Uprising of Yahya b. Zayd

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Uprising of Yahya b. Zayd
Part of Uprisings against Umayyad
بقعه یحیی بن زید در جوزجان افغانستان.jpg
Tomb of Yahya b. Zayd in Jowzjan, Afghanistan
Date 125/743
Location near Jowzjan
Result Defeat of Yahya's army
Alawis Umayyad
Yahya b. Zayd 'Amr b. Zurara,
70 cavalries 8000
Martyrdom of all including Yahya 'Amr b. Zurara was killed
This uprising had two parts; in the first part which was in Abarshahr, Yahya's army was successful.

Uprising of Yaḥya b. Zayd (Arabic: قيام يحيی بن زيد ) was an uprising led by Yahya b. Zayd b. Ali, grandson of Imam al-Sajjad (a) against Umayyad government. This uprising took place in Khorasan, in 125/743 during the rule of Walid b. Yazid contemporary with the imamate of Imam al-Sadiq (a) and led to the martyrdom of Yahya and his companions.

Martyrdom of Yahya turned to a symbol of resistance against Umayyads and made people resolute in supporting the uprising of Abu Muslim al-Khurasani in Khorasan. It is said that the year when Yahya was martyred, they named every son born in Khorasan Yahya or Zayd.

Biography of Yahya

Main article: Yahya b. Zayd

Yahya was son of Zayd b. Ali, and the grandson of Imam al-Sajjad (a). His mother was Rita bt. 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. Hanafiyya. There is no exact mention of the year of his birth in sources, but regarding the year of his martyrdom (125/743) and his age at that time (which is reported 18), his birth is thought to be in 107/725-6.

His life was contemporary with the rule of two Umayyad caliphs Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik and Walid b. Yazid.

His Decision for Uprising

After the martyrdom of Zayd b. Ali, his son Yahya hid himself to be able to act upon the will of his father about pursuing the uprising and fight. Meanwhile, some great individuals prohibited him from the uprising out of compassion. It is narrated that Imam al-Sadiq (a) wrote a letter to him and prohibited him of making an uprising by informing him that he would be killed like his father. But, Yahya was determined to make an uprising and thus moved to Khorasan.

Moving to Khorasan

After the failure of the uprising of Zayd b. Ali and his martyrdom, his companions were dispersed and only ten of them stayed with Yahya. Yahya moved toward Khorasan. He first went to Mada'in (which was on the main route to Khorasan from Iraq). That happened when Yusuf b. 'Umar had stopped searching for him, because he thought that Yahya was hidden in the houses of Kufis. When Yusuf b. 'Umar was informed that Yahya had moved toward Khorasan, reported to Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik and Hisham ordered the governor of Khorasan to arrest him.

In the Prison of Balkh

After a while, he went to Balkh and stayed with a person called Huraysh b. 'Abd al-Rahman until Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik died and Walid b. Yazid acceded to caliphate.

When Walid acceded to caliphate, Yusuf b. 'Umar wrote about the movement of Yahya and his positions on the way to the governor of Khorasan and he ordered his agent in Balkh to enforce Huraysh to disclose the hiding place of Yahya and use force for it. The governor of Balkh did so and beat Huraysh 600 lashes, but he swore that: "by God, if Yahya was under my feet, I would never lift up my feet [to disclose him]". However, his son, Quraysh did not bear seeing the torture of his father and revealed the hiding place of Yahya. Governor of Balkh arrested Yahya and took him to the governor of Khorasan and he imprisoned him. When Walid b. Yazid was informed of this, ordered to release him and his companions.

When the Shi'a of Khorasan heard about the freedom of Yahya, some of their rich ones went to the smith who had broken the chains off the neck, hands and feet of Yahya and bought them with a high price (20 thousand Dirhams as mentioned in a report). They distributed the links of the chain among themselves and made rings from them for themselves and this way, took blessings from the personality of Yahya.

Beginning of the Uprising

After the freedom of Yahya, governor of Khorasan gave him two thousand Dirhams and wrote to the governor of Sarakhs to expel him from there and also wrote to the governor of Tus that if Yahya went there, he should not let him stay and should send him to Neyshabur. The governor of Neyshabur too gave him a thousand Dirhams and sent him to Beyhaq. Yahya bought horses and together with 70 of his companions returned to Neyshabur. When the governor of Khorasan was informed about it, he ordered the governors of Tus and Sarakhs to help the governor of Neyshabur and fight with Yahya. So, ten thousand soldiers stood against Yahya and his 70 men. This was the beginning of the uprising of Yahya.

Yahya won this battle and 'Amr b. Zurara was killed; and, Yahya took their horses and weapons as the booty.

Battle of Jowzjan

After the battle in Neyshabur, Yahya went toward Herat and from there moved to Jowzjan. The governor of Khorasan sent an army of eight thousand soldiers to fight with him. At the same time, some people from Jowzjan, Taleqan, Faryab and Balkh joined him. The two armies met in a village called Arghuy or Ar'una near Jowzjan and fought hard for three days and all the companions of Yahya were killed.

Martyrdom of Yahya

In the evening of a Friday in the month of Sha'ban in 125/May-June 743, a freed slave called " 'Isa" threw an arrow which hit on the forehead of Yahya and he was martyred. Surat b. Muhammad, the commander of the right wing of the Umayyad army beheaded Yahya and took his head to the governor of Khorasan and he sent it to Walid b. Yazid. Walid ordered to take the head to Rita, the mother of Yahya, in Medina. When Rita saw the head said:

"You took him from me a long time ago and now you present his head to me! Praise of God be upon him and his fathers in the mornings and in the evenings".

The headless body of Yahya was hung up at the gate of Jowzjan and it remained there until Abu Muslim al-Khurasani made an uprising. That time, they brought the body down and buried it.

Effects of the Uprising

Martyrdom of Yahya became a symbol of resistance against Umayyads and breathed a new spirit in people's heart in accompanying an uprising in Khorasan which was made under the slogan of "al-Rida min Al Muhammad". It is said that people of Khorasan mourned for Yahya seven days and named every son born that year, Yahya.

It is reported that Abu Muslim killed everyone who was involved in martyrdom of Yahya.

See Also