Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad

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Silver dirham following Sassanid motives, struck in the name of Ubayd Allah

Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad (Arabic: عبيد الله بن زياد‎) was an early Muslim general and governor for the Umayyad Caliphate.


He was the son of Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan. After his father's death in 673, Ubayd became the Governor of Kufa and Basra and later Khurasan. He also minted coinage, which survives to this day. In 674 he would cross the Amu Darya and defeat the forces of the ruler of Bukhara what would become the first known invasion of the city by Muslim Arabs.[1]

In 680, Yazid ordered Ubayd Allah to keep order in Kufa as a reaction to grandson of Prophet, Husayn ibn Ali's popularity there. Ubayd Allah appointed his brother umar abi sa'ad as deputy and marched to Kufa. Ubayd Allah executed Hussain ibn Ali’s cousin Muslim ibn Aqeel and put out the right eye of Hussain ibn Ali’s supporter Al-Mukhtar. He was also one of the leaders of the army of Yazid 2 during the battle of Karbala. In this battle Yazidi force (5000+ troops) killed Husayn & his family & his followers (total 72 including 6 month child of Husayn) in Karbala.

Yazid left a vacuum in Iraq upon his death in 683. Ubayd Allah abdicated the governor's mansion in Basra and took up shelter with Mas'ud ibn Amr al-Azdi of the Yemenite tribe Azd - who then supported the Umayyads against the rebellion of Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. But Basra's new governor Abd Allah ibn al-Harith sided with Ibn al-Zubayr, and had Mas'ud killed the following spring; some traditions add that Ubayd Allah and Mas'ud had complained about Ibn al-Harith's corruption with a view to regaining for Ubayd Allah his command. Ubayd Allah fled the city for Syria - leaving his wife and family behind. (Madelung pp. 301–303)

While Ubayd Allah was in Syria, he persuaded Marwan ibn al-Hakam not to recognise Ibn al-Zubayr. Meanwhile the messianic campaigner al-Mukhtar wrested Kufa from Ibn al-Zubayr in 685. Capitalizing on the situation, Ubayd Allah sent an army against al-Mukhtar. According to contemporary historian John bar Penkaye, al-Mukhtar sent an army of 13,000 lightly armed freedmen on foot under the command of Ibrahim ibn al-Ashtar. At the river al-Khazir Ibrahim met with Ubayd Allah, whose army had 40,000 soldiers. In the ensuing battle, Ubayd Allah's army was annihilated, and Ubayd Allah himself with most of his lieutenants fell. (Brock pp. 65–6)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Arab Conquests in Central Asia By H. A. R. Gibb Published by READ BOOKS, 2007 ISBN 1-4067-5239-8, ISBN 978-1-4067-5239-7, pp. 17–19


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Governor of Khurasan
Succeeded by
Sa'id ibn Uthman