Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas

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Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas
Personal Information
Full NameSa'd b. Malik b. Wuhayb b. 'Abd Manaf b. Zuhra b. Kilab al-Qarashi al-Zuhri
TeknonymAbu Ishaq
Well Known AsSa'd b. Abi Waqqas
Well-Known Relatives'Umar b. Sa'd (son)
Place(s) of ResidenceMecca, Medina, Kufa
DeathBetween 54-58/673-678
Burial PlaceAl-Baqi' cemetery, Medina
Religious Information
Migration toMedina

Saʿd b. Mālik b. Wuhayb (Arabic:سعد بن مالك بن وهيب), known as Saʿd b. Abī Waqqāṣ (سَعد بن أبي وَقّاص), a companion of the Prophet (s) and one of commanders of the Islamic army in the battle with Iran. He attended the Battle of Badr and Battle of Uhud. He was appointed by 'Umar b. al-Khattab as the ruler of Kufa and due to the complain of Kufans he was dismissed. He also was the commander of the Islamic army in the Battle of Qadisiyya by the order of 'Umar.

Some Sunni Muslims take him to be one of the "al-'Ashra al-Mubashshara" (ten people to whom the Prophet (s) gave the good news of going to heaven). He was in good terms with Abu Bakr—the First Caliph—and 'Umar b. al-Khattab, and was in the Six-Member Council for the selection of the third caliph; he gave his vote to 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Awf. When Imam Ali (a) was elected as the caliph by people, Sa'd did not pledge his allegiance to him at first, and when he pledged his allegiance to him, he did not attend Imam Ali (a)'s battles. His son, 'Umar b. Sa'd, was the commander of the Kufa army in the Event of Karbala.

Sa'd died some year between 54-58/673-678, and was buried in al-Baqi' cemetery.


His kunya was Abu Ishaq. His father was Malik b. Wuhayb b. 'Abd Manaf b. Zuhra, known as Abi Waqqas, and his mother was Humna bt. Abi Sufyan b. Umayya 'Abd Shams. 'Umar b. Sa'd, the commander of the Kufa army in the Event of Karbala, who martyred Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions, was his son.

Conversion to Islam

There are different accounts of how he converted to Islam. It is said he was the seventh or fourth or second person who converted to Islam. Sa'd himself is quoted as saying that he converted to Islam before prayers were legislated as obligatory. However, Sunni sources have emphasized that Khadija (a) and 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) were first people who converted to Islam and said prayers.

Sa'd emigrated to Medina before the Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) made a Pact of Brotherhood between him and Sa'd b. Mu'adh.

Many virtues are attributed to him in Sunni sources of hadiths, such as his being one of al-'Ashara al-Mubashshara, that is, the ten people to whom the Prophet (s) gave the good news of going to heaven, and that his being a mustajab al-da'wa (that is, a person whose every prayer is answered by God). Some prominent Sunni scholars have expressed reservations about, and even denied, these hadiths. Sa'd narrated 271 hadiths from the Prophet (s).


He was the first person who threw an arrow in the Sariyya of 'Ubayd b. Harith in the defense of Islam, and the first person who founded the city of Kufa.

Sa'd attended the Battle of Badr as well as the Battle of Uhud. He also attended the Battle of Khandaq, the Battle of Khaybar and the Conquest of Mecca. In the Conquest of Mecca, he held one of the three flags of Muhajirun. He accompanied the Prophet (s) in other battles as well, and was a famous archer of the Islamic army.

After the Prophet's (s) Demise

On some accounts, after the Prophet's (s) demise, Sa'd was among people who gathered around Fatima al-Zahra's (a) house, and had plans, with Miqdad b. Aswad, to pledge their allegiance to Imam 'Ali (a). However, the story is deemed doubtful by some scholars, because he had a great power during the reign of 'Umar b. al-Khattab, while Khalid b. Sa'id b. 'As was deprived of commandership by Abu Bakr and 'Umar just because he postponed his allegiance to Abu Bakr after the event of Saqifa Bani Sa'ida.

Fame and Place

Sa'd is mostly known for his activities during the caliphate of 'Umar b. al-Khattab; he was the commander of the Islamic army in the battle against the Sassanid empire in late 16/637-8. He was later appointed by 'Umar b. al-Khattab as the ruler of Kufa, but due to complaints from people, he was dismissed from the position in 21/641-2.

'Umar's respect for him is revealed by his appointment by 'Umar in the Six-Member Council for the selection of the third caliph. According to sources, all these six people were deemed competent for the position of the caliphate.

Six-Member Council

Members of
the Six-Member Council

selecting the third caliph

Imam Ali (a)
Uthman b. Affan
Abd al-Rahman b. Awf
Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas
Zubayr b. al-'Awam
Talha b. Ubayd Allah

After 'Umar's demise, the members of the Council assembled. Abu Talha al-Ansari stayed at the door of the house to prevent others from going to the assembly. It is said that 'Amr b. al-'As and Mughira b. Shu'ba sat near the door of the house outside, but Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas told them: "you are sitting here so that you can later claim that you were members of the Council and were present there!" Thus he did not let them stay there.

This story reveals aspects of Sa'd's character as well as the importance of the Council. According to al-Nuwayri in Nihayat al-irab, Imam 'Ali (a) met Sa'd during the Council, and told him: "I swear to my son's relation to the Prophet (s) and the relation of my uncle, Hamza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, that you should not collude with 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Awf in favor of 'Uthman and against me." However, Sa'd voted for 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Awf, which led to the selection of 'Uthman. 'Uthman appointed Sa'd as the ruler of Kufa for a while, but dismissed him from power after a while. 'Uthman offered helps to Sa'd; for instance, he bestowed Sa'd a village called Hurmuz as a feudality (iqta').

He did not intervene much in the event of 'Uthman's murder, though it is said that he was prepared to rise in defense of 'Uthman. He later said that he was neutral in the story of 'Uthman.

During the Caliphate of Imam 'Ali (a)

In the public allegiance to Imam 'Ali (a), Sa'd was asked to pledge his allegiance to Imam 'Ali (a), but he said to Imam (a): "I will not pledge my allegiance to you before all people do so; I swear to God that I will not cause any troubles". And Imam 'Ali (a) let him go.

In one of his sermons, Imam 'Ali (a) refers to some people who did not pledge their allegiance to him, and said: "I heard news from Ibn 'Umar, Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas, and Muhammad b. Maslama that I do not like, and God will adjudicate the affairs between me and them." It seems that whereas Imam 'Ali (a) was unhappy with those who disobeyed him, he did not coerce anyone to pledge their allegiance to him.

On some accounts, Sa'd later pledged his allegiance to Imam 'Ali (a), though since he did not attend the battles of Imam (a), it was widely thought that he never did so. Sa'd gave different reasons for his refusing to assist Imam 'Ali: sometimes he took himself to more competent for the position of the caliphate than anyone else, and sometimes he pointed out to, and bragged about, his records of jihad claiming that he no longer attends battles only because the right and the wrong fronts are not distinct: "give me a sword that can distinguish between believers and unbelievers!"

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid takes the reason why Sa'd did not help Imam 'Ali (a) to be his jealousy: "since the time when 'Umar b. al-Khattab appointed Sa'd in the Six-Member Council and thereby confirmed his competence for the position of caliphate, Sa'd thought that he deserves to be the caliph, and this thought destroyed his life both in this world and in the afterlife, and he finally did not achieve what he wished for".

When Imam 'Ali (a) was asked about people who did not pledge their allegiance to him, did not help him and did not go to battles with him, he replied: "these are people who spoiled the right path and did not promote the wrong path either".

In the Battle of Jamal

Sa'd was well aware of Imam 'Ali (a)'s virtues, and this is manifest in some of his remarks. For example, when he met Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan during hajj rituals after his caliphate, Mu'awiya cursed Imam 'Ali (a). Sa'd said: "I swear to God that I prefer one of 'Ali (a)'s virtues to the kingdom of the whole world". He also narrated hadiths with respect to Imam 'Ali (a)'s virtues.

Sa'd believed that Mu'awiya seized the position of caliphate with coercion, thus he refused to call him Amir al-Mu'minin and called him instead the King. When Mu'awiya objected to him, he said: "you would be our Amir had we elected you as our Amir, but you just jumped into this position". However, Sa'd and people like him had already paved the ground for the rule of Mu'awiya by refusing to help Imam 'Ali (a).

After the Battle of Jamal, Mu'awiya wrote a letter to Sa'd: "the most important people for the avenge of 'Uthman among the Quraysh are those who were in the Council, since they proved his right and favored him over others as the caliph. Both Talha b. 'Ubayd Allah and al-Zubayr b. 'Awwam who were your partners in the Council have risen to avenge 'Uthman, and Aisha has come out of her house for the same purpose. So do not avert what other people have favored, and do not reject what they have accepted. We will leave the caliphate to the council of Muslims".

Sa'd replied to the letter as follows: "whoever 'Umar appointed as a member of the Council was competent for the position of caliphate, and none of us were preferable to others except by our own consensus. However, whatever we had was also had by 'Ali, but none of us had what he had. And this was what we did not like its beginning nor its end. However, Talha and al-Zubayr had better stay in their houses. And may God forgive Umm al-Mu'minin (Aisha) for what she did".

In the Battle of Siffin

After the Battle of Siffin and the story of Hakamiyya, Mu'awiya wrote to the seniors (who did not take side in the battle) that the battle was over, and Abu Musa al-Ash'ari and 'Amr b. al-'As went to Dumat al-Jandal to arbitrate the issue of caliphate on the basis of the Quran. He asked them to go there and witness everything. The seniors went to Dumat al-Jandal, and Sa'd said: "I am more competent for caliphate than others, since I did not collaborate in the murder of 'Uthman and later seditions."

Sa'd did not attend any of Imam 'Ali (a)'s battles and thereby he paved the ground for the dominance of Mu'awiya. Al-Sayyid al-Himyari composed a poem in this regard: "people of Sa'd turned away from the right path, they called for an ignoble person who became their leader. If Banu Zuhra (the tribe of Sa'd) were not indolent, he would not be the leader".

When asked by Mu'awiya why he refused to attend the Battle of Jamal, Sa'd replied: "we people were like a group who are in darkness and one of them tells his camel to sit down in order to illuminate the path". Mu'awiya appealed to the Quranic verse, 49:9, and said: "you did not fight with the oppressor, nor with the oppressed". And sa'd remained silent.


Sa'd died in his palace in the area of 'Atiq a few miles from Medina. His corpse was brought to Medina and was buried in al-Baqi' cemetery. Marwan b. al-Hakam said prayers on his corpse.

There are disagreements about the year of his death, such as 54/673-4, 55/674-5, and 58/677-8, and his age is said to be fifty-eight, seventy-four or eighty-three. When he died, he left around twenty-five thousand dirhams. It is reported that he once gave five thousand dirhams for his zakat.