Abdallah ibn Sa'd

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Abdallah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh (Arabic: عبد الله بن سعد بن أبي السرح‎, romanizedʿAbdallāh ibn Saʿd ibn Abī Sarḥ), was a Muslim administrator and commander.[2] He came from the Banu Amir ibn Lu'ayy clan of the Quraish tribe[2] and was an adopted brother of the caliph Uthman.[2]

Abdallah ibn Sa'd
Governor of Egypt
In office
Preceded byAmr ibn al-As
Succeeded byMuhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfa
Personal details
ParentsSa'd ibn Abi Sarh
Mahana bint Jabir al-Ash'ariyyah
Military service
AllegianceRashidun Caliphate

During his time as governor of Egypt (646 CE to 656 CE), Abdallah ibn Sa'd built a strong Arab navy. Under his leadership the Muslim navy won a number of victories including its first major naval battle against the Byzantine emperor Constans II at the Battle of the Masts in 654 CE.

During Muhammad's eraEdit

Al-Tabari has recorded in his tafsir that although Abdallah had apostatized, he returned to Islam before the conquest of Mecca.[3][4] On the other hand, in his History, al-Tabari records about Abdallah and Muhammad that "Abdallah b. Sa`d b. Abi Sarh used to write for him. He was apostatized from Islam because of his claiming to be as Prophet of Islam during the tenure of Prophet Muhammad but later returned to Islam on the day of the conquest of Mecca".[5] A hadith in Sunan Abu Dawud records an account of Abdallah ibn Sa’d's tense encounter with Muhammad that led Muhammad desiring Abdallah ibn Sa’d's death penalty but didn't order it verbally as Uthmam vouched against the decision of slaughtering Abdallah ibn Sa’d.[6]

During Uthman’s eraEdit

When Uthman became caliph in 644 CE, he appointed Abdallah governor of Egypt replacing 'Amr ibn al-'As, with Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfa as his aide. Abdallah brought over a large foreign entourage and established the diwan, "and commanded that all the taxes of the country should be regulated there".[7]

The Copts viewed Abdallah as a "lover of money" who spent the revenues upon himself. In his time a famine struck Upper Egypt such that many Copts fled to the Nile Delta.[7] Soon the Arabs protested his governorship, too.

Some of the protests appear to have been instigated by his aide, Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfa. Muhammad's father (Abi Hudhayfa) was an early convert to Islam who died in the Battle of Yamama. Muhammad was raised by Uthman. When he reached maturity he participated in the foreign military campaigns and accompanied Abdallah to Egypt as an aide. Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfa admonished Abdallah, recommending changes in the government but Abdallah did not respond. After continuous efforts, eventually Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfa lost patience and turned from sympathetic admonisher to a disillusioned opponent—first of Abdallah and later of Uthman for appointing him. Abdallah wrote to Uthman claiming that Muhammad was spreading sedition and that if nothing was done to stop him, the situation would escalate. Uthman attempted to silence Muhammad's protests with 30,000 dirhams and expensive presents. Uthman's gifts has been misunderstood as a kind of bribe and that caused a backfire, with Muhammad bringing the money and presents into the Great Mosque saying;

“Do you see what Uthman is trying to do? He is trying to buy my faith. He has sent these coins and these goods to me as a bribe.”

Uthman sent numerous placatory letters to Muhammad, but he continued building the agitation against Abdallah. In 656 the leaders of Egypt decided to send a delegation to Medina to demanding Abdallah's dismissal. Abdallah also left for Medina to defend himself at the court of the caliph. In his absence, Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfa assumed charge of the government.

When Abdallah reached Ayla, he was told that Uthman's house was under siege (Siege of Uthman) and decided to return to Egypt. At the border he was informed that Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfa had given orders to prevent him from entering Egypt. He then went to Palestine awaiting the outcome of events in Medina. In the meantime, Uthman was killed in Medina, and when Abdallah heard the news, he left Palestine, and went to Damascus to live under the protection of Muawiyah I.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ ʿAbd Allāh ibn Saʿd ibn Abī l-Sarḥ - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  2. ^ a b c Becker, C.H. "ʿAbd Allāh b. Saʿd".
  3. ^ "al-Tabari's Tafsir for 6:93". Archived from the original on 2015-06-14. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  4. ^ Abdullah Ibn Sad Ibn Abi Sarh: Where Is the Truth?
  5. ^ Al-Tabari, "History of al-Tabari Vol. 9 - The Last Years of the Prophet", transl. Ismail K. Poonawala, p.148, Albany: State University of New York Press
  6. ^ Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud (partial). Translated by Professor Ahmad Hasan (online) Hadith 14:2677
  7. ^ a b Archdeacon George (fl. 715), as transferred to Severus of Muqaffa; B. Evetts (1904). "Benjamin I". History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic church of Alexandria. On George's authorship of Lives 27-42:Robert G. Hoyland (1998). Seeing Islam As Others Saw It. Darwin Press. p. 447.