Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad al-Kindi

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Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad al-Kindi
Revolting against Umayyad Dynasty
Full Name'Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad al-Ash'ath al-Kindi
LineageAl-Kinda tribe
Well-known RelativesAsh'ath b. Qays (grand father), Muhammad b. al-Ash'ath (father)
Places of ResidenceKufa, Sistan, Basra
Cause of
EraUmayyad Dynasty
Known forOpponents of Shi'a
Notable rolesGovernor of Sistan
ActivitiesWorking with 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, Zubayrids, Umayyad

ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad b. al-Ashʿath al-Kindī (Arabic: عبدالرحمن بن محمد بن اشعث الكندی) (b. ? - d. 95/713-4) was al-Ash'ath b. Qays's grandson from a noble family in Hadhramaut and a supporter of the Umayyad family who gradually turned into their opponent and rebelled against them. His revolt occurred between 81/700 and 82/701 extending from Sistan to Basra. He came to be known by his revolt against the Umayyad dynasty.


'Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad b. al-Ash'ath was attributed to the family of Harith b. Mu'awiya b. Kinda. His family was very credible among the al-Kinda tribe and other neighboring Arabian tribes. The relationships of al-Ash'ath and his children with the family of 'Ali (a) and the Shi'as were good at first. Al-Ash'ath was in Imam 'Ali's (a) army in the Battle of Siffin, not so steadfast though, and played a role in the story of Hakamiyya and the selection of Abu Musa al-Ash'ari as the representative of Iraqis. However, the relationship between Shi'as and ibn Ash'ath family turned cold and hostile. This family greatly served the Umayyad dynasty.

In Kufa

When Muslim b. 'Aqil hid in Kufa in the house of an old woman, the son of the woman informed 'Abd al-Rahman about his hiding place and 'Abd al-Rahman let 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad know about it. It was his first role in politics. His father, Muhammad b. al-Ash'ath, served as the commander of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad's army in the battle with Muslim b. 'Aqil.

In Zubayrids Government

In the battle between al-Mukhtar and Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr, 'Abd al-Rahman, his father, and his brothers were in Ibn al-Zubayr's army. When his father, Muhammad b. al-Ash'ath, was killed in this battle, he became more hostile to Shi'as such that after al-Mukhtar's defeat, he agreed to killing Shiite captives who were from his own tribe.

'Abd al-Rahman was appointed as the ruler of the Fars province by Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr, but he faced 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr's disapproval and was dismissed. This led to strained relations between 'Abd al-Rahman and Zubayris. After a while, he was appointed by his brother, Ishaq b. Muhammad who was the commander of the Arabian army in Tabaristan, as the commander of part of that army.

In Umayyad Government

In 80/699-700, al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf appointed 'Abd al-Rahman as the ruler of the Sistan province and he commissioned him to quench Khawarij and combat Ratbil, the king of east Sistan. It is said that al-Hajjaj hated 'Abd al-Rahman; he sometimes expressed his hatred and had verbal quarrels with him.

Al-Hajjaj sent a huge, well-arranged army with 'Abd al-Rahman to Sistan. The army came to be known as "Jaysh al-Tawawis" (the army of peacocks). Al-Hajjaj allocated a great deal of money to the army. He wrote several letters to 'Abd al-Rahman and encouraged him to go to war. 'Abd al-Rahman doubted about al-Hajjaj's haste to send him to war and learned that al-Hajjaj was planning to get him killed in the war. It is said that 'Abd al-Rahman's uncle went to al-Hajjaj and warned him not to send 'Abd al-Rahman to Sistan, since he would disobey him, but al-Hajjaj insisted on his order.

Revolt against the Umayyad Dynasty

When 'Abd al-Rahman arrived in Sistan, Ratbil wrote him a letter and asked him to quit the war and receive taxes from him, but he rejected the proposal and entered his realm. He appointed an agent and guards in any conquered territory. He established his dominance by appointing mailmen on the ways and making garrisons in crucial areas. He then made a compromise with Ratbil provided that he gives him taxes.

He then wrote a letter to al-Hajjaj and let him know about his victories and his decision to go back to Sistan, but al-Hajjaj expressed his disagreement with his decision and asked him to move forward and continue the battle. 'Abd al-Rahman disobeyed him and thought that al-Hajjaj's insistence on moving forward was because he wanted 'Abd al-Rahman to be killed in the wars. Thus, he turned his army against al-Hajjaj. Members of the army who were away from their families and wanted to return home after consecutive battles supported 'Abd al-Rahman and pledged their allegiance to him in order to remove 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan from the caliphate and combat al-Hajjaj.

Then in 81/700-1, ibn Ash'ath and his army entered Fars and Kerman. He called people of these cities to rebel against the Umayyad caliph, 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan, as well as al-Hajjaj. They pledged their allegiance to him. He called himself "al-Qahtani" and signed his letters as "'Abd al-Rahman al-Nasir li-Amir al-Mu'minin".

Battle with al-Hajjaj

Ibn al-Ash'ath and his army moved towards Basra. When they arrived in Basra, senior Sahaba and reciters of the Quran in Basra pledged their allegiance to 'Abd al-Rahman for a battle with al-Hajjaj. A serious battle occurred between the armies of al-Hajjaj and 'Abd al-Rahman in which his forces suffered massive losses. Thus, they went to Kufa where they were welcomed by people and prominent figures. In Kufa, 'Abd al-Rahman delivered a public speech and talked about al-Hajjaj as an unbeliever who had violated the divine ruling and angered God, and called people to rise against him. According to al-Dinawari, many reciters of the Quran whose number is said to amount to 1000 people as well as the noblemen of Kufa pledged their allegiance to him.

A large army consisting of people of Kufa and Basra was gathered in an area called "Dayr al-Jamajim". Al-Hajjaj's army settled in "Dayr Qarah". Ibn al-Ash'ath's warriors reportedly amounted to 20,000 people. A serious battle occurred between the two armies.

The battle was first in favor of 'Abd al-Rahman. 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan was horrified about these circumstances, and so he sent his brother, 'Abd Allah, with a letter to Iraq in order to negotiate with Ibn al-Ash'ath, and ordered him to remove al-Hajjaj from power if Ibn al-Ash'ath wanted so on the condition that he quits the battle with the Umayyad dynasty. Al-Hajjaj learned about the story. He wrote a letter to 'Abd al-Malik and pointed out that if he was removed from power, Ibn al-Ash'ath will remove the caliph, 'Abd al-Malik, from power too. He convinced 'Abd al-Malik to permit him to continue the war with 'Abd al-Rahman.

Ibn al-Ash'ath's army consisted of many reciters of the Quran and prominent figures such as al-Sha'bi, Sa'id b. Jubayr, Abu l-Bakhtari al-Ta'i, 'Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Layla, and Kumayl b. Ziyad. Thus, some people believed that when these people joined Ibn al-Ash'ath, his revolt took an ideological form.

End of the Revolt

According to ibn Athir, the battle between the two armies lasted for 103 days. The battle started in Rabi' I and ended in Jumada II. The battle ended up with the defeat of 'Abd al-Rahman b. Ash'ath's army. 'Abd al-Rahman fled to Basra where some people from his army joined him and attacked al-Hajjaj, but they were defeated again, and all but a few people were killed. 'Abd al-Rahman fled to Maskan and was defeated there too. Thus 'Abd al-Rahman's revolt ended.


'Abd al-Rahman and a few people who had stayed with him went towards Sistan after several wars and escapes. In Bust, Ibn al-Ash'ath was arrested by its ruler, 'Ayyad b. Hamyan, but when Ratbil learned about this, he warned 'Ayyad not to hurt 'Abd al-Rahman. Thus, Ibn Hamyan released him and sent him to Ratbil.

In 95/713-4, al-Hajjaj sent an envoy with a great deal of money to Ratbil and asked him to extradite 'Abd al-Rahman to him. Ratbil accepted the offer and extradited 'Abd al-Rahman to al-Hajjaj. However, in Rukhkhaj, a place near Kabul, 'Abd al-Rahman threw himself down from a palace in which he was kept and died. His corpse was taken to al-Hajjaj. He decapitated him and sent his head to 'Abd al-Malik.