Because his arrest did not return the areas of revolt into the hands of the authorities, al-Juludi returned with him and al-Riďa to Merv. According to al-Kulayni, al-Ma知un welcomed al-Riďa and offered him the caliphate, but he refused. However, after a few. months of negotiation with al-Ma mun, al-Riďa agreed to be his successor(1). The caliph announced his acceptance. on 5th Ramadan 201/28th March 817 and called him "al-Riďa mini Al Muhammad'. At the same time he ordered his soldiers to wear green clothes instead of the black which was the emblem of the `Abbasids. Then he strengthened his relations with al-Riďa by marrying his sister Umm Habiba to al-Riďa(2).

The installation of al-Riďa was in reality a political step arranged by the Persian vizier al-Fadl b. Sahl and associated with other policies aimed at consolidating his Persian support and harming the interests of his Arab opposition in Baghdad. This can be concluded from the points mentioned below:

Firstly, the fact that al-Ma知un continued to reside in Merv caused complaints amongst the military and administrative groups in Iraq, who had been the courtiers of Al-Amin (193-198/808-814) and who then had to struggle for their economic and regional interests against the Persian vizier of al-Ma知un, al-Fadl b. Sahl, and his brother alュ-Hasan b. Sahl(3).

Because he was busy with this conflict, al-Ma知un failed to subdue completely the `Alid rebellion in the Hijaz and Yemen. Therefore, with the encouragement of his vizier, al-Ma知un installed al-Riďa as his successor to the caliphate in order to divide the rebels by gaining the support of al-Riďa's adherents and those who were hoping for the appearance of an inspired `Alid leader(4).

Secondly, al-Ma知un changed the colour of the `Abbasid emblem from black to green. The latter colour was associated with the Sasanids, whereas the `Alid emblem was white(5).

 Such a step suggests the influence of the Persian vizier al-Fadl b. Sahl.

Thirdly, by installing al-Riďa as his successor, al-Ma知un succeeded in splitting the rebels by gaining the support of al-Riďa's brothers, who accepted the conciliation of al-Ma知un and mentioned his name in the khutba along with the name of al-Riďa. According to al-Tabari, al-`Abbas b. Musa al-Kazim accepted the governorship of Kufa on behalf of al-Ma知un, a fact which encouraged some of the rebels to mentions the names of al-Ma知un and al-Riďa in the khutba. But the majority of the Kufans insisted on mentioning only al-Riďa's name or that of any prominent person from the descendants of 'Ali(6).

Such attitudes indicate the Zaydite inclination of the Kufans. However, the leader of the rebels in Mecca, Ibrahim b. Musd al-Kazim agreed to mention both his brother alュRida and al-Ma知un in the khutba. For this reason, al-Ma知un confirmed his office and authorised him to lead the pilgrimage in Mecca(7).

But a year later, in 202/817, the caliph gave the governorship of Mecca to an `Abbasid leader, `Isa al-Juludi, and dispatched Ibrahim to Yemen to subdue the rebellion there. He also granted him Yemen's governorship. After he had fulfilled this task, Ibrahim set out for Mecca, but during his return he was arrested, as was his brother Zayd, and sent to al-Ma知un(8).

Moreover, al-ュNawbakhti mentions that a considerable body of the muhaddithun and Zaydites (the non-revolutionary branch) became Imamites after the installation of al-Riďa. But the accounts of al-Kashshi and al-Saduq suggest that these same people, for example Hisham b. Ibrahim al-Rashidi, had been used by al-Ma知un to watch the partisans of al-Riďa, and this might explain why they returned to their previous faith directly after the death of al-Riďa in 203/817.(9)

Fourthly, after he had quashed the 'Alid rebellion, al-Ma知un decided to go to Baghdad, taking with him al-Riďa and Muhammad b. Ja`far al-Sadiq. During his advance, his vizier. al-Fadl b. Sahl was assassinated, then al-Riďa died in Tus, probably of poison(10), and Muhammad b. Ja`far al-Sadiq passed away and was buried in Jurjan(11). Their mysterious deaths seem to indicate that al-Ma知un, having used them to fragment the `Alid opposition, was now moving on to a more rigorous anti- 'Alid programme.

Fifthly, the numerous measures initiated by al-Ma知un after his arrival at Bahgdad on Rabi` I 204/819 revealed the political aim of his previous policy. He cast aside the green banner and ordered his subjects to wear the black colour of the `Abbasids(12). He granted alュ Riďa's successor, al-Jawad, two million dirhams(13), and gave back the `district of Fadak to prominent `Alids, Muhammad b. Yahya b. al-ュHusayn and Muhammad b. `Ubayd Allah b. al-Hasan(14).

Furthermore, the land-tax (al-kharaj) of the sawad was adjusted in favour of the tax-payer. The share of the treasury was to be two-fifths instead of half of the produce(15).

Through these actions, al-Ma知un wanted to cut the support given by the prominent `Alids and the peasants of the sawad to the revolutionary 'Alid activities, which, according to Abu al-Fida, he had brought to an end. He was also endeavouring to work against his Arab opposition in Baghdad. When he entered the city everything there returned to normal as if the uprising had never occurred.(16)

Finally, in 205/820 al-Ma mun started to hold symposiums between the Imamites and the Zaydites, and encouraged them to discuss the question of the Im ama in his presence. It is worth mentioning that the non-revolutionary Zaydites believed in the Imamate of the inferior (al-Mafdul) in spite of the presence of the superior (al-Afdal). This view was based on the belief that even though `Ali b. Abi Talib was the most excellent of the community after the Prophet, he fully recognized the caliphate of Abu Bakr and `Umar. Because of this belief of the Zaydites, in the discussions with the Imamites, al-Ma知un often agreed with the viewpoints of Zaydite scholars such as `Ali b. al-Him, as regards the Imamate(17).

Then al-Ma知un managed to capture the 'Alid rebel `Abd al-Rahman b. Ahmad b. `Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. `Umar b. `Ali b. Abi Talib, who rose in arms in Yemen. By subduing this rebellion, alュMa知un ended the last military opposition of the `Alids during his rule. Finally, in 206/821 his real attitude towards the `Alids was revealed when he ordered them to wear black, and announced that all the descendants of Imam `Ali b. Abi Talib and their close kindred (alュ-Talibiyun) should be prevented from entering his palace(18).

4. The development of the Imamite organization (al-Wikala) during the time of al-Jawad

Despite the well-developed status of the Imamite organization during the last period of al-Riďa's Imamate, he died, leaving a successor only seven years old, thus causing further splits amongst his followers. Al-Mas'udi mentions that because of the age of Muhammad al-Jawad, the ninth Imam, al-Riďa's followers were confused as to whether or not he possessed the requisite qualifications for the Imamate.

Therefore eighty leading personalities from various provinces, among them al-Rayyan b. alュ Salt, Safwan b. Yahya, Yunis b. `Abd al-Rahman, Muhammad b. Hakim, 'Ali b. al-Hasan al-Wasiti, and Ishaq b. Isma` il b. Nawbakht, gathered together at the house of `Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj in Baghdad to discuss the validity of al-Jawad's Imamate. They decided to test his knowledge during the pilgrimage. Two groups concluded that al-Jawad's age precluded his being qualified for the Imamate; the first group supported the Imamate of his uncle, Ahmad b. Musa al-Kazim, whereas the second group, including Ibrahim b. Salih alュAnmati, joined the Waqifa and held that the seventh Imam .was al-Qa段m al-Mahdi(19).

But the rest were satisfied that al-Jawad's knowledge was exceptional and held that he was well qualified in spite of his age(20). Hence they continued with the affairs of the organization, and sent propagandists from Kufa and Medina to various provinces. According to al-Najashi, many Kufan muhaddithun, such as Muhammad b. Muhammad b. al-Ash'ath, Ahmad b. Sahl, al-Husayn. b. `Ali al-Misri, and Isma` il b. Musa al-Kazim, moved to Egypt and carried on their activities there. One of these activities was to circulate the traditions of the Prophet concerning al-Qa段m al-Mahdi and the fact that he would be from the progeny of al-Husayn(21).

A narration mentioned by al-Kulayni suggests that they gained considerable adherents there, namely, that `Ali b. Asbat al-Kufi came from Egypt to Medina to see al-Jawad so as to describe him to the Imamites in Egypt(22). Throughout the land of the caliphate the Imamite system of sending out agents (wukala') became more developed and managed to save their organization from certain disintegration. The Imam's agents spread in many provinces, like al-Ahwaz(23), Hamadan(24), Sistan, Bist'(25), Rayy(26), Basra(27), Wasit, Baghdad(28), and the traditional centres of the Imamites, Kufa and Qumm(29).

 They allowed their partisans to work in the `Abbasid administration. Thus Muhammad b. Isma'il b. Bazi and Ahmad b. Hamza al-Qummi occupied high ranks in the vizierate(30), and Nuh b. Darraj was the qadi of Baghdad and then of Kufa. Because his relatives were the agents of al-Jawad, he hid his faith during his occupation of this post(31).

 Other Imamites became governors of some `Abbasid provinces, such as al-Husayn b. `Abd Allah al-Nisaburi, the governor of Bist and Sistan, and al-Hakam b. `Alya al-Asadi, the governor of Bahrain. Both of these men paid the khums to al-Jawad while hiding their allegiance to him(32).

At this stage the underground activities of the agents only aimed at controlling and carrying on the religious and financial affairs of the Imamites, not at endangering al-Ma知un's rule. However in the year 210/825 the people of Qumm, most of whom were Imamites, appealed to the caliph to reduce their land-tax (al-kharaj), just as he had reduced the kharaj of the inhabitants of Rayy, but he ignored their appeal. Therefore they refused to pay the kharaj and took control of the affairs of Qumm(33).

As a result al-Ma知un dispatched three regiments of his army from Baghdad and Khurasan to quash their revolt. The leader of the Abbasid army, `Ali b. Hisham accomplished his task. He demolished the wall of Qumm and killed many people, amongst them Yahya b. `Umran, who, according to Ibn Shahr Ashub, was the agent of al-Jawad(34).

Moreover al-Ma知un collected seven million dirhams from Qumm's inhabitants as a kharaj instead of the normal amount, which had been two million dirhams before the uprising. The reports of al-Tabari and Ibn al-Athir indicate that some of the leaders of this revolt were exiled to Egypt, among them Ja断ar b. Dawud al-Qummi(35).

But these measures did not end the military activities in Qumm. According to al-Tabari, Ja断ar b. Dawud escaped from Egypt and rebelled in Qumm in 214/829, but his revolt was subdued and he was arrested and banished again to Egypt(36).

Unfortunately the Imamite sources are silent about these military actions in Qumm and their relationship with the Imamites' organization. But al-Ma知un linked these activities with al-Jawad. Thus he endeavoured to end them through the Imam. According to al-Azdi and al-Tabari, during his march to invade al-Rum, al-Mam'un summoned al-Jawad and welcomed him in Tikrit in Safar 215/830, where he married his daughter Umm alュ-Fadl to him. He asked him to celebrate his marriage in Baghdad, then to go back with his wife to Medina(37).  

But this marriage neither gave al-Ma知un the support of the Imamites nor stopped the revolts in Qumm. Ja`far b. Dawud managed to escape again from Egypt and rebelled in Qumm in 216/831, where he defeated the army sent by alュMa知un and killed its leader `Ali b. `Isa. He continued his resistance until the end of the year 217/832, when the `Abbasid troops ended his uprising and executed him(38).

But afterwards the underground activities of the `Alids increased on a wide scale. Therefore al-ュMu`tasim, who succeeded al-Ma知un to the caliphate in 218/833, was obliged to summon al-Jawad and Muhammad b. al-Qasim al-ュTalqan, so as to investigate their role in the underground activities. The latter, on hearing of al-Mu'tasim's decision, escaped from Kufa to Khurasan(39), whereas al-Jawad was arrested in Medina and taken along with his wife, Umm al-Fadl, to the caliph in Baghdad, where he was put under house-arrest. He died a few months later in Dhu alュ-Hijja 220/835. Some Imamite writers claim that his wife Umm alュ-Fadl poisoned him at the instigation of al-Mu'tasim, but al-Mufid thinks that he died naturally(40).

In the last few years of al-Jawad's Imamate the system and the tactics of the Imamite agents were highly developed. The Imam's followers in Khurasan allowed themselves to be recruited into the `Abbasid army and participated in subduing the rebellion of the Khurramiyya. According to al-Tusi, in 220/834 they seized a large amount of booty from the rebels, so al-Jawad ordered them to pay the khums either to him directly or to his agent(41). Al-Jawad himself, on hearing of al-Mu'tasim's command to present himself in Baghdad, asked his representative Muhammad b. Al-Faraj to hand the khums to his son 'Ali al-Hddi as a .sign that he was to be his successor(42).





(1)al-Kafi, I, 489, VIII, 151; `Uyun, 138-40; Tabari, III, 1012-3.

(2)Khatib, X, 184. Concerning Umm Habiba, al-Tabari thinks that she was al-ュMa知un's daughter (Tabari, III, 1029), but Ibn Tulun reports that she was his sister. The age of al-Ma知un at that time was 30; therefore one is inclined to accept Ibn Tulun's report; Ibn Tulun, op. cit., 97.

(3)al-Ya`qubi, III, 185; al-Kamil VI, 227.

(4)Watt, Formative Period 176. Al-Kulayni reports that al-Ma'mnn asked al-Riďa to write to his followers in the areas of revolt, askingthem to stop their support of the rebels; al-Kafi, VIII, 151.

(5)Several anecdotes indicate that the `Alids' standard was white. The followers of Abu al-Saraya were called "al-Mubayyida" in reference to the standard of `Ali (al-Azraqi, op. cit., I, 263-4). Na un b. Khazim, an Arab advisor of alュ Ma知un, warned the latter against adopting the advice of al-Fadl b. Sahl in installing al-Riďa. He pointed out to him that his vizier was not sincere to the `Alids, because he suggested the green colour, the sign of his ancestors, the Sasanids, instead of the white, the standard of `Ali and his sons (J. Wuzara', 313). When al-Ma知un asked al-Riďa to perform the Friday prayer, the latter wore a white turban and white clothes (`Uyun, II, 149). Finally the Imamites narrate that the banners of the followers of al-Qaim al-Mahdi would be white (Najm al-Din al-`Askari, al-Mahdi al-Maw'ud al-Muntazar (Beirut, 1977), I, 177).

(6)Tabari, III, 1019-20; also al-Kamil, VI, 242.

(7)Tabari, III 1029; al-Kamil, VI, 248.

(8)al-Ya`qubi, III, 184, 190.

(9)N. Firaq, 72-3; Ikhtiyar, 501-2; `Uyun, II, 151-2.

(10)Ibn Hibban, Kitab al-Majruhin (Halab, 1976), II, 209-10.

(11)al-Kafi, I, 486, 490; Muruj, VIII, 57, 61; `Uyun, I, 186, 188; Shaban, op. cit., 47.

(12)al-Kamil, VI, 253; Ahmad b. Tahir b. Tayfur, Tarikh Baghdad (Cairo, 1949), 10.

(13)`Uyun, II, 188.

(14)al-Ya`qubi, III, 204; according to the account of al-Kulayni both were Imamites and the father of the first, Yahya b. al-Husayn, supported the Imamate of alュ-Riďa (al-Kafi, I, 316). Al-Najashi reports that the grandson of the second, Yahya b. Ahmad b. Muhammad, was a prominent Imamite in Nishapur; al-Najashi, 345; Abu al-Fida, al-Mukhtasar fi Akhbar al-Bashari, II, 32.

(15)Tabari, III, 1039; al-Kamil, VI, 253.

(16)Abu al-Fida, op, cit., II, 25-6.

(17)Tabari, III, 1040.

(18)Tabari, III, 1062-3; al-Kama値, VI, 269.

(19)N. Firaq, 85-7; Q. Maqalat, 93-5; al-Najashi, 19.

(20)Ithbat, 213-5.

(21)al-Najashi, 21, 67-8, 141, 294.

(22)al-Kafi, I, 494.

(23)al-Najashi , 191.

(24)Ikhtiyar, 611-2; al-Najashi, 265.

(25)al-Kafi, V, 111.

(26)Bihar, L, 44-5.

(27)Ikhtiyar, 487; al-Najashi, 180.

(28)Ithbat, 213, 215.

(29)al-Kafi, I, 548; T. al-Ghayba, 227; Bihar, L, 37-8.

(30)al-Najashi, 254.

(31)al-Najashi, 80, 98; Mizan, IV, 276.

(32)al-Kafi, V, III; al-Tusi, al-Istibsar, II, 58.

(33)al-Azdi, 368.

(34)Ibn Shahr Ashub, Manaqib Ali Abi Talib, IV, 397; al-Azdi, 368.

(35)Tabari, III, 1092-3, 1102; al-Kamil, VI, 264, 293.

(36)Tabari, III, 1102.

(37)Tabari, III, 1103; al-Azdi, 399.

(38)Tabari, III, 1106, 1111; al-Kamil, VI, 286-7.

(39)Muhammad b. al-Qasim was the Imam of the revolutionary Zaydites during al-ュJawad's period. When al-Mu`tasim endeavoured to arrest him, he escaped from Kufa and revolted in al-Talqan. But al-Mu`tasim captured him and imprisoned him in Samarra. Then he disappeared from jail mysteriously. Thus a considerable body of the Zaydites in the districts of Kufa, Tabaristan, Daylam and Khurasan held that he did not die but was alive and would rise in arms to fill the earth with justice after it had been filled with tyranny; Muruj, VI, 116-7.

(40)Ithbat, 220; Bihar, L, 15-17; al-Irshad, 297, 307.

(41)al-Tusi, al-Istibsar, II, 60-2.

(42)Ibn Shahr Ashub, Manaqib, IV, 389.