Umar b. Sa'd

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Umar b. Sa'd
Murderer of Imam al-Husayn (a)
Full Name'Umar b. Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas
Well-known AsIbn Sa'd
Place of BirthMedina
Place of ResidenceMedina, Kufa
DeathRabi' I 9, 66/October 14, 685
Cause of DeathHe was killed by al-Mukhtar
EraUmayyad dynasty
Notable rolesCommander of Ibn Ziyad army in Karbala
ActivitiesBetraying Muslim b. 'Aqil, giving testimony against Hujr b. 'Adi

ʿŪmar b. Saʿd b. Abī Waqqāṣ (Arabic:عُمَر بن سَعد بن أبي وَقّاص) known as Ibn Saʿd (d. 66/685) was the commander of the army of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad in the Event of Karbala. He went to Karbala with an army of four thousand soldiers to achieve the government of Rey(the capital of Rey County, Tehran Province, Iran) and had a major role in the event. He threw the first arrow towards Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions. After the martyrdom of imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions, he ordered his soldiers to trample over their bodies with their horses. After the Event of 'Ashura, Ibn Sa'd did not reach the government of Rey and was killed by al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. He has been among the most hated figures in Islamic history before Shi'a and is cursed in Ziyarah 'Ashura'.

Lineage and Birthday

Timeline of the Battle of Karbala
Year 60/680
Rajab 15
(April 21)
Death of Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan
Rajab 28
(May 4)
Departure of Imam al-Husayn b. 'Ali (a) from Medina.
Sha'ban 3
(May 9)
Arrival of Imam al-Husayn (a) to Mecca.
Ramadan 10
(June 14)
Arrival of Kufiyans' first letter to Imam (a)
Ramadan 12
(June 16)
Arrival of 150 letters from Kufa
Ramadan 14
(June 18)
Arrival of the letter from leaders of Kufa
Ramadan 15
(June 19)
Departure of Muslim b. 'Aqil from Mecca toward Kufa.
Shawwal 5
(July 9)
Arrival of Muslim b. 'Aqil to Kufa.
Dhu l-Hijja 8
(September 9)
Departure of Imam al-Husayn (a) form Mecca and uprising of Muslim b. 'Aqil in Kufa
Dhu l-Hijja 9
(September 10)
Martyrdom of Muslim b. 'Aqil
Year 61/680
Muharram 1
(October 1)
Asking for help of 'Ubayd Allah b. al-Hurr al-Ju'fi and 'Amr b. Qays in Qasr Bani Muqatil
Muharram 2
(October 2)
Arrival of Imam (a) to Karbala
Muharram 3
(October 3)
Arrival of 'Umar b. Sa'd with 4,000 people to Karbala
Muharram 6
(October 6)
Habib b. Muzahir's asking for help of Banu Asad
Muharram 7
(October 7)
Banding of water by 'Umar b. Sa'd and joining Muslim b. 'Awsaja al-Asadi to Imam (a)
Muharram 9
(October 9)
Arrival of Shimr b. Dhi l-Jawshan to Karbala
Muharram 9
(October 9)
Shimr's Safe conduct for Umm al-Banin's children
Muharram 9
(October 9)
Announcing of the Battle by 'Umar b. Sa'd and Imam's (a) asking for a delay
Muharram 10
(October 10)
Events of Ashura and the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a), his Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.) and his companions
Muharram 11
(October 11)
Moving the captives towards Kufa and the burial of martyrs by Banu Asad
Muharram 12
(October 12)
Arrival of captives to Kufa and the burial of the martyrs according to the narration
Muharram 19
(October 19)
Moving the captives from Kufa towards Syria
Safar 1
(October 31)
Arrival of the captives and the head of Imam al-Husayn (a) to Syria
Safar 20
(November 19)
Arba'in and the return of Ahl al-Bayt (a) to Karbala and Medina (in some accounts)

His father is Sa'd b. Malik (Abi Waqqas) b. Wuhayb b. 'Abd Manaf, who is known as Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas.[1]

The date of his birth is not clear. Some sources have mentioned his birthday at the time of the Prophet (s) and some others have mentioned it at the same year when 'Umar b. al-Khattab was killed in 23/644.[2] According to al-Tabari, 'Umar was a teenager when he accompanied his father in conquering Iraq in 17/638-9 and he was even appointed by his father to conquer Ra's al-'Ayn.[3]


  • Hafs, who was killed with his father by al-Mukhtar.
  • Muhammad, who rose with 'Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad Ash'ath against al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf and was killed. His son, Muhammad became a scholar of fiqh in Medina.
  • 'Amir, from whom some narrations are mentioned in Sunni sources. He died in 140/757-8.
  • Mus'ab, from whom some narrations are mentioned in Sunni sources. He died in 130/747-8.
  • Musa[4]

Before the Tragedy of Karbala

Encouraging his Father to Claim the Position of Caliphate

In 37/657-8, he was in Dumat al-Jandal when the case of judgment between Imam 'Ali (a) and Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan happened there and after seeing the argument between Imam Ali's (a) commanders and Mu'awiya, he went to his father and encouraged him to claim the caliphate, but his father did not accept.[5]

Giving Testimony Against Hujr b. 'Adi

In 51/671-2, by the request of Ibn Ziyad, 'Umar and some others gave testimony against Hujr b. 'Adi that he has raised to make mischief and that he has become infidel. This was used by Mu'awiya as an alibi to martyr Hujr and his companions in Marj 'Adhra'.[6]

Reporting the Entrance of Imam al-Husayn (a) to Mecca

Al-Khwarizmi quoted from Ibn A'tham al-Kufi[7] that when Imam al-Husayn (a) immigrated from Medina to Mecca to refrain from making allegiance with Yazid b. Mu'awiya, 'Umar b. Sa'd was Emir (or maybe Emir al-Hajj) of Mecca and when he saw the huge welcome from pilgrims of hajj to Imam al-Husayn (a), he went to Medina and wrote a letter to Yazid and informed him about coming of Imam al-Husayn (a) to Mecca.[8]

Betraying Muslim b. 'Aqil

In 60/680, when the representative of Imam al-Husayn (a), Muslim b. 'Aqil went to Kufa to take people's allegiance with Imam (a), like some nobles of Kufa, Ibn Sa'd wrote a letter to Yazid and advised him that if he does not want Kufa to go out of his control, he has to dismiss Nu'man b. Bashir, the governor of Kufa at that time. [9]After Muslim b. 'Aqil was arrested by order of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, informed 'Umar b. Sa'd of his will out of others' sight, but 'Umar betrayed him and let 'Ubayd Allah know of Muslim's will.[10]

Presence in Karbala

In Islamic history, 'Umar b. Sa'd is mostly known for his role in the bloody Event of Karbala in which Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions were martyred. The role of 'Umar b. Sa'd in this event made him one of the most hated figures in history.

After entering of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad to Kufa, Ibn Sa'd who was appointed as the governor of Rey and Dastebi (Arabized word for Shasht-pey, a great flat between Rey and Hamedan which was later appended to Qazvin)[11] had camped out of Kufa with four thousand soldiers and was ready to move towards Rey. Still, the news about moving of Imam al-Husayn (a) towards Kufa made 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad to send Ibn Sa'd to either fight against Imam al-Husayn (a) or leaves the rule of Rey and Ibn Sa'd chose the new mission and moved towards Karbala with his soldiers.[12]

Sending a Messenger to Imam al-Husayn (a)

Ibn Sa'd entered Karbala on Friday, Muharram 2 or 3, 61/October 2 or 3, 680 and sent Qurra b. Qays al-Hanzali to Imam al-Husayn (a) to ask Imam (a) why he (a) has come to Iraq. Imam (a) replied, "People of Kufa have asked me to come and thus I have come to Iraq; now if they do not want me, I will come back."

Ibn Sa'd wrote the answer of Imam (a) to 'Ubayd Allah, but associates of 'Ubayd Allah such as Shimr b. Dhi al-Jawshan and others who advocated the war with Imam al-Husayn (a), prevented 'Ubayd Allah from any compromise with Imam al-Husayn (a) and in a letter to Ibn Sa'd who wanted to make a compromise with Imam al-Husayn (a), 'Ubayd Allah wrote that he has to either fight with Imam (a) or leave the command of the army of Kufa to Shimr b. Dhi al-Jawshan;[13] but, when Ibn Sa'd read the letter, he told Shimr that he himself would bet the commander of the army and fight with Imam al-Husayn (a).

Following the order of Ibn Ziyad, Ibn Sa'd appointed five thousand soldiers to guard Euphrates from any access of the camp of Imam al-Husayn (a) for taking water.[14]

Imam's (a) Effort for Saving 'Umar b. Sa'd

For several times, Imam al-Husayn (a) spoke with 'Umar b. Sa'd to convince him to leave the war. The reports of these meetings are mentioned in historical references with little differences. Before one of these meetings, Imam (a) sent 'Amr b. Qaraza al-Ansari with a message to 'Umar b. Sa'd to come at night and meet Imam (a) in the distance between the two camps. 'Umar b. With the same number of men, Sa'd and twenty horsemen and Imam (a) came in between the two camps. Imam (a) asked his companions to go aside and 'Umar did the same. Then, they spoke with each other and their conversation lasted long. Some sources have reported that Imam (a) told 'Umar, "Do not you fear God for fighting with me while you know who I am? Leave this group and come to me to get close to God." 'Umar b. Sa'd answered, "I fear that they destroy my house." Imam (a) said, "I will provide a house for you." 'Umar said, "they will confiscate my properties." Imam (a) said, "I will give you better." 'Umar became silent and said nothing. Imam (a) left him and said, "May God get you killed in your bed and does not forgive you on the Day of Judgment! I wish you do not eat from the wheat of Iraq but little!"[15] 'Umar said, "If it is not wheat, there would be barley."[16]

Beginning of War

In the afternoon of the day of Tasu'a, 'Umar b. Sa'd got on his horse and ordered his army, "O the army of God! Get on your horses, for there is good news for you!" The army of Kufa became ready for war. When Imam al-Husayn (a) knew their intention, he asked them to give him the time of night to make worship and prayer. After consulting his commanders, 'Umar b. Sa'd accepted that.[17]

According to some sources, in the morning of 'Ashura', Imam (a) stood in front of the army of Kufa and spoke with them and then called 'Umar and addressed him, "O 'Umar b. Sa'd! Will you kill me and think that adulterine son of adulterine one will make you, the governor of Rey and Gorgan?! By God, I swear that you will not taste the freshness of its water." 'Umar b. Sa'd became angry from the words of Imam (a), turned to his army and shouted, "What are you waiting for?! Attack all of you, for it is not but a mouthful bite!"[18]

Then 'Umar b. Sa'd shot an arrow towards the army of Imam (a) and said, "Witness that I was the first person who shot an arrow!"[19]

Curse of Imam al-Husayn (a)

After 'Ali Akbar (a) went to the battlefield, Imam (a) addressed 'Umar and cursed him, "May God cut your lineage and put you under the rule of one who beheads you in the bed."[20] During the rise of al-Mukhtar, 'Umar b. Sa'd was killed in bed and his son (Hafs) was also killed.

Order to Trample over the Bodies of Martyrs

When Imam al-Husayn (a) was seriously wounded and fell on the ground, 'Umar b. Sa'd approached him, stood above his body, and told his soldiers, "Finish him and behead him."[21]

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions, 'Umar ordered to trample over their bodies by the horses.[22] After burying the dead bodies of his army, 'Umar moved towards Kufa with the family of Imam al-Husayn (a) who he had captured on Muharram 12[23]. When he arrived in Kufa and went to 'Ubayd Allah, he asked 'Umar to give back his letter to 'Umar about the war with Imam al-Husayn (a). 'Umar claimed that the letter is lost and 'Ubayd Allah said, "I will take it from you."[24]

Ibn Sa'd, who had lost everything, described himself, "No one returned home worse than me; since I had obeyed an oppressing and mischief-making ruler, had trampled justice and cut family ties."[25]


First Version

When Sulayman b. Surad al-Khuza'i al-Kufi rose to take revenge on the murderers of Imam al-Husayn (a) in 65/684-5, Ibn Sa'd slept in Dar al-Imara for fear of being killed by people[26] and when al-Mukhtar b. Abi 'Ubayd al-Thaqafi rose in 66/685 to take revenge on the murderers of Imam al-Husayn (a) and took control of Kufa, Ibn Sa'd escaped together with Muhammad b. Ash'ath who was also among the major participants of the war in Karbala;[27] but, when the people of Kufa revolted against al-Mukhtar, returned to Kufa and together with other chiefs of the opposition against al-Mukhtar led the opposition; however, when the people of Kufa failed, Ibn Sa'd escaped again from Kufa towards Basra to take refuge with Mus'ab b. Zubayr. Al-Mukhtar sent Abu Qulus Shabami, one of his commanders, to run him down. He captured Ibn Sa'd and took him to al-Mukhtar. Ibn Sa'd and his son, Hafs were killed by order of al-Mukhtar and after burning their bodies, he sent their heads to Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya in Medina.[28]

Second Version

In another historical report, it is mentioned that following the intercession of 'Abd Allah b. Ju'da b. Hubayra al-Makhzumi, al-Mukhtar gave 'Umar a safe-conduct because al-Mukhtar's sister or al-Mukhtar's daughter was the wife of 'Umar b. Sa'd[29], but after Muhammad b. Hanafiyya objected to al-Mukhtar, he ordered one of his commanders to capture Ibn Sa'd in his house and beheads him. When they brought the head of 'Umar to al-Mukhtar, they also killed 'Umar's son, Hafs as well.[30]

Allama al-Majlisi have mentioned in Zad al-ma'ad that 'Umar b. Sa'ad was reported to have been killed on Rabi' I 9/October 14.[31]  

Different Views regarding Authenticity among the Sunnis

Ibn Sa'd has narrated from his father[32] and Abu Sa'id al-Khudri[33] and people such as his son Ibrahim, his grandson, Abu Bakr b. Hafs, Abu al-Khattab Basri, Qatada b. Da'ama al-Sadusi, Muhamamd b. Muslim b. Shihab al-Zahri, Abu Ishaq Sabi'i al-Hamadani, and 'Amr b. 'Abd Allah have narrated from him.[34] 'Ijli has mentioned him among the authentic people,[35] but Ibn Abi Hatam al-Razi has Quoted[36] from Yahya b. Mu'in saying that, "How can the murderer of Husayn b. Ali (a) be considered authentic?!" Ibn Hajar has counted him "truthful"[37] while, in Tahdhib,[38] has written that those narrators who have narrated from 'Umar b. Sa'd have been criticized by others.


  1. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 2, p. 606-607.
  2. Ibn Ḥajar, Taqrīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 7, p. 451.
  3. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 34.
  4. Ibn Qutayba, al-Maʿārif, p. 244.
  5. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 67.
  6. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 269, 272-276.
  7. this is not existent in the current version of Tarikh written by Ibn 'Atham; as if Khwarazmi had a version which has been different from other available versions
  8. Khwārizmī, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn, vol. 1, p. 190.
  9. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 356.
  10. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 241.
  11. Ibn Faqīh, Mukhtaṣar al-buldān, p. 282-283.
  12. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 176-177.
  13. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 177-187, 411-415; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 409-417; Mufīd, al-Irshād, p. 434-439.
  14. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 312.
  15. Ibn Aʿtham, al-Futūḥ, vol. 5, p. 92-93.
  16. Khwārizmī, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn, vol. 1, p. 245.
  17. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 416-417.
  18. Khwārizmī, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn, vol. 2, p. 6-8.
  19. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 429.
  20. Khwārizmī, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn, vol. 2, p. 30.
  21. Ibn Aʿtham, al-Futūḥ, p. 911.
  22. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 204.
  23. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 206-207.
  24. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 467.
  25. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 211.
  26. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 587.
  27. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 298.
  28. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 300-301; Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 259.
  29. Khwārizmī, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn, vol. 2, p. 220.
  30. Ibn ʿAbd Rabbih, al-ʿIqd al-farīd, vol. 4, 404-405.
  31. Majlisī, Zād al-maʿād, p. 258.
  32. ʿIjlī, Tārīkh al-thiqāt, p. 357.
  33. Ibn Ḥajar, Tahdhīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 7, p. 450.
  34. Ibn Abī l-Ḥātam, al-Jarḥ wa l-taʿdīl, vol. 3, p. 111; Ibn Ḥajar, Tahdhīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 7, p. 450.
  35. ʿIjlī, Tārīkh al-thiqāt, p. 3.
  36. Ibn Abī l-Ḥātam, al-Jarḥ wa l-taʿdīl, vil. 3, p. 111-112.
  37. Ibn Ḥajar, Taqrīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 2, p. 56.
  38. Ibn Ḥajar, Tahdhīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 7, p. 451.


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