Al-Mahdi al-Husayn

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al-Mahdi al-Husayn (987 - 1013) was an imam of the Zaidi state in Yemen who claimed power in the years 1003-1013, in rivalry with another imam.

Al-Husayn bin al-Qasim was a Sayyid originally from Hijaz (present-day Saudi Arabia). His father was the imam al-Mansur al-Qasim al-Iyyani who briefly held power in the Yemeni inland in 999-1002, and died in 1003. After the death of al-Mansur, al-Husayn set forth his claim to the imamate, in rivalry with his distant relative ad-Da'i Yusuf. In 1010 he declared himself with the title al-Mahdi, in the chiliastic sense of a redeemer of Islam.[1] He moreover claimed to be the equal of the Prophet. He was supported by large groups from Himyar and Hamdan. At this time, the key city San'a was governed by the Zaidi sharif al-Qasim bin al-Husayn. The sharif was expelled from the city, pursued and killed in 1012. The rival imam ad-Da'i died in the same year. With this, the power of al-Mahdi al-Husayn extended from Alhan to Sa'dah and San'a. However, already in 1013, the imam was in turn driven out of San'a. He was attacked by a Hamdanite force near Dhu Bin and lost his life. For a long time afterwards, his adherents believed that he was actually not dead.[2] Like many Zaidi imams, al-Mahdi al-Husayn was a prominent author. After his demise, his brother Ja'far played a political role as emir in the Yemeni highlands for several decades. He established himself in the impenetrable stronghold Shahara and was the main opponent of the Sulayhid dynasty in the second half of the eleventh century. Ja'far and his offspring headed a Zaydiyyah sect known as the Husayniyya after al-Mahdi al-Husayn.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Enzyklopädie des Islam, Vol. IV. Leiden 1934, p. 1296.
  2. ^ H.C. Kay, Yaman; Its early Medieval History. London 1892, pp. 228-9.
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. XI, Leiden 2002, p. 479.
Preceded by
al-Mansur al-Qasim al-Iyyani
Imam of Yemen
Succeeded by
al-Mu'ayyad Ahmad