Ibrahim b. Malik al-Ashtar

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Ibrahim b. Malik al-Ashtar
Full NameIbrahim b. Malik al-Ashtar al-Nakha'i
TeknonymAbu l-Nu'man
Religious AffiliationShi'a
Well-known RelativesMalik al-Ashtar (father)
Birthc. 15/636-7
Places of ResidenceKufa, Mosul
Death/Martyrdom71/690-1 or Jumada II 72/October-November 691
Burial PlaceNear Samarra
EraEarly Islam
Notable rolesCommander of al-Mukhtar's Troops, governor of Mosul in time of al-Mukhtar and Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr

Abu l-Nuʿmān Ibrāhīm b. Mālik al-Ashtar al-Nakhaʿī (Arabic: اَبوالنُّعمان ابراهیم بن مالِک الاَشتَر النَخَعي) (b. 15/636-7 - d. 72/691) was son of Malik al-Ashtar who participated in the uprising of al-Mukhtar against Umayyads seeking revenge for the blood of Imam al-Husayn (a).

There is no information about the life of Ibrahim before joining al-Mukhtar, except that it is said that in the Battle of Siffin, he fought together with his father in the army of Imam Ali (a) against Mu'awiya.

After al-Mukhtar was killed, he joined Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr and was killed in the battles with the forces of 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan in 72/691.

He was appointed by al-Mukhtar and then by Mus'ab as the governor of Mosul and its surrounding cities in different periods.

Presence in the Battle of Siffin

There is no information about the life of Ibrahim before joining al-Mukhtar, except that he said that in the Battle of Siffin, he fought together with his father in the army of Imam Ali (a) against Mu'awiya.

Joining the Uprising of al-Mukhtar

In 66/685-6, al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi who considered himself the representative of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya, prepared the grounds for an uprising against Umayyads to take revenge for the Martyrs of Karbala. At that time, some of the Shia of Kufa who supported al-Mukhtar, called Ibrahim to the uprising, because of his powerful personality and the memories they had from his father's loyalty toward Imam Ali (a). Ibrahim accepted their request providing that they choose him as a commander, but Shia nobles reminded him that al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi was chosen as a commander by Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya. Shortly afterwards, al-Mukhtar himself went to Ibrahim and gave him a letter he claimed that Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya had written to Ibrahim. In that letter, Ibrahim was asked to help al-Mukhtar in his uprising against Umayyads.

At the beginning, Ibrahim doubted about the attribution of the letter to Ibn al-Hanafiyya because of a point in writing the letter, but since people such as Yazid b. Anas al-Asadi, Ahmar b. Shumayt al-Bajali, and 'Abd Allah b. Kamil al-Shakiri testified that they themselves saw that Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya wrote that letter to Ibrahim, he accepted the call to the uprising and gave allegiance to al-Mukhtar.

Al-Sha'bi, who was involved in joining of Ibrahim to al-Mukhtar and most historians have narrated the mentioned event from him, himself has doubted about the letter of Muhammad b. Hanafiyya to Ibrahim. After a lot of researches, he heard from Kaysan, one of the witnesses of the authenticity of the attribution of the letter, that since they regarded al-Mukhtar trustworthy, trusted his speech about writing of the letter by Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya.

Beginning of the Uprising

Ibrahim and al-Mukhtar agreed to initiate the uprising in Kufa in the first half of Rabi' I, 66/685, but they later postponed the beginning of uprising to the first Thursday after the first half of the same month.

Meanwhile, frequent going and coming of Ibrahim to al-Mukhtar made 'Abd Allah b. Muti' who was appointed governor of Kufa by 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr suspicious and when he became aware of the plan of uprising, asked Ayas b. Mudarib, the chief of Kufa police to control the situation and he himself appointed some people on guard certain strategic places of the city. On Wednesday, one day before the rendezvous, Ibrahim was going to the house of al-Mukhtar with a great number of his companions when they encountered Ayas b. Mudarib and his forces. A fight took place between the two groups and Ibrahim killed Ayas and soon the uprising began.

In the battles which took place between the forces of al-Mukhtar and Ibrahim against the forces of Ibn Muti', he retreated to his palace and was besieged by Ibrahim. After some days, he escaped and his soldiers joined al-Mukhtar.

Most of the supporters of Ibrahim and al-Mukhtar were freed slaves who fought with wooden clubs, thus were humorously called Khashabiyya[1]. Some called them mistakenly "Husayniyya" and considered them only supporters of Ibrahim, because at the time of the uprising, they shouted "Ya la-Tharat al-Husayn (a)" [O Avengers of al-Husayn (a)]; but, Ibn Rasta and Ibn Qutayba regarded Khashabiyya among the soldiers of Ibrahim who later fought with 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad with wooden sticks.

After this battle, al-Mukhtar settled in Kufa and tried to take control of other cities of Iraq and fight with Umayyads and the murderers of Imam al-Husayn (a). However, when he appointed Ibrahim to rule in Mosul and sent him to fight with 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad who was sent to Iraq by 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan (Dhu l-Hijja 66/July 686), some of Kufa nobles who accused al-Mukhtar of being a liar, revolted against him. He immediately sent someone to call Ibrahim. Ibrahim quickly returned from Mada'in and together with al-Mukhtar suppressed the revolt during a series of battles.

Battle with 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad

After suppressing the revolt, Ibrahim left Kufa to fight with Ibn Ziyad on 6th, 8th or 21st of Dhu l-Hijja, 66/4th, 6th or 19th of July 686 with eight to twenty thousand men most of whom were Iranian freed slaves known as al-Hamra'. On Muharram 10th, 67/August 6th, 686, a battle took place between the two armies at the bank of al-Khazir river near Zab, five Farsakhs away from Mosul. According to al-Baladhuri, the left wing of Ibrahim's army was defeated at the beginning of the battle and maybe due to that, the news of Ibrahim's death was spread so that al-Mukhtar would leave Kufa, but the soldiers of Ibrahim pushed back the army of 'Ubayd Allah and heavily defeated them. In that battle, Ibrahim killed 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, Husayn b. Numayr and Shurahbil b. Dhi l-Kila' who were among the murderers of Imam al-Husayn (a), by his own hands, and it is said that he burned their bodies.

Allegiance with 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr

After his victory in the battle of Khazir, Ibrahim went to Mosul and sent some of his companions including his step-brother 'Abd al-Rahman to capture and rule the cities of Nasibayn, Harran, al-Raha, Sumaysat, and Sinjar. Ibrahim was still in Mosul when Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr attacked Kufa following the provocation of the rebels who had survived the attacks of Ibrahim b. Malik and al-Mukhtar and had joined him, and killed al-Mukhtar in a battle (Ramadan 67/March-April 687). He then asked Ibrahim to obey 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr. According to Ibn Athir, also 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan had called Ibrahim to obey him, but Ibrahim was afraid of joining 'Abd al-Malik since he had killed 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad and some other chiefs of Syria in the battle with Umayyads and thus accepted the request of Mus'ab.

Government of Mosul

Mus'ab took back the government of Mosul, Jazira, Azerbaijan, and Armenia from Ibrahim and sent him to the battle with Khawarij and appointed al-Muhallab b. Abi Sufra in his place; but, later dismissed him and sent him to the battle with Khawarij and reappointed Ibrahim to ruling of those regions. Apparently, Ibrahim remained in his position until 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan attacked Iraq. Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr wanted to stand against him, so, he appointed Ibrahim as the commander of his army and went to Jumayri near Awana.

'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan who wanted to persuade the commanders of Kufa and Basra, wrote a letter to Ibrahim, and promised to give Ibrahim the government of Iraq, and as one report says, all the lands around the Euphrates. But Ibrahim, not only took that letter to Mus'ab and rejected 'Abd al-Malik's request, but since he guessed that 'Abd al-Malik had deceived other rulers of Iraq with similar promises, he also tried to make Mus'ab arrest or exile them to Mecca, but Mus'ab did not accept that and moved toward 'Abd al-Malik and camped in Dayr al-Jathaliq in Maskin.


In a battle which took place between Ibrahim b. Malik and Muhammad b. Marwan, one day before the major battle between 'Abd al-Malik and Mus'ab, despite his great courage, was defeated because of betrayal of 'Attab b. Warqa' al-Tamimi who apparently had retreated due to a previous plot made by 'Abd al-Malik, and Ibrahim was killed. Then, 'Ubayd b. Maysara, a freed slave of Banu 'Udhra, who had killed Ibrahim, took his head. The slaves of Husayn b. Numayr, who was killed by Ibrahim in the Battle of Khazir, burned his body.

Historians have different opinions about the time of the murder of Ibrahim. Although Ibn Athir and al-Tabari have mentioned it in 71/690-1; most historians have considered 72/691 and most likely Jumada II/October-November 691 as the correct date of the mentioned event.

After Ibrahim was killed, some poets composed elegies for him. Abu l-Faraj al-Isfahani has attributed some verses to Ibrahim himself. Also, Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani quoted from Ibn Hibban who considered Ibrahim among reliable transmitters of hadiths who transmitted hadiths from his father and 'Umar; and people such as his son, Malik, and also Mujahid narrated hadiths from him.

The grave of Ibrahim b. Malik al-Ashtar was demolished by terrorists in 2005.


The grave of Ibrahim b. Malik is located in the south of Dujayl, eight farsakhs from Samarra, near the old route of Baghdad to Samara and has been a place visited by Shi'a. This grave was demolished in explosion by terrorist groups in 2005.

Another grave in 'Askar island of Bahrain is attributed to Ibrahim b. Malik, which might be the grave of one of his descendants.

See Also


  1. Khashab in Arabic means wood