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Zahr b. Qays al-Ju'fi

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Zahr b. Qays al-Ju'fi
Fighting with Imam al-Husayn (a)
Full Name Zahr b. Qays al-Ju'fi al-Kufi
Lineage Banu Madhhaj
Place of Residence Kufa
Era Umayyad Dynasty
Known for Companion of Imam 'Ali (a)
Notable roles The head of Kufa police, Governor of Isfahan
Activities Testifying against Hujr b. 'Adi, carrying the heads of the Martyrs of Karbala, fighting against al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi, ...

Zaḥr (Zajr) b. Qays al-Juʿfī al-Kūfī (Arabic: زَحْر (زَجْر) بن قَیْس الجُعْفی الکوفی) was a member of Imam 'Ali's (a) army in the battles of Jamal and Siffin. He joined Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan after the Imam's (a) martyrdom, and testified against Hujr b. 'Adi. He was the head of Kufa police when the Event of Karbala occurred, and after the event, he carried the heads of the Martyrs of Karbala, together with the Captives of Karbala, from Kufa to Yazid b. Mu'awiya in Syria, and gave a report of the Event of Karbala to Yazid.

Lineage

Zahr b. Qays b. Malik b. Mu'awiya b. Sa'na al-Ju'fi was from the family of Ju'fi b. Sa'd, and the Banu Madhhij tribe. In the Battle of Muhallab with Khawarij, he was the head of the Asad and Madhhij tribes.

His name is also said to be "Zajr" or "Zafr". His children included Jabala, Juham, Furat, and Jamal (Hammal). Furat was killed in the riot of the Kufi noblemen against al-Mukhtar, and Jabala was killed in Dayr al-Jamajim.

In the Period of the Caliphs

Ibn Hajar mentioned Zahr b. Qays in his al-Isaba. During the caliphate of the Third Caliph, Zahr and Jurayr b. 'Abd Allah al-Bajli were 'Uthman's agents in Jabal lands. He was Jurayr's assistant in the administration of the lands.

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi has mentioned Zahr b. Qays as a companion of Imam 'Ali (a). After the murder of 'Uthman, Zahr served in the administration of Imam 'Ali (a). The Imam (a) sent him with a letter to Jurayr b. 'Abd Allah al-Bajli—'Uthman's agent in Hamadan area—to ask people there to pledge their allegiance to the Imam (a). When he arrived there with the letter, he delivered a sermon concerning the virtues of Amir al-Mu'minin (a).

Zahr b. Qays's Sermon for People of Hamadan
"O people! 'Ali (a) has written a letter to you which has closed the doors to any other speech—anything said after this is vain and worthless. However, you must reply to his letter. And you should know that people in Medina have fearlessly pledged their allegiance to 'Ali. And the allegiance was not because of friendship; it was because of his extensive knowledge of the Book of God and the Tradition of the Prophet (s). Talha and Zubayr also pledged their allegiance to 'Ali, but they broke it without any reason, calling people to initiate riots and war against him. They did not rest content to anything but a war against 'Ali, forcing Umm al-Mu'minin 'A'isha to join them. Eventually, Amir al-Mu'minin (a) had to combat them. In this combat, 'Ali preached them and called them to abandon the war, as he treated other forces of Talha and Zubayr in a good way, calling people to what is good and of their interest. What I have said is the gist of the story the details of which are hidden from you, and I shall provide you with more explanation if needed."
Waq'at al-siffin, PP. 17-18

Battle of Jamal

In the Battle of Jamal, Zahr accompanied Imam 'Ali (a). He composed some poems in the praise of the Imam (a). After the battle, the Imam (a) sent him to Kufa with a letter, in which he described the grounds and reasons of the battle, recommending people of Kufa to ask Zahr b. Qays any questions about the battle.

Battle of Siffin

Zahr b. Qays attended the Battle of Siffin as well. Imam 'Ali (a) sent him to Qatqatana with a number of cavalries in order to block the transportation of provisions and foods to the army of Mu'awiya. Before Qays's departure, Imam 'Ali (a) recommended him to shed as less blood as possible and draw his sword only when necessary. Zahr departed to Qatqatana. When Mu'awiya learned about it, he sent Dahhak b. Qays to combat Zahr. In this encounter, Zahr b. Qays and his soldiers managed to push Dahhak and his fellows back. There is a poem by Ayman b. Kharim b. Fatik depicting Zahr's valor and courage in the Battle of Siffin. Zahr b. Qays was one of the people who insisted on making a compromise with Mu'awiya in the Battle of Siffin.

Just before his martyrdom, Amir al-Mu'minin (a) sent Zahr and 400 soldiers to al-Mada'in. Zahr and his fellows heard about the Imam's (a) martyrdom in al-Mada'in.

Characteristics

Zahr b. Qays was a prominent Arab horseman. In his talks with Qays b. Ash'ath in the Battle of Siffin, 'Utba b. Abi Sufyan characterized Zahr b. Qays as a person who only followed his desires.

The Event of Karbala

After the martyrdom of Imam 'Ali (a), Zahr joined Mu'awiya and his agents and testified against Hujr b. 'Adi.

During the Event of Karbala, he was appointed by 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad as the head of Kufa police. After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions, he was commissioned by Ibn Ziyad to carry the heads of the martyrs as well as the captives to Yazid b. Mu'awiya in Syria. When Zahr b. Qays went to Yazid, he gave him a report on the Event of Karbala.

After the Event of Karbala

The Report of the Event of Karbala by Zahr b. Qays to Yazid b. Mu'awiya
"I give you the good news of victory. God Has Helped you against your opponents. The gist of the story is that al-Husayn (a) came to us with 18 people from his household and 60 people from his companions, and as soon as we learned about his arrival, we went to him. We suggested that they surrender and comply with Ibn Ziyad, or fight. They chose the fight over the surrender. Thus, we attacked them in the morning when the sun had just risen. We sieged them from all sides and raised our swords over their heads. When they found themselves nearly captivated by us, they tried to find a way to escape. They escaped without having a place to take refuge to. They took refuge from our swords to pits and canebrakes, just like poor pigeons awkwardly flying around to escape the claws of a hawk. I swear to God they could not resist longer than the time it takes to slaughter a camel or to take an afternoon nap. Thus, we killed all of them—young and old—and decapitated them, leaving their naked bodies on the ground, while their clothes were stained with blood and their faces were dusty. They ended up in a state in which the sun was shining on them, the wind was blowing to their bodies, and they were only visited by eagles and vultures."
al-Kamil, vol.4 PP. 83-84

After the death of Yazid b. Mu'awiya, Zahr b. Qays joined 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr, and together with 'Abd Allah b. Muti', he tried to prevent al-Mukhtar's Uprising. Ibn Muti' sent Zahr and a number of other people to al-Kinda district to block the progress of al-Mukhtar and his companions. In the riot of the noblemen of Kufa against al-Mukhtar, Zahr was in charge of the battle in al-Kinda district. However, when the riot failed, he joined Mus'ab b. Zubayr. He accompanied the army of Mus'ab b. Zubayr in his war against al-Mukhtar. He was commissioned by Mus'ab to conquer the Murad district of Kufa. Zahr accompanied Mus'ab b. Zubayr in his war against 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan as well, but he and many commanders of Mus'ab's army joined 'Abd al-Malik's army after being promised the rule of Isfahan. Zahr was given the rule of Isfahan in 71/690.

Zahr b. Qays later served in the administration of Hajjaj b. Yusuf al-Thaqafi. During the riots of Khawarij in Iraq and other areas, including Iran, he was appointed by Hajjaj as the commander of an army of 1800 soldiers to combat Shabib b. Yazid al-Shibani, but he was defeated. He was injured in the battle, and when he was moved to Kufa, he was honored by Hajjaj b. Yusuf. According to some sources, he also accompanied Muhallab b. Abi Sufra in a war against Khawarij.

References