Yahya b. Zayd

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Descendant of Imam
Yahya b. Zayd
بقعه یحیی بن زید در جوزجان افغانستان.jpg
Tomb of Yahya b. Zayd in Jowzjan, Afghanistan
Kunya Abu Talib
Epithet Qatil Jowzjan
Father Zayd b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn
Mother Rayta bt. 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad al-Hanafiyya
Birth ~ 107/725
Place(s) of Residence Medina, Kufa
Spouse(s) Muhibba bt. 'Amr b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn (a)
Demise 125/743
Place of Burial Jowzjan, Afghanistan
Age 18

Yaḥyā b. Zayd (Arabic: یحیی بن زید) was a grandson of Imam al-Sajjad (a) who fled from Kufa to Khorasan after the martyrdom of his father, Zayd b. 'Ali (a). He mobilized people of Khorasan to start an uprising against the Umayyad government. His uprising failed, just like his father's, and he was martyred in Jowzjan in Afghanistan and was buried there. However, some mausoleums are attributed to him in some Iranian cities such as Gorgan, Sabzevar and Varamin. His remarks show that he did not claim the position of imamate, although there are some doubts about this.

Lineage, Kunya, and Title

Yahya's father was Imam al-Sajjad (a)'s son who started an uprising against the Umayyad government and was martyred. His mother was Rayta, the daughter of 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. Hanafiyya, a virtuous woman from Banu Hashim.

There is no explicit mention of the year of his birth in sources, but given the year of his martyrdom (125/743) and his age (18 years old), it should be 107/725.

Al-Bayhaqi took Yahya's kunya to be Abu Talib, and since he was martyred in Jowzjan in Afghanistan, he was also known as "Qatil Jowzjan" (murdered in Jowzjan).

Yahya had long hair and nice beard, and was very tall. He was as courageous, self-confident and combative as his father.

Wife and Children

Yahya married his cousin, Muhibba, the daughter of 'Amr b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn (a). According to many historians and scholars of genealogy, he had no children, because he was killed when he was very young, but Hamd Allah Mustowfi has mentioned a person called "'Abd Allah b. Yahya" as his son who was known as "Talib al-Haqq" (seeker of truth). Ibn Jubayr has also mentioned a girl known as Zaybat bt. Yahya b. Zayd b. Imam al-Sajjad (a). According to some sources, Zaynab bt. Yahya's mausoleum is located in Egypt.

Denomination

There is a disagreement about the religious belief of Yahya. Some people hold that he was an Imami and others take him to be a Zaydi. 'Abd Allah Mamaqani takes him to be an Imami, and 'Allama Amini said about him:

The Shi'as never said anything bad about Yahya. He admitted the imamate of Imam al-Sadiq (a), the Imam (a) cried after his martyrdom, and asked for divine mercy for him.

However, Ayatollah Khu'i believed that Yahya did not obey Imam al-Sadiq (a) and was an independent person.

There is a quote from him in which he admits the imamate of the Twelve Imams (a), saying that his father said: "4 of them are gone and 8 of them are to come".

Meeting Mutawakkil b. Harun

Yahya met someone called Mutawakkil b. Harun after the martyrdom of Zayd b. 'Ali when he departed to Khorasan. Since Mutawakkil was returning from hajj, Yahya asked him about the conditions of Medina and his cousins. He also asked Mutawakkil about the view of Imam al-Sadiq (a) regarding him and his father. He then gave a copy of al-Sahifat al-Sajjadiyya to Mutawakkil to take it to Medina.

This conversation is important because it was cited and appealed to by both proponents and opponents of Yahya's being an Imami.

Uprising

After Zayd's martyrdom, Yahya and 10 people from his father's companions visited the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a). He then went to a place called "Jubbana Subay'" near Kufa, where his companions parted company with him. He then went to Mesopotamia and then to al-Mada'in. He then departed to Khorasan, but was arrested there. After the death of Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik, the Umayyad caliph, Yahya was released at the command of the new caliph, Walid b. Yazid.

Martyrdom

After his release, Yahya restarted his movement against the Umayyad government. After defeating the ruler of Nishapur, many people from different cities joined him. After crossing some cities, he encountered the Umayyad army of 8000 soldiers near Jowzjan. In this battle, he and his companions were martyred. His martyrdom reportedly occurred on Friday in the Sha'ban month (May 744). His corpse was hanged from the Jowzjan gate in 125/743 and his head was sent to Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik who sent it, in turn, to Rayta, Yahya's mother.

Burial Place

Yahya's corpse was hanged for years until it was taken down by Abu Muslim Khurasani. He performed Funeral Prayer for it, buried it, and held mourning ceremonies for him. Yahya was buried in Jowzjan. People mourned for him for 7 days. In that year, they called their newborn sons "Yahya".

References