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Qutham b. al-Abbas b. Abd al-Muttalib

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Qutham b. al-Abbas b. Abd al-Muttalib
Personal Information
Teknonym Abu Ja'far
Lineage Quraysh
Well-Known Relatives Prophet (s), Imam 'Ali (a) (cousin), 'Abd Allah b. Abbas (brother)
Place of Birth Mecca
Place(s) of Residence Mecca, Medina
Death/Martyrdom 57/676-77
Burial Place Samarkand
Religious Information
Known for Companion of Imam 'Ali (a), foster brother of Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a)
Notable Roles Ruler of Mecca and Ta'if
Other Activities Attended the conquests of Bukhara and Samarkand

Qutham b. ʿAbbās b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib b. Hāshim b. ʿAbd Manāf b. Quṣayy (Arabic: قُثَم بن عباس بن عبدالمطلب بن هاشم بن عبدمَناف بن قُصَي) (d. 57/676-77) was a companion and a cousin of Prophet Muhammad (s) and a Shi'a (follower) of Imam 'Ali (a). After Abu Qatada al-Ansari, he was appointed by Imam 'Ali (a) as the ruler of Mecca and Ta'if. In 38/658-59, he was appointed by the Imam (a) as the manager of the hajj rituals. In 56/675-76, he and Sa'id b. 'Uthman b. 'Affan went to Khorasan and launched a jihad in Transoxiana. He attended the conquests of Bukhara and Samarkand. After the conquest of Samarkand, he stayed in the city to teach and propagate the Islamic doctrines and rulings, and died there. He was buried in the Banu Nahiya cemetery in Samarkand near the Iron Gate.

Birth and Lineage

Qutham b. 'Abbas's kunya was Abu Ja'far. His father, 'Abbas, was the Prophet (s)'s uncle as well as a head of the Quraysh and in charge of water supplies for pilgrims of Hajj and the construction of Masjid al-Haram during the period of Jahiliyya for years.

Qutham's mother, Lubaba Kubra, was a daughter of Harith b. Hazn al-Hilali and a sister of Maymuna, the Prophet's (s) wife. Her title was Umm al-Fadl. She was the first woman after Khadija (a) who converted to Islam in Mecca, and was always respected by the Prophet (s). During Qutham's infancy, she had the honor of breastfeeding Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a), and thus, Qutham counts as their Rida'i or foster brother.

Qutham was born in Mecca, but the date of his birth is not exactly known. However, given that Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a) were born in 3/625 and 4/626, he must have been born early after the Prophet's (s) Hijra.

In the Period of the Prophet (s)

Qutham was a young child in the early years of Islam. When the Prophet (s) passed away, he was about 8 years old. The Prophet (s) loved Qutham. After the Prophet's (s) demise, Qutham attended his Ghusl ceremony, and one of his honors was that he was the last person who said goodbye to the Prophet's (s) corpse, that is, he was the last person who left the Prophet's (s) grave.

Some people did not consider Qutham as one of the Sahaba because he did not transmit any hadiths from the Prophet (s), but others have mentioned him among the Sahaba. Qutham transmitted hadiths from Abu Ishaq al-Subay'i.

In the Period of Imam 'Ali (a)

According to a hadith from Qutham, he considered Imam 'Ali (a) as the first man who converted to Islam and accompanied the Prophet (s) more than others. Thus, Qutham said that 'Ali (a) deserved the heritage of the Prophet (s) or his position more than his own father, 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib. He was an important figure in the early period of Islam who defended the imamate of Imam 'Ali (a).

Ruler of Mecca and Ta'if

After Abu Qatada al-Ansari, Qutham was appointed by Imam 'Ali (a) as the ruler of Mecca and Ta'if from 36/657 until the martyrdom of Imam 'Ali (a). According to another account, he was appointed as the ruler of Medina. During his service as a ruler, Imam 'Ali (a) wrote letters to him in which he uncovered some of Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan's conspiracies.

Manager of Hajj Rituals

In 38/658, Imam 'Ali (a) wrote a letter to Qutham whereby he appointed him as a manager of hajj rituals (or Amir al-Hajj). The letter shows that Qutham b. 'Abbas was considered by Imam 'Ali (a) as an honest and just manager. The Imam (a) advised him to treat people in a good manner and gave him a permission to issue fatwas and spend money from the Treasury (Bayt al-Mal).

Mu'awiya's Conspiracy

In 39/659 when Qutham was the ruler of Mecca, Mu'awiya sent Yazid b. Shajara al-Rahawi to Mecca in order to perform hajj rituals and receive pledges of allegiance for Mu'awiya. He ordered Yazid to oust 'Ali's (a) ruler of Mecca and manager of hajj (that is, 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Abbas or, on another account, Qutham b. 'Abbas). However, Imam 'Ali (a) learned about Mu'awiya's conspiracy and sent an army led by Ma'qil b. Qays to Hijaz. Qutham called people of Mecca to resist Yazid b. Shajara, but no one helped him. Thus, in order to protect Bayt al-Mal and his life, he decided to leave Mecca until Imam 'Ali (a)'s army arrived. But the well-known Sahabi, Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, advised him to stay in the city. With a unanimous agreement of people and seniors of Mecca, Shayba b. 'Uthman al-'Abdari was selected as the manager of hajj ceremonies. He finished the hajj rituals of 39/659 together with people. After the hajj rituals, Ma'qil b. Qays arrived near Mecca and chased Yazid b. Shajara. They arrested some people from Yazid's army and took them to Kufa.

Conquest of Samarkand

In 56/676, Sa'id b. 'Uthman b. 'Affan was appointed by Mu'awiya as the ruler of Khorasan. Qutham accompanied him to Khorasan, launched a jihad in Transoxiana, and attended the conquests of Bukhara and Samarkand. After the conquest of Samarkand, Qutham b. 'Abbas stayed in the city to teach and propagate the rulings of Islam. Moreover, he provided remarkable services to the people of the city. He founded a big Musalla (place for prayer) outside the city near the Gate of Shaykhzada. He also ordered that a creek be set up in order to supply water to areas around the city. Qutham was benefactor and generous. He is admired for his knowledge and piety. It is said that when Sa'id b. 'Uthman wanted to give 1000 dirhams to him, Qutham rested content with one share for himself and one (or two shares) for his horse.


Qutham b. 'Abbas died of natural causes in 57/676-677 in Samarkand or a place known as Shirin Kint. Some people hold that he died in Merv, which is not accurate. On another account, he attended a battle in Samarkand together with Sa'id b. 'Uthman where he was martyred. There was a rumor spreading at the time that he was not killed; rather he went into a water well while fleeing the unbelievers and then disappeared.

Resting Place

Qutham's corpse was buried in the Banu Nahiya cemetery of Samarkand near the Iron Gate. His grave was located near a spring a few kilometers southeast of Samarkand. The spring came to be known as Mashhad (place of martyrdom). In the period of the king Sanjar al-Saljuqi (reign: 490/1097-552/1157-58), a seminary school was built near his grave which was called "Quthmiyya". His grave in Samarkand has for long been visited by pilgrims and respected by Muslims. Some prominent scholars and figures were buried near his grave. Today the mausoleum is known as "Shah-i Zinda". In his travel to Samarkand, Ibn Battuta (d. 779/1337-38) visited Qutham's mausoleum and described its gorgeous constructions in details. He traced the construction back to the Mogul period. In 735/1334, the construction was decorated in the period of Ilkhan Abu Sa'id Bahadur and the Masjid Shah-i Zinda was built. It seems that Timur (Tamerlane) (reign: 771/1369-70-807/1404-05) added buildings to the construction.

Qutham's Progeny

According to genealogical sources, Qutham had no children and progeny. However, a son of his, Khalid, is mentioned in some sources.


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from قثم بن عباس in Farsi Wikishia.