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Qays b. Sa'd b. Ubada

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Qays b. Sa'd b. Ubada
Personal Information
Teknonym Abu l-Fadl, Abu 'Abd Allah or Abu 'Abd al-Malik
Lineage Khazraj
Well-Known Relatives Sa'd b. 'Ubada (father)
Place of Birth Medina
Muhajir/Ansar Ansar
Place(s) of Residence Medina • Egypt
Death/Martyrdom 60/679
Burial Place Medina or Tiflis
Religious Information
Presence at Ghazwas most of them
Notable Roles Governor of Egypt and Azerbaijan
Other Activities Participating in the battles of Jamal, Siffin, and Nahrawan

Qays b. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda al-Khazrajī (Arabic:قيس بن سعد بن عبادة الخزرجي) (d. 60/679) was among the companions of the Prophet (s). He was the chief of Khazraj tribe and one of the agents of Imam Ali's (a) government. He was a commander of Imam Ali's (a) army and the army of Imam al-Hasan (a) and was known for his generosity among Arabs.

He participated in most battles of the time of the Prophet (s) and Imam Ali (a) and in some of them including the Battle of Siffin, he was a commander and the standard-bearer. He was appointed by Imam Ali (a) as the agent in Egypt and then in Azerbaijan. During the time of Imam al-Hasan (a), Qays was one of his commanders who, based on reports, did not agree with Imam (a) about his peace with Mu'awiya. There are hadiths he narrated from the Prophet (s). 'Allama Amini counted him among the poets of the Event of Ghadir.

Name, Kunya and Lineage

Biographers have recorded the name of Qays's father as Sa'd b. 'Ubada b. Dalim b. Abi Halima. Qays was called al-Khazraji because of his father's lineage in Khazraj tribe of Medina. His brother Sa'id was also among transmitters of the hadith of Ghadir and the agents of Imam Ali's (a) government.

His Kunya was Abu l-Fadl, Abu 'Abd Allah or Abu 'Abd al-Malik and his mother was Fakiha bt. 'Ubayd b. Dalim b. Haritha. Genealogists praised him for his intelligence and wisdom as he was excellent in war solutions. It is reported that he said about himself, "If the Prophet (s) did not say that the place for [applying] deception is hellfire, I would become the most deceitful and conniving Arab man."

Moral Qualities

Qays, his father and his grandfather were chiefs of their tribe and were regarded among the most generous of Arabs. It is narrated from the Prophet (s), "Qays is from the families of generosity." It is said that his father was always accompanying the Prophet (s) and sent food for him at the times of the meals every day.

According to al-Waqidi, when in the Battle of Ghaba, the Prophet (s) was away from Medina, Sa'd sent Qays to the Prophet (s) with some dates. The Prophet (s) became happy when he (s) saw Qays coming on the horse and admired him and his father. People of Khazraj who were with the Prophet (s), told him that they had always supported people in difficulties and then the Prophet (s) said, "the good ones among you in Islam are the good ones among you at the time of Ignorance, just if they acquire understanding in the religion of God."

Al-Waqidi has reported that in Sariyya of Khabt, when the army of Islam faced hunger and lack of food, Qays generously bought some calves and goats on his credit and relieved the army of Islam from hunger for some days. When he returned to Medina, his father paid the debt to him and gave him many things and following this event, the Prophet (s) praised Qays and his family for their generosity.

During the Time of the Prophet (s)

Qays has probably been young at the time of the Prophet (s). Upon the conquest of Mecca, he was the standard-bearer of the Prophet (s). The famous hadith from the Prophet (s) saying, "if the knowledge is in Pleiades, people from Persia will acquire it", has been narrated by Qays.

During the Time of the Three Caliphs

Qays was present in Saqifa Bani Sa'ida; but, at the time of the Three Caliphs, he did not interfere in the affairs and there is no much information about him from that period. In some sources, there are reports about his sharp encounter with the first and second caliphs. For example, it is said that when Bashir b. Sa'd, as the chief of Aws, gave allegiance to Abu Bakr in Saqifa Bani Sa'ida; due to the pressure of the people of Aws for giving allegiance, Sa'd b. 'Ubada shouted, "you are about to kill me!". 'Umar b. Khattab said, "Kill Sa'd! May God kill him!" So, Qays attacked him, but Abu Bakr calmed 'Umar down.

At the Time of Imam Ali (a)

Imam Ali (a) appointed Qays b. Sa'd as the governor of Egypt in 36/656-57. Some have reported that at his time, Mu'awiya lost his control over Egypt and he had to push Qays out of Egypt with deception. So, he spread this rumor that Qays was with him in taking revenge for the blood of 'Uthman (see: Shirt of 'Uthman) and when the rumor was spread, Imam Ali (a) dismissed Qays from the government of Egypt. Some other sources have mentioned that since the time Qays was appointed as the governor of Egypt, Mu'awiya wrote letters to him and though threatening and persuasion tried to force Qays accompany him but he was not successful and in his last letter, threatened Qays seriously. Then, he wrote a fake letter which suggested that Qays had accepted to accompany him. He recited the letter to people in Syria. Imam Ali (a) heard the rumor about Qays accompanying Mu'awiya, but he (a) did not believe it, but consulted with Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a) and 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far. 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far advised him to dismiss Qays, but Imam Ali (a) did not want to dismiss Qays because Imam (a) considered him loyal until he (a) received some letters from Qays in which he had written that he did not consider it wise to put pressure on those in Egypt who had not given allegiance to Imam Ali (a). In response, Imam Ali (a) insisted that they needed to make their choice whether they were with the official caliph of Muslims or they are with Mu'awiya and Qays had to take their allegiance. In a letter to Imam Ali (a), Qays openly disobeyed this order with this excuse that those people were peace-seeking and were not going to make war or any trouble. Thus, Imam Ali (a) dismissed him from the government of Egypt. Afterwards, Qays first went to Medina and according to some sources, he was upset from Imam Ali (a) because of being dismissed from the government of Egypt, but he was bothered by the agents of Mu'awiya who were in Medina and therefore went to Kufa after a while.

Presence in Battles

Qays accompanied Imam Ali (a) in all his battles. According to some sources, at the beginning of the Battle of Jamal, Qays urged Imam (a) to resist and mobilized Ansar (the Helpers) for helping Imam (a). After Imam Ali (a) dismissed Qays from the government of Egypt, appointed him as the governor of Azerbaijan. On the verge of the Battle of Jamal, Imam (a) wrote a letter to Qays and told him to appoint 'Abd Allah b. Shumayl al-Ahmasi in his place and he goes to Kufa. Thus, he participated in the Battle of Siffin as one of the top commanders of Imam Ali (a). In this battle, he showed great valor. It is said that in this battle, Imam Ali (a) gave him the flag of the Prophet (s). In the Battle of Nahrawan, Imam Ali (a) sent Qays and Abu Ayyub al-Ansari to Khawarij to prevent the battle.

At the Time of Imam al-Hasan (a)

It is said that Qays was the first person who gave allegiance to Imam al-Hasan (a) in 40/661. During the time of Imam al-Hasan (a), Qays was one of his commanders and it is said that he did not agree with Imam's (a) peace with Mu'awiya. When he received the letter of Imam al-Hasan (a) regarding the peace with Mu'awiya, he told people that they had a choice to war out of the obedience of Imam (a) or to give allegiance to Mu'awiya. And people chose to give allegiance to Mu'awiya.

In al-Ghadir, 'Allama Amini has mentioned the name of Qays among the poets of the Event of Ghadir in the 1st/7th century.


There are different views about the time of Qays's death and place of his burial. The date of his death has been mentioned to be the last year of Mu'awiya's caliphate either in 58/678 or 60/679. In al-Isti'ab, Medina has been mentioned as the place of his burial and in al-Zirkili's al-A'lam, Tbilisi has been mentioned as the place of his burial. According to the latter report, Qays escaped to Tbilisi out of his fear from Mu'awiya in 58/678 and in the same year he died when 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan was ruling.


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