Al-Mutawakkil bore hatred and spite against Imam Ali (a.s.). He denied him and declared his hatred and despise towards him openly. He made one of his effeminate servants dance and compare himself to Imam Ali (a.s.). This ugly doing provoked al-Muntasir, al-Mutawakkil’s son, and made him kill his father.
Al-Mutawakkil was full of rage whenever he heard or saw crowds of people visit the shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.) the master of the youth of Paradise, whereas the graves of his (al-Mutawakkil’s) fathers and their cousins the Umayyads turned into dunghills in dark, dreary places which became as resorts for beasts. Those graves, with their misery and gloominess, told the oppression and violence of their inhabitants against Muslims.
Historians say that the reason, which made al-Mutawakkil destroy the holy shrine, was that some songstress sent him her maids before he assumed the rule to sing for him when he drank, and when he became the caliph, he sent for her to send him a songstress but she was not there. It was said to him that she had gone to visit the holy tomb of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.). She was informed of that while she was in Kerbala. She hurried back to Baghdad and sent al-Mutawakkil one of her maids. He asked the maid where they were and she said, ‘My lady went to perform the hajj (pilgrimage) and took us with her.’ It was the month of Sha’ban. Al-Mutawakkil was astonished and said to her, ‘Where did you perform the hajj in Sha’ban?’ She said, ‘To the tomb of al-Husayn.’
The tyrant was alarmed and angry when he heard that the pilgrimage was to the holy tomb of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.). He arrested the lady of the maid and confiscated all her wealth, and ordered his officials to destroy the tomb. They refused insistently to destroy the tomb of the grandson of their Prophet. Then, al-Mutawakkil asked some Jews, headed by ad-Dayzaj, to destroy the tomb. They responded to him and destroyed the holy tomb in 237 AH, and destroyed all buildings around the tomb. They plowed the land around the tomb and made water flow over the land, but water turned around the tomb without reaching to it; therefore, it was called al-Ha’ir. A pleasant smell was emitted from the tomb that people had never smelt like it. ( Maqatil at-Talibiyin, p.598. )