd Allah b. Muti' had been appointed by 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr as the ruler of Kufa in order to quench the Tawwabun.
Entering the Palace of Kufa
On Friday, Rabi' I 15, 66 AH (November 19, 685), al-Mukhtar entered the palace of Kufa. People said the Friday Prayer behind him. Before the prayer, he delivered two sermons in which he explained the goals of his uprising. After the prayer, the allegiance ceremony was held.
Division of Governmental Positions
- 'Abd Allah b. Harith al-Nakha'i, the uncle of Ibrahim b. Malik, as the ruler of Armaniya
- Muhammad b. 'Umayr, the ruler of Azerbaijan
- 'Abd al-Rahman b. Sa'id b. Qays, the ruler of Mosul
- Ishaq b. Mas'ud, the ruler of al-Mada'in
- Sa'id b. Hudhayfa b. Yaman, the ruler of Hulwan
- 'Abd Allah b. Malik al-Ta'i, the judge of Kufa
- Abu 'Amra Kaysan, the commander of military forces inside Kufa.
Avenging the Murdurers
|The Name of the Criminal||Crime||Punishment|
|'Umar b. Sa'd||General commander of Yazid's army||Killed with a sword's strokes and decapitated|
|Hafs b. 'Umar b. Sa'd||Cooperation with his father, 'Umar b. Sa'd||Decapitated|
|Shimr b. Dhi l-Jawshan||Commander of the infantries and several other crimes||Murdered in a conflict and decapitated|
|Sinan b. Anas||Decapitating Imam al-Husayn (a)||Amputated by fingers, arms, and legs; thrown in a pot|
|Khawli b. Yazid||Carrying the head of Imam al-Husayn (a) and numerous crimes||Thrown into fire|
|Bajdal b. Sulaym al-Kalbi||Cutting Imam al-Husayn's (s) finger||Amputated by fingers, arms, and legs|
|Harmala b. Kahil al-Asadi||Throwing arrows in Karbala and numerous crimes||Amputated by hands and legs and thrown into fire|
|Hakim b. Tufayl||Murderer of Abu l-Fadl al-'Abbas (a)||Arms and legs being nailed and shot with arrows|
|Murra b. Munqidh||Murderer of 'Ali al-Akbar (a)||Amputated by arms and paralyzed until his death|
|Zayd b. Ruqad al-Juhani||Archer and numerous crimes||Stoned and shot by arrows|
|'Amr b. Subayh||Murderer of 'Abd Allah b. Muslim||Killed with a spear|
|'Abd Allah b. Usayn al-Juhani||Active presence in the Event of Karbala||Decapitated|
|Hamal b. Malik al-Muharibi||Active presence in the Event of Karbala||Decapitated|
|Ruqad b. Malik al-Bajali||Plundering Imam al-Husayn's (a) property||Decapitated in public|
|'Amr b. Khalid al-Bajali||Plundering Imam al-Husayn's (a) property||Decapitated in public|
|'Abd al-Rahman b. Bajali||Plundering Imam al-Husayn's (a) tent and clothes||Decapitated in public|
|'Abd Allah b. Qays al-Khawlani||Attending the battle and plundering the property||Decapitated in public|
|Malik b. Nusayr||Plundering Imam al-Husayn's (a) hemlet||Amputated by arms and legs|
|'Uthman b. Khalid al-Juhani||Murderer of 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Aqil||Decapitated and burned|
|Ziyad b. Malik||Active presence in the battle, plundering Imam al-Husayn's (a) personal clothes||Decapitated in public|
|'Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Khushkara||Active presence in the war, plundering Imam al-Husayn's (a) personal clothes||Decapitated in public|
|Ishaq b. Hawiya||Running over Imam al-Husayn's (a) corpse with his horse||Arms and legs nailed to the ground|
|Raja' b. Munqidh al-'Abdi||Running over Imam al-Husayn's (a) corpse with his horse||Arms and legs nailed to the ground|
|Salim b. Khuthayma||Running over Imam al-Husayn's (a) corpse with his horse||Arms and legs nailed to the ground|
|Wahiz b. Na'im||Running over Imam al-Husayn's (a) corpse with his horse||Arms and legs nailed to the ground|
|Salih b. Wahab||Running over Imam al-Husayn's (a) corpse with his horse||Arms and legs nailed to the ground|
|Hani b. Thubayt||Running over Imam al-Husayn's (a) corpse with his horse||Arms and legs nailed to the ground|
|Usayd b. Malik||Running over Imam al-Husayn's (a) corpse with his horse||Arms and legs nailed to the ground|
Realization of Imam al-Sajjad's (s) Curse
Minhal b. 'Amr said that he met Imam al-Sajjad (a) in Medina. The Imam (a) asked about Harmala. He told the Imam (a): "he was alive when I was in Kufa", the Imam (a) said: "… O God, make him feel the heat of iron, O God, make him feel the heat of iron, O God, make him feel the heat of fire …". Minhal said that when he returned to Kufa, he saw that Harmala was captured by al-Mukhtar and the Imam's (a) curse was realized.
'Umar b. Sa'd's Safety Conduct
'Umar b. Sa'd sent 'Abd Allah b. Ja'da, a close companion of Imam 'Ali (a), to al-Mukhtar to ask him for a safety conduct for 'Umar. For some exigencies, al-Mukhtar gave him a safety conduct on the condition that he does not leave his house and does not make any mistakes.
Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya expressed his concerns about the release of 'Umar b. Sa'd. When al-Mukhtar heard about Ibn al-Hanafiyya's concerns, he said, in a meeting where some close friends of 'Umar b. Sa'd were present, that the main perpetrators of the story of Karbala will be killed in the coming days. One day, 'Umar b. Sa'd went out of his house to another place and then went back home. When al-Mukhtar heard about this, he seized the opportunity and sent Abu 'Amra to 'Umar b. Sa'd's house to kill him. Abu 'Amra killed him and took his head to al-Mukhtar.
Battle with Syria's Government
- Main article: Battle of Khazir
Most murderers of the Martyrs of Karbala who resided in Kufa were killed, but a few of them could escape and survive. After this, al-Mukhtar planned to combat the central government in Syria, the Umayyad dynasty, in order to punish the main contributors of Imam al-Husayn's (a) martyrdom. On some accounts, after killing Imam al-Husayn's (a) murderers, al-Mukhtar's biggest concern was to send Ibrahim's army to Syria.
Two days after the eradication of the murderers of Imam al-Husayn (a), al-Mukhtar sent Ibrahim b. Malik to Syria. On the other hand, 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad moved towards Ibrahim with a large army. The two armies met near Mosul.
Ibrahim's army consisted of 12000 people, 8000 of which were Iranians and 4000 were Arabs. On some accounts, Ibrahim's army consisted of 20,000 to 30,000 people.
Ibrahim's army met with Ibn Ziyad's army consisting of 80,000 people around Mosul. The battle ended with the victory of Ibrahim, and people such as 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, al-Husayn b. Numayr, and Shurahbil b. Dhi l-Kila' were killed. 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad was killed on the Ashura of 67/686.
When Ibn Ziyad's head was taken to Imam al-Sajjad (a), he was having a meal. The Imam (a) said: "when we were taken to Ibn Ziyad, he was having a meal and my father's head was in front of him. I said to myself: O God, I hope to be alive and see his head in front of me."
'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr imprisoned Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya, 'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas, and 17 people from Banu Hashim, including al-Hasan al-Muthanna in a cave called "Shi'b al-'Arim" and threatened that he will throw them into fire if they do not pledge their allegiance to him. In order to justify his brother's threatening, 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr said that "he did this in order to unify Muslims and make them (Banu Hashim) obey him and prevent divisions in the Islamic community, as 'Umar b. al-Khattab did this to Banu Hashim when they delayed their allegiance to Abu Bakr b. Abi Quhafa."
Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya sent a message to al-Mukhtar and asked him for help. Al-Mukhtar sent an army to Mecca whose only weapons were wooden sticks, and so they released the Banu Hashim. This army came to be known as "al-Khashabiyya", that is, holders of woods. Their wooden weapons were with the intention to respect Mecca and not enter this holy city with swords.
Battle between al-Mukhtar and Mus'ab
Some murderers of Imam al-Husayn (a) could escape. Their main figures were Muhammad b. al-Ash'ath and Shabath b. Rib'i. They went to Basra and incited Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr to launch a war against al-Mukhtar.
Battle Outside Kufa
The two armies first met in an area called "Midhar". Al-Mukhtar's army was under the commandership of Ahmar b. Shumayt and was assisted by 'Abd Allah b. Kamil with the presence of Abu 'Amra Kaysan, and Mus'ab's army was under the commandership of Mus'ab himself with the presence of al-Muhallab b. Abi Sufra. Al-Mukhtar's army was seriously defeated in this battle. Ibn Shumayt, Ibn Kamil, Abu 'Amra, and many Iranians who supported al-Mukhtar were killed.
After this, another battle occurred outside Kufa with the presence of al-Mukhtar, in which al-Mukhtar's forces were seriously defeated and retreated to Kufa. In this battle, Muhammad b. al-Ash'ath was killed.
Battle Inside the City
Mus'ab's forces moved forwards to the city and after some conflicts inside Kufa, they defeated al-Mukhtar's forces and siege Dar al-Imara (the governmental building). 6,000 people were inside Dar al-Imara with al-Mukhtar. Al-Mukhtar suggested that they attack the enemy and die bravely, but they did not accept it.
Fate of the Surrounded People
People who did not comply with al-Mukhtar's order to be honorably killed in a confrontation with Mus'ab's army were all arrested after al-Mukhtar's murder and were decapitated.
One day, Mus'ab met 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar. 'Abd Allah told him: "you are the one who killed 6000 Muslims in one day", Mus'ab replied: "they were not Muslims", 'Abd Allah said: "even if you had killed 6000 of your father's sheep, it would be a squander and would be forbidden, let alone 6000 Muslims."
Murder of al-Mukhtar's Wife
After killing all the captives, Mus'ab captured al-Mukhtar's two wives, Umm Thabit bt. Samura b. Jundab and 'Umra bt. Nu'man b. Bashir, and asked them to curse al-Mukhtar. Umm Thabit did so and was released, but 'Umra said: "may God bless him! He was a righteous servant of God". So Mus'ab ordered her murder. According to al-Ya'qubi, Mus'ab asked 'Umra's view about al-Mukhtar, she said: "he was pious, pure and always fasted". She was the first woman in Islam who was decapitated.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from قیام مختار in Farsi WikiShia.