Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr

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Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr
TeknonymAbu Abd Allah
Religious AffiliationIslam
Well-known RelativesAl-Zubayr b. al-Awwam (his father), Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr (his brother), Sukayna (his wife)
Cause of DeathKilled in the battle with Abd al-Malik b. Marwan
Notable rolesRuler of Basra and Kufa
ActivitiesMurder of al-Mukhtar and overthrow of his government

Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr (Arabic: مُصعَب بن الزُبَير) (d. 72/691-2) was the commander from the al-Zubayr Family who put an end to al-Mukhtar's Uprising. Mus'ab was appointed as the ruler of Basra by his brother Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr. After killing al-Mukhtar, he also killed five thousand people to whom he had promised a safeguard. Mus'ab married Imam al-Husayn's (a) daughter, Sukayna. Mus'ab was killed in a battle with Abd al-Malik b. Marwan, the Umayyad ruler, in 72/691.

Lineage and Family

Mus'ab was a son of al-Zubayr b. al-Awwam and Rubab, the daughter of Anif b. Ubayd, and his kunya was Abu Abd Allah. He is considered as a member of the second group of Tabi'un. He allegedly was good-looking, generous, and had many children.

He transmitted hadiths from al-Zubayr b. al-Awwam, Umar b. al-Khattb, Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas, and Abu Sa'id al-Khudri.

Mus'ab once stopped at Imam al-Husayn's (a) grave in one of his trips and said, "O Abu Abd Allah! I swear to God that although your enemies took your life, they failed to take your religion away from you".

Two of Mus'ab's wives were well-known: Sukayna the daughter of Imam al-Husayn (a) and A'isha the daughter of Talha.

Marriage to Sukayna the Daughter of Imam al-Husayn (a)

According to historical sources, Mus'ab was passionate about marrying Sukayna, the daughter of Imam al-Husayn (a). He allegedly asked and prayed to God to help him marry Sukayna and become the ruler of Iraq. Sukayna married Mus'ab with a large amount of mahr. The enormous mahr led to objections to Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr. Thus, he temporarily removed Mus'ab from the government. Mus'ab and Sukayna had a daughter called Fatima who died when she was a child. [1]

The Rule of Basra

In 67/686-7, Mus'ab was appointed by his brother, Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr, as the ruler of Basra. Upon his arrival in Basra, he gave a speech to people of Basra and referred to himself as a "butcher".

During Mus'ab's rule of Basra, he was encouraged by some noblemen of Kufa, such as Shabath b. Rib'i and Muhammad b. Ash'ath, to combat al-Mukhtar.

The Battle with al-Mukhtar and the Conquest of Kufa

Mus'ab combated and defeated al-Mukhtar. With the remainder of his army, al-Mukhtar went inside Kufa's Dar al-Imara (House of Emirate). After forty days of siege, al-Mukhtar and a few of his forces went out of Dar al-Imara and were killed after a short battle.

The majority of al-Mukhtar's people, who amounted to about five thousand (or six thousand or seven thousand), asked Mus'ab to promise them a safeguard, and he gave it to them. However, when they surrendered, they all were killed at the command of Mus'ab. Because of the mass killing, Mus'ab was condemned by Abd Allah b. Umar. He told Mus'ab, "You would have squandered if you had slaughtered the same number of sheep from the al-Zubayr Family in one morning, let alone this number of people who were hoped to repent to God".

Mus'ab also killed Abd al-Rahman and Abd al-Rabb, the sons of Hujr b. Adi.

After defeating al-Mukhtar, Mus'ab gained the rule of both Basra and Kufa.

The Battle with Abd al-Malik

In 72/691-2, a battle took place between Abd al-Malik b. Marwan and Mus'ab in an area called "Maskan". Mus'ab was defeated and killed in the battle. According to some sources, Mus'ab was thirty six at the time of his death. Mus'ab's son, Isa, was also killed in the battle.


  1. After the death of their husbands, Imam al-Husayn's daughters were proposed for marriage by Umayyad rulers. Thus, in order to evade marriage to the Umayyads, they married other people. Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil, 1965, vol. 5, p. 113; al-Baladhuri, Ansab al-ashraf, 1977, vol. 2, p. 47.