Maytham al-Tammar

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Maytham al-Tammar
Tomb of Maytham al-tammar in kufa
Tomb of Maytham al-tammar in kufa
Full NameMaytham al-Tammar al-Asadi al-Kufī
Companion ofImam Ali (a)Imam al-Hasan (a)Imam al-Husayn (a)
TeknonymAbu Salim • Abu Salih
Place(s) of ResidenceKufa
Cause of
He was sentenced to death by Ibn Ziyad
Burial PlaceKufa
WorksA book in exegesis of Qur'an, and a book of Hadith

Maytham al-Tammār al-Asadī al-Kūfī (Arabic: ميثم التمار الأسدي الکوفي) (d. 60/680) was a devout and loyal companion of Imam Ali (a). Although there isn't a lot of detailed information available about his life, he is known for being a date-seller in Kufa who had many outstanding qualities. Maytham was executed by the Ummayad governor before the Event of Karbala.


Maytham was a non-Arab, and because he was the slave of an Asadi woman, he was ascribed to the tribe of Bani Asad.[1] Later, he was bought and then freed by Imam Ali (a) . When Imam Ali (a) asked him his name, he answered: "Salim". Imam Ali (a) said, "The Prophet (s) informed me that your Persian parents named you Maytham." Imam Ali (a) then asked him to return to the name which the Prophet (s) called him and he accepted and was therefore called Abu Salim. His other title was Abu Salih.[2]


Maytham was a date-seller in the bazaar of Kufa; therefore, he was given the title of "al-Tammar", "seller of dates".[3] There are also a few accounts that he was a melon-seller in "Dar al-Rizq" (probably the name of a locality in Kufa).[4]

Maytham was a companion of Imam Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a),[5] but he is best known as a devout follower of Imam Ali (a).[6] He was a devoted and sincere lover of the Prophet (s) and his household (a), and they were also affectionate towards him.[7] As reported by Umm Salama, the Prophet (s) praised Maytham many times during his life.[8]

Maytham received great spiritual knowledge from the Ahl al-Bayt (a). Imam Ali (a) taught him the secrets of the position of succession.[9]


His sons, Salih, Shu'ayb, and Hamzah, followed their father in being loyal partisans of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) . His grandchildren were among the companions of the Imams and narrators of hadith.[10] One of his descendants, Ali b. Isma'il b. Shu'ayb b. Maytham, became a great Shi'a theologian and wrote some early theological books.[11]


Maytham foretold the death of Mu'awiya,[12] the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a),[13] his own execution and the release of Mukhtar b. Abi 'Ubayd al-Thaqafi from prison.[14]


Maytham wrote a commentary of the Qur'an from what he had learned from Imam Ali (a) .[15] According to one account, Maytham told Ibn 'Abbas that Imam Ali (a) had taught him the knowledge of Ta'wil (hidden meaning of the Qur'an). He asked Ibn 'Abbas to ask him any question about the interpretation of the Qur'an, and Ibn 'Abbas questioned him and wrote down his answers. When Maytham foretold the story of his own martyrdom, Ibn Abbas became suspicious of him and decided to destroy the writings. Maytham asked him not to do that and said, "Keep yourself from doing that until my prophecy is fulfilled; if it does not happen, destroy my interpretations".[16]

Maytham is also said to have compiled a hadith collection from which his descendants narrated. Some of these narrations are available in references.[17] These narrations are about love and hatred towards Ahl al-Bayt (a), the precedence of Kufa Mosque over al-Aqsa Mosque, the hatred of hypocrites towards Imam Ali (a), the four-time confession of fornication and its penalty and other stories about the judgments of Imam Ali (a).[18]

Maytham was an outspoken and eloquent speaker who astonished even Ibn Ziyad with his words.[19] His speeches against the Ummayad caliphate made him famous for his hatred of injustice.

Imam Ali (a) and Maytham al-Tammar

He was a member of Shurta al-Khamis (the special Guards of Imam Ali (a) ), who pledged themselves to fight with Imam Ali (a) in all battles and support him in all hardships.[20]

Since there is no report of Maytham's presence in any battle with Imam Ali (a), it is thought that he became acquainted with Imam Ali (a) in the last years of the Imam's life. This is also indicated by some narrations reported by Maytham about the events of the last years of leadership of Imam Ali (a), such as the invasion of the partisans of Mu'awiya to the districts of Heet and Anbar and their killing of women and children.[21]

While cursing Imam Ali (a) and his partisans, Mu'awiya also cursed Maytham.[22]

After the demise of Imam Ali (a), Maytham became a devout companion of Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a).[23] Imam al-Husayn was affectionate towards Maytham and treated him kindly.[24] In 60/680 Maytham went to Mecca to perform 'Umrah, but could not meet Imam al-Husayn (a). Umm Salama informed him of Imam al-Husayn (a)'s situation. Maytham then asked Umm Salama to pass his greetings to Imam al-Husayn (a) and to tell him that he would meet the Imam in paradise.[25]

Imam Ali (a) had promised Maytham a high level in paradise beside himself for his resistance against the governor of Kufa, 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad. The Imam had also informed Maytham of his martyrdom, the name of his killer, and the story of his execution on a palm tree. He even showed him the exact tree on which he was going to be hung. It is reported that Maytham prayed beside that tree and talked to it. He told the story of his martyrdom to his friends, but once when he told Habib b. Mazahir in front of others, people began to mock him.[26]


Prophecy of Demise

Once Imam Ali (a) told Maytham that he would be killed and even gave the address of the palm tree he would be hanged on. After getting this information, it is recorded in history that, Maytham used to go to the tree pointed out by Imam Ali, offer prayers by the tree, and talk to it[27]Rawḍat al-wāʿiẓīn. Months and years passed by, Ali was martyred then Hasan ibn Ali (the Second Shī`a Imām) was martyred and Meesum kept waiting for the time.

Arrest and Execution

There are two different accounts about his arrest and execution:

  • According to the first account, the governor of Kufa, Ibn Ziyad, was ordered by Yazid, the Ummayad caliph, to arrest Maytham and execute him.[28] Ibn Ziyad then asked the chief of Maytham's tribe to surrender Maytham or be killed. Maytham was arrested on his way back from Mecca to Kufa, probably in Qadisiyya. In the prison of Kufa, he met Mukhtar al-Thaqafi and foretold Mukhtar's release from prison.[29]
  • According to the second account, Maytham, along with some businessmen from Kufa, went to Ibn Ziyad to protest the injustice of his agent in the bazaar. There, 'Amr b. Hurayth, the commander of the Kufa army, called Maytham a liar and a partisan of the liar (meaning Imam Ali (a) ). In response, Maytham called himself a truthful partisan of the truthful one. Ibn Ziyad then ordered Maytham to curse Imam Ali (a) and praise Uthman b. 'Affan and threatened to cut off his arms and legs if he didn't. Maytham chose martyrdom. He told Ibn Ziyad that Imam Ali (a) had said Ibn Ziyad would cut off his tongue. Ibn Ziyad wanted to prove the words Imam Ali (a)to be wrong; therefore, he ordered the cutting of Maytham's arms and legs only and hung him beside the house of 'Amr b. Hurayth.

After being hung, Maytham miraculously called people loudly to gather around him and listen to some narrations from Imam Ali (a). He then talked about the virtues of Bani Hashim and the evil of the Umayyads.

Portal of the tomb of Maytham al-Tammar

When Ibn Ziyad was informed of this, he ordered a leash to be put on his mouth. Maytham was the first martyr to be leashed in Islam.[30] According to other reports, Ibn Hurayth suggested cutting his tongue, and Maytham reminded people of Imam Ali's prediction. His tongue was then cut off by an agent of Ibn Ziyad.[31]

Some sources report that after being hung, he was struck by a spear in his stomach, and said, "Allah-u Akbar" before blood gushed out from his mouth and nose. He passed away in Dhu l-Hijja 60/September 680, before the arrival of Imam al-Husayn (a) in Iraq.[32]

Under the orders of Ibn Ziyad, Maytham's body was left hanging for a few days. Finally, some date sellers stole his corpse and buried him in the lands of the Murad tribe.[33]


  1. Kashshi. Rijal, p. 9; Mufid. al-Irshad, vol. 1, p. 323.
  2. Tabrasi, I'lam al-wara. vol. 1. p. 341; Mufid. al-Irshad. vol. 1. p. 341
  3. Ibn shahrashub. Manaqib. vol. 2. p. 329.
  4. Kashshi, Rijal. p. 78.
  5. al-Tusi. Rijal. p. 81. 96. 105
  6. al-Mufid. al-Ikhtisas. p. 3.
  7. Tabari. Bisharat al-mustafa. p. 236-237.
  8. Asqalani. al-Isaba. vol. 6. p. 317
  9. Ibn Abi l-Hadid. Sharh-i nahj al-balagha. vol. 2. p. 291.
  10. see: al-Kashshi, rijal. p. 80. al-Tusi. rijal. p. 118. 138. 149. 157. 160. 162. 224-225.
  11. al-Tusi. al-Fihrist. p. 150; Dhahabi, Tarikh al-islam, p. 316.
  12. see: al-Kashshi. rijal. p. 80.
  13. al-Saduq. Amali. p. 189-190.
  14. al-Mufid. al-Irshad. vol. 1. p. 324-325. Ibn Abi l-Hadid. Sharh-i nahj al-balagha. vol. 2. p. 293.
  15. Agha Buzueg. al-Dhari'a. vol. 4. p. 317.
  16. al-Kashshi. Rijal. p. 81.
  17. see: al-Tusi. Amali. p. 148. Ghaffar. al-Kulaini wa al-kafi. p. 28.
  18. Barqi. Kitab al-mahasin. p. 309-310. Shadhan qumi. al-Fada'il. p. 3-5.
  19. al-Kashshi, Rijāl. p. 86.
  20. Barqi. Kitab al-rijal. p. 3-4. al-Mufid. al-Ikhtisas. p. 2-3.
  21. Khasibi. al-Hidayat al-akhbar. p. 125. Diylami. Irshad al-qulub. p. 272-273.
  22. Ibn Tawus. Farhat al-ghura. p. 51-52.
  23. al-Tusi. Rijal. p. 96-105.
  24. al-Kashshi, Rijāl, p. 80.
  25. al-Kashshi, Rijāl, p. 80-81. al-Mufid. al-Irshad. vol. 1. p. 324.
  26. al-Kashshi, Rijāl. p. 78-84
  27. al-Kashshī, Rijāl, p. 83-4; Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 1, pp. 323-24; Fattāl al-Nayshābūrī, vol. 2, p. 288.
  28. al-Mufid. al-Irshad. vol. 1. p. 324-325
  29. Khasibi. al-Hidayat al-Kubra. p. 133. Sharif radi. p. 54-55.
  30. al-Kashshī, Rijāl. p. 84-87. al-Mufid. al-Irshad. vol. 1. p. 304. 324-325.
  31. al-Kashshī, Rijāl. p. 83.
  32. al-Mufid. al-Irshad. vol. 1. p. 325. Tabarsi. I'lam al-wura. vol. 1. p. 343.
  33. al-Kashshī, Rijāl. p. 83.


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