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.

Yahya b. Zayd
Tomb of Yahya b. Zayd in Jowzjan, Afghanistan
Tomb of Yahya b. Zayd in Jowzjan, Afghanistan
TeknonymAbu Talib
EpithetQatil Jowzjan
FatherZayd b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn
MotherRayta bt. 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad al-Hanafiyya
Birth~ 107/725-6
Place(s) of ResidenceMedina, Kufa
Spouse(s)Muhibba bt. 'Amr b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn (a)
Place of BurialJowzjan, Afghanistan

Lineage, Teknonym, 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,[1] a virtuous woman from Banu Hashim.[2]

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 107/725-6.[3]

Al-Bayhaqi took Yahya's teknonym to be Abu Talib, and since he was martyred in Jowzjan in Afghanistan,[4] he was also known as "Qatil Jowzjan" (murdered in Jowzjan).

Yahya had long hair and nice beard, and was very tall.[5] He was as courageous, self-confident and combative as his father.[6]

Wife and Children

Yahya married his cousin, Muhibba, the daughter of 'Amr b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn (a).[7] 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).[8] According to some sources, Zaynab bt. Yahya's mausoleum is located in Egypt.[9]


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,[10] 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.[11]

However, Ayatollah Abu l-Qasim al-Khoei believed that Yahya did not obey Imam al-Sadiq (a) and was an independent person.[12]

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".[13]

Meeting al-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.[14]

This conversation is important because it was cited and appealed to by both proponents[15] and opponents[16] of Yahya's being an Imami.


Main Article: The uprising of Yahya b. Zeyd

After Zayd's martyrdom, Yahya and 10 people from his father's companions visited the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a).[17] 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.


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-June 743).[18] His corpse was hanged from the Jowzjan gate in 125/743[19] 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.[20] Yahya was buried in Jowzjan. People mourned for him for 7 days. In that year, they called their newborn sons "Yahya".[21]

Attributed Tombs

  • Mayami (Mashhad): This blessed tomb is located on a high hill 55 km from Mashhad and 1 km from Mayami village on the road of Mashhad to Sarakhs. However, from the epigraph in the tomb, it can be learned that it belongs to Yahya b. Husayn (Dhu al-Dam'a) b. Zayd, who was Yahya b. Zayd's nephew.[22]
  • Gorgan: Due to the similarity between Jowzjan and Jorjan, the tomb in Gorgan has been attributed to Yahya b. Zayd.[23]
  • Kelidar (Neyshabur): the tomb there belongs to Yahya b. Muhammad, a descendant of Imam al-Sajjad (a), but recently has been attributed to Yahya b. Zayd.[24]
  • Sabzevar: Since, Yahya b. Zayd hid in Sabzevar for a while, this tomb is attributed to him.[25]
  • Varamin: this tomb is attributed to Yahya b. Zayd, maybe due to his travel to that region.[26]

There are other tombs attributed to him in Semnan, Hamedan, etc. which are not true and name similarity has led to such mistakes.

Consequences of Uprising

After killing Yahya b. Zayd, the lovers of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in Khorasan began a movement and day by day their movement accelerated and they mentioned the crimes of Umayyads toward the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s) for people, until there was no one left who had not heard about them.[27] Abu Muslim rode on this wave and uprooted Umayyads.[28] People of Rey too became upset about the martyrdom of Yahya and did not use the water of a river called Surin because they believed that the sword by which Yahya was killed had been washed in that river.[29]


  1. Juzjānī, Ṭabaqāt-i Nāṣirī, vol. 5, p. 250.
  2. Ibn al-Ṣūfī, al-Mujdī, p. 429.
  3. Qarashī, Ḥayāt al-shahīd, p. 60.
  4. Bayhaqī, Lubāb al-ansāb, vol. 1, p. 227-228.
  5. Maḥallī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-wardīyya, vol. 1, p. 268.
  6. Maḥallī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-wardīyya, vol. 1, p. 268.
  7. Maḥallī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-wardīyya, vol. 1, p. 271.
  8. Ibn Jubayr, al-Riḥla, p. 20.
  9. Ziriklī, al-Aʿlām, vol. 3, p. 67.
  10. Māmaqānī, Tanqīḥ al-maqāl, vol. 3, p. 316.
  11. Amīnī, Naḍrat fī kitāb al-sunnat wa l-Shīʿa, vol. 1, p. 21.
  12. Khoei, Muʿjam rijāl al-ḥadīth, vol. 20, p. 50.
  13. Khazzāz al-Rāzī, Kifāyat al-athar, p. 304.
  14. Al-Saḥifa al-Sajjādīyya, Introduction.
  15. Māmaqānī, Tanqīḥ al-maqāl, vol. 3, p. 316.
  16. Khoei, Muʿjam rijāl al-ḥadīth, vol. 20, p. 50.
  17. Balʿamī, Tārīkhnāma-yi Ṭabarī, vol. 4, p. 963.
  18. Juzjānī, Ṭabaqāt-i Nāṣirī, vol. 5, p. 388.
  19. Qundūzī, Yanābīʿ al-mawadda, vol. 3, p. 162.
  20. Asad Ḥaydar, al-Imam al-Ṣādiq wa l-madhāhib al-arbaʿa, vol. 1, p. 138.
  21. Ḥimyarī, al-Rawḍ al-miʿṭār, p. 182.
  22. Sālik Bīrjandī, "Imāmzāda Yaḥya b. Zayd", p. 70.
  23. Muḥammadī Jalālī, Qīyām-i Yaḥyā b. Zayd, p. 289.
  24. Muḥammadī Jalālī, Qīyām-i Yaḥyā b. Zayd, p. 253.
  25. Muḥammadī Jalālī, Qīyām-i Yaḥyā b. Zayd, p. 275.
  26. Muḥammadī Jalālī, Qīyām-i Yaḥyā b. Zayd, p. 307.
  27. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 326.
  28. Ḥimyarī, al-Rawḍ al-miʿṭār, p. 182.
  29. Baghdādī, Marāṣid al-iṭilāʿ, vol. 2, p. 754.


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