Sunday, August 15, 2010

Should Zaidis Outside Yemen support the al Houthi bid for leadership?

The history of the Zaid Revival in Sa'ada:

A Zaidi revival was sparked in Sa’ada during the 1990’s in response to an aggressive campaign by the Wahhabis to stamp out Zaidism. In 1995, a journalist travelled to Sa’da and wrote about the revival, and the scholars who inspired it. He also named some of their important writings, some of which are being translated to English at present.
The Zaidi revival continues today, and many Zaidis have sacrificed their lives in order to preserve the Zaidi heritage from extinction, since Haykel’s article was written. Many civilians, including women and children, have been killed or maimed, due to the Wahhabi policy that all non-Wahhabis are unbelievers so it’s halal to murder them, even women and children. (Or will the Wahhabi supporters tell us that their pilots don’t know the difference between a chicken farm or home and a military target?) The Yemeni government has been encouraging the Wahhabi onslaught for political reasons, (i.e. to weaken opposition to their corrupt leadership), and the day will surely come when they will regret that decision.
The Wahhabi campaign against Zaidism is nothing new. Wahhabis have overrun Yemen twice before the 1990’s. On one of these occasions they were driven out by the Ottomans, and on another occasion by the Zaidis themselves.

The Al Houthi leadership:
When Zaidis outside Yemen start looking around for a living Zaidi Imam, the most obvious choice would seem to be Abdul Malik al Houthi, the (self proclaimed?) leader of the recent rebellion against the corrupt Yemeni regime of Abdullah Saleh.
Here are some reasons for and against supporting, or allying ourselves with al Houthi:

Reasons for:

1. Al Houthi fits the criteria for a Zaidi Imam because he has risen up against the corrupt leader of his region. His father and brother did the same and were killed (martyred?) by the Yemeni Regime for that reason. There is no other Zaidi leader openly challenging the corrupt Yemeni government.
2. Al Houthi’s father wrote a book confirming the Zaidi theology as we know it, and criticizing the 12 Imamer Shi-ite “Hidden Imam” which he described as a “fantasy.” Therefore rumours that the Al Houthis are 12 Imamers hiding behind a Zaidi mask seem to be fabricated. The mere fact that al Houthi travelled to Iran does not make him a 12 Imamer, even if he was drumming up support for his cause.
3. The Al Houthi movement is not aggressive or expansionist. It began as a peaceful protest against the pro- U.S./Israel policies of the Yemeni regime and the enforced spread of Wahhabism in Zaidi regions. An official sanction was introduced to replace Zaidi teachers in Sadah with those who understood the so-called ‘correct’ form of Sunni Islam, i.e. Wahhabism…. And then:
“On June 18, 2004, the police arrested and temporarily detained 640 Huthi demonstrators in front of the capital’s Great Mosque. On June 20, 2004, the governor of Sada traveled to Marran District but tribesmen, possibly affiliated to Husain al-Huthi, denied him access. The same day security forces in some 18 military vehicles attempted to arrest al-Huthi, escalating the fighting into full-blown war” (Professor Megalommatis,
4. Zaidis living in Yemen are unable to voice their support for the Al Houthi leadership bid, as they will be jailed or even killed if they do. There is no such restriction on Zaidis living outside Yemen.

Reasons Against:

1. Most of Yemen’s Zaidis do not appear to support the al Houthis. However, it is difficult to know whether this is because of the dangers of doing so, or because they see flaws in the AlHouthi leadership bid, or both.
2. In recent history (1940’s to 1962), the performance of the Sayyid monarchical rulers was below expectations. It was quite autocratic. Older Yemenis would still remember the days of the Zaidi Royals and they do not seem to remember it fondly. Perhaps they doubt that the al Houthis will do a better job than the previous ruling family.
3. On the other hand, if there is to be a re-establishment of the Zaidi Imamate in Yemen, perhaps Yemen’s Zaidis would prefer the return of the former Royal Family (the Hamidaddins) who were ousted by the revolution in 1962, rather than the introduction of a lesser known family with no track record at all, and that might explain the unenthusiastic response.
4. It is conceivable that Yemen’s Zaidis prefer to work within a democratic/secular framework rather than returning to the rule of the Sayyids, which was accompanied by a slightly arrogant Sayyidi elite/ aristocracy. For a history of the Sayyids’ role in Yemeni society pre 1962 click on the following link:
and for an Iranian scholar’s arguments in favor of secular democracy rather than theocracy for shi-ite societies, see this link:
5. Since unification of North and South Yemen in the 1990’s, the majority of Yemenis are not Zaidi, therefore most Yemenis would deem it inappropriate to impose a Zaidi Imamate on the entire population of Yemen. Given this context, perhaps the Zaidi Imam’s role should be no more than a Mufti advising on religious matters, within a parliamentary democratic system.


  1. Well if you read history, the Zaydi and Ismaili Imams went underground before they revolted against oppressors. Therefore, it not always easy to recognize the current Imam of the Zaydis.

  2. If Zaydi imam Comes To Power Will They Treat Minorities good like Ismailis?

    Because history has shown the ismailis Were starved out and killed by Zaydi imams for Supporting the Uthmaniyeen becaude they were more tolerant to Ismailis Beleifs.

    and They were forced out of their Hometown Najran.

    Will Zaydi imams Persecute other Sects and do they See this as Legitimate?

    Also Abdulah Al-Salih is a Fasiq and Corrupt LEader and he is using chemical Weapons against Fellow muslims in Sa'ada.

    and he is Keeping the Yemeni People From a Newly discovered Water Source wich can last Eastern Yemen for 50Years.

    he is doing this out of Punishment to Tribes who support the Muqawamma.

    also the south Wants independence.

    70 % of Sotuhern Yemenis wants Independance From The North and Recent Poles Show This.

  3. Salaam anonymous, I don't think President Saleh can be considered a Zaidi any more, even though he comes from a Zaidi family, because he is opposed to Hashemite leadership, and he is opposed to just, moral leadership; it could even be said he is opposed to justice. He has also allied himself with non Zaidis in order to suppress a legitimate Zaidi uprising against him.
    As for your question, would a genuine Zaidi Imam treat minorities fairly, I think they would have to, or else they would be deposed by the advisory body that would be set up alongside them to monitor their performance.
    As for the Zaidi Imams' persecution of the Ismailis, I don't know when this happened (more details would be good), but I agree with you that the history of Zaidi leadership is not always up to the standards expected by Zaidi political theory. Your point about the Southern Yemenis wanting independence (from Saleh and presumably from a Zaidi Imamate), is a good one, and I'm guessing that you are one of those I referred to above who think that "perhaps the Zaidi Imam (in Yemen) should be no more than a mufti advising on religious matters, within a parliamentary democratic system" ?

  4. What The Zaydi Position of the Last imam Yahya of the Zaydiyah Who butchered The Banu Zurayq Tribesmen for Wanting Independance?
    The Banu Zurayq Are a Tribe From the Tihama,and The Zaydi had no right to Enforce their rule on These Sunnis.The Way they Treated these People is Discusting.Putting Them in Notoriouis Prisons and Torcher Places.Killing Almost all Members of This Tribe.
    Frankly the Zaydis think that a Zaydi Imamate will not Benefit Them (im not Saying it wont!)
    They much Rather Chew Qat in the Later hours Back in the Mafraj Discussing Jokes.
    Most Zaydis Are Busy Chewing QAT and Have no time for This Cause.

    i support al-houthi but in my opinion this is the bitter Truth!

  5. Trust Me Zaydi tribes Kill Each Other over Tribal Disputes and Property,They Should Have no Problem Raising Arms against The Government if they Wanted To Do so!Yes they Hate the Government.But it is Better for Them then a Renewed Kingship!
    Also Most of Yemen's 30 Million Population is Under The Age of 15,and Old People Are Very Rare there!That is a Flawed Argument it is because of the ''Óld Memories''.
    Also Yemen has 3 Weapons for Each PErson.If they Wanted to Rise they Would OverThrow the government!
    Well i Think Democratic Regime is Better then Monarchy for Yemenis!

    But ONLY if it implements Islamic Law.

    if a monarchy implements islamic law i will support that Monarchy.
    (islamic law includes Equality for all People!)

    rregarding the PErsecution i think it Was Al-Mutawakil bi'llah .

    im not sure,ill find out Insha'Allah.

    he also persecuted the mutafiriyyah Zaydiyah.

    it can be found Here:

    Ismailis: From Yemen to India and Back

    They were forced from the Najran Region to Whats today Manakha City.

    and were Starved out .
    i also read it in a book From Bradt Travel guides,i will Try to Find out wich one .

  6. You've raised a good point here about the Qat. I think the Qat problem partly explains why Zaidis have not been more active in promoting Zaidism! If it's a drug, it must be Haram... do you know if it's banned by Zaidi Imams?
    Also, your points about the most recent Imams from the Hamidaddin family are enlightening. Perhaps their bad record explains why the Houthi Family are enjoying support nowadays?
    In any case, I thnk the Zaidi Imamate systen has the potential to work if implemented properly because it is based on justice, is progressive in nature, and respects the wishes of the Prophet Muhammad, who preferred us to be lead by his descendants...

  7. concerning Qat,i dont Think it was Banned by Zaydi imams.

    it was Spread By Sufi Orders Just Like Ethiopian Qahwa(Coffee).

    They used it to Stay up and worship all night Long.

    Yes,everything has the Potential to work.

    however Everyone Sings a Good song and Appeals to the Suffering of People.

    when they get into power they do the Exact Same Thing.
    (Communists,Iranian Regime are a very Excellent Example)

    lets hope this doesnt happen if Al-Hotuhi Gains the upperhand.

  8. and what is your opinion on the Banu zurayq?

  9. I don't know of them, please clarify...