Al-Husayn b. ‘Ali b. al-Hasan b. al-Hasan b. al-Hasan b. ‘Ali (a) was known as “Sahib al-Fakhkh” (the companion of Fakhkh). His father, ‘Ali b. al-Hasan was a pious person known as “‘Ali al-Khayr” (‘Ali, the good) and “‘Ali al-aghar” (‘Ali, the nice). And his mother, Zaynab, was the daughter of ‘Abd Allah b. al-Hasan b. al-Hasan b. ‘Ali, who was known as “‘Abd Allah al-Mahd” (the pure ‘Abd Allah); she was a sister of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya and Ibrahim b. ‘Abd Allah, known as “Qatil Bakhamra” (killed in Bakhamra). This couple was known as righteous because of their piety.
After the Uprising of al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, ‘Ali b. al-Hasan and some other ‘Alawis were arrested at the command of al-Mansur al-‘Abbasi, and soon after that he died in the prison.
The Prophet’s (s) foretelling of the Event
It is reported that in one of his journeys, the Prophet Muhammad (s) arrived in Fakhkh; he said prayers with his companionsand then said: “a man from my household and a group of faithful people will be killed in this place; their shrouds and embalmment will come from the heaven and their souls will go to the heaven before their bodies”.
A similar hadith is narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (a).
Backgrounds of the Uprising
When al-Hadi al-‘Abbasi took over the caliphate, he increased the pressure on the ‘Aldis. He was insistent that the ‘Alawis should be chased and found; he frightened them, and cut wages that his father, al-Mahdi al-‘Abbasi, used to give them. He wrote to his rulers in every place that the ‘Alawis should be chased, arrested, and extradited to the central government. He also dismissed the ruler of Medina who treated the ‘Alawis in a rather good manner, and appointed a person from the progeny of Hazrat ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. ‘Abd Allah, who was known to be hostile to Ahl al-Bayt (a), as the ruler of Medina.
Daily Summons of the ‘Alawis
The new ruler of Medina ordered his men to bring the ‘Alawis to his Dar al-Imara (the emirate building) on a daily basis, and pejoratively recall them (to check if all of them are present). Each ‘Alawi had to accept the bailment for the presence of one or more of his relatives (that is, they were responsible to find them in case they were absent).
Absence of an ‘Alawi
An ‘Alawi, called “al-Hasan b. Muhammad” (the son of al-Nafs al-Zakiyya), did not show up for the daily summons. The ruler reprimanded al-Husayn b. ‘Ali and Yahya b. ‘Abd Allah who were al-Hasan’s bailsmen (or guarantors) and asked them to present him soon. After threatening remarks, the ruler took an oath that he will ruin the houses of the ‘Alawis and whip al-Husayn b. ‘Ali one thousand times if he does not bring al-Hasan until the night.
Early Occurrence of the Uprising
70 Muhib e Ahele Bait pilgrims of hajj met al-Husayn b. ‘Ali in Medina and decided to rise that year in the days of hajj, but after the threats of the ruler of Medina and the arrest of some of al-Husayn’s companions, they decided to start the uprising earlier than planned.
According to Tarikh al-Tabari, the uprising began on Dhu l-Qa’da 13, 169/May 17, 786). At the time of morning prayers, 26 people from Imam ‘Ali (a)’s progeny, 10 pilgrims of hajj, and some mawali entered the mosque chanting “Ahad, Ahad”, and they had the mu’adhdhin (the caller to the prayers) to recite the adhan (calls for prayers) that included “Hayya ‘ala khayr al-‘amal” (hasten to the best action). When the ruler of Medina heard the Shiite adhan, he was scared and escaped from the city. People said their prayers with al-Husayn b. ‘Ali. After the prayers, al-Husayn b. ‘Ali gave a sermon, asking people to follow the tradition of the Prophet (s). People pledged their allegiance to him conditional upon the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet (s) and “al-Murtada min Al Muhammad” (that is, Imam Ali (a)).
After some hours, Khalid al-Barbari, the military commander of the city, and his soldiers attacked the mosque. However, Khalid was killed and his soldiers were defeated. The next day, there was another battle between the two groups leading to the defeat of the Abbasids. Then the Abbasids asked al-Mubarak al-Turki (a commander of the Caliph), who was then in Medina for performing the hajj rituals, for help. According to Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, al-Mubarak was reluctant to engage with those quarrels; so he sent a message to al-Husayn b. ‘Ali to send some of his soldiers to launch a camisado against him so that he can find a pretext to flee. Al-Husayn did this, and al-Mubarak escaped to Mecca. Thus Medina was under al-Husayn’s control. According to al-Tabari, their control of Medina lasted only 11 days, until Dhu l-Qa’da 24, 169/May 28, 786). In this interval they equipped themselves.
Moving to Mecca
On Dhu l-Qa’da 24, 169 (June 1, 786), Husayn appointed one of his companions, Dinar al-Khuza’i, as the ruler of Medina, and moved with 300 soldiers to Mecca. Before that, he had a meeting with Muhib e Ahele Bait and they decided to rise in Mecca during the hajj days in Mina.
Day of the Event
When al-Hadi al-‘Abbasi heard the news of the uprising, he ordered some Abbasid seniors who were in Mecca for hajjpilgrimage to fight al-Husayn b. ‘Ali under the commandership of Muhamamd b. Sulayman. The Abbasids (with 4000 soldiers) and al-Husayn’s army encountered on Dhu l-Hijja 8, 169/June 11, 786), the day of Tarwiya, in an area called “Fakhkh”. The Abbasid commander offered al-Husayn a letter of security but he did not accept it. In the battle, al-Husayn and many of his companions were martyred, some were captivated and some escaped. The heads of the martyrs as well as the captives were first sent to Medina and then to Baghdad to al-Hadi al-‘Abbasi.
The sons of ‘Abd Allah al-Mahd were active in this event. Sulayman b. ‘Abd Allah and al-Hasan b. Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-Mahd were killed, but Idris b. ‘Abd Allah escaped to Morocco (Maghrib) and later established the Idrissid government there. Also another brother of his, Yahya b. ‘Abd Allah, escaped to Daylam. He received a letter of security from Harun al-Rashid, but was then deceived into going to Baghdad and was killed there.
Abbasid Actions after the Event of Fakhkh
After the Fakhkh uprising, the ruler of Medina set the houses and palm groves of al-Husayn b. ‘Ali and some of his household on fire, and confiscated the rest of their palm groves and property. Musa b. ‘Isa al-‘Abbasi went to Medina and called people of the city to the mosque and had them publically curse al-Husayn and his companions. There are contradictory reports about al-Hadi al-‘Abbasi’s reactions. On some accounts, he coldheartedly treated the captives of the event as well as the Abbasid rulers who failed to do their duties in the battle. For example, he captivated Qasim b. Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-‘Alawi, and mutilated his body with a saw, and he was angered at his own commander, Musa b. ‘Isa al-‘Abbasi, who had killed Hasan b. Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah, instead of capturing him and letting the Caliph decide about him; because of this he confiscated Musa’s property.
Event of Fakhkh
It is reported that Imam al-Kazim (a) cried for the martyrs of Fakhkh, asking the death of their killers and their intense divine torments from God. He also sponsored orphans, kids, and widows of the ‘Alawis who were martyred in Fakhkh. There are hadiths from the Prophet (s) and earlier Imams (a) who foretold the event, such as the above hadith from the Prophet (s) and another one from Imam al-Baqir (a) according to which: the Gabriel told the Prophet (s) that in this desert (that is, Fakhkh) a man from your progeny will be murdered whose martyred companions will be rewarded by God.
After the martyrdom of al-Husayn b. ‘Ali and his companions, the heads of the martyrs were exhibited in an assembly in which Imam ‘Ali’s (a) progeny, including Imam al-Kazim (a), were present. No one talked except Imam al-Kazim (a); when he saw the head of al-Husayn b. ‘Ali, the leader of the Fakhkh uprising, he said:
- To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. I swear to God that al-Husayn was martyred as a righteous Muslim; he frequently fasted and worshiped at nights; he enjoined the right and forbade the wrong. There was no one like him in his household.
According to some sources, al-Husayn consulted Imam al-Kazim (a) before his uprising. al-Husayn is quoted as saying that “we did not rise before we consulted our household and Hazrat Musa b. Ja’far and he asked us to rise”.