Ziyad b. Abih

Priority: c, Quality: b
From wikishia
Ziyad b. Abih
Agent of Mu'awiyya
Full NameZiyad b. Abih
Religious AffiliationSunni
Well-known Relatives'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad
Place of BirthMecca
Places of ResidenceMecca, Istakhr, Kufa, Basra
Cause of
EraEarly Islam
Known forAgents of 'Umar, Imam Ali (a) and Mu'awiyya, Governor of Kufa, Basra

Zīyād b. Abīh (Arabic:زياد بن أبيه) (b. 1/622-3 - d. 53/673) was an agent of Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan. He was representative of Imam Ali (a) in Istakhr, Fars. After the peace treaty between Imam al-Hasan (a) and Mu'awiya, he refused to take an oath of allegiance to Mu'awiya as the caliph of Muslims. Then al-Mughira b. Shu'ba convinced Ziyad b. Abih to travel to Syria to meet Mu'awiya. Mu'awiya revealed a statement from his father, Abu Sufyan, in which Abu Sufyan is believed to be Ziyad's father. Ziyad became governor of Basra and Kufa in the time of Mu'awiya. 'Ubayd Allah was the son of Ziyad who later became the governor of Kufa and Basra in the time of Yazid b. Mu'awiya and he played a main role in the event of Karbala and martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a).


There are disagreements on the lineage of Ziyad b. Abih, some narrations stated that his father, 'Ubayd, was a slave in Ta'if and Sumaya his mother was servant of Al-Harith b. Kalda.[1] Abu Sufyan b. Harb, the father of Mu'awiya, believed Ziyad was his illegitimate son.[2] When Mu'awiya came to power he called Ziyad and informed him. It is said Ziyad was born in the first year after Hijra, and some believe he was born before Hijra of Prophet Muhammad (s) to Medina.[3]

Prior to Caliphate of Imam Ali (a)

Ziyad was a clever and literary man, when he was appointed as the governor of Basra by 'Umar b. al-Khattab. He chose Ziyad as his administrator[4] and sent him to suppress the rioters in Yemen.

Caliphate of Imam Ali (a)

As recommended by Ibn 'Abbas, Imam Ali (a) sent Ziyad b. Abih to suppress the rioters in Fars.[5] He later became the agent of Imam (a) in Istakhr, Fars. Ziyad took part in the Battle of Siffin and fought alongside Imam Ali (a) against Mu'awiya; he even refused to accept Mu'awiya's invitation to join him.[6]

Caliphate of Mu'awiya

After the peace treaty between Imam al-Hasan (a) and Mu'awiya by which caliphate of Muslims was seized by Mu'awiya, Ziyad b. Abih refused to accept his caliphate and he did not take an oath of allegiance to him initially, then he fled and hid in the castle of Istakhr. But Mu'awiya wrote a letter to him and invited him to a meeting. Apparently, al-Mughira b. Shu'ba who knew Ziyad for a long time convinced him to meet Mu'awiya. In that meeting, Mu'awiya told Ziyad that he was the son of his father, Abu Sufyan, which made them brothers. This incident was utterly condemned by a number of Umayyads as well as righteous people. However Ziyad accepted Mu'awiya's offer and joined him. Abu Bakara, Nafi' b. Masruh, maternal uncle of Ziyad was irritated by this claim and rejected it; after that he fell out with Ziyad. After joining Mu'awiya, Ziyad was appointed as the governor of Basra in 45/665-6 Ziyad prepared an army and attacked Marv and Khorasan in Iran in which he managed to conquer these lands. According to a number of narrations, 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad played an important role in these conquests. When al-Mughira b. Shu'ba passed away in 48/668-9, Ziyad became Emir of Kufa as well, which gave him authority over half of Muslims' territory.


Ziyad b. Abih passed away in 53/673 because of plague. He was buried out of Kufa.[7]


'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad was the famous son of Ziyad, who became the governor of Basra after the demise of his father. After the death of Mu'awiya, Yazid came to power and appointed Ubayd Allah as Emir of Kufa. Salam[8] and 'Ibad[9] are the other children of Ziyad b. Abih. Ibn Athir, mentioned Sulayman instead of Salam as the child of Ziyad.[10]


Ziyad was a cunning and violent man, when he became the governor of Basra he went to a mosque and gave a speech in which he threatened people. He ruled decisively and violently which brought safety to his territory. Although he favored and defended Imam Ali (a) in the battle of Siffin, later when he became the governor of Basra he prosecuted, imprisoned and murdered Shi'ites, including arresting and murder of Hujr b. 'Adi and his men. They were imprisoned due to rejecting to curse Imam Ali (a) and complaining those who cursed Imam. Mu'awiya ordered to bring them to Syria and finally murdered them in Marj 'Udra region.


  1. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 219.
  2. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 2, p. 525.
  3. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 2, p. 523.
  4. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 219.
  5. Ibn Kathīr al-Dimashqī, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 7, p. 320.
  6. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 219.
  7. Ibn Kathīr al-Dimashqī, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 8, p. 62.
  8. Ziriklī, al-Aʿlām, vol. 3, p. 110.
  9. Ziriklī, al-Aʿlām, vol. 3, p. 257.
  10. Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil, vol. 5, p. 73.


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  • Ibn Aʿtham al-Kūfī, Aḥmad b. Aʿtham. Kitāb al-Futūḥ. Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwaʾ, 1411 AH.
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