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Qays ibn Sa'd (Arabic: قيس بن سعد‎) occupies a position of prominence in Islam. Seen as one of the great leaders of the Muslim army, Qays ibn Sa'd was known for his steadfast defense in battles. His desire to cleanse his soul, achieved him the honor of being one of the great companions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Qays was also one of the most loyal companions of Ali ibn Abi Talib.[1][2]

Qays ibn Sa'd
Arabic: قيس بن سعد
Title: al-Ansari
BirthplaceMedina, Hejaz
EthnicityHejazi Arab
Known ForBeing a loyal companion of Muhammad
InfluencesMuhammad, Ali Ibn Abi Talib
Died59 AH (678–679 CE)
Burial PlaceMedina, Hejaz
FatherSa'd ibn Ubadah
SiblingsBrother: Sa’id ibn Sa’d


Birth and early lifeEdit

Qay ibn Sa'd was born in Medina around the time of Muhammad. His father was Sa'd ibn Ubadah, the leader of the Kazrjah tribe (a tribe that was known for their generosity).[2]

Before converting to Islam, Qay's ibn Sa'd was cunning to the extent that no one was able to get the better of him.[2] He would use his cunningness to short-change the people of Medina and its surroundings.[2]

Conversion to IslamEdit

After Sa'd converted to Islam, he introduced Qays to Muhammad.[2] Sa'd tells Muhammad,

"This is your servant from now on."[2]

Muhammad was pleased with the qualities that Qays possessed.[2] Qays then sat down next to him. Muhammad then told Qays,

"This place will always be yours for the rest of your life."[2]

When Qays embraced Islam, he completely changed his life, attitude, vision, and disposition.[2] Through Islam, Qays learned how to treat people with sincerity and not to resort to deceit.[2] He abandoned all his cunning in dealing with people and devoted himself to becoming a true and sincere Muslim.[2] However, there were moments in his life (in difficult situations) where he was tempted to use his cunning abilities to deceive people.[2] But, Qays's sincerity to the religion of Islam helped him overpower the temptations.[2] Qays himself states,

"If it were not for Islam I would have used my craftiness to outwit all the Arabs."[2]
"If I did not hear the Prophet say craftiness and deceit reside in hell, I would have been the craftiest man of the nation."[2]

Qays's titleEdit

Qays was given the title al-Ansari.[3] Al-Ansari means the helper.

Qays's characteristicsEdit

Qays's family was known for their generosity. Even Muhammad praised them by stating,

"Generosity is the dominant trait of this family."[2]

A pre-Islamic Arabian custom was that wealthy people would engage a crier (announcer) to stand on an elevated place during the day to call quests and passers-by to come to their house to eat food and rest.[2] And at night the criers would light a fire in order to guide strangers to places where food was being served.[2] People during pre-Islamic Arabia, would say,

"Whoever likes fat meat must go to Dulaym ibn Hartithan's house."[2]

Dulaym was the great-grandfather of Qays.[2] Being brought up in a family renowned for its generosity, Qays too would inherit the trait of generosity.[2] Qays's generosity surpassed his cleverness.[2] Qays was also known for his charity.[2] It is documented that one day Abu Bakr and Umar stated,

“If we let this lad give free rein to his generosity, he would exhaust his father’s wealth.” When his father, Sa'd ibn Ubadah heard their comments he replied “Abu Quhaafah and Ibn al-Khattab should not have tried to encourage my son to become a miser.”[2]

To indicate Qays’s generosity, Qays lent a person in debt (facing rough times) a large amount of money. When the time of repayment came the man went to pay back the money Qays had lent him. However, Qays refused to take the money back and stated,

“I never take back anything that I have given.”[2]

It is known that Qays was also sharp-witted and resourceful.[2] Qays had characteristics of a leader except for a traditional Arab beard.[2] The Ansar use to tease Qays by saying,

"If only we could buy him a beard."[2]

Governor of EgyptEdit

Imam Ali had selected Qays ibn Sa'd to become the governor of Egypt.[1][4] Wilferd Madelung in his book The Succession to Muḥammad: A Study of The Early Caliphate discusses the appointing of Qays ibn Sa'd as the governor of Egypt by stating,

"It was an act of reparation towards the Ansar and must have been seen by the Quraish opposition in Mecca as confirmation of their fear that Ali intended to abolish their privileged status as the ruling class in Islam."[1]

Imam Ali chose Qays over Muhammad ibn Abu Hudhaifa, whom the Egyptian rebels looked as their leader and had control of al-Fustat.[1] Madelung states,

"He (Imam Ali) did not feel indebted to the Egyptian rebels, who had returned home, as he did to al-Ashtar and the Kufans, and wished to keep at a distance from them."[1]

He also rejected Amr ibn As, a supporter of Mu'awiyah, as a candidate even though Aisha demanded his restoration on the grounds of his popularity among the army of Egypt.[1] Madelung also states,

"Amr's leading role in the agitation against Uthman, based on motives of self-interest rather than Islamic principles, could hardly have appealed to Ali. Amr was a type of unscrupulous opportunist with whom Ali did not want to burden his reign."[1]

According to Sahl ibn Sa'd al-Sa'idi of the Khazraj tribe,

"Ali proposed to Qays ibn Sa'd that he choose a military guard in Median to accompany him, but Qays declined, stating that if he could enter Egypt only with a military escort he would rather never enter the country."[1]

Qays then left with only seven companions and was able to reach al-Fustat without any worries/troubles.[1] He also brought a letter from Imam Ali informing the Egyptian Muslims of his (Qays's) appointment and read it in the mosque.[1] The letter was written in Safar 36 AH (July 656 AD), roughly two months after Imam Ali's accession by Ubaydullah ibn Abi Rafi.[1] Imam Ali mentioned that Muhammad had first been succeeded by two persons, after whom a ruler (Uthman) had taken charge and introduced innovations such that the community protested and reproached him.[1] Madelung comments,

"There was no mention of Uthman's violent death and of the part played by the Egyptian rebels. Ali evidently did not wish to touch the divisive matter."[1]

After publicly addressing the letter, Qays then praised Imam Ali as the best man after Muhammad.[1] He also received the bay'ahs (pledges of allegiance) for Imam Ali from the Egyptian people.[1]

As the governor, Qays did not take any major steps against Uthman's partisans, who had seceded to the village of Kharbita near Alexandria after the revolt of Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfa.[1][4] Uthman's partisans held out against Qays ibn Sa’d under their leader Yazid ibn al-Harith al-Maudliji of Kinana.[1] They informed Qays that they wanted to see how matters developed.[1] Furthermore, they stated that they would not interfere with his tax collectors and would not take up arms against him.[1] Qays agreed to their request and did not try to force them to pledge allegiance (Uthman's partisans would later pledge allegiance to Mu'awiyah instead of Imam Ali).[1] Maslama ibn Mukhallad al-Sa’idi, a kinsman of Qays, called for retaliation for the blood of Uthman.[1] However, Qays assured Maslama that he did not wish to kill him under any circumstances.[1] As a result, Maslama committed himself not to oppose Qays as long as Qays was the governor of Egypt.[1] The agreement (with Uthman's partisans) allowed Qays to collect the tax throughout the land of Egypt.[1]

Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfa and the Egyptian rebels were not mentioned in the accounts of Sahl ibn Sa’d.[1]

According to al-Layth ibn Sa’d, an Egyptian, Muhammad ibn Hudhayfa left Egypt for Medina when Qays was appointed governor in order to join Imam Ali.[1] When news reached Mu’awiyah that Muhammad departed from Egypt and was on transit to Medina, he demanded his subjects capture Muhammad and bring him to Sham (Damascus).[1] After Muhammad was brought to Damascus, Mu’awiyah imprisoned him.[1] Muhammad managed to escape prison but was killed by Yemenis on Dhul Hijja 36 AH (May 657 AD).[1][1]

Military careerEdit

Shurta al-KhamisEdit

Qays ibn Sa'd was the commander of Shurta al-Khamis, a military unit that supported Imam Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt in Iraq.[5] Shurta al-Khamis was composed of forty thousand men who personally were loyal to Imam Ali.[5]

Battle of SiffeenEdit

In the Battle of Siffeen, Qays sided with Imam Ali against Mu'awiyah.[2] Qays joined Sahl ibn Hunayf, one of the governors of Imam Ali, as he was setting off to join Imam Ali at the Battle of Siffeen.[1] Qays was appointed as one of the commanders of Imam Ali's army; he commanded the foot soldiers of Basrah.[4] Qays was given a brigade of over 10,000 men.[4] On the sixth day of the Battle of Siffeen, Qays ibn Sa'd al-Ansari came forward with the army to fight against ibn Dhi'l-Kala and his contingent. Severe fighting ensued.[4] During the war, Qays would sit and mentally concoct plots that would make Mu'awiyah and his army the worst losers.[2] The more he thought about the plots, the more he realized that they were evil and dangerous.[2] Qays reminded himself of Allah's holy words:

"But the evil plot encompasses only him who makes it." (Sura Fatir 35:43)

As a result, Qays discarded the plots and sought forgiveness from Allah.[2]

After Imam Ali's martyrdomEdit

Sulaym ibn Qays states:

"Mu'awiyah came (to perform) the hajj during his Caliphate. That was after the killing of Imam Ali, and after the Peace Treaty with Imam Hasan. The Medinans (people of Medina) received him. Among them was Qays ibn Sa'd, who was the chief of the Ansar (helpers) and the son of their chief. So a talk took place between them (Qays ibn Sa'd and Mu'awiyah).[6]


Qays died in 59 AH (678-679 AD) in Medina.


Anas ibn Malik, a companion of Muhammad states,

"Qays ibn Sa'd ibn Ubadah was to the Prophet like a top officer to a commander."[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Madelung, Wilferd. The Succession to Muḥammad: A Study of The Early Caliphate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Print. ISBN 0521646960 pp. 152, 153, 190, 191, and 192
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Khalid, Muhammad Khali, and Khalid Muhammad Khalid. Men Around The Messenger. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 2005. Print. ISBN 9839154737 pp. 276–280
  3. ^ Daly, M. W., and Carl F. Petry, eds. The Cambridge History of Egypt. United Kingdom: Cambridge UP, 1998. Print. ISBN 0521471370 p. 68
  4. ^ a b c d e Ibn Abu Talib, Ali. Sermons from Imam Ali, Nahj al-Balagha. N.p.: Sohale Sizar, n.d. Print. pp. 67, 123, 124, and 181
  5. ^ a b Morony, Michael G. Iraq after the Muslim Conquest. Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias Press LLC, 2005. Print. ISBN 1593333153 p. 94
  6. ^ Aal-Yasin, Radi. Sulh Al-Hasan: The Peace Treaty of Al-Hasan. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan, 2000. Print. Ch. 21