Hadawiya and Houthiya.. Imamate in the offspring of Hassan and Hussein

Case Analysis | 8 Feb 2018 00:00
 Hadawiya and Houthiya.. Imamate in the offspring of Hassan and Hussein



There is no doubt in minds of honest researchers that the Houthi movement is a revival of the heritage, thought and practices of the imams in Yemen over one thousand years. The Houthis revived the Hadawiyya theory with its two pillars: Al-Dawah (Imamate) and Al-Khoroj (Jihad).
The imams were looking for a king like other Alawiyya and non-Alawiyya families who ruled Yemen and other areas, but they differed from them claiming that their rule and making it limited to them is their divine right and the origin of religion. This was the most important requirements of the theory of divine selection. The theory says that God preferred Ahl al-Bayt, Fatima Az-Zahra and Ali ibn Abi Talib and their descendants until the Day of Judgment. This gave them rights and privileges including the monopolization of the rule that they do not share with others or what is called "limit the rule to the descendants of Hasan and Hussein, sons of Ali and Fatima). It was Abu al-Jaroud Ziad ibn al-Munther (150 AH) who first talked about this limitation of the rule. [[1]] Despite Imam Abdullah bin Hamza said: “Zaidiya is in fact al-Jaroudiya and we do not know about Imams, after Zaid bin Ali, who are not Jaroudiya, their fellows as well.”

But we did not find clear evidence that the imams who followed Zaid directly like his grandson Yahya bin Zaid and Mohamed Al-Nafs al-Zakia have supported the rule limitation as they died and did not leave any books that can be consulted. The historical facts prove the opposite. Ahmed bin Issa bin Zaid (247 AH / 861 AC) - grandson of both the Imam "Zaid" and "Hassan bin Saleh"- the founder of the Salihiya group of Zaidiya that supports Shura system and does not limit the rule, says the rule is not limited[[2]]. Imam al-Qasim al-Rasi, the grandfather of Imam al-Hadi, was the first to adopt the political Jaroudiya (that limits the rule to the Hasan’s and Husein’s descendants). Although he was unable to establish a state that applies and protects the theory- his grandson Imam al-Hadi also did not succeed in that when he came to Yemen in 283 AH – and was disappointed to get the Yemenis response to him to overthrow the Abasiya Caliphate and sit on its throne in the name of Al Al-Bayt according to the theory, he wrote about the theory in his letters in “The Science of Speech” as one of the religion origins.[[3]]

But he has addressed it in the book (Judgments), a book of jurisprudence, where he said: "Any adult should believe that the Imamate is in the offspring of Hassan and Hussein without others, and that the Imam after them – one of their offspring- who walked their pace, and who was like them and follow their faith.”([4])

Other imams after him followed his vision. Imam Ahmad bin Sulaiman (died 566 AH) said: "The relatives of the Prophet, the Messenger of Allah, say that the Imamate is special for Al Hassan  and Al Hussein and their offspring."[[5]] Imam Abdullah bin Hamza (died 614AH) said: "The Imamate after Ali and his two sons Hassan and Hussein is limited to their offspring and their children associated with them via parents.”
What many of Ahl al-Bayt (Prophet’s family) believe - except those who belong to the doctrines of the Imamism and Jaroudiya of Zaidiya- that (the Imamate after Hassan and Hussein, is limited to those who are active and strive of their descendants) only.
Imam al-Muayyid-Bilah Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Harouni (333-411 AH) said: "[Imamate of Ahl al-Bayt] If one asks: What do you say in the imamate after al-Hassan and al-Hussein? We say  that it is fixed in their offspring, males, not females, except the daughters. It is a consensus among all Ahl al-Bayt. They did not differ in that the Imamate cannot be out of the offspring.”[[6]]
According to this theory, the imams ruled from the beginning of Imam al-Hadi (283 AH) until the fall of the last imam, Mohammad al-Badr Ibn Hamid al-Din in 1962.
Translation errorThe State of Hadawiyya in Yemen
Dozens of the descendants of Hassan and Hussein emerged in the name of the divine truth. Some of them managed to establish separate states from the mother country (Abbasid Caliphate), in Daylam, Morocco and Yemen. The Zaidiya states fell in Persia and Morocco and then the thought and doctrine fell as well. The followers of the Zaidi doctrine in these countries converted to the common doctrine in their countries (Sunni Malikite in Morocco, and Twelver  Shi'a in Persia (Iran) and Iraq). The Zaidiya-Hadawiya state of Yemen, found by Imam al-Hadi Yahya bin Al-Hussein Al-Rasi in 286 AH, resisted the factors of annihilation, even though it remained in constant conflicts with its opponents for more than one thousand years until it fell in the 26th September Revolution in 1962. Translation errorThroughout the period, they continued to adhere to the theory of Jaroudiya or Hadawiyya imamate, without any change. The followers of the Zaidiya/Hadawiyya theory of politics have lost the most important reasons that led scholars of Sunna and Shia Twelver to strive for political theory. The imamate for Twelver is not a branch of the religion that accepts interpretation as Sunnah doctrine does, but it is one of the fundamentals of religion that is parallel to monotheism and prophecy.

The followers of Zaidiya/Hadawaiyya follow the Twelver but they Translation errordid not limit the rule to 12 imams as Twelver did and therefore they did not reach a dilemma like Twlever that, after one thousand years, had to search for a way to make some amendments and additions to reach to the theory of Wilayat al-Faqih (jurist) and established an Islamic Republic accordingly. The theory of Zaidiya-Hadawiya based on two conditions, the offspring and Jihad, which enabled it to continue in Yemen even through its continuous wars for more than a thousand years. It is the period of the political coma for the Shia Twelver. Translation errorBecause the Zaidiya doctrine remained exist  only in Yemen and in mountainous and remote areas in the north of Yemen and not related to the outside world, it remained far from the renewal of the political thought.

In the new era, specifically in the first half of the past century, and when the Arab countries had become independent from the Ottoman Empire and started to build states that are closer to the spirit of the new era under the influence of the West and the constitutional and democratic thoughts that were sought by the Islamic elites that made jurisprudences exceeding many concepts of the Islamic political heritage, Sunni and Shiite alike, in order to go in line with the values ​​of the new era, Yemen was heading another direction to return to the past and stay away from the new era. Imam Translation errorYahya Hamid al-Din led the resistance movement against the Turks and Yemen obtained its independence in 1918 and then announced the Mutawakiliya Kingdom, which followed the method of imams before him that considers Imam as the son of the Messenger of Allah, who can accuse anyone opposes or criticizes him of being a disbelieve or a punk. He imposed on Yemen a terrible political and cultural isolation.

Translation errorThe Yemeni people were aspiring for a better life than that imposed by the Turks, so they fought in a long struggle against the Ottoman rule and were proud of Yemen's independence under the leadership of Imam Yahya Hamiduddin in 1918. But two decades later they discovered that they went back for centuries. The liberated Yemenis wrote about this in the book (Looted and Stricken Yemen) by saying: "Yemen, in its mountainous regions, coasts and various provinces in the plains and valleys, was under the rule of Turkey and enjoyed a popular rule commensurate with the state of the new era, better than now. If the Turks rule continued until today, the Yemenis would have gradually live under an appropriate popular rule more and more. Translation errorThis is why we note that the Turkish governors and senior officials were not alone in power ... In each governorate, there was a center called the board of directors, whose members were the elites of the country who worked on the needs of their citizens. They were good tools for the government to make justice. They were mediators between the people and the  officials...Moreover Yemenis have representatives in Ottoman Parliament. They used to debate, argue and ask questions freely in the interests of their country... etc."[[7]]

Translation errorThese modern manifestations of governance were the first that Imam Yahya began to abolish, because it opposes the system of imamate, ruled by the sons of the Messenger of Allah, which makes the imam like the apostle and is responsible for his flock in all matters of their religious and secular life. This is what Imam Yahya did. He used to intervene even in what people should read or learn. When the free Yemenis brought some of the books and modern publications to Yemen, the Imam accused them of heresy and disbelief and promised them of discipline and murder. Judge Abdul Rahman al-Iryani mentioned in his memoirs that the first time he listened with his colleagues to the radio was in Taiz in 1947.

Translation error"So I was eager to buy a device, but how can I do that? The purchase of the radio was forbidden under the pretext that it was broadcasting songs that were forbidden. I sent a letter to Imam Yahya asking for permission to buy a radio to listen to the news and cultural and scientific programs. Imam Yahya himself replied on my letter authorizing the purchase of a radio and said (one like you, cannot do enjoy listening to entertainment), to confirm that the prevention of citizens from getting radios was only because of his fears of sedition via listening to forbidden songs, and because he was sure that I am secured against sedition he authorized me to buy one. I mention this incident to give the reader an idea about the isolation that was imposed on Yemen in the era of Imam Yahya to the extent that the citizen needs a special permission by the pen of Imam himself in order to acquire a radio.” [[8]]

Translation errorHowever, a number of Yemenis who had been educated in Egypt, Iraq and Syria were able to convey modern ideas to Yemen to form the Yemeni National Movement in the mid-1930s. But when they planned for the constitutional revolution in 1948 they did not dare to abolish the Imamate as a system of governance or choose non-Alawi ruler to avoid any reaction from the people against them because they destroyed faith and religion, according to the religious mobilization of the Yemeni tribes on which the  Imamate regime was based. So the revolution of 1948 and the coup of 1955 failed.

Translation errorThey finally succeeded in overthrowing the Imamate and proclaiming the Republic in the revolution of September 26, 1962. However, the supporters of the Imamate did not give up easily. They fought a fierce war, with regional and international support, against the Republican regime and restored what they considered their divine right to rule for seven years until they besieged the capital Sana'a. The capital was almost to fall into their hands after the withdrawal of the Egyptian forces supporting the revolution from Yemen after the setback of 1967, but the steadfastness of the rebels and the mobilization of the people with them led to the defeat of the imamate supporters and their surrender after that. The National Reconciliation in 70 resulted in the return of the imamate supporters and absorbing them in the institutions of the new Republic state - except the family of Hamiduddin.

Revival of Hadawiya Imamate Thought
The Imamate fell as a state, but it did not fall as an idea. Although it lived in a period of latency throughout the seventies, it had soon begun to look for supporters, especially after the triumph of the Iranian revolution led by Imam Khomeini in 1979. Supporters of Zaidiya-Hadawiya saw that the Iranian revolution was a victory for their doctrine, not for Khomeini, who was prohibiting  the revolution and the establishment of a state until after the coming out of al-Mahdi.

It is true that Khomeini worked hard in the framework of this doctrine, but his diligence is close to the doctrine that ruled Yemen for centuries. The expansion of the Salafism in Yemen, which began in the early 1980s with the return of the Salafist Cleric Muqbel al-Wadei from Saudi Arabia to Saada, the historical stronghold of Zaidiya, encouraged the clerics and supporters of the Imamate to revive the Zaidiya-Hadawiya heritage that is related to the rule and the eligibility  of Ahl Al-Bayt and to give the right to control all political, spiritual, educational affairs of the people. They established schools, forums and educational centers whose number increased after the Yemeni unity and the adoption of democracy and pluralism in 1990.

Al-Haq Party and Imamate Statement
With the establishment of parties and political organizations, and in the framework of pluralism and democracy, which was accompanied by the establishment of unity in 1990, a number of quiet figures announced the establishment of the al-Haq party in early 1991. The founders of the party saw that the Supreme Leadership of the Party should include the most prominent jurists   of Zaidiya-Hadawiya doctrine, regardless their ability to run a party work or believe in it, such as Majd al-Din bin Mohammed al-Muayadi, Badr al-Din al-Houthi, Mohamed Mohamed al-Mansur, Ahmad Mohamed al-Shami, Hamoud Abbas al-Muayyad and Qasim Mohamed al-Kibsi.

These figure represent the most important scholastic references of the Zaidiya in Yemen. Although Majd al-Din al-Mua’yidi was president of the party and Badr al-Din al-Houhi was his deputy in Saada away from the intellectual and political argument in Sana’a, the leaders of the party in Sana'a tried to issue a statement on the imamate and that it should be limited to the descendants of Hassan and Hussein (Al-Batnin). The statement was already issued, but sparked great controversy among the Zaidi circles and followers. While some saw it as a major development in the thought of the political Hadawiya - as it was the first time that scholars from the Hadawiya doctrine recognize the legitimacy of the status quo since the overthrow of the Imamate system and the announcement of the republican system in 1962- but researchers and other writers saw that the statement was only an attempt to improve the image of the newly born party and camouflage its racial and sectarian nature, which is contrary to the law of the political parties. Those who formulated the statement and signed it had been careful not to refute or criticize the issue of the divine selection of the family and the imamate limitation. The statement addressed the Imamate as a general political term, not as a specific regime that ruled Yemen on the basis of superiority of a race of people over others by monopolizing the imamate and not to  allow others to rule. The Imamate as a political term is not wrong as the term stands for  (guiding Imamate and misguiding Imamate).

The statement, in this way, undermined the form and the term and did not extinguish the content that was stuck in minds of Yemenis of all races (all who are fair). The statement said: (After the Imamate had no place and not accepted to rule in its name, except within its linguistic meaning of good example). So the issue seemed to be the issue of a political term only, not the issue of the content. For them, it is not problem if the rule has become (President of the Republic) instead of (Imam), but he should be one of the offspring (Al-Batnin). According to the statement, if the Imamate has a place or enjoys acceptance to rule in its name, there is no reason not to restore the form because it is the origin, but the problem is that it (has no place). This phrase was mentioned in the forefront of the statement. Thus, it is clear that the introduction of the statement went to change the form of the Imamate just because it is not accepted.[[9]]

Translation errorAlthough the devious language of the statement, senior Zaidi scholars in Saada, including the head of the al-Haq party, Majd al-Din al-Mu'ayyidi, and his deputy, Badr al-Din al-Houthi, refused to sign it the statement despite its importance, and despite al-Mu’ayyidi signed a number of statements that are less important than this statement.

The researcher Ashwaq Gholais said those who remained adherent to the right of Ahl al-Bayt in the rule had considered this statement a significant retreat from the intellectual framework of Zaidiya. [[10]0]

Translation errorImamate in the intellectual documents of Houthis and Hadawiya scholars

Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi grew with the theory of the Imamate and confirmed it in his documents. He is impressed with Khomeini, because he is from Ahl al-Bayt, but he rejects the Khomeini's mechanism that "([11]) the jurists are only qualified to implement the provisions of Islam and the establishment of the limits of God and guarding the gaps of Muslims.” According to Hussein al-Houthi, the nation must have information from Al al-Bayt. The science confirmed by Hussein al-Houthi in his documents is the Imam, who, he said, is the leader of the Qur'anic march, as his successor, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi is called.

Translation errorHowever, Hussein al-Houthi's rivals, who are members of his family and followers of Majd al-Din al-Mu'aydi, including Hussein's cousin, cleric AbdulAdheem al-Houthi, continued to criticize Hussein al-Houthi and his brothers on the charge that they were lenient in presenting the case of the imamate and restricting it to the offspring. Most followers of Hussein al-Houthi and Hussein himself and some of his brothers were part of the forum of the Young Believers, which was founded in 1992. This is a big charge because "the sons of Badr al-Din al-Houthi and a large group of the people of Razih, wanted to take the Zaidi doctrine," saying, how? The man said they are any young people- Translation error"They were dependent on the Yemeni government and on the constitution, because it says democracy and does not say the imam," stressing that the young people at the outset "cheated the government by saying that the imam is not limited to the offspring or Ahl al-Bayt. They dropped the condition of the offspring in return for the government helps them and cooperates with them. It actually helped them. They philandered the presidency that offered them four hundred thousand riyals per month, when the Yemeni currency at the time was of a great value. That lasted until the war (between the Houthis and the state), almost twelve years.” [[12]]

Translation errorIt is clear from the man's talk that he meant the founders of the Young non-Hashemite Believers who have already tried to transcend the political heritage of Zaidi, so they were blasphemed  and even were about to be cleansed, as the Secretary-General of the Forum of Young Believers said. All this has nothing to do with Hussein Al-Houthi as he was not one of the founders of the Young Believers, but after his return from Sudan in 1999, the conflict returned - and more severely – over the leadership of the Young Believers, the formulation of their curricula and guiding their activities, between the Secretary General of the Forum of the Young Believers (Mohammed Salem Azzan) and his fellows and Hussein al-Houthi and his supporters. Badr al-Din al-Houthi, with his religious weight, sided with his son Hussein al-Houthi. Hussein al-Houthi has supported accusations by Majd al-Din al-Mu’ayyidi and his supporters that the leaders of Young Believers, who are non-Hashemite, seek to sabotage the doctrine of Zaidiya and cast doubts about the superiority of Ahl al-Bayt, and limiting the rule to them.

Translation errorFor this reason the Young Believers split. I do not think the cleric Abdul-Azim al-Houthi was  ignorant of this, especially since the interview with him was in 2010 when the Houthis were powerful and could publicly spread their ideas contained in the documents of the founder Hussein al-Houthi. The ideas are not different from the ideas of Abdul-Azim al-Houthi, but the man was complaining, in the interview, of the exclusion and attempts of killing him and his followers by the Houthis (the followers of Abdul-Malik al-Houthi). Abdul-Azim wanted to diminish their Zaidism and alienate the Zaidi youth, especially in Saada, and to show himself more faithful and defender of the Zaidiya, so he found only the condition of Imamate in the offspring of Hassan and Hussein: Translation error"This is a necessary condition of the fundamentals of religion and we will not relinquish it. We have demonstrated our insistence in the Presidency Council, and this is for those who say that I am closed, who is the closed one? who announces his doctrine in the Presidency Council and imposes it on the presidency and all parties in Yemen of all kinds?! We have said that this religious condition is one the fundamentals of religion that we will not give up.”[[13]]

Some Zaidi scholars who were keen on the success of the Houthi project without any tension saw that the continuation of the dispute between the two Zaidi wings in Saada would weaken the Houthis and give justification to their opponents to continue to distort the Houthis while all wings in Saada and other areas believe in the same ideas that the doctrine adopted for more than one thousand years, aTranslation errornd reject any attempts to question about the main issues on which  the political Hadawiya theory based, including the divine selection of Ahl al-Bayt and the duty of the imamate, and restricting the rule to the offspring of Hassan and Hussein and considering it as an origin of the religion. On this basis, they moved and there was a dialogue between the different parties that agreed to form a committee of scholars to formulate the intellectual and political principles to be the political program of the Houthis who called themselves Mujahideen.

Translation errorThe committee started its work on Friday, 17/3/1433 AH. The committee was charged with drafting the agreement between the Zaidis in general and the Mujahideen in particular, including  Abdul Malik Badr al-Din al-Houthi and some Zaidi scholars and their followers, on top of them Zaidi scholars AbdulRahman Hussein Shaim and Hussein bin Yahya al-Houthi. "According to the introduction of the document signed by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, representative of the Mujahideen (Ansar Allah) - as they call themselves- and those mentioned in the document, representatives of the wing of al-Mua’yidi and then signed by some Zaidi scholars in Sana’a, including Mohammed al-Mansour and Hamoud Abbas al-Muayyad. The Committee dealt with a number of issues that are agreed on and included in the books of the Hadawiya heritage and the state of Hadawiya based on and lasted for more than one thousand years, oTranslation errorn the top of them was the issue of divine selection. The document had been given a main title and then said the following: "As for the issue of divine selection, we believe that God Almighty selects whoever He wants from His worshipers, groups and individuals, and we believe that God had chosen the Ahl al-Bayt of his Messenger, making them the guides of the nation and the heirs of the book after the Messenger of God until the Day of Judgment, and that He prepares, in every era, someone to be a beacon for His slaves and handle the affairs of the nation and promote them in all areas.”

Translation errorThen the document detailed the requirements of the divine selection that is the right of the Ahl al-Bayt to monopolize science, knowledge, guidance, Jihad and the Imamate considering this right as one the fundamentals of religion.

Translation errorIn this document, the Houthis stressed that their political project was only a restoration of an outdated historical project. Translation errorIt is ironic that most of the Zaidi scholars, who were not affiliated with the Houthi movement, did not object the document but rather blessed it and defended it. Some of them signed it even though they singed the statement of Zaidiya scholars in 1990, which said that the Zaidiya had abandoned the Imamate as a historical formula as it became no longer suitable to the new era. Some researchers had expressed regret to the decline of those Zaidi scholars after they took a positive step two decades ago by abandoning the Imamate while that step was supposed to be developed, not to retreat during the Arab Spring that demanded freedom and equality. Translation errorThe truth is that there was no real criticism of the Imamate and abandonment of it in the 1990 statement to say that the Zaidi scholars retracted their previous progressive judgment! The statement of 1990 was only taqiyya (prudence) and an attempt of purification to improve the image of the al-Haq party.

The researcher Mohamed Zabara at the time presented a scientific and methodological criticism of the statement and concluded his study at the time as saying: "Who reads the statement that was signed by Zaidi scholars thinks that they retreated this ideology, but at the same time they will be informing the party’s members that the truth in the statement is that there is no retreat or abandoning of such dangerous ideas as the racial preference, and the right of the offspring of the Imamate and rule, and questioning the positions of the companions of Prophet Mohamed after his death.”[[14]]

Translation errorIn words, the statement says that there was a will from the Messenger of Allah to Imam Ali bin Abi Talib to be the ruler after him and that the companions violated this mandate and refused the rule of the Imam Ali, and that Imam Ali waived his right in exchange for the safety of the blood of Muslims. The statement says the descendants of Imam Ali, who have the right, will give up their right of the Imamate and rule, because the Imamate is no longer accepted today. If one  day the Imamate is accepted, it should return to the owners of this right. And because they will give up this right to keep the blood of Muslims today, but what should be done at least is that the owners of this right have to choose the hired ruling!!

This is what was confirmed by Abdul-Azim al-Houthi in a newspaper interview in 2012, when he was asked about the signatories of the statement in 1990, wTranslation errorhen many Zaidi scholars in Sana'a signed on the legitimacy of the republican system and the elections, and whether they had already deviated from the theory of limiting the Imamate to Ahl al-Bayt and the offspring and believed in the republican system, he replied: "I will answer you here with what I answered Ali Abdullah Saleh in his council. He asked me if I think that Mohamed Al-Mansour and Hamoud  Abbas al-Muayyad, are hypocrite? I said to him: No. They are not hypocrites, and he said, What prompted them to approve the elections?" I told him, they are afraid of you because you are tyrant. He said, does this mean that this fatwa was just taqiyyah. I said, yes, taqiyyah is legal in both Zaidiya and Shafa'iya.



[1] Collection of Sayyid Imam Humaidan Ibn Yahya Al-Kasimi. 1/296

[2] We discussed this in detail and with the irrefutable evidence in our book "Between Zaidiya and Twelver: The Doctrinal Identity of the Houthi Movement: (under printing).

[3] The Good Collection 615

[4] - Al-Ahkam (Rulings) for Imam Al-Hadi Yahya Bin Al-Hussein

[5] Collection of Humaidan quoting the Hikmat al-Dor for Imam Ahmad bin Suleiman

[6] The insight into Tawheed and justice by Imam Al-Muayadbelah Ahmad Ibn Al-Hussein Al-Harouni (333-411 AH), investigated by Abdul-Karim Ahmed Jadban p. 88.

[7] Ali Mohamed Abdo - previous reference - p. 31

[8] Mohamed Zabara in: AbdulFatah al-Batool “The Threads of Darkness, Era of Zaidiya, Imamate in Yemen

[9] Mohamed Zabara in: AbdulFatah al-Batool “The Threads of Darkness, Era of Zaidiya, Imamate in Yemen

[10] Ashwaq Gholais, previous reference, P. 175

[11] Imam Khomeini in his book, “The Islamic Government,” P. 70

[12] Interview with Mohamed Abdul-Azim Al-Houthi, Al-Ahaly newspaper, 10 January 2010

[13] Previous reference

[14] See Mohamed Zabara, Supplement to the book of Abdul-Fatah al-Batool “Threads of Darkness”


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