Hazrat Ibrahim bin ‘Abd Allah (عليه السلام)

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‘The Revolt of Ibrahim al-Zaki

Ibrahim b. ‘Abd Allah was among the leading thinkers and one of the eminent men of his time in his knowledge, his courtesy, his good manners, and his good management. His pure soul was full of faith in the right of the community. So he went to the fields of jihad to save it from the government of enslavement and abasement. He intended to establish among its lands the Islamic justice and the Qur’anic laws.

The thing for which Ibrahim was famous was that he had an iron will; he was alert and sensitive. Al-Mansur increasingly wanted him to be arrested, so he spread spies on him. Ibrahim could sit on the dinning tables of al-Mansur, and he did not recognize him. He mentioned that, saying: “The looking (for me) in al-Mousil forced me to sit on the dinning tables of al-Mansur. He came to it (al-Mousil) to look for me. The (people of) the land expelled me, and I found no allowable place. He imposed searching (for me), spread spies (on me), and invited the people to his lunch. However, I came in among those who came in, and ate among those who ate, and then I went out. As a result he refrained from looking (for me).”

This boldness is a proof of his unique abilities that placed him on the level of the great, who do not think of defeat, and whose determination is not changed by difficult events. The sad news of the murder of his brother came to him while he was on the pulpit and delivering a speech, so he recited the following poetry lines:

O Abu al-Manazil, O best of knights, whoever is bereaved of you in the world is indeed bereaved!
[1] Maqatil al-Talibiyyin.

Allah knows that if I fear them and the heart is fearful of them, they will not kill him, and I will not hand over my brother to them until we all die or we all live!

Then his tears flowed on his holy face, and he praised his brother, and composed some words out of his sadness, saying: “O Allah, You know that Muhammed went out in revolt to show anger for You, to remove these heavy (days), and to prefer Your right; therefore have mercy on him, forgive him; make the hereafter the best resort and return for him in the world.”

He elegized his brother with these poetry lines:

I will lament for you through the thin, white (swords) and the spear, for surely through them the seeker attain his revenge.
We are the people who do not weep for their perishing one, even if he breaks their backs.
I am not like the one who mourns for his brother with tears he makes through pressing the water of his eyeball with pressing.
But I relieve my heart through an attack with which I inflame firebrands among their phalanxes.[1]
The heroism in the brilliant sense of the word was present in this wonderful attitude Ibrahim adopted, for the murder of his brother did not weaken his determination; rather it increased him in faith and determination, and he continued his struggle.
Ibrahim declared his great revolt against al-Mansur in Basrah, so the Muslims responded to him and joined his summons. Sufyan b. Mu’awiya, the governor of Basrah, was among those who supported him. He always contacted with him and informed him of al-Mansur’s new decisions concerning Basrah. He helped him very much with the affairs of the revolt.

Ibrahim occupied Basrah and sent the summoners to him to al-Ahwaz, Persia, Wasit, and al-Meda’in. These countries responded to him and pledged allegiance to him. The flag of the ‘Alawid state waved over them. The news of the violent revolt successively came to al-Mansur, and he became afraid, frightened, and impatient. Al-Hajjajj b. Qutayba came in to him and saw him hitting the ground with his scepter and reciting:

I have installed myself as a target for spears; surely the head does the like of that!
So al-Hajjajj said to him: “May Allah make your glory last and grant you a victory over your enemy, you say just as al-A’sha has said: [1] Ibid., 342.

“‘And if their war is kindled among them and is heated for them after its being cold, it will find someone who is patient toward its heat, the attacks of wars, and their repetition.”

Al-Mansur said to him: “O Hajjajj, surely Ibrahim has come to know my rough side, my difficult direction, and my coarse horn. He has been encouraged to walk towards me from Basrah by these countries neighboring the troops of the Commander of the faithful; the people of Iraq have agreed with him on opposition and disobedience to me. I have shot each country with its own stone and every district with its own arrow. I have sent to them a noble, blessed, victorious one, ‘Isa b. Musa along with many troops and equipment. I have sought help from Allah against him (Ibrahim) and regarded Him as sufficient to him, for surely the Commander of the faithful has neither strength nor force except through Him.”

When Ibrahim had troops supplied with numbers and equipment, he decided to go to war against al-Mansur. However, his companions from Basrah advised him to stay in Basrah and to send the troops; if they had escaped, he would have reinforced them with other than them. Some people from Kufa said: “Surely there are many groups of people in Kufa. If they saw you, they would die before you; and if they did not see you, many reasons would hold them back (from fighting).” As for Ibrahim, he responded to the viewpoint of the Kufans. As a result he himself headed for al-Mansur to war against him. If he had stayed in Basrah, he would have overcome those events and won a victory.

Al-Mansur sent an army of fifty thousand fighters to battle against Ibrahim. He appointed ‘Isa b. Musa, his crown prince, as a command-in-chief over the army and appointed Hemid b. Qahtaba as commander over its vanguard. He said to him when he saw him off: “Surely these wicked people (the ast3rs) claim that when you meet Ibrahim, your companions will wander about one time in order to find him, then they will come to, and the final result will be yours.”

Ibrahim along with his troops covered the desert; he was heard reciting al-Qatami’s poetry lines:

If a wise man manage the affairs, then Whayb will end what he can do.
The disobedience to the one who is compassionate to you is of that which increases you in strength when you hear from him. 
The best of things is that which you receive from him, and not that you follow him with following.
But when the leather is cut, is won-out and defective, so artisans are overcome.[1]
[1] Al-Kamil, vol. 5, p. 18.

This indicates that he repented of his walking (towards al-Mansur), for he came to know that if had stayed in Basrah, it would have been better for him. Then he along with his troops headed for Bakhimra, and not for Kufa lest the honors should be violated and the children should be killed. Some people advised him to walk towards Kufa, for it would be more guaranteed, but he did not respond to them out of fear of what we have mentioned.

The fire of the war broke out between the two sides, and al-Mansur’s army was defeated and its vanguards reached Kufa. So al-Mansur was afraid, intended to escape, and mentioned the words of Imam al-Sadiq, peace be on him, concerning that the ‘Abbasids would win the government. That was when he said to al-Rabi’: “Where is the statement of their (Imam called) al-Sadiq? How have our children not attained it (the government)? So where is the emirate of the boys?”

When he was besieged and straitened, he ordered the camels and other animals to be put at all the gates of Kufa, that he might escape from it. Al-Mansur’s troops returned after their defeat because of a river they found and were not able to pass it. So they all came back. Ibrahim’s companions had moved through water, that they might fight on one front. Thus, when they tried to escape, the water prevented them from escaping. Ibrahim along with some of his companions resisted. Hemid b. Qahtaba fought against them and sent their heads to ‘Isa. A treacherous arrow came and fell into Ibrahim’s mouth, and he changed his place and said to his companions: “Bring me down!” They brought him down off his mount, and he said: “Allah’s command is a sealed determination! We wanted an affair, and Allah wanted other than it.”

His companions and his special group gathered around him to defend him and to fight on his behalf. So Hemid b. Qahtaba said (to his troops): “Attack that group (of fighters) to remove them from their places and to know that around which they have gathered.” They attacked them and removed them from Ibrahim. They cut off his holy head and brought it to ‘Isa. So he prostrated and sent the head to al-Mansur.[1]

With this one of the most wonderful pages of holy jihad was ended and a great person in the Islamic world was folded, while he intended to put an end to oppression and tyranny, and to return the honorable life in Islam.

When al-Mansur, the wicked and evil one, heard of the murder of the great martyr (Ibrahim), he was about to fly out of happiness, for he achieved all his hopes and expectations. He found delicious the food which was before him, and he said to those around him: “Ibrahim intended to prevent me from (having) such a food!”[2]
[1] Ibid., p. 224.
[2] Al-Mas’udi, Murujj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 224.

Surely, the revolt of Ibrahim al-Zaki was not for the enjoyments and pleasures of the world; rather it was for destroying evil deeds, annihilating oppression, and saving the people from the terrorist government that ruled them during the days of al-Mansur. Surely that immortal revolt was for achieving ideals, putting the Qur’anic laws into practice among the general life of the people. Al-Mansur happily turned to those present in his gathering and said to them: “By Allah, I have never seen one more loyal to Merwan’s children than al-Hajjajj!”

So al-Musayyab b. Zahra al-Dabbi opposed him and showed him that they obeyed him more than al-Hajjajj did to his masters, the Umayyads, saying: “O Commander of the faithful, al-Hajjajj did not precede us to an affair, and we remained behind him. By Allah, Allah did not create on earth someone more beloved to us than our Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. You ordered us to kill his children, and we obeyed you and did (that); therefore, are we loyal to you?”

His words hurt al-Mansur, and he shouted at him: “Sit down! May you not sit down!”[1] Al-Mansur possessed alone the kingdom after the revolt of the ‘Alawids. After that, the tyrannical and arrogant one, al-Mansur, went too far in oppressing and exhausting the subjects. That was because the good forces of which he was afraid were defeated. As a result he became earnest in punishing the ‘Alawids severely and in uprooting them. In the following pages we will deal with the different kinds of exhaustion they faced and which cannot be described out of its atrocity and severity.

His Putting them in Columns

When the revolt of the ‘Alawids was suppressed, al-Mansur looked for the rest of the ‘Alawids. He put those he found into empty columns built of plaster and bricks. He found a handsome boy of al-Hasan’s. He handed over the boy to a builder and ordered him to put him into an empty column and to brick him up. He entrusted one of his reliable persons with carrying that task. The builder put the boy into the empty column. He felt pity for him, and he left for him an outlet in the column, that some air might enter through it. He said to the boy: “Do not worry! Be patient! For surely, I will take you out of this column when it gets dark!”

When it became dark, the builder came and took the ‘Alawid (boy) out of it and said to: “Fear Allah in respect with (shedding) my blood and that of those workers with me. Hide your person; for surely I have taken you out of the column in the dark, for I have fear that your grandfather, Allah’s Apostle, may Allah and his family, will be my opponent before Allah on the Day of Judgment.” He asked the
[1] Ibid.


boy to hide his person, and he asked him to tell his mother of that, that her soul might be good, and her impatience might be less. The boy escaped, and none came to know where he lived. The builder reached the house appointed by the ‘Alawid boy, and he heard sound like that of bees out of crying. He knew that it was the boy’s mother. He told her about the story of her son and went away from her.[1]