Salman the Persian

Salman the Persian (Arabic: سَلْمَان ٱلْفَارِسِيّ, romanizedSalmān al-Fārsī; born Rozbeh; Persian: روزبه)[1] was a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the first Persian who accepted Islam. He was in the service of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the Rashidun caliph Umar (r. 634–644). Salman participated in the early Muslim conquests of Sasanian Persia, and later, he served as the governor of Ctesiphon, from 637 until his death in 656.

Salman the Persian
سَلْمَان ٱلْفَارِسِيّ
Islamic calligraphy of Salman
Birth nameRozbeh
Other name(s)Abu al-Kitabayn ('Father of the Books')
Salman ibn al-Islam ('Salman, son of Islam')
Isfahan, Persia
Died656 (aged 91–92)
Al-Mada'in, Isfahan or Jerusalem
Possible burial place
AllegianceRashidun Caliphate
Years of service624–653
Spouse(s)Bukayra al-Kindi

Raised as a Zoroastrian, he converted to Christianity, and later on, became a Muslim, after meeting Muhammad. He became the personal barber of the Islamic prophet and also participated in numerous battles under the latter and is most prominently known for his role in the Battle of the Trench in 627. After Muhammad's demise, Salman played no major political role during Abu Bakr's caliphate. During Umar's reign, Salman served as the caliph's deputy, and later rose to the position as the governor of Ctesiphon, now known as Salman Pak ('Salman Pure'). Salman died in 656 in Al-Mada'in.

Salman is generally viewed as an accomplished governor by historians. The Sunni Islamic tradition honors him as a great just governor and paragon of Islamic virtues. The Shia Islamic tradition honors Salman as the greatest of the Four Companions, who remained loyal to the fourth caliph Ali (r. 656–661).[2] The Iranian Shia Muslims view Salman as a national hero, and several shrines are attributed to him.

Origins and early lifeEdit

Salman's given name was Rūzbeh Khoshnudan and he was born either in Kazerun or Isfahan.[3][4][5] In a hadith, Salman also traced his ancestry to Ramhormoz.[6][7][8] The first sixteen years of his life were devoted to studying to become a Zoroastrian magus or priest after which he became the guardian of a fire temple, which was a well-respected job. Three years later in 587 he met a Nestorian Christian group and was impressed by them. Against the wishes of his father, he left his family to join them.

Conversion to IslamEdit

He traveled around the Middle East to discuss his ideas with priests, theologians and scholars in his quest for the truth. During his stay in Syria, he heard of Muhammad.[4] According to the 9th-century historian Ibn Hisham, Salman met a religious person in Syria, who was healing sick people.[9] While Salman was travelling towards Arabia, he was captured by a Jewish person, and became a slave. After Salman arrived in Medina, he met Muhammad and recognized the signs that his Christian monk had described to him, and converted to Islam. Muhammad, with the help of his close advisor Abu Bakr, secured Salman's freedom and released him from his master.[10][3][4]

Abu Hurairah is said to have referred to Salman as "Abu al-Kitabayn" ("the father of the two books"; that is, the Bible and the Quran) and Ali is said to have referred to him as "Luqman al-Hakeem" ("Luqman the wise," a reference to a wise man mentioned in the Quran).[11] When ever people inquired about his ancestry, Salman is said to have replied: "I am Salman, the son of Islam from the child of Adam."[12] In Medina, the Islamic prophet paired each immigrant (Muhājir) with one of the residents of the city (Anṣārī). There was a dispute between the Muhajireen and the Ansar as whether Salman was a Muhajir or Ansar, with each side claiming Salman. Muhammad heard the arguments and ended the conversation, by declaring Salman as a member of his household (Ahl al-Bayt).[3] Nevertheless, Salman was made the 'brother' of either Abu Darda or Hudhayfa ibn al-Yaman.[13]

Military careerEdit

Battle of the TrenchEdit

Mosque Salman al-Farsi, battle of trench, Medina

In December 626, the Qurayshi polytheistic armies led by Abu Sufyan planned to attack Medina. Salman, who had great knowledge of Sasanian Persian military tactics, suggested digging a great trench around the city of Medina to defend the city against the army of 10,000 polytheists. Prophet Muhammad and his companions accepted Salman's plan because it was safer and there would be a better chance that the non-Muslim army would have a larger number of casualties.[3][4][5]

In the Battle of Taif, Salman suggested to use a catapult, which was accepted by the Islamic prophet.[14]

Governor of CtesiphonEdit

During Umar's caliphate, Salman served as his deputy in Al-Mada'in.[15] Later on, he participated in the conquest of the Sasanian Empire, and following the Rashidun victory, Salman was appointed as the first Muslim governor of Sasanian capital Ctesiphon.[5]

Governor of CtesiphonEdit

During Umar's caliphate, Salman served as his deputy in Al-Mada'in.[15] Later on, he participated several battles of the Muslim conquest of Persia. In the Battle of Istakhr, Salman suggested to dig a trench in the path of the Sasanian forces, to prevent them from reaching the Muslim forces. This strategy worked greatly and the Muslims won the battle.[16] Following the Rashidun conquest of Ctesiphon, Salman was appointed as the first Muslim governor of Sasanian capital Ctesiphon.[17] Later on, some sources report that, in 656, when Ali became caliph, he appointed Salman as the governor of Al-Mada'in at the age of 88.


When exactly Salman al-Farsi died is unknown, however it was probably during Uthman ibn Affan's reign or the second year of Ali's reign. One source states that he died in 32 AH/652 or 653 AD in the Julian calendar,[18][19] while another source says he died during Uthman's era in 35 AH/655 or 656 AD.[19] Other sources state that he died during Ali's reign.[11] His tomb is located in Salman Al-Farsi Mosque in Al-Mada'in,[20] or according to some others in Isfahan, Jerusalem and elsewhere.[3]


The Quran translated into Persian

Salman is highly respected among Muslims, and he is honorifically called Abu al-Kitabayn ('Father of the Books'), referring to his knowledge of Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Zoroastrian books. In Islamic accounts, this title is first used by Abu Hurayra. Ali is said to have referred to Salman as Luqman al-Hakim, a reference to a wise man in the Quran.[11][better source needed] Salman is credited with translating the Quran into Persian, thus becoming the first person to interpret and translate the Quran into a foreign language.[21] Salman is said to have written the following poem on his enshrouding cotton:

Salman's tomb inside the Salman al-Farsi Mosque, Ctesiphon
I am heading toward the Munificent, lacking a sound heart and an appropriate provision,
While taking a provision (with you) is the most dreadful deed, if you are going to the Munificent[22][23]

Among Shia Muslims, Salman is viewed as a staunch and loyal supporter of Ali, who is revered by them as the First Imam. The Shias also consider Salman as amongst the Four Pillars (Arkān al-Arba'), along with Ammar ibn Yasir, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari and Miqdad ibn Amr, who remained loyal to Ali.[24] Sunni Muslims similarly hold Salman in high esteem for him being a companion of Muhammad (Ṣaḥābī). Muhammad himself is reported to have considered Salman as a part of his household (Ahl al-Bayt).[16] Salman being the personal barber of Muhammad, also inspired plates of Turkish barber shops with the verse 'Every Morning Our Shops Opens With Basmala, Salman Pak Is Our Pir And Our Master'.[25]

Salman is also prominent figure in Sufi orders, such as Bektashism, Qadiriyya and Naqshbandi, have Salman in their isnad of their brotherhood.[5] In the Oveyssi, Shahmaghsoudi and Naqshbandi orders, Salman is the third person in the chain connecting devotees with Muhammad.[5]

Apart from Muslims, the Druze tradition honors Salman as a prophet and as a reincarnation of the monotheistic idea.[26][27][28] In the Baháʼí Faith, Bahá'u'lláh honors Salman for having been told about the coming of Muhammad. The Kitáb-i-Íqán mostly refers to Salman by his Persian birth name Ruzbih.[29] Among Zoroastrians, Salman is viewed as a traitor, who left his religion and sold his country to the Muslims.[30]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mohamad Jebara, Muhammad, the World-Changer: An Intimate Portrait, St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2021, p. 331.
  2. ^ Adamec, Ludwig W. (2009). Historical Dictionary of Islam. Lanham, Maryland • Toronto • Plymouth, UK: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 276–277.
  3. ^ a b c d e Jestice, Phyllis G. (2004). Holy People of the World: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 761. ISBN 978-1576073551. Archived from the original on 2018-01-23. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  4. ^ a b c d Houtsma & Wensinck (1993). First Encyclopaedia of Islam: 1913-1936. Brill Academic Pub. p. 116. ISBN 978-9004097964.
  5. ^ a b c d e Zakeri, Mohsen (1993). Sasanid Soldiers in Early Muslim Society: The Origins of 'Ayyārān and Futuwwa. Jremany. p. 306. ISBN 9783447036528. Archived from the original on 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  6. ^ Milad Milani (2014). Sufism in the Secret History of Persia. Routledge. p. 180. ISBN 9781317544593. In one particular hadith, Salman mentions he is from Ramhormoz, though this is a reference to his ancestry as his father was transferred from Ramhormoz to Esfahan, residing in Jey (just outside the military camp), which was designed to accommodate the domestic requirements of military personnel.
  7. ^ Sameh Strauch (Translator) (2006). Mukhtaṣar Sīrat Al-Rasūl. Darussalam. p. 94. ISBN 9789960980324. {{cite book}}: |author1= has generic name (help)
  8. ^ Sahih Bukhari, Book 5, Volume 58, Hadith 283 (Merits of the Helpers in Madinah [Ansaar]). Archived from the original on 2017-04-25. Retrieved 2016-01-05. Narrated Salman: I am from Ram-Hurmuz (i.e. a Persian town).
  9. ^ Savant 2013, p. 65.
  10. ^ Kambin 2011.
  11. ^ a b c "سلمان الفارسي - الصحابة - موسوعة الاسرة المسلمة". Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  12. ^ Hijazi, Abu Tariq (27 Sep 2013). "Salman Al-Farsi — the son of Islam". Arab News. Archived from the original on 7 Dec 2021.
  13. ^ Savant 2013, p. 67.
  14. ^ Tirmizi 2007, p. 203.
  15. ^ a b Sabiq 1986, p. 8.
  16. ^ a b Kambin 2011, p. 24.
  17. ^ Zakeri, Mohsen (1993). Sasanid Soldiers in Early Muslim Society: The Origins of 'Ayyārān and Futuwwa. Jremany. p. 306. ISBN 9783447036528. Archived from the original on 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  18. ^ "موقع قصة الإسلام - إشراف د/ راغب السرجاني". Archived from the original on 2012-12-30. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  19. ^ a b John Walker. "Calendar Converter". Archived from the original on 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2014-06-01.
  20. ^ "Rockets hit Shia tomb in Iraq". Al Jazeera. 27 February 2006. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  21. ^ An-Nawawi, Al-Majmu', (Cairo, Matbacat at-'Tadamun n.d.), 380.
  22. ^ Nūrī, Nafas al-raḥmān fī faḍāʾil Salmān, p. 139.
  23. ^ "Salman al-Farsi", Wikishia, 4/12/2018, Archived 2019-02-07 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Friedman 2010, p. 142.
  25. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (November 30, 1985). And Muhammad Is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety. North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press. p. 267. ISBN 0807841285.
  26. ^ C. Brockman, Norbert (2011). Encyclopedia of Sacred Places, 2nd Edition [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 259. ISBN 9781598846553.
  27. ^ D Nisan, Mordechai (2015). Minorities in the Middle East: A History of Struggle and Self-Expression, 2d ed. McFarland. p. 94. ISBN 9780786451333.
  28. ^ Dana, Léo-Paul (2010). Entrepreneurship and Religion. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 314. ISBN 9781849806329.
  29. ^ Naghdy 2012, p. 153.
  30. ^ Hann 2015, p. 162.


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