Qays ibn al-Haytham al-Sulami

Qays ibn al-Haytham al-Sulamī (Arabic: قيس بن الهيثم السلمي‎) (fl. 649 – c. 684) was an Arab commander and administrator in the service of the Rashidun, Umayyad and Zubayrid caliphates. Under the caliphs Uthman (r. 644–656) and Mu'awiya I (r. 661–680) he served at time as the sub-governor of Khurasan and the cities of Nishapur and Marw al-Rudh. He was from a prominent Arab family in Basra and was a leader among the tribal nobility of that city until his death after 684.

Qays ibn al-Haytham al-Sulami
Governor of Nishapur
In office
MonarchUthman (r. 644–656)
Deputy governor of Khurasan
In office
Succeeded byAbd Allah ibn Khazim al-Sulami
In office
MonarchMu'awiya I (r. 661–680)
Preceded by663
Succeeded byAbd Allah ibn Khazim al-Sulami
Deputy governor of Marw al-Rudh
In office
MonarchMu'awiya I
Personal details
DiedAfter 684
RelationsBanu Sulaym (tribe)


Qays ibn al-Haytham belonged to the Banu Sulaym tribe, a component of the Qays/Mudar faction.[1] He came from a prominent family in Basra,[2] part of the Mudar ashraf (Arab tribal nobility).[1] His full name is given as Qays ibn al-Haytham ibn Qays ibn al-Salt ibn Habib[2] or Qays ibn al-Haytham ibn Asma ibn al-Salt.[3] The 8th-century historian Sayf ibn Umar names Qays's brother Amr as a participant in the Muslim conquest of Iraq in 634, but this was deemed implausible by the historian Khalid Yahya Blankinship.[2] According to al-Baladhuri, an uncle of Qays, Asim ibn Qays ibn al-Salt, was appointed by Abu Musa al-Ash'ari governor of the town of Manadhir in the Ahwaz region after it was conquered from the Sasanians by Rabi ibn Ziyad al-Harithi around 638.[4]

Qays was appointed by Caliph Uthman (r. 644–656) over the Nishapur district of Khurasan in 649/50.[5] Before his assassination in 656, Uthman expanded Qays' governorship to the entire province of Khurasan.[5] Qays appointed his paternal cousin, Abd Allah ibn Khazim al-Sulami, as his deputy governor and left the province for Basra to assess the political situation in the wake of Uthman's death; however, Ibn Khazim, using a diploma he previously obtained from the governor of Basra, Abd Allah ibn Amir, declared himself governor and remained in the post until his dismissal by Caliph Ali (r. 656–661).[6] Qays was angered by his cousin's ruse and reportedly stated: "I had a better right than Abd Allah to be the son of [Abd Allah's mother] Ajla."[5] When Mu'awiya I acceded to the caliphate in 661, Qays was reappointed governor of Khurasan by the order of Ibn Amir or the caliph himself.[7] He remained in the post for two years.[7] He was again replaced by his cousin Abd Allah after failing to quell a revolt at Qarin and briefly imprisoned in Basra until his mother intervened on his behalf.[8] He was later made the deputy governor of Basra by Ibn Amir when the latter visited Mu'awiya's court in Syria in 664.[9]

After Ziyad ibn Abihi was appointed governor of Basra in 665, he appointed Qays as governor of Marw al-Rudh in Khurasan.[10] In 678/79, Ziyad's son Abd al-Rahman was made governor of Khurasan by Mu'awiya.[11] By then, Qays had become the leader of the Banu Sulaym faction of Basra, one of five tribal divisions of the city's garrison.[12] Abd al-Rahman appointed Qays his deputy and had him enter the province ahead of him. Afterward, Qays arrested the powerful tribal chief Aslam ibn Zur'a al-Kilabi.[11] During the reign of Caliph Yazid I (r. 680–683), in 680/81, the caliph's new appointee over Khurasan, Abd al-Rahman's brother Salm, dispatched his lieutenant al-Harith ibn Mu'awiya al-Harithi to settle matters for him in the province before his arrival. Al-Harith arrested and imprisoned Qays and put his son Shabib in shackles.[13] Qays later returned to Basra where he continued as a nobleman of the Sulaym and the wider Mudar confederation (which was opposed to the AzdRabi'a confederation).[14] Together with a Basran tribal noble from the Azd–Rabi'a faction, al-Nu'man ibn Suhban al-Rasibi, Qays was an arbitrator for selecting the successor of Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad as governor of Basra following Ubayd Allah's expulsion in the aftermath of Yazid's death in 683.[15]

Basra and most of the Caliphate recognized the Mecca-based, anti-Umayyad Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr as caliph. Qays was dispatched with the Basran security forces to stamp out an attempt by supporters of al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi, the pro-Alid ruler of Kufa, to gain control of Basra.[16] He died after 684.[2]


  1. ^ a b Hawting 1989, p. 6, note 25.
  2. ^ a b c d Blankinship 1993, p. 179, note 902.
  3. ^ Hawting 1989, p. 12.
  4. ^ Murgotten 1924, pp. 113–114.
  5. ^ a b c Humphreys 1990, pp. 36–37.
  6. ^ Humphreys 1990, pp. 36–37, 108–109.
  7. ^ a b Hawting 1989, p. 21.
  8. ^ Hawting 1996, pp. 68–69.
  9. ^ Hawting 1996, p. 73.
  10. ^ Hawting 1996, p. 85.
  11. ^ a b Hawting 1996, p. 200.
  12. ^ Howard 1990, p. 32, note 148.
  13. ^ Howard 1990, p. 185, note 600.
  14. ^ Hawting 1989, p. 6.
  15. ^ Hawting 1989, pp. 20–23.
  16. ^ Fishbein 1990, pp. 45–48.