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Zaydism (Arabic: الزَّيْدِيَّة, romanizedaz-Zaydiyya) is one of the three main branches[1] of Shia Islam that emerged in the eighth century following Zayd ibn Ali‘s unsuccessful rebellion against the Umayyad Caliphate.[2] Zaydism is typically considered to be a branch of Shia Islam that comes closest to the Sunni, although the "classical" form of Zaydism (usually referred to as Hadawi) over the centuries had changed its posture with regard to Sunni and Shia traditions multiple times, to the point where interpretation of Zaydi as Shia is often based on just their acceptance of Ali as a rightful successor to Muhammad.[3] Zaydis regard the rationalism as more important than Quranic literalism and in the past were quite tolerant towards Sunni Shafiism, a religion of about half of the Yemenis.[4]

Most of the world's Zaydis are located in Northern Yemen, and in the Saudi Arabian area of Najran.

Flag of the Houthi movement, associated with the Zaydit doctrine

History

In the 7th century some early Muslims expected Ali to become a first caliph, successor to Muhammad. After ascension of Abu Bakr, supporters of Ali (and future Shia) continued to believe only people from the Prophet's family to qualify as rulers and selected one leader, imam, from each generation (the proto-Sunni, in contrast, recognized Abu Bakr as a legitimate first caliph).[4] The Zaydis emerged in reverence of Zayd ibn Ali's failed uprising against the Umayyad caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (r. 724–743). While a majority of the early Shia recognized Zayd's brother, Muhammad al-Baqir, as the fifth leader, some considered Zayd as the fifth imam, and thus in the 8th century formed the Zaydi or "Fivers" offshoot of Islam.[4]

The Zaydis formed the states in what is now known as northern Iran (Tabaristan, 864 CE, by Hasan ibn Zayd, expanded to Daylam and Gilan) and later in Yemen (893 CE, by al-Hadi ila'l-Haqq Yahya). The Zaydis on the Caspian Sea were forcefully converted to Twelver Shi'ism in the 16th century.[5]

The Zaydis in Yemen had initially lived in the highlands and the northern territories, but extent of their dominance away from their capital of 7 centuries, Saada, had been changing over time. Rassid dynasty was established after an Ottoman invasion in the 16th century. After another interaction with Ottomans, a new succession line was started in the 19th century by Muhammad bin Yahya Hamid ad-Din. With minor interruptions, these two dynasties ruled in Yemen until the creation of Yemen Arab Republic in 1962. While the rulers ostensibly conformed to Hadawi law (thus the "imamate"), the doctrines had to be modified to allow hereditary, as opposed to traditional merit-based, selection of imams.[6]

The end of imam rule in 1962, with the new rulers in Yemen no longer conforming to the requirements of Zaydism, caused Zaydi scholars to call for the restoration of the imamate. This contributed to the North Yemen Civil War that lasted from 1962 to 1970.[7] The national reconciliation of 1970 paused the fighting with traumatized Zaydis following three main routes:[8]

Law

In matters of Islamic jurisprudence, the Zaydis follow Zayd ibn ’Ali's teachings which are documented in his book Majmu’ Al-Fiqh (Arabic: مجموع الفِقه). Zaydi fiqh is similar to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence,[9] as well as the Ibadi school. Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi school, was favorable and even donated towards the Zaydi cause.[10] Zaydis dismiss religious dissimulation (taqiyya).[11] Zaydism does not rely heavily on hadith, but uses those that are consistent with the Qur'an, and is open to hadith. Some sources argue that Zaydism as simply a philosophy of political government that justifies the overthrow of unjust rulers and prioritizes those who are Banu Hashim.[12]

Theology

Haider[13] states that mainstream Zaydism (Hadawi) is a result of interaction of two currents, Batrism and Jarudism, their followers brought together during the original Zayd's rebellion.[14] These names, also designated as Batri and Jarudi, do not necessarily represent cohesive groups of people, for example, Batrism ideas (proto-Sunni) were dominant among Zaydi in the 8th century, and Jarudism (Shia) took over in the 9th century.[13][15] The following table summarizes the differences between Batri and Jarudi beliefs per Haider:[16]

Batri vs. Jarudi
Batri Jarudi
Muhammad designated Ali as a caliph implicitly Ali was clearly named by the Prophet
Ali's opponents were victims of a bad judgement. They should not be cursed or declared apostates Ali's opponents were apostates and can be cursed.
Imamate can go to a less worthy candidate Only the most worthy candidate shall become an imam
Legal authority is vested in the entire Muslim community Only Ali's and Fatima's descendants have the legal authority
Doctrines of raj'a, taqiyya, bada' are not valid. Raja, taqiyya, and bada' are accepted.

Zaydis’ theological literature puts an emphasis on justice and human responsibility, and its political implications, i.e. Muslims have an ethical and legal obligation by their religion to rise up and depose unjust leaders including unrighteous sultans and caliphs.[17]

Beliefs

Zaydis believe Zayd ibn Ali was the rightful successor to the imamate because he led a rebellion against the Umayyad Caliphate, which he believed was tyrannical and corrupt. Muhammad al-Baqir did not engage in political action and the followers of Zayd believed that a true Imām must fight against corrupt rulers.[18] The renowned Muslim jurist Abu Hanifa, who is credited with founding the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam, delivered a fatwā or legal statement in favour of Zayd in his rebellion against the Umayyad ruler. He also urged people in secret to join the uprising and delivered funds to Zayd.[19]

Unlike Twelver and Isma'ili Shi'ism, Zaydis do not believe in the infallibility of Imams[20][21] and reject the notion of nass imamate.[20] but believe that an Imam can be any descendant of Hasan ibn ʻAlī or Husayn ibn ʻAlī. Zaydis believe that Zayd ibn Ali in his last hour was betrayed by the people in Kufa.[citation needed]

Zaydis reject anthropomorphism and instead, take a rationalist approach to scriptural uses of anthropomorphic expressions, as illustrated in works such as the Kitāb al-Mustarshid by the 9th-century Zaydi imam al-Qasim al-Rassi.[22]

History

Further information: Battle of Fakhkh and Alid revolt of 762–763

Status of Caliphs and the Sahaba

Further information: Rashidun

There was a difference of opinion among the companions and supporters of Zayd ibn 'Ali, such as Abu al-Jarud Ziyad ibn Abi Ziyad, Sulayman ibn Jarir, Kathir al-Nawa al-Abtar and Hasan ibn Salih, concerning the status of the first three Rashidun caliphs who succeeded to the political and administrative authority of Muhammad. The earliest group, called Jarudiyya (named for Abu al-Jarud Ziyad ibn Abi Ziyad), was opposed to the approval of certain companions of the Prophet. They held that there was sufficient description given by the Prophet that all should have recognized Ali as the rightful caliph. They therefore consider the Companions wrong in failing to recognise 'Ali as the legitimate Caliph and deny legitimacy to Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman; however, they avoid accusing them.

The Jarudiyya were active during the late Umayyad Caliphate and early Abbasid Caliphate. Its views, although predominant among the later Zaydis, especially in Yemen under the Hadawi sub-sect, became extinct in Iraq and Iran due to forced conversion of the present religious sects to Twelver Shi'ism by the Safavid dynasty.[23][24]

The second group, the Sulaymaniyya, named for Sulayman ibn Jarir, held that the Imamate should be a matter to be decided by consultation. They felt that the companions, including Abu Bakr and 'Umar, had been in error in failing to follow 'Ali but it did not amount to sin.[citation needed]

The third group is known as the Batriyya, Tabiriyya, or Salihiyya for Kathir an-Nawa al-Abtar and Hasan ibn Salih. Their beliefs are virtually identical to those of the Sulaymaniyya, except they see Uthman also as in error but not in sin.[25]

The term rafida was a term used by Zayd ibn Ali on those who rejected him in his last hours for his refusal to condemn the first two Caliphs of the Muslim world, Abu Bakr and Umar.[26] Zayd bitterly scolds the "rejectors" (rafidha) who deserted him, an appellation used by Salafis to refer to Twelver Shi'a to this day.[27]

A group of their leaders assembled in his (Zayd's presence) and said: "May God have mercy on you! What do you have to say on the matter of Abu Bakr and Umar?" Zayd said, "I have not heard anyone in my family renouncing them both nor saying anything but good about them...when they were entrusted with government they behaved justly with the people and acted according to the Qur'an and the Sunnah"[28]

According to Zaydi traditions, Rāfiḍa referred to those Kufans who deserted and refused to support Zayd ibn Ali, who had a favourable view of the first two Rashidun Caliphs.[29][30][31][32] The term "Rāfiḍa" became a popular pejorative term used by the Zaydi scholars against Imami Shias to criticize their rejection of Zayd ibn Ali.[33][34]

Twelver Shia references to Zayd

While not one of the Twelve Imams embraced by Twelver Shi'ism, Zayd ibn Ali features in historical accounts within Twelver literature in a positive and negative light.

In Twelver accounts, Imam Ali al-Ridha narrated how his grandfather, Ja'far al-Sadiq, also supported Zayd ibn Ali's struggle:

he was one of the scholars from the Household of Muhammad and got angry for the sake of the Honorable the Exalted God. He fought with the enemies of God until he got killed in His path. My father Musa ibn Ja’far narrated that he had heard his father Ja’far ibn Muhammad say, "May God bless my uncle Zayd... He consulted with me about his uprising and I told him, "O my uncle! Do this if you are pleased with being killed and your corpse being hung up from the gallows in the al-Konasa neighbourhood." After Zayd left, As-Sadiq said, "Woe be to those who hear his call but do not help him!".

— Uyūn Akhbār al-Riḍā,[35] p. 466

Jafar al-Sadiq's love for Zayd ibn Ali was so immense that he broke down and cried upon reading the letter informing him of his death and proclaimed:

From God we are and to Him is our return. I ask God for my reward in this calamity. He was a really good uncle. My uncle was a man for our world and for our Hereafter. I swear by God that my uncle is a martyr just like the martyrs who fought along with God’s Prophet or Ali or Al-Hassan or Al-Hussein

— Uyūn akhbār al-Riḍā,[35] p. 472

However, in other hadiths, narrated in Al-Kafi, the main Shia book of hadith, Zayd ibn Ali is criticized by his half-brother, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, for his revolt against the Umayyad Dynasty. According to Alexander Shepard, an Islamic Studies specialist, much of Twelver ahadith and theology was written to counter Zaydism.[36]

Empires

Justanids

The Justanids (Persian: جستانیان‎) were the rulers of a part of Daylam (the mountainous district of Gilan) from 791 to the late 11th century. After Marzuban ibn Justan converted to Islam in 805, the ancient family of Justan's became connected to the Zaydi Alids of the Daylam region. The Justanids adopted the Zaydi form of Shi'ism.

Karkiya dynasty

The Karkiya dynasty, or Kia dynasty, was a Zaydi Shia dynasty which ruled over Bia pish (eastern Gilan) from the 1370s to 1592. They claimed Sasanian ancestry as well.

Alid dynasty

Alid dynasty of Tabaristan. See Alid dynasties of northern Iran.

Idrisid dynasty

Extent of Zaydi dynasty in North Africa.

The Idrisid dynasty was a Zaydi dynasty centered around modern-day Morocco. It was named after its first leader Idris I.

Banu Ukhaidhir

The Banu Ukhaidhir was a dynasty that ruled in al-Yamamah (central Arabia) from 867 to at least the mid-eleventh century.

Hammudid dynasty

The Hammudid dynasty was a Zaydi dynasty in the 11th century in southern Spain.

Mutawakili

Zaydi regions (orange) in Yemen's interior, excludes Tihamah on the coast.

The Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen, also known as North Yemen, existed between 1918 and 1962 in the northern part of what is now Yemen. Its capital was Sana'a until 1948, then Ta'izz.

Community and former States

Since the earliest form of Zaydism was Jaroudiah,[25] many of the first Zaidi states were supporters of its position, such as those of the Iranian Alavids of Mazandaran Province and the Buyid dynasty of Gilan Province and the Arab dynasties of the Banu Ukhaidhir[citation needed] of al-Yamama (modern Saudi Arabia) and the Rassids of Yemen. The Idrisid dynasty in the western Maghreb were another Arab[37] Zaydi[38][39][40][41][42][43] dynasty, ruling 788–985.

The Alavids established a Zaydi state in Deylaman and Tabaristan (northern Iran) in 864;[44] it lasted until the death of its leader at the hand of the Sunni Samanids in 928. Roughly forty years later, the state was revived in Gilan (Northwest Iran) and survived until 1126.

From the 12th–13th centuries, Zaydi communities acknowledged the Imams of Yemen or rival Imams within Iran.[45]

The Buyid dynasty was initially Zaidi[46] as were the Banu Ukhaidhir rulers of al-Yamama in the 9th and 10th centuries.[47]

The leader of the Zaidi community took the title of Caliph. As such, the ruler of Yemen was known as the Caliph. Al-Hadi ila'l-Haqq Yahya, a descendant of Imam Hasan ibn Ali, founded this Rassid state at Sa'da, al-Yaman, in c. 893–897. The Rassid Imamate continued until the middle of the 20th century, when a 1962 revolution deposed the Imam. After the fall of the Zaydi Imamate in 1962 many[citation needed] Zaydi Shia in northern Yemen had converted to Sunni Islam.[48][dubious ]

The Rassid state was founded under Jarudiyya thought;[9] however, increasing interactions with Hanafi and Shafi'i schools of Sunni Islam led to a shift to Sulaimaniyyah thought, especially among the Hadawi sub-sect.

In the 21st century, the most prominent Zaidi movement is the Shabab Al Mu'mineen, commonly known as Houthis, who have been engaged in an uprising against the Yemeni Government, causing a grave humanitarian crisis in north Yemen.[49][50]

Some Persian and Arab legends record that Zaidis fled to China from the Umayyads during the 8th century.[51]

Houthi Yemen

Main article: Houthis

Since 2004 in Yemen, Zaidi fighters have been waging an uprising against factions belonging to the Sunni majority group in the country. The Houthis, as they are often called, have asserted that their actions are for the defense of their community from the government and discrimination, though the Yemeni government in turn accused them of wishing to bring it down and institute religious law.[52]

On 21 September 2014, an agreement was signed in Sana'a under UN patronage essentially giving the Houthis control of the government after a decade of conflict.[53] Tribal militias then moved swiftly to consolidate their position in the capital, with the group officially declaring direct control over the state on 6 February 2015.[54] This outcome followed the removal of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012 in the wake of protracted Arab Spring protests. Saudi Arabia has exercised the predominant external influence in Yemen since the withdrawal of Nasser's Egyptian expeditionary force marking the end of the bitter North Yemen Civil War.[55][56]

There is a wide array of domestic opponents to Houthi rule in Yemen, ranging from the conservative Sunni Islah Party to the secular socialist Southern Movement to the radical Islamists of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and, since 2014, the Islamic State – Yemen Province.[57][58][59]

Imams of Zaidis

The Imams of Yemen constitute one line of Zaidi imams.

Further information: Imams of Yemen § List of Imams

A timeline indicating Zaidi Imams in the early period amongst other Shia Imams as listed in Al-Masaabeeh fee As-Seerah by Ahmad bin Ibrahim is as follows:[citation needed]

  1. Ali ibn Abi Talib
  2. Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib
  3. Al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib
  4. Ali Zayn al-Abidin ibn Al-Husayn ibn Ali
  5. Hasan al-Muthana ibn Al-Hasan ibn Ali
  6. Zayd ibn Ali ibn Al-Husayn
  7. Yahya ibn Zayd ibn Ali
  8. Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Hasan al-Muthana
  9. Ibrahim ibn Abdallah ibn Hasan al-Muthana
  10. Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Abdullah
  11. Al-Hasan ibn Ibrahim ibn Abdullah
  12. Al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Hasan al-Muthalath ibn Hasan al-Muthana
  13. Isa ibn Zayd ibn Ali
  14. Yahya ibn Abdullah ibn Hasan Al-Muthana
  15. Idris I ibn Abdullah ibn Hasan al-Muthana
  16. Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Isma'il ibn Ibrahim ibn Hasan al-Muthana
  17. Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Zayd
  18. Muhammad ibn Sulayman ibn Dawud ibn Hasan Al-Muthana
  19. Al-Qasim ibn Ibrahim ibn Isma'il
  20. Yahya ibn Al-Husayn ibn Al-Qasim ibn Ibrahim
  21. Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn Al-Husayn
  22. Ahmad ibn Yahya ibn Al-Husayn
  23. Al-Hasan ibn Ahmad ibn Yahya
  24. Yahya ibn Umar ibn Yahya ibn Al-Husayn
  25. Al-Hasan ibn Zayd ibn Muhammad ibn Isma'il ibn Hasan
  26. Muhammad ibn Zayd ibn Muhammad
  27. Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Umar al-Ashraf ibn Ali
  28. Hasan ibn Al-Qasim ibn Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Al-Qasim ibn Hasan or Abu Muhammad Hasan ibn Qasim
  29. Ahmad ibn Hasan or Abu 'l-Husayn Ahmad ibn Hasan
  30. Ja'far ibn Hasan or Abu 'l-Qasim Ja'far ibn Hasan
  31. Muhammad ibn Ahmad or Abu Ali Muhammad ibn Ahmad
  32. Husayn ibn Ahmad or Abu Ja'far Husayn ibn Ahmad
  33. Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Ukhaidhir ibn Ibrahim ibn Musa ibn Abdullah ibn Hasan al-Muthana
  34. Yusuf ibn Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Ukhaidir
  35. Isma'il ibn Yusuf ibn Muhammad
  36. Al-Hasan ibn Yusuf ibn Muhammad
  37. Ahmad ibn Al-Hasan ibn Yusuf
  38. Abu 'l-Muqallid Ja'far ibn Ahmad ibn Al-Hasan
  39. Idris II ibn Idris I
  40. Muhammad ibn Idris II
  41. Ali I ibn Muhammad
  42. Yahya I ibn Muhammad
  43. Yahya II ibn Yahya I
  44. Ali II ibn Umar ibn Idris II
  45. Yahya III ibn Al-Qasim ibn Idris II
  46. Yahya IV ibn Idris ibn Umar ibn Idris II
  47. Al-Hasan I ibn Muhammad ibn Al-Qasim ibn Idris II
  48. Al-Qasim Guennoun ibn Muhammad ibn Al-Qasim ibn Idris II
  49. Abul-Aish Ahmad ibn Al-Qasim Guennoun
  50. Al-Hasan II ibn Al-Qasim Guennoun

See also

References

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Further reading