Prominent Shiite families, such as the family of Mahziyar and the family of al-Hudayni, lived in Ahwaz, and top Shiite officials, such as Abd Allah b. Abbas and Rifa'a b. Shaddad, worked there. Representatives of the Imams (a) also lived in this city.
Ahwaz is the capital of Khuzestan Province in Iran. The area of the city is 21,954 acres and its population (with that of its suburbs) is more than 1,700,000 (in 1395 Sh/2016-7) . Arabs and Bakhtiyaris are the two major ethnic groups of the city.
The name of the city in the Qajar period was Bandar Nasiri, but it was changed in Shahrivar 1314 Sh/1935 to Ahwaz.
Ahwaz is one of the ancient cities of Iran, dating back to the third century CE.
The city of Ahwaz was built by Ardashir I (d. 224 CE) or Shapur and was one of the main cities of the Sassanid empire and a major center of the textile industry. Ahwaz was also a center of Christianity and a bishopric before Islam. In historical sources, it is mentioned with the names Ōhrmazd-Ardašēr, Hormošīr, Hormozd Ardašīr, or Hormezdšēr.
Ahwaz was conquered by Muslims during the caliphate of Umar and the reign of Yazdegerd III (632-652 CE), the last Sassanid king. The commander of the Muslim army was Hurqus b. Zuhayr or Abu Musa al-Ash'ari.
Historical sources give various dates for the conquest of Ahwaz, such as the year 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, or 21 AH/637-642.
Shiism in Ahwaz
According to Rasul Ja'farian, Shiism in Ahwaz is as old as Shiism in Qom, and the relationship between the two cities can be shown using hadith and rijal sources. The spread of Shiism to Ahwaz since the first/seventh century was through the presence of prominent Shiite officials, the immigration of Shiite families, and the close relationship between the city and Kufa.
Prominent Shiite Officials in Ahwaz
Families, Clans, and Dynasties
Since the first/seventh century, Shiite clans such as Banu Asad and Banu Abd al-Qays immigrated from Iraq to Ahwaz and prepared the ground for the spread of Shiism in this city. Companions and representatives of the Imams (a), as well as Shiite scholars and thinkers, were from Ahwazi families such as the family of Mahziyar, Ibn Hammad, Abd al-Qays, Hadini, and Rassan. Moreover, Shiite dynasties such as Al Burayd and Musha'sha'is ruled in that region.
Companions and Representatives of the Imams (a)
A number of the companions and representatives of the Imams (a) lived in Ahwaz. Some of them were among Shiite scholars and writers in the second/eighth and third/ninth centuries. The following are some of these personalities:
- Muhammad b. Mukhallad al-Ahwazi, companion and hadith transmitter of Imam al-Sadiq (a)
Imam al-Rida's (a) Visit
On his travel from Medina to Merv, Imam al-Rida (a) visited Ahwaz. When he left the city, the Shiites built a mosque in the place where he stayed. Later, Ali b. Mahziyar was buried there. There are pilgrimage sites in Ahwaz and its neighboring towns called Qadamgah (lit. "place of step"), which are believed to be the places where Imam al-Rida (a) had stepped on.
Ahwaz As a Scholarly Center
Since early Shiite history, Ahwaz was a scholarly center beside Kufa and Qom. Evidence for this includes the following:
- Travels between Ahwaz and Qom and Kufa and scholarly interactions between these cities. For instance, Qummi hadith transmitters trusted Ahwazi hadith transmitters such as the members of the family of Mayziyar and narrated their hadiths.
- The presence of companions and representative of the Imams (a) in Ahwaz
- Scholarly heritage of Ahwazi traditionists and jurists preserved in major hadith collections.
Shrine of Ali b. Mahziyar
One of the historical and religious monuments in Ahwaz is the shrine of Ali b. Mahziyar, who was an outstanding Shiite jurist and scholar and a companion of Imam al-Rida (a), Imam al-Jawad (a), Imam al-Hadi (a), and Imam al-Hasan al-Askari (a). This monument, which is located in the old district of Ahwaz, has been renovated several times throughout history.
Ahwaz and the Islamic Revolution
A number of Ahwazi scholars such as Mir Sayyid Ali Bihbahani, Sayyid Murtada Alam al-Huda, Abu l-Qasim Khaz'ali, Musavi Jaza'iri, and Sayyid Ali Shafi'i were among the revolutionaries that played a role in overthrowing the Pahlavi dynasty.
In addition, institutions such as Markaz al-Quran, Anjuman-i Danishwaran, Anjuman-i Muwahhidin, and Anjuman-i Din wa Danish were among centers of revolutionary activities.
After the revolution, in September 1980, the war between Iran and Iraq started. The Iraqi army advance and occupied Khorramshahr, Bostan, Hoveizeh, and Susangerd and reached near Ahwaz. However, the resistance of people stopped them in Dobb-e Hardan, fifteen kilometers away from Ahwaz. Later, Iranian military forces were able to free the occupied lands.
During the war, organizing the military forces and troops was conducted in Ahwaz. Most of the airstrikes and missile attacks of Iraq targeted Ahwaz, which wreaked havoc in the city. The number of martyrs in Khuzestan province, including Ahwaz, is announced to have been more than 21,000.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from اهواز in Farsi WikiShia.