The Zaydis (also:
Zaidi, Zaiddiyah, or in the West Fivers)
are the most moderate of the Shi'a
groups and the nearest to the Sunnis
in their theology. They say that they
are a fifth school of law of Sunni
Islam (in addition to the four Sunni
orthodox schools: Hanafi,
This Shi`ite sect is named after Zayd
bin Ali, grandson of Hadrat Imam Husayn.
The Zaydi sect was formed by the followers
of Zayd bin Ali, who led an unsuccessful
rebellion against the Umayyad caliph
Hisham in 740.
According to Zaydi political theory,
Hadrat Ali, Hadrat Hasan and Hadrat
Husayn are the first three rightful
Imams; after them, the imamate is
open to whomever of their descendants
establishes himself through armed
rebellion. Shia regard Imam Ali Zayn
al-Abidin as the fourth imam. While
most shias take Muhammed Al-Baqir
to be the next Imam, Zayadis take
Al-Baqir's brother Zayd as imam.
Zaidi see Zayd as the fifth Imam because
of the rebellion he led against the
Umayyad dynasty, which he believed
was corrupt. Muhammad al-Baqir did
not engage in political action, whereas
Zayd preached that a true Imam must
fight against corrupt rulers.
Not all Zaidis believe that Zaid is the
true Imam. Zaidis known as Wastis
believes in Twelver Imams. They are
part of Shia Ithna Ashiri. Most of
them settled in India, Pakistan. The
biggest group of Zaidis having their
belive on Twelve Shia Imams is known
as Saadat-e-Bahra. Saadat means descendents
of Imam Husayn bin Ali and Bahra means
twelve in Hindi and Urdu Languages.
The first Zaydi state was established
in Tabaristan (northern Iran) in 864;
it lasted until the death of its leader
at the hand of the Samanids in 928.
Forty years later the state was revived
in Gilan (north-western Iran) and
survived under Hasanid leaders until
the 12th century.
In Yemen, a Zaydi state was established
in 893 by a Hasanid who had originally
been invited to mediate between quarrelling
Yemeni tribes. A succession of occupations
by foreign dynasties beginning in
the tenth century occasionally forced
the Zaydi imamate to retreat northwards;
however, the imamate survived until
the death of its last imam in 1962.
Yemen is a country with deep Muslim traditions,
but is often most mentioned for its
relatively large Zaydi Shi'i group,
even if this represents a minority
in the country as a total. The Zaydi
order of Shi'a Islam represents approximately
25 percent t of the total population.
Yemen's north is the center of Zaydism.
Zaydism is known for putting less
importance on the position of the
Imam, than among the Twelver (Iran),
perhaps because the Zaydis have enjoyed
far more political and religious freedom
than the other.
In the rugged mountains of northern Yemen
live some four hundred Zaydi tribes
with a total of some five million
members. For over one thousand years
they have been the dominant community
in the Yemen, often fighting against
the Sunni Shafi'i tribes and the smaller
Isma'ili and Twelver
Zaidi beliefs are moderate compared to
other Shia sects. The Zaidis do not
believe in the infallibility of the
Imams, nor that they receive divine
guidance. Zaidis also do not believe
that the Imamate must pass from father
to son, but believe it can be held
by any descendant of Ali. They also
reject the Twelver notion of a hidden
Imam, and like the Ismailis believe
in a living imam, or even imams.
In matters of law or fiqh, the Zaidis
are actually closest to the Sunni
Page last updated:
Friday, November 25, 2005 22:04:51 -0500