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Qays b. Mushir al-Saydawi

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Companion of Imam (a)
Qays b. Mushir al-Saydawi
Full Name Qays b. Mushir b. Khulayd b. Jundab b. Minqidh b. Jisr b. Nakara b. Sayda'
Companion of Imam al-Husayn (a)
Religious Affiliation Shi'a
Lineage Banu Sayda'
Place(s) of Residence Kufa
Death/Martyrdom Dhu l-Hijja, 60
Cause of
Martyred by Ibn Ziyad
Burial Place Kufa
Activities Carrying the letters of people of Kufa to Imam al-Husayn (a)

Qays b. Mushir al-Ṣaydāwī al-Asadī (Arabic: قَیس بن مُسْهِر الصَّیداوي الاَسدي) was the envoy of Imam al-Husayn (a) who carried messages between the Imam (a), people of Kufa and Muslim b. 'Aqil. He was taken captive by the army of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad in Qadisiyya and was martyred a few days before the Battle of 'Ashura. His name is mentioned in Ziyarat al-Shuhada'.


His full names is Qays b. Mushir (some times misspelled as Musahhar) b. Khulayd b. Jundab b. Minqidh b. Jisr b. Nakara b. Sayda'. Qyas's tribe was known as the tribe of Banu Sayda', that counted as a clan of Banu Asad. This is why Qays was considered as a Banu Asad martyr in some sources. Since one of his ancestors is Nukra, he has also been called Qays b. Mushir al-Nukri.

According to some accounts, he was an honorable, brave man who loved Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet (s). Kumayt al-Asadi, the well-known early Shiite poet, mentioned him in one of his poems as Shaykh (senior) of Banu Sayda'.

As an Envoy

Qays's main role in the Battle of Karbala was as an envoy. Here are the letters he carried in this event:

  • Returning Imam al-Husayn's (a) reply to Muslim b. 'Aqil.
  • Accompanying Muslim b. 'Aqil in his trip and carrying his letter to Imam al-Husayn (a) with regard to the allegiance of people in Kufa to Imam al-Husayn (a).
  • Accompanying Imam al-Husayn (a) and carrying his letter from Hajiz to people of Kufa.

Letters of People of Kufa to Imam al-Husayn (a)

A number of letters from people of Kufa were carried to Imam al-Husayn (a) on the Ramadan 10, 60/June 17, 680 by 'Abd Allah b. Sabu' al-Hamdani and 'Abd Allah b. Wal al-Taymi. A couple of days later, Qays b. Mushir, 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Abd Allah al-Arhabi, and 'Umara b. 'Ubayd al-Saluli carried 150 more letters from people of Kufa to Imam al-Husayn (a).

This shows that Qays resided in Kufa and went to Mecca just in order to carry letters from people of Kufa to Imam al-Husayn (a).

Carrying Muslim b. 'Aqil's Letters

After he rested for three days, by the command of Imam al-Husayn (a) and in order to accompany Muslim b. 'Aqil from Mecca to Kufa, Qays left Mecca on Ramadan 15, 60/June 22, 680. They first went to Medina in order for Muslim b. 'Aqil to bid farewell to his friends and relatives. On this trip they were accompanied by two guides who died on the way because of serious thirst and dehydration.

On his way in this trip in a place called evil canyon, Muslim b. 'Aqil wrote a letter to Imam al-Husayn (a). Qays carried the letter to Imam (a) and returned his reply to Muslim b. 'Aqil. Then Qays continued to accompany Muslim b. 'Aqil, and they were joined by people such as 'Umara b. 'Ubayd al-Saluli and 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Abd Allah b. Kadan al-Arhabi. According to some accounts, Qays accompanied Muslim b. 'Aqil throughout his way from Mecca to Kufa, entering al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi's house with Muslim b. 'Aqil.

Qays went from Kufa to his tribe, Banu Asad, and informed them that Muslim b. 'Aqil went to Kufa. Habib b. Muzahir, who was a member of the tribe, went to al-Mukhtar's house in order to meet Muslim b. 'Aqil.

When people of Kufa pledged their allegiance to Muslim b. 'Aqil, he wrote a letter to Imam al-Husayn (a) and informed him about the allegiance. The letter was carried to Imam (a) by 'Abis b. Abi Shabib al-Shakiri and Qays. According to some sources, Shawdhab also accompanied them in carrying the letter.


Last Letter Carried

Imam al-Husayn (a) sent Qays from Hajiz station to Kufa with his reply to the letter of Muslim b. 'Aqil. According to some other accounts, the letter was sent from Karbala to Kufa. However, it was sent after Muslim b. 'Aqil was martyred.


When Qays arrived in Qadisiyya, he was captivated by Husayn b. Numayr. Husayn b. Numayr had Qays taken to 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad so that he could decide about him. Before he was captivated, he had torn up the letter to prevent the leak of information to the enemy.

Argument with 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad

When Qays was taken to 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad's emirate building, an argument occurred between them.

Ibn Ziyad said: who are you?

Qays replied: a Shiite (follower) of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and his son.

Ibn Ziyad asked: why did you tear up the letter?

He replied: so that you do not learn about what was written in it.

Ibn Ziyad asked: who was the letter from and to whom was it written?

Qays answered: from Imam al-Husayn (a) to a group of people in Kufa whose names I do not know.

Ibn Ziyad angrily said: I swear to God that you should either tell me their names or go on minbar (pulpit), cursing al-Husayn b. 'Ali and his father and brother; otherwise I will tear you to pieces.

Qays said: I will not tell you their names, but I will curse.

Speaking the message of Imam al-Husayn

By Ibn Ziyad's command, Qays went on minbar in order to curse 'Ali (a) and his two sons as they, al-Hasan b. 'Ali (a) and al-Husayn b. 'Ali (a). When he went on minbar, he first praised and thanked God. He then expressed his regards to the Prophet (s) and to 'Ali and his sons, al-Hasan and Husayn (a). And then he cursed 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad and his father and the cruel rulers of Banu Umayya, saying to people that: "I am al-Husayn's messenger to you; I last met him in such and such a place; please join him".

After Qays's brave remarks, 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad threw him down from the roof of his palace and martyred him. He then ordered his men to mutilate Qays's corpse.

According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid's account, he was thrown down with his hands tied up and his bones were broken. He was still alive, but a man called 'Abd al-Malik b. 'Umayr al-Lakhmi decapitated him. People criticized him, but he replied: "I just wanted to give him comfort." However, according to some other sources, this story happened to 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar.

Date of Martyrdom

It is not known exactly when Qays was martyred. According to some accounts, Imam al-Husayn (a) was informed about his martyrdom in 'Udhayb al-Hijanat; thus he was martyred before Imam al-Husayn (a) arrived in Karbala.

However, according to an account according to which he was carrying Imam al-Husayn (a)'s letter from Karbala to Kufa, he must have been martyred sometime between the second and the tenth of Muharram, 61/October 5 to October 13, 680.

What is certain, however, is that Qays departed to Kufa after the martyrdom of Muslim b. 'Aqil. Therefore, his martyrdom is definitely after the Day of 'Arafa.

Imam al-Husayn's (a) Reaction

When Tirimmah b. 'Adi gave the news about Qays's martyrdom to Imam al-Husayn (a), he shed tears, and recited the Quranic verse:

He then said: "O' God! Please bless them and us in the Heaven and place them and us in your mercy and provide us with your hidden awards!"

According to some other sources, it was Majma' b. 'Abd Allah al-'A'idi who gave the news of Qays's martyrdom to Imam al-Husayn (a).

In Ziyarat al-Shuhada'

In a part of Ziyarat al-Shuhada', regards are sent to martyrs of Karbala one by one; Qays is mentioned in this part: "peace be upon Qays b. Mushir al-Saydawi".

Similar Historical accounts about 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar and Qays b. Mushir

In many sources, the martyrdom of 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar and that of Qays b. Mushir are reported in the same way, that is, one and the same story about their martyrdom is told. However, a reflection on what the sources say reveals that there are subtle differences between the two stories.


Imam al-Husayn (a) first sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar with a letter to Kufa; he went to Kufa from a certain path. He then gave another letter to Qays b. Mushir, but he went to Kufa from a different path. However, they both were captivated by forces of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad and were martyred. But they were martyred in similar ways.

Imam al-Husayn (a) sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar from Hajiz to Kufa and learned about his martyrdom in a place called Zubala. But he sent Qays b. Mushir from a place called Bayda to Kufa, and learned about his martyrdom in a place called 'Udhayb al-Hijanat.


  1. ...فَمِنْهُم مَّن قَضَىٰ نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَنتَظِرُ ۖ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا