|Full Name||Yahya b. Harthama b. A'yan|
|Companion of||Imam al-Hadi (a)|
|Well Known As||a well-known agent and commander of Harun al-Rashid and al-Ma'mun al-'Abbasi|
|Activities||Transmitter of hadiths from Imam al-Hadi (a) • governor of Qom and Isfahan.|
Yaḥyā b. Harthama (Arabic: یحیی بن هَرثَمَة) was a transmitter of hadiths from Imam al-Hadi (a). He is known for his mission together with Imam al-Hadi (a) from Medina to Samarra and his conversion to Shi'a after the trip. His conversion to Shi'a was because of observing certain supernatural wonders (karama) issued from Imam al-Hadi (a).
In Shiite sources of hadiths, hadiths are transmitted from Imam al-Hadi (a) about the details of the trip and the Imam's supernatural wonders. In sources of history, there are references to his protection of the road to Mecca in 233/847-8, his rule of Qom in 243/857-8, and then rule of Isfahan in 260/873-4.
Yahya b. Harthama was the son of Harthama b. A'yan, a well-known agent and commander of Harun al-Rashid and al-Ma'mun al-'Abbasi. There is no information about the exact date of his birth and death. He does not appear much in historical sources, whereas he appears more in sources of hadiths as he transmitted hadiths from Imam al-Hadi (a). Yahya b. Harthama was the guardian and protector of the road to Mecca in 233/847-8. He was in charge of governmental positions during the periods of caliphs such as al-Mutawakkil al-'Abbasi.
According to some historical sources, in the period of al-Mutawakkil al-'Abbasi in 243/857-8, Yahya b. Harthama became the ruler of Qom, and it was in his period that the area of Qom was calculated. He was active in the war between al-Musta'in and al-Mu'tazz in 252/866-7. According to some historians, he also served as the ruler of Isfahan in 260/873-4.
Mission to Accompany Imam al-Hadi (a)
What led to the introduction of Yahya b. Harthama into Shiite sources, was his mission on behalf of al-Mutawakkil al-'Abbasi to accompany Imam al-Hadi (a) in 243/857-8, or on other accounts, in 233/847-8, from Medina to Samarra. Since 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad or Burayha al-'Abbasi defamed Imam al-Hadi (a) and al-Mutawakkil received reports regarding the belief of people of Medina in the Imamate of Imam al-Hadi (a), he sent Yahya b. Harthama for the Imam and invited him to visit Samarra. He gave Yahya the mission to accompany Imam al-Hadi (a) on the trip.
Yahya b. Harthama was assigned the mission, perhaps because people of Medina remembered his battle with Turks and his assistance of 'Abd Allah b. Tahir (182-230/798-9 to 844-5). Thus, when people of Medina learned that Yahya was going there, they were frightened and opposed his entrance to the city. As Yahya himself said, people cried so loudly that he had never heard anything like that before. However, Yahya took an oath to treat Imam al-Hadi (a) with all due respect. As he promised people of Medina, he accompanied Imam towards Samarra with tremendous respect and honor. Some people believe that since people of different cities on the road particularly welcomed and respected the Imam and he observed certain supernatural wonders from him, Yahya acknowledged the wilaya of the Imams and converted to Shi'a.
In Shiite sources of hadiths, hadiths are transmitted in which the details of Imam al-Hadi's trip to Samarra are transmitted from Yahya. During the trip, he observed and reported supernatural wonders from the Imam, including the sudden emergence of a tree and a water spring in a dry and hot land on their way, and the Imam bringing warm clothes with him although the trip occurred during the heat of summer, which gave rise to Yahya's surprise. However, there was an unexpected rainfall and coldness on the way.
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