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Al-Ash'ath b. Qays al-Kindi

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Al-Ash'ath b. Qays al-Kindi
Personal Information
Full Name Ma'dikarib b. Qays al-Kindi
Teknonym Abu Muhammad
Epithet Al-Ash'ath
Lineage Kinda tribe
Well-Known Relatives His children: Muhammad, Qays, Ja'da, Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad b. al-Ash'ath
Place of Birth Hadramaut
Place(s) of Residence Yemen, Kufa
Death 40 AH/660
Religious Information
Conversion to Islam 10 AH/631
Notable Roles Chief of Kinda tribe and the governor of Uthman and Imam Ali (a) in Azerbaijan.
Other Activities Presence in Battle of Siffin, Battle of Yarmuk, Conquest of Iraq, and the Battle of Qadisiyya

Al-Ashʿath b. Qays al-Kindī (Arabic: الأَشْعَث بْن قَيس الکِنْدي , d. 40/660), one of the commanders of Imam Ali's army in the Battle of Siffin, who supported the arbitration of Abu Musa al-Ash'ari. Also, after the Battle of Nahrawan, when Imam Ali (a) wanted to wage war against Mu'awiya, al-Ash'ath opposed the Imam (a) by the pretext of the soldiers' being tired. This disagreement dampened the spirits of the Imam's army and thus the Imam (a) changed his decision.

Al-Ash'ath was the chief of the tribe Kinda and the governor of Uthman and Imam Ali (a) in Azerbaijan.

According to some reports, al-Ash'ath was aware of the plan of the Imam's (a) assassination and even had a role in it.

Among the children of al-Ash'ath were Ja'da, the wife of Imam al-Hasan (a) who poisoned and killed the Imam (a), Muhammad, and Qays, who participated in killing Imam al-Husayn (a).


Al-Ash'ath b. Qays was a member of the tribe Kinda from Hadramaut in Yemen. According to some historians, his original name was Ma'dikarib, al-Ash'ath was his epithet-meaning one with unkempt hair-and his teknonym was Abu Muhammad. In 10/631, he came to the Prophet (s) with a number of his tribesmen and converted to Islam. In Sunni sources, a number of hadiths are narrated on his authority.

Al-Ash'ath died in 40/660 or 42/662, when he was sixty-three years old. It is said that Imam al-Hasan (a) led his funeral prayer.

During the Caliphate of the First Three Caliphs

After the demise of the Prophet (s), al-Ash'ath refused to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr, so the latter sent a number of troops to Yemen to arrest and bring him to Medina. Afterwards, Abu Bakr set him free and wed his sister Umm Farwa to al-Ash'ath.

During the caliphate of Umar b. al-Khattab, al-Ash'ath participated in the Battle of Yarmuk, the conquest of Iraq, and the Battle of Qadisiyya and resided in Kufa. Later he became the governor of Uthman b. Affan in Azerbaijan and remained in that position during the caliphate of Imam Ali (a).

During the Caliphate of Imam Ali (a)

According to the historian Ibn Habib (fl. 3rd century AH), al-Ash'ath participated in the Battle of Jamal in Imam Ali's (a) army, but a letter from Imam Ali (a) to him shows that he was not present in that battle.

Al-Ash'ath was in the army of Imam Ali (a) in the Battle of Siffin and was the commander of the troops from the tribes Kinda and Rabi'a. According to Nasr b. Muzahim, Imam Ali (a) discharged him and appointed Hassan b. Makhduj as the commander of those troops. However, some Yemeni companions of the Imam (a) opposed this decision and thus a disagreement broke out in the army of the Imam (a).

Mu'awiya tried to convince al-Ash'ath to join his army, but Imam Ali (a) appointed him as the commander of the right wing of his army. When Mu'awiya's army blocked the way of Imam Ali's troops to the water of Euphrates, al-Ash'ath managed to repel them and open the way to the river. However, it is reported that when the victory of the Imam's army was near, al-Ash'ath disagreed with the continuation of the battle. When Mu'awiya learned about al-Ash'ath's view, he commanded his troops to raise copies of the Qur'an with their spears and call the Imam's army to arbitration on the basis of the Qur'an. When they did so, and the Imam (a) rejected the request for arbitration, al-Ash'ath objected to him and demanded that the Imam (a) accept the arbitration.

For the arbitration, Imam Ali (a) chose Abd Allah b. al-Abbas from his side. Here again al-Ash'ath opposed the Imam's decision and called for choosing Abu Musa al-Ash'ari.

After the story of arbitration, al-Ash'ath believed that before a new war with Mu'awiya, the Imam (a) had to fight with the Khawarij in Nahrawan. However, after the Battle of Nahrawan, when the Imam (a) called his troops to get prepared for a new battle with Mu'awiya, al-Ash'ath started complaining about being tired and in this way dampened the spirits of the Imam's troops, and thus the Imam (a) had to change his decision.

Role in Imam Ali's Assassination

According to historical sources, al-Ash'ath was aware of Ibn Muljam's plan for Imam Ali's assassination. Al-Ya'qubi reports that when Ibn Muljam traveled from Egypt to Kufa to assassinate the Imam (a), he stayed in al-Ash'ath's house for one month, preparing himself for the assassination. It is reported that on the day the Imam (a) was assassinated, before he entered the mosque, al-Ash'ath asked Ibn Muljam to do his task before dawn. A hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a) also affirms that al-Ash'ath had a role in the assassination of Imam Ali (a). However, there is another report according to which, when al-Ash'ath learned about Ibn Muljam's plan, he informed Imam Ali (a) about it.

It is reported that al-Ash'ath had threatened to kill Imam Ali (a), and that the Imam (a) did not trust him and called him a hypocrite.


Among the children and descendants of al-Ash'ath are the following: