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History

Shi'ism in the 3rd/9th Century

At the beginning of the 3rd/9th century, Shi' ism was able to breathe once again. This more favorable condition was first of all, due to the fact that many scientific and philosophical books were translated from Greek, Syriac and other languages into Arabic, and people eagerly studied the intellectual and rational sciences. Moreover, al-Ma'miin, the 'Abbasid caliph from 198/813 to 218/833, had Mu tazilite leanings and since in his religious views, he favored intellectual demonstration, he was more inclined to give complete freedom to the discussion and propagation of different religious views. Shi ite theologians and scholars took full advantage of this freedom and did their utmost to further scholarly activities and propagate Shi ite teachings. Also, al-Ma'mun, following the demands of the political forces at the time, had made the eighth Shi' ite Imam his successor, as is recounted in most standard histories. As a result, the descendants of the Holy Prophet and their friends were to a certain extent free from pressures from the government and enjoyed some degree of liberty. Yet before long the cutting edge of the sword once again turned towards the Shi ites and the forgotten ways of the past came upon them again. This was particularly true in the case of al-Mutawakkil (233/847-247/861) who held a special enmity towards 'Ali and the Shi' ites. By his order, the tomb of the third Imam in Karbala' was completely demolished. 1
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1 Abu 'l-Fida' and other histories.

Adapted from: "Shi'ah" by: "Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i"