Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Zayd ash-Shaheed
Imams of Shi'a Islam

Rank Fifth Zaidiyyah Imam
Name Zayd ibn Ali
Kunya Abu al-Hasan
Birth 76 AH
695 C.E.
Death 1st Safar 122 AH
740 C.E.
Birthplace Madīnah
Buried Kufa
Life Duration

Before Imamate: 17 years
(76 - 95 AH)
- 17 years with his father Zayn al-Abidin

Imamate: 28 years
(95 AH - 122 AH)
  • Zayd ash-Shaheed
    (Arabic for Zayd the Martyr)
  • Halif al-Qur'an
    (Arabic for Ally of the Qur'an)
Father Alī Zayn al-‘Ābidīn
Mother Jayda al-Sindhi
  • Hasan
  • Yahya
  • Husayn

Ali · Hasan · Husayn
al-Sajjad · al-Baqir · al-Sadiq
Musa (Twelver) · Ismail (Ismaili)

Zaydi Shias are most prevalent in Yemen (coloured orange in the map).

Zaidiyya, or Zaidism (Arabic: الزيدية az-zaydiyya, adjective form Zaidi or Zaydi) is a Shi'a Muslim school of thought named after Zayd ibn ʻAlī, the grandson of Husayn ibn ʻAlī. Followers of the Zaydi Islamic jurisprudence are called Zaydi Shi'a. The Zaydi Shi'a have a unique approach within Shi'a Islamic thought that renders similarities with orthodox Sunni Islam.


Five Zaidi Imāms

The Zaydis, Twelvers and Ismailis recognize the same first four Imāms of Shi'a Islam, however, the Zaydis recognize Zayd ibn Ali as the Fifth Imām. After Zayd ibn Ali, the Zaydis recognize other descendants of Hasan ibn ʻAlī or Husayn ibn ʻAlī as their Imāms. Other well known Zaydi Imāms in history were Yahya ibn Zayd, Muhammad al Nafs az-Zakiyah and Ibrahim ibn Abdullah.

Muhammad Prophet of Islam
Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib 1st Imam
Al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib 2nd Imam
Hussein ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib 3rd Imam
Zayn al-‘Ābidīn (Alī ibn Hussein ibn ‘Alī) 4th Imam
Zayd ibn ‘Alī ibn Hussein 5th Imam


In matters of Islamic jurisprudence, the Zaydis follow Zayd ibn Ali's teachings which are documented in his book Majmu'l Fiqh (in Arabic: مجموع الفِقه). The Zaydi fiqh is similar to the Sunni Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence.[1]


In matters of theology, the Zaydis are close to the Mu'tazili school, though they are not Mu'tazilite. There are a few issues between both schools, most notably the Zaydi doctrine of the Imamah, which is rejected by the Mu'tazilites. Of the Shi'a, Zaydis are the most similar to Sunnis and Zaydis utilize the jurisprudential tradition of the renowned Muslim jurist Abu Hanifa.[2] Since Zaydi shares similar doctrines and jurisprudential opinions with Sunni Islamic scholars, Zaydis are even described by some analysts as the fifth school of Sunni Islam.[3]


Like all Muslims, the Zaydi Shi'a affirm the fundamental tenet of Islam known as the Shahadah or testament of faith - There is no deity worthy of worship except the One God (Allah), and Muhammad is the messenger and servant of God. Traditionally, the Zaydi Shi'a believe that Muslims who commit major sins without remorse should not be considered Muslim nor be considered Kaafir, but rather be categorized in neither groups.

In the context of the Shi'a Muslim belief in spiritual leadership or Imamah, Zaydis believe that the leader of the Muslim community (Ummah) must be a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad through his only surviving daughter Fatimah, whose sons were Hasan ibn ʻAlī and Husayn ibn ʻAlī.

The Zaydi Shi'a Muslims called themselves Zaydi so they could differentiate themselves from other Shi'a who refused to take up arms with Zayd ibn Ali and the later Zaydi Imams against oppression.

Zaydis believe Zayd ibn Ali was the rightful successor to the Imamate because he led a rebellion against the Umayyad Dynasty, who he believed were 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.[4] It is said the renowned Muslim jurist Imam Abu Hanifa delivered a fatwa or legal statement in favour of Imam Zayd[citation needed] in his rebellion against Umayyad ruler of his time.

In contrast to other Shi'a Muslims, the Zaydis do not believe in the infallibility of Imāms or that the Imāms receive divine guidance. Zaydis also do not believe that the Imāmate must pass from father to son but believe it can be held by any descendant from either Hasan ibn ʻAlī and Husayn ibn ʻAlī. It should be noted that the orthodox Shi'a Ithna Ashari school, which constitutes the majority of Shi'a Muslims, does not necessarily believe in Imamate passing from father to son either, as can be seen from the transition of Imamate from the second Imam, Hasan ibn Alī, after his death to his brother, Husayn ibn Alī.

The death of Imam Ali Zayn ul Abidin triggered the struggle for leadership between his two sons, Muhammad al Baqir and Zayd... Zayd rejected the principle of hereditary succession to the Imamat, and asserted his own right to it on the ground that he was better qualified for it, because he fulfilled all the necessary conditions for this purpose including the one that the Imam must rise in revolt against the unjust, oppressive rulers.

—Abdul Ali in Islamic dynasties of the Arab East: state and civilization during the later medieval times[4]

Zaydis, like Sunni Muslims, further reject the notion of Occultation (ghayba) of the Hidden Imām. Like the Ismā'īlīs, they believe in a living visible Imām.[5]

Of all the Shi'a schools of thought the Zaydis are the most moderate and tolerant as well as the nearest to Sunni Islam. They differ fundamentally from other Shi'a sects, especially the Twelvers and the Seveners, on the issue of Imamah.

—Abdul Ali in Islamic dynasties of the Arab East: state and civilization during the later medieval times[6]

In fact, the 8th Shi'a Twelver Imam, Ali al-Rida, narrated how his grandfather Jafar as-Sadiq (Patron of both Twelver and Ismaili Shi'a groups) also supported Zayd bin 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 neighborhood." After Zayd left, As-Sadiq said, "Woe be to those who hear his call but do not help him!".

—Imam Ali ar-Ridha[7]

Imam Jafar Sadiq's love for Zayd ibn Ali was so immense, 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 (s) or Ali (s) or Al-Hassan (s) or Al-Hussein(s)

Uyun Akhbar al-Reza- The Source of Traditions on Imam Ali ar-Ridha[8]


Status of caliphs and sahaba

There was a difference of opinion amongst the companions and supporters of Zaid bin 'Ali, such as Abu'l Jarud Ziyad ibn Abi Ziyad, Sulayman ibn Jarir, Kathir an-Nawa Al-Abtar and Hasan ibn Salih, concerning the status of the first three Caliphs of Islam who succeeded to the political and administrative authority of the Prophet Muhammad. The earliest group, called Jarudiyya (named for Abu'l Jarud Ziyad ibn Abi Ziyad), was opposed to the approval of certain companions of Muhammad. They held that there was sufficient description given by the Prophet that all should have recognised Imam 'Ali. They therefore consider the Companions wrong in failing to recognise Imam 'Ali as the legitimate Caliph. Thus, they deny real legitimacy to Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman; however, they avoid denouncing them.

They further condemn two other companions of Muhammad, Talha, Zubair, for their initial uprising against Caliph Ali.

This group was active during the late Umayyad and early 'Abbasid period. 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 to Ithna' Ashariyya by the Safawids.

The second group, Sulaimaniyya (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 Imam 'Ali but it did not amount to sin. The third group is Tabiriyya, Butriyya or Salihiyya (for Kathir an-Nawa Al-Abtar and Hasan ibn Salih). Their beliefs are virtually identical to those of the Sulaimaniyya, except they see Uthman also as in error but not in sin.[9]


Idrisid dynasty

The Idrisid dynasty was a mostly Berber Zaydi dynasty centered around modern-day Morocco. It was named after its first leader Idriss 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 synasty in modern day southern Spain.

Community and former States

Since the earliest form of Zaydism was of the Jarudiyya group,[9] many of the first Zaidi states, like those of the Alavids, Buyids, Ukhaidhirids[citation needed] and Rassids, were inclined to the Jarudiyya group.

The Idrisids (Arabic: الأدارسة‎) were Arab[10] Zaydi Shia[11][12][13][14][15][16] dynasty in the western Maghreb ruling from 788 to 985 C.E., named after its first sultan, Idriss I.

A Zaydi state was established in Daylaman and Tabaristan (northern Iran) in 864 C.E. by the Alavids;[17] it lasted until the death of its leader at the hand of the Samanids in 928 C.E. Roughly forty years later the state was revived in Gilan (north-western Iran) and survived under Hasanid leaders until 1126 C.E. After which from the 12th-13th centuries, the Zaydis of Daylaman, Gilan and Tabaristan then acknowledge the Zaydi Imams of Yemen or rival Zaydi Imams within Iran.[18]

The Buyids were initially Zaidi[19] as well as the Ukhaidhirite rulers of al-Yamama in the 9th and 10th centuries.[20]

The leader of the Zaidi community took the title of Caliph. As such, the ruler of Yemen was known as the Caliph, al-Hadi Yahya bin al-Hussain bin al-Qasim ar-Rassi Rassids (a descendant of Imam al-Hasan) who, at Sa'da, in c. 893-7 C.E., founded the Zaidi Imamate and this system continued until the middle of the 20th century, until the revolution of 1962 C.E. that deposed the Zaidi Imam (see Imams of Yemen). The founding Zaidism of Yemen was of the Jarudiyya group,[1] however with the increasing interaction with Hanafi and Shafi'i Sunni Islam, there was a shift from the Jarudiyya group, especially the Hadawi sub-sect, to the Sulaimaniyya group.

Currently the most prominent Zaidi movement is the Shabab Al Mu'mineen (also known as Houthis) who have been engaged in an uprising against the Yemeni Government in which the Army has lost 743 men and thousands of innocent civilians have been killed or displaced by Houthi and government forces causing a grave humanitarian crisis in north Yemen. Shia Population of the Middle East[21]

Some Persian and Arab legends record that Zaidis fled to China from the Umayyads during the 8th century ce.[22]

See also


Zaidi Wasitis

Zaidi Wasitis are Twelver Shias who claim descendancy from Imam Zayd bin Ali.


  • Cornelis van Arendonk : Les débuts de l'imamat zaidite au Yemen , Leyden , Brill 1960 (French)


  1. ^ a b Article by Sayyid 'Ali ibn 'Ali Al-Zaidi, A short History of the Yemenite Shi‘ites (2005)
  2. ^ Sunni-Shi’i Schism: Less There Than Meets the Eye 1991 Page 24
  3. ^ Yemen: The Bradt Travel Guide By Daniel McLaughlin
  4. ^ a b Islamic dynasties of the Arab East: state and civilization during the later medieval times by Abdul Ali, M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd., 1996, p97
  5. ^ The Arab lands under Ottoman rule, 1516-1800 Jane Hathaway, Karl K. Barbir, 2008, p47
  6. ^ Islamic dynasties of the Arab East: state and civilization during the later medieval times by Abdul Ali, M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd., 1996, p98
  7. ^ UYUN AKHBAR AL-REZA -The Source of Traditions on Imam Reza Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Hussein ibn Musa ibn Babawayh al-Qummi (Sheikh Sadooq), p466
  8. ^ UYUN AKHBAR AL-REZA -The Source of Traditions on Imam Reza Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Hussein ibn Musa ibn Babawayh al-Qummi (Sheikh Sadooq), p472
  9. ^ a b Article by Sayyid 'Ali ibn 'Ali Al-Zaidi, A short History of the Yemenite Shi‘ites (2005) Referencing: Momen, p.50, 51. and S.S. Akhtar Rizvi, "Shi'a Sects"
  10. ^ Hodgson, Marshall (1961), Venture of Islam, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 262 
  11. ^ Ibn Abī Zarʻ al-Fāsī, ʻAlī ibn ʻAbd Allāh (1340), Rawḍ al-Qirṭās: Anīs al-Muṭrib bi-Rawd al-Qirṭās fī Akhbār Mulūk al-Maghrib wa-Tārīkh Madīnat Fās, ar-Rabāṭ: Dār al-Manṣūr (published 1972), pp. 38 
  12. ^, 
  13. ^ Introduction to Islamic theology and law, By Ignác Goldziher, Bernard Lewis, pg.218
  14. ^ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 24, By James Hastings, pg.844
  15. ^ The Idrisids
  16. ^ Shi'ah tenets concerning the question of the imamate
  17. ^ Article by Sayyid 'Ali ibn 'Ali Al-Zaidi, A short History of the Yemenite Shi‘ites (2005) Referencing: Iranian Influence on Moslem Literature
  18. ^ Article by Sayyid 'Ali ibn 'Ali Al-Zaidi, A short History of the Yemenite Shi‘ites (2005) Referencing: Encyclopedia Iranica
  19. ^ Walker, Paul Ernest (1999), written at London ; New York, Hamid Al-Din Al-Kirmani: Ismaili Thought in the Age of Al-Hakim, Ismaili Heritage Series, 3, I.B. Tauris in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies., pp. 13, ISBN 1860643213 
  20. ^ Madelung, W. "al-Uk̲h̲ayḍir." Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online. 07 December 2007 [1]
  21. ^ The Gulf 2000 Project SIPA Columbia University
  22. ^ Donald Daniel Leslie (1998). "The Integration of Religious Minorities in China: The Case of Chinese Muslims". The Fifty-ninth George Ernest Morrison Lecture in Ethnology. p. 6. Retrieved 30 November 2010. .

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