Burayr b. Khudayr al-Hamdani

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Burayr b. Khudayr al-Hamdani
Burial place of martyrs of Karbala in the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a)
Full NameBurayr b. Khudayr al-Hamdani al-Mishraqi
Companion ofImam Ali (a)Imam al-Husayn (a)
EpithetSayyid al-Qurra
Religious AffiliationShi'a
LineageHamdan tribe
Place(s) of ResidenceKufa
Death/Martyrdom61/680, Day of 'Ashura
Cause of
Martyred in the Battle of Karbala
Burial PlaceKarbala
Worksal-Qadaya wa l-ahkam

Burayr b. Khuḍayr al-Hamdānī al-Mishraqī (Arabic: بُرَیر بن خُضَیر الهَمْداني المِشْرَقي) was a prominent reciter of the Qur'an in Kufa. He taught the Qur'an in the Mosque of Kufa. He was a Shi'a. He particularly respected the Ahl al-Bayt (a). He was one of the Tabi'un and a companion of Imam Ali (a) as well as Imam al-Husayn (a). He was one of the Martyrs of Karbala. His fight with 'Umar b. Sa'd, Abu Harb, Yazid b. Mi'qal, and the people of Kufa in the Battle of 'Ashura shows his courage in defense of the Prophet's (s) household.


Burayr b. Khudayr al-Hamdani al-Mishraqi was attributed to Mishraq, a branch of the Hamdan tribe in Yemen. He was from the household of Banu Mishraq from the Hamdan tribe residing in Kufa. In some books, his father is said to be Husayn (Arabic:حُصَین), which is wrong because, in a paean recited by Burayr, his father's name is mentioned as Khudayr in rhyme with Khayr.[1] Biographers and authors of maqtal referred to him variously as "Burayr b. Khudayr",[2] "Burayr b. Hudayr",[3] "Burayr b. Hufayr",[4] and "Burayr b. Husayn".[5] In some other books, there are stories about him under "Yazid" or "Zayd b. Husayn".[6]


Al-Tabari[7] and Ibn Athir[8] referred to Burayr as "Sayyid al-Qurra'" (head of the reciters of the Qur'an), and Ibn Babawayh[9] and al-Fattal al-Nayshaburi[10] have referred to him as the best reciter of the Qur'an in his time.

The Book Attributed to Burayr

According to 'Abd Allah Mamaqani,[11] Burayr wrote a book, al-Qadaya wa l-ahkam, which is a citation of hadiths from Imam Ali (a) and Imam al-Hasan (a).

Mamaqani referred to this book as a reliable Shiite source (a Shiite principle), but Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin[12] and Muhammad Taqi Shushtari[13] have rejected the view because the book was not mentioned in other sources.

Moral Characteristics

Burayr b. Khudayr was a pious worshipper, and a prominent figure and reciter of the Qur'an in the Mosque of Kufa. He was an exegete of the Qur'an. He counted as a nobleman of the Hamdan tribe and resided in Kufa.

In the Battle of Karbala

When Burayr learned about Imam al-Husayn's (a) departure from Medina to Mecca, he went to Mecca and joined the companions of the Imam (a) there.[14] He accompanied the Imam (a) from Mecca to Karbala.

There is a hadith according to which Imam al-Husayn (a) delivered a sermon once he and his caravan arrived in Karbala on Muharram 2, 60/October 14, 679. After his sermon, his companions stood and renewed their allegiance to the Imam (a). One of these people was Burayr.

Dialogues with 'Umar b. Sa'd

On the Eve of 'Ashura, Imam al-Husayn (a) gathered his companions and told them that they were no longer under any obligations because of their allegiance to him, and so they could leave his army if they wanted to. After the Imam's (a) speech, every one of his companions stood up and stressed their support of the Imam (a), renewing their allegiance with him. After the meeting, Burayr asked the Imam (a) to permit him to preach 'Umar b. Sa'd, and the Imam (a) gave him the permission.

Burayr went to 'Umar b. Sa'd. He entered 'Umar's camp and sat there without saying al-Salam 'Alaykum to him. He warned 'Umar about his fight with Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions, but 'Umar dismissed his warnings. Burayr then returned to the Imam (a) and said: "O the son of the Messenger of God! 'Umar b. Sa'd is happy to kill you in exchange with the rule of Rey."

Burayr in the Morning of 'Ashura

In the morning of 'Ashura, Burayr was unusually very humorist. It is said that he joked with 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Abd Rabb al-Ansari in the morning of 'Ashura. 'Abd al-Rahman objected that this was not a good time for joking. Burayr replied:

O my brother! My family knows that I was not a humorist when I was young, let alone now that I am old. But I am aware of what we will soon meet. I swear to God that the only distance between us and the wide-eyed houris (the virgins of Paradise) is the attack by these people on us with their swords. I would like it to happen now.

Burayr was a brave man and never rejected the challenges of enemies to combat them on the battlefield of Karbala. According to a hadith, he replied to challenges by Salim and Yasar, the servants of Ziyad b. Abih and 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, in the morning of 'Ashura, but Imam al-Husayn (a) did not permit him to fight them and sent 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar to combat them. Yasar told 'Abd Allah: "we do not know you. Zuhayr b. Qayn or Habib b. Muzahir or Burayr should come to fight us".

Speech for the People of Kufa

In the early hours of the Day of 'Ashura when the army of 'Umar b. Sa'd was preparing to launch an attack on the small army of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions, Imam al-Husayn (a) rode a horse and went to the army of the enemy together with some of his companions. Zuhayr b. Qayn asked for the Imam's (a) permission to preach them. The Imam (a) permitted him and Zuhayr gave a speech. Burayr b. Khudayr was near the Imam (a). The Imam (a) told him to preach those people as well. Burayr stood before the army of 'Umar b. Sa'd and preached them. But they rejected his speech and threw arrows at him, and so he had to retreat.

Mubahala with Yazid b. Ma'qil

On the Day of Ashura, a man from the army of 'Umar b. Sa'id, called "Yazid b. Ma'qil", shouted and disputed with Burayr. Eventually, Burayr challenged him for a mubahala and he accepted. They then raised their hands to the sky and asked God to have the liar killed. They then began to fight with sword strokes being exchanged between them. Finally, Burayr so strongly hit Yazid's head with his sword that it cut through his head to his brain and Yazid died immediately. The sword was stuck in Yazid's head and Burayr removed it with a great deal of effort.[15]


In his combat with Radi b. Munqidh, Burayr made him fall on the ground. Radi asked his friends for help, and Ka'b b. Jabir b. 'Amr al-Asadi joined him and attacked Burayr with his spear. Burayr was thus martyred.

According to other sources, Burayr went to the battlefield and was martyred by Bujayr b. Aws al-Dabi after killing 30 people from the enemy.[16]


  1. Ṣadūq, al-Amālī, p. 137.
  2. Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 4, p. 65; Khwārizmī, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn, vol. 2, p.14.
  3. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī, vol. 4, p. 321; Ibn Aʿtham, Kitāb al-Futūḥ, vol. 5, p. 181.
  4. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 44, p. 320.
  5. Shams al-Dīn, Anṣār al-Ḥusayn (a), p. 77; Khoei, Muʿjam rijāl al-ḥadīth, vol. 4, p. 203.
  6. Kashshī, Rijāl al-Kashshī, p. 79.
  7. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī, vol. 5, p. 433.
  8. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 4, p. 67.
  9. Ṣadūq, al-Amālī, p. 137.
  10. Fattāl al-Nayshābūrī, Rawḍat al-wāʿiẓīn, vol. 1, p. 187.
  11. Mamaqānī, Tanqīḥ al-maqāl, vol. 1, p. 167.
  12. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 3, p. 561.
  13. Shūshtarī, Qāmūs al-rijāl, vol. 2, p. 176.
  14. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 3, p. 561.
  15. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī, vol. 5, p. 431-432.
  16. Ibn Aʿtham, Kitāb al-Futūḥ, vol. 5, p. 102; Khwārizmī, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn, vol. 2, p. 15.


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