Shurayh b. al-Harith al-Kindi

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Shurayh b. al-Harith al-Kindi
Full NameShurayh b. Harith al-Kindi
Well-known AsShurayh al-Qadi
Place of BirthYemen
Places of ResidenceYemen • MedinaKufaBasra
Deathbetween 72/691-2 and 99/717-8
Burial PlaceKufa
EraEarly Islam
Known forJudge
Notable rolesJudge of Kufa
ActivitiesTransmitting hadith, breaking allegiance of Imam al-Husayn (a)

Shurayḥ b. Ḥarith al-Kindī (Arabic: شریح بن حارث الکندي) known as Shurayḥ al-Qāḍī [Judge Shurayh] was among social, judicial and somehow political figures of the early Islamic period. He was appointed by 'Umar b. al-Khattab as the judge of Kufa and 'Uthman confirmed his position as well. At the time of Imam 'Ali (a), he was exiled because of his wrong rules and decisions.

Some sources consider him among major agents of mobilizing the people of Kufa and Syria against Imam al-Husayn (a). Historians have mentioned the period of his judgment between 53 to 75 years.


There is no exact date of birth mentioned in different sources due to his lack of fame at that time; however, since most authentic sources have mentioned the time of his death as 78 or 80 and his age at that time as 106 to 110, then the time of his birth must have been about 30 years before the immigration of the Prophet (s)/ 593-4 AD. However, according to the report of Ibn Hajar, the time of his birth has been the same as Imam 'Ali (a).

From the time of his childhood and before adolescence, there are only a few short news, one of which is about capturing him and his mother when he was a teenager. Another report is his marriage with a girl from Banu Tamim called Zaynab. Also, there is another concise news about his education under Mu'adh b. Jabal.

Immigration from Yemen to Hijaz

Most sources have confirmed his immigration from Yemen to Hijaz. Some have mentioned Medina as his destination, and others have not mentioned his destination. There are different opinions about the date of this immigration among historians as some of them reported it at the time of the Prophet (s) and some of them mentioned it at the time of the caliphate of Abu Bakr.

A Companion or a Follower

There are different opinions among historians and scholars of rijal, whether he was a Companion or a follower of them (Tabi'un). Some have mentioned him among the Followers who even remembered the Age of Ignorance. But, Ibn Hajar reported a short meeting of him with the Prophet (s) and tried to mention him among the Companions; while, al-Dhahabi rejected his companionship. In brief, it can be concluded that Shurayh was among the great Followers who associated with great Companions such as Imam Ali (a), 'Umar, Zayd b. Thabit, 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud and others and learned different sciences such as hadith from them.

During the Caliphate of Abu Bakr

During the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Shurayh was considered among new Muslims, so he was not an important person in Medina. Thus, he was not known and not given any position in the government. Protests of the people of Medina after choosing Shurayh as the judge of Kufa confirms this opinion.

During the Caliphate of 'Umar

Reasons for Choosing him as the Judge of Kufa

  • With the expansion of Muslims' victories during the caliphate of 'Umar, he left judgment to others for different reasons. Contrary to the method of Abu Bakr, these people were often unknown people who were not Muslims for a long time because 'Umar preferred to keep companions and famous Islamic figures as consultants and advisers near himself in Medina. This manner of the second caliph prepared the grounds for people such as Shurayh to become famous. One of the reasons for choosing Shurayh was Umar's insistence on applying his own method for choosing people for different positions.
  • He was among the literate people of Medina during the caliphate of 'Umar and was an expert in poetry and knowledge of lineage.
  • According to an Arab researcher, at the time of appointment as the judge of Kufa, Shurayh was the governor of Medina and this was effective in choosing him as the judge.
  • Another important factor mentioned by most sources as a reason for choosing Shurayh as the judge of Kufa was how he judged between 'Umar and a man who argued over a horse. After that judgment, 'Umar liked Shurayh's judgment and chose him as the judge of Kufa.

Reason for Continuation of the Judgment of Shurayh

At the time of appointment as the judge of Kufa in 18/639-40, Shurayh was 40 years old. He and some others such as Ka'b b. Suwar al-Azdi, Abu Musa al-Ash'ari and 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud were among independent judges who were chosen as judges by the caliph and were under the command of the caliph, not his governor. When 'Umar b. al-Khattab was about to appoint Shurayh as the judge of Kufa, wrote a letter to him, and taught him the way of judgment according to Islam. In addition to other consults of 'Umar and other caliphs, this order was his main criteria in judgment among people of Kufa and the most important reason for the continuation of his judgment; even though he made in some cases mistakes in judgment. According to some sources, 'Umar paid him 100 Dirhams every month. 'Umar was one of the two Badriyyun, whom Shurayh referred to in hadiths. Most of the hadiths he narrated were from 'Umar.

During the Caliphate of 'Uthman

During the caliphate of 'Uthman, the position of Shurayh as the judge was reinforced, and he could keep his position as the judge of Kufa during the 12 years of 'Uthman's rule using certain tricks. The behavior of Shurayh and his following of 'Uthman was much less than 'Umar and the hadiths he narrated from 'Uthman are much less than the number of hadiths he narrated from 'Umar. Apparently, his position as the judge in Kufa did not encounter any problem regarding the way of judgment and Shurayh continued his job as the judge without any special problem. The news about Shurayh during the rule of 'Uthman is as few as the news about him at the time of Abu Bakr. Apparently, his relationship with 'Uthman has not been as warm as with the second caliph.

During the Rule of Imam Ali (a)

According to Ibn Asakir, at the beginning of the caliphate of Imam Ali (a), three people with the names of Marra, Maysara, and Shurayh were not accused of anything. Therefore, Shurayh was not dismissed and Imam Ali (a) sent him to different cities for judgment like other judges he (a) approved. According to different sources, Shurayh was dismissed and reappointed during the rule of Imam 'Ali (a), but when Imam 'Ali (a) was martyred, Shurayh was the judge of Kufa.

During the rule of Imam Ali (a), Shurayh was questioned and reprimanded by Imam Ali (a) because of some wrong judgments he had made. According to Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani, one of these judgments was his mistake about the argument between Imam (a) and a Jew over an armor, after which he was exiled to Banqiya'. Apparently, the appointment of Shurayh for judgment by Imam Ali (a) was conditioned to some issues, one of which was Imam's (a) supervision over his judgments. Among the most important events, Shurayh was reprimanded by Imam Ali (a) to such an extent that Imam (a) wrote a letter to him was buying a luxurious house at the price of 80 Dinars while he was a judge. The description of the event with the letter of Imam (a) are mentioned in Nahj al-balagha. At the time of Imam Ali (a), Shurayh received 500 Dirhams monthly for judgment.

During the Rule of Imam Hasan b. 'Ali (a)

Although this period was short, this short period was spent in the war between Imam (a) and Mu'awiya; thus, Imam (a) did not find the time to organize the judicial issues and issues related to the government. According to al-Mas'udi, during this time, Shurayh was still the judge.

At the Time of Mu'awiya

After seizing the caliphate, Mu'awiya was the caliph for about 20 years. Ibn Khaldun wrote, "After taking caliphate, Mu'awiya sent his agents to different cities and appointed Shurayh as the judge of Kufa."

During the Rule of Ziyad b. Abih over Kufa

Later, when Mu'awiya appointed Ziyad b. Abih as the governor of Kufa, he acted as an independent ruler, and thus for the first time, Shurayh was out of direct supervision of the caliph. At the beginning of the government of Ziyad over Kufa, Shurayh was one of the special consultants of Ziyad who gave him advice in certain affairs and most of the time accepted his opinion. Among such consultations was when Ziyad asked about Shurayh's opinion about cutting his right hand because of bubonic plague.

The most important event of the rule of Ziyad and judgment of Shurayh in Kufa which was followed by objections of many Muslims and they cursed Ziyad and considered his action as an accusation against Shurayh was organizing an affidavit against Hujr b. 'Adi and forging the signature of Judge Shurayh and Shurayh b. Hani. After being informed about this issue, Shurayh b. Hani bravely sent a letter to Mu'awiya and disclosed the betrayal of Ziyad to him; however, seeking profits instead of telling the truth, excessive fear of Ziyad, and other factors made Shurayh unable to refute this accusation from himself.

Before and After the Event of Karbala

There is no news about Shurayh at the beginning of the government of Yazid before the Movement of Karbala.

  • The first involvement of Shurayh at the beginning of the movement of Karbala was about the allegiance of 70 of the noble personalities of Kufa such as Habib b. Muzahir, Muhammad b. Ash'ath, al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi, 'Umar b. Sa'd and others at the presence of Shurayh and asking him to bear witness to their support of the descendants of Imam 'Ali (a) and invitation of Imam al-Husayn (a) to Kufa for submitting the government to him. However, regardless of breaking the allegiance by many of them, upon the entrance of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad to Kufa, Shurayh himself went to meet him in Dar al-'Imara (residence of Emir) and regardless of the commitment on the allegiance for supporting descendants of Imam 'Ali (a), joined their opposition and became one of the consultants of the court of 'Ubayd Allah who welcomed him to reach his goals, since he needed the support of people such as Shurayh who was distinguished among religious-looking people of Kufa.
  • In another event, it is mentioned that Shurayh delivered 'Ubayd Allah's message about the survival of Hani b. 'Urwa to his tribe so that they scatter from around Dar al-'Imara.
  • Also, it is mentioned that Shurayh was considered trustworthy in guarding the children of Muslim b. 'Aqil, but he left them unguarded in the city for the fear he had from 'Ubayd Allah and that he would face no danger.

Fatwa of Shurayh against Imam al-Husayn (a)

One of the most important questions about the role of Shurayh regarding the Movement of Karbala is if he issued a fatwa for the obligation of Jihad against Imam al-Husayn (a). This idea is the origin of a Farsi proverb, which is known especially among Shi'a while it has been stressed that it has no reference; for if it is true, it can be said that one of the most effective and important reasons for mobilization of the people of Kufa and Syria against Imam al-Husayn (a) has been issuing such a fatwa from a scholar of fiqh, commentator of the Qur'an and the judge of Rashidun caliphs. Although there is not such a report in old sources, there are shreds of evidence supporting it, including the ones below:

  1. Agreement of Shurayh with all the thoughts of his contemporary caliphs,
  2. His quick inclination and support of the superior power ('Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad) and following his opposition against the followers of Imam 'Ali (a),
  3. Weakness and timidity from 'Ubayd Allah, which Ibn Sa'd has also mentioned in his book.

Upon the Uprisings of 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr and al-Mukhtar

There are no reports about the resignation of Shurayh from the position of judgment upon the uprising of 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr. In this regard, Ibn Sa'd and Ibn Khaldun have said that during the chaotic years after the resignation of Mu'awiya II, from 64/683-4 to 73/692-3, Shurayh stopped judgment for 9 years and even left his position for 3 years. According to Ibn Sa'd, the reason was that he was fearful for his life. Ibn Khaldun said, "after taking over Kufa and controlling the city, al-Mukhtar brought back Shurayh to judgment who had resigned after the chaotic situation in the Islamic world. Soldiers of al-Mukhtar and especially his followers opposed him for doing so and asked him to dismiss Shurayh. They supported their request by mentioning that Imam 'Ali (a) became angry at Shurayh and exiled him to Banqiya', he witnessed against Hujr b. 'Adi and did not inform his tribe."

After hearing these objections, Shurayh pretended to be sick, and thus, al-Mukhtar who could not tolerate the many objections of his companions, dismissed Shurayh.

At the Time of 'Abd al-Malik and Hajjaj

After the establishment of the government of 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan and his control over Kufa, Shurayh was brought back to judgment by him. In his book, Ibn Waki' has mentioned the story of the reappointment of Shurayh to judgment. After taking over the Kufa, Hajjaj b. Yusuf confirmed Shurayh's judgment. In addition to judgment, Shurayh also became one of the consultants of Hajjaj. Shurayh was the judge of Kufa until 78/697-8 and then resigned from his position and Hajjaj accepted it. Different sources have mentioned his reason for resignation, advice of a wise man. They have reported that a wise man advised Shurayh to resign from his position due to bribery of his son and his oldness and disability. After his resignation, Shurayh stayed at home and stopped receiving a pension from the government until he died.

Year of His Death and His Age at the Time of Death

His age at the time of death was reported from 100 to 127. There is a strong probability that his age at the time of death was between 106 and 110. The reason for different reports was that the dates of his birth and death were not known and that he withdrew from important social positions towards the end of his life. Different sources have reported the year of his death between 72/691-2 and 99/717-8.

Period of Shurayh's Judgment

About the period of Shurayh's judgment, since there is a disagreement over the date of his death, there are different reports about the period of his judgment between 53 and 73 years. Another reason for the existence of different reports is disagreement over his resignation and its period and that whether this period should be counted in his judgment as well or not. Ibn Abi l-Hadid mentioned the period of his judgment 57 years of which he was in Basra for one year.

Children and Brother

In addition to mentioning different events, some sources have also mentioned the names of some of Shurayh's children. One of his children was 'Abd Allah who was imprisoned by his father's order against him and Shurayh himself brought food for him. Also, two other children are mentioned for him named Maysara and 'Abd al-Rahman who narrated some hadiths from their father. The name of his other son was Asad who was mentioned in the story of children of Muslim b. 'Aqil.

In Ibn Hazm's Jamharat al-ansab al-'Arab, the name of a brother of Shurayh is mentioned as 'Ubayd Allah.


Regarding the appearance, his face was like a teenager since he had no beard or mustache. Moreover, he looked hideous, and according to Asma'i, he also lacked some teeth.

Regarding personality, he was vain and self-conceited. He also had a sense of humor and there are some reports about that.

In different sources, he is mentioned as a scholar in fiqh, interpreter of the Qur'an, Mujtahid, knowledgeable in judgment, trustworthy in the narration of hadiths, and a scholar of lineage, and even the most knowledgeable person in judgment. He himself said that he learned these sciences through discussion with men of knowledge. He was also an expert in poetry and was regarded among Mukhadram poets. However, with all these qualities, Shi'a is not satisfied with him.

Narrating Hadith

He narrated hadiths from famous companions of the Prophet (s) such as Imam 'Ali (a), 'Umar, Zayd b. Thabit, 'Abd al-Rahman b. Abu Bakr, 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud, and 'Urwa b. Abi al-Ju'd al-Bariqi. Also, some people have narrated hadiths from him, the most famous of whom are Dahhak, Miqdad b. Abi Farwa, Shi'bi, Ibrahim al-Nakha'i, Wasim b. 'Abd al-Rahman, Yahya al-Ta'i, Muhammad b. Sirin, Anas b. Sirin and others.