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Al-Mukhtār ibn Abī ‘Ubaydah al-Thaqafī (Arabic: المختار بن أبي عبيدة الثقفي‎) (also spelled Mukhtar bin Abu Ubaid), (born c. 622, al-Ṭaʾif, Arabia [now in Saudi Arabia]—died March 687, Kūfah, Iraq), was an early Islamic revolutionary based in Kufa, Iraq who led an abortive rebellion against the Umayyad Caliphs in vengeance for the death of Husayn ibn 'Ali at the Battle of Karbala.[1][2][3]

Abu Ishaq Al-Mukhtar Bin Abu Ubaydah Al-Thaqafi
Al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi.jpg
Mukhtar in Kufa
Burial placeGreat Mosque of Kufa
EraRashidun Caliphate
Umayyad Empire
Second Islamic Civil War
Notable work
Revenge of the Battle of Karbala
MovementAlids uprising after Battle of Karbala
Opponent(s)Yazid I
Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad
Shimr Bin Dhi'l-Jawshan
Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr
Umar ibn Sa'ad
Spouse(s)Umrah bint Yazid
RelativesAbu Ubayd al-Thaqafi (Father)


Early lifeEdit

Al-Mukhtar's full name was Mukhtar Abu Ubaid Masood Thaqafi of Banu Hawazin tribe.[4] He was born in Ta’if in 622 CE[2] (1 AH), the year the Islamic prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina. Al-Mukhtar was son of Abu Ubaid al-Thaqafi, who was killed at the Battle of al-Jisr in November 634 CE (13 AH).[5] His mother's name was Husna. He had two sisters; Safiya, who was married to Abdullah ibn Umar, and Jariah, who was married to Umar ibn Sa'ad.[4]

After death of his father, Mukhtar was brought up by his mother and uncle Saeed bin Masood Thaqafi. Saeed was appointed governor of Al-Mada'in by Umar. During the time of Muawiyah, when there was a cease-fire between Hasan bin Ali and Muawiyah, Saeed was transferred to the governorship of Mosul.[4]

Under Ibn Ziyad in KufaEdit

Mukhtar was active in Muslim ibn Aqeel's revolt against governmet in Kufa. After defeating the revolt and executing Muslim, governor of Kufa Ubaidullah bin Ziyad arrested and imprisoned Al-Mukhtar.[5][6] He was later released due to intervention of Abdullah bin Umar, Mukhtar's brother in law. He was ordered to leave Kufa and went to Makkah.[7]

In MakkahEdit

Following murder of Hussain ibn Ali, Abdullah bin al-Zubair had revolted against Yazid and established his caliphate in Mecca. After arriving in Makkah, Al-Mukhtar paid allegiance to Abdullah bin al-Zubair.[8] After four years' stay, Mukhtar returned to Kufa, which was now under Abdullah bin al-Zubair's control.[9]

Under bin Yazid in KufaEdit

In Kufa he was imprisoned by Abdullah bin Zubair's governor Ibn Yazeed.[9] Abdullah bin Umar interceded for Mukhtar again and he was released.[10]

Mukhtar uprisingEdit

Mukhtar announces the RevolutionEdit

In 66 AH after leaving prison, Mukhtar announced the revolution and began calling the people to punish the persons who committed the Karbala massacre. He received a letter from Muhammad bin al-Hanafiyah, Ali's son, in which Muhammad announced his support to Mukhtar. Muhammad's attitude encouraged people to stand by Mukhtar. Ibrahim ibn al-Ashtar son of Malik al-Ashtar and a brave senior army leader also joined Mukhtar. The revolutionaries fixed time to announce the revolution. The time was Thursday night, 14 Rabi al-Awwal, 66 AH.[10] But on Tuesday night, 12 Rabi al-Awwal, two days before the fixed time, the revolution broke out when on the way to Mukhtar's house, Ibrahim al-Ashtar and some of his friends came across a patrol and Ibrahim al-Ashtar was forced to attack the Commander and kill him.[11] Mukhtar ordered his followers to make fires, a sign of the revolution. The revolutionaries gathered at Mukhtar's house. Street clashes took place in Kufa. The ruler's soldiers and the police surrendered and the ruler himself escaped to al-Hejaz.[12] Mukhtar went up the pulpit in Kufa Mosque and announced that he wanted to follow Ali's just policy.[13]

The revengeEdit

After the Battle of Ain al-Warda, the advancing Umayyad Army occupied Mosul and headed for Kufa. Mukhtar formed an army of three thousand fighters under the command of Yazeed bin Anas. Reaching Mosul's outskirts, the army met the Umayyads' at two battles. They won both battles but then Yazeed bin Anas died which affected his soldiers spirits. They were afraid of the Umayyads' big army and they decided to come back to Kufa.[14] The Umayyads rumoured that Mukhtar's army was defeated that Yazeed bin Anas was killed in the battle. Mukhtar formed an army of seven thousand fighters and ordered Ibrahim al-Ashtar to head the army. The army left Kufa. Mukhtar's enemies took advantage of the situation and plotted against Mukhtar's government and besieged the palace. In spite of the intense siege, Mukhtar sent a messenger to Ibrahim al-Ashtar and told him to come back. After three days' siege, the rebels were astonished to see the army coming back. The army ended the mutiny quickly and arrested some plotters while other escaped.[15]

The army executed Hurmula bin Kahil, who killed Husayn's baby - Ali Asghar. Sanan bin Anas, who took part in Husayn's killing and Amr bin Saad (Umar ibn Sa'ad), who led the Umayyad army during the Karbala massacre. Shimr bin Thil Jawshan who beheaded Husayn also escaped but the army chased him and found him at a village in Wasit and executed him. Shibth bin Riby escaped to Basrah.[15]

Battle of al-KhazirEdit

In August 686 CE, after controlling the situation in Kufa, Ibrahim al-Ashtar's army reached al-Khazir River where he met Ubaidullah bin Ziyad's Army. Violent fights took place between the two sides. The Kufian Army attacked the Umayyad's headquarters and killed senior leaders such as Ubaidullah bin Ziyad and al-Husayn bin Numair. Ibrahim al-Ashtar's army of 13,000 defeated Ubaidullah bin Ziyad's 40,000, with the loss of only 1,000 soldiers.[2][18]


In 67 AH, Mus'ab bin al-Zubair, then ruler of Basrah,[19] attacked Kufa with a large army. Mukhtar faced Mus'ab with a small force, as most of his troops were stationed in Mousal. Mukhtar's army was forced to retreat. Mus'ab then proceeded to besiege the palace. The siege went on for four months. Mukhtar tried to raise the siege, but was unsuccessful. On 14 Ramadan, 67 AH Mukhtar came out with seventeen people accompanying him, and was killed in the ensuing battle. He was sixty-seven years old at that time.[2][20] Soon afterwards, remaining people surrendered. Mus'ab executed about seven thousand people, including Mukhtar's wife Umra.[20][21]

Al-Mukhtar is buried at the back of Masjid al-Kūfa, Kufa, Iraq.[22]

Popular referencesEdit

A large scale Persian television series about him named Mokhtarnameh has been produced. Filming began in 2003 and finished in 2009.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hawting. The History of Al-Tabari, vol. xx, 1989, p. 182
  2. ^ a b c d "al-Mukhtār ibn Abū ʿUbayd al-Thaqafi". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  3. ^ M.Th. Houtsma, ed. (1993). E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936 (Reprint ed.). Leiden: E.J. Brill. pp. 615–617. ISBN 9004097961.
  4. ^ a b c Dr Mahmood Husein Datoo. "Chapter 1 - Who was Mukhtar?". Mukhtar: How He Avenged The Kerbala Perpetrators. Archived from the original on 29 April 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  5. ^ a b al-Syyed, Kamal. "Mukhtar al-Thaqafy". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 3. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  6. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "Maytham al-Tammar". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 7. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  7. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "Safyyah". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 8. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  8. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "Abdullah bin al-Zubair". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 9. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  9. ^ a b al-Syyed, Kamal. "Mukhtar comes back to Kufa". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 11. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  10. ^ a b al-Syyed, Kamal. "Mukhtar announces the Revolution". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 14. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  11. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "The Revolution breaks out". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 15. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  12. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "The Revenge". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 16. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  13. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "In Kufa Mosque". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 17. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  14. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "The Victory". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 18. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  15. ^ a b al-Syyed, Kamal. "The Rumours". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 19. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  16. ^ Al-Kashee, Ikhtiyaar Ma`arifah Al-Rijaal, pg. 127, hadeeth # 202
  17. ^ Al-Khoei, Mu`jam Rijaal Al-Hadeeth, vol. 18, pg. 93, person # 12158
  18. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "The Battle of al-Khazir". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 21. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  19. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "Mus'ab bin al-Zubair". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 23. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  20. ^ a b al-Syyed, Kamal. "The End". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 24. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  21. ^ al-Syyed, Kamal. "The Believing Woman". Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Foundation. p. 25. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  22. ^ "Hundreds of thousands' Friday assemblage in Masjid-e-Uzma Kufa". Retrieved 20 November 2008.

Further readingEdit