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Sulaym ibn Qays

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Sulaym ibn Qays

Sulaym ibn Qays
Arabic: سليم بن قيس
Birthplace Kufa
Ethnicity Arab
Known For Being a loyal companion of Imam Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt
Influences Muhammad, Ali, the Ahl al-Bayt, Salman the Persian, Miqdad and Abu Dharr al-Ghifari
Died 76 AH (695 AD)
Father Qays
Religion Islam
Denomination Shia
Influenced Aban ibn abi-Ayyash
Works The Book of Sulaym ibn Qays, narrater of Hadith, and History of Islam
Era Islamic golden age

Sulaym ibn Qays (Arabic: سليم بن قيس‎) was one of the purported companions of Ali. Sulaym was not only a companion of Ali but he was also a loyal companion of Hasan ibn Ali, Husain, Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-'Abidin, and Muhammad al-Baqir.[1][2] He has a well-known book known as The Book of Sulaym ibn Qays. Shia scholarship view Sulaym as "an anti-Umayyad" because of his love for the Ahl al-Bayt and "documentation" of the Event of Saqifah in his book.


  • Birth and Early Life 1
  • Moving to Medina 2
  • Sulaym's Final Days 3
  • Sulaym's Book 4
  • Sayings of Imam Ali 5
  • Sulaym's Legacy 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Birth and Early Life

Sulaym ibn Qays was born near the place where Kufa was built later.[3] The exact date of Sulaym's birth is not known, however scholars estimate that Sulaym was born between 7 to 9 Hijrah (somewhere during the early years after migration of the Holy Prophets to Medina and his demise).[2] His father was Qays. Hence ibn Qays, son of Qays.

Moving to Medina

It is documented that Sulaym moved to Medina during the caliphate of Umar. He is among the people who never met Muhammad. While in Medina, Sulaym became very attracted to Imam Ali. His attraction led him to become a partisan of Ali, along with Abu Dhar al-Ghifari, Salman al-Muhammadi, Miqdad ibn Aswad, and Ammar ibn Yasir.[3] Ibn Nadeem states that Sulaym ibn Qays al-Hilali was among the devout companions of Amir-ul-Momineen in his book about the scholars and hadith contributors.[2]

Sulaym's Final Days

In 694 AD, Sulaym ibn Qays fled to Persia with his writings because Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, a tyrannical governor who was killing the companions of Imam Ali, became the governor of Kufa.[3] The reason being is that Hajjaj wanted to arrest and kill Sulaym Ibn Qays.[2] In Persia, Sulaym stayed in Nobandegan.[3] There he found a fifteen-year-old boy, by the name of Aban ibn abi-Ayyash.[3] He became rather fond of him and started to educate him about the teaching of the Ahl al-Bayt.[3] Through Sulaym, Aban became a Shi'a.[3] Aban offered him shelter in recognition of him being a companion of Amir al-Momineen (Imam Ali).[2] When Sulaym ibn Qays was inspired about his death, he told Aban,

"O the son of my brother, I am about to leave this world, as Prophet has informed me so."[2]

Eventually, Sulaym entrusted all of his writings that he had compiled to Aban.[3] Aban had made a solemn oath not to talk of any of the writings during Sulaym’s lifetime and that after his death he would give the book only to trustworthy Shi'a of Ali.[2][3]

The year in which Sulaym died is debated. Some say it was in 70 AH (689 AD) or 76 AH (695 AD).[4][2] While, others say that it was between 80 to 90 AH (699-708 AD).[1]

Sulaym's Book

Sulaym documented many aspects pertaining to teachings and experiences with Imam Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt.[3][2] He collected information such as Imam Ali's sermon in the mosque of Kufa.[2][3][4] After the martyrdom of Imam Ali, Sulaym remained in Kufa during Mu'awiyah's era.[4] Sulaym kept compiling works and documenting the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt.

The book became known as The Book of Sulaym ibn Qays. It is a collection of traditions, teachings, and eye witness accounts of events that occurred in history.[1] The Book of Sulaym ibn Qays is the earliest/oldest book pertaining to the collection of hadith, which was composed in the first Islamic century after the death of Muhammad.[1] It is older than al-Kafi, Sahih al-Bukhari, and the other books on hadith.

In his book, Sulaym documents Prophetic traditions concerning Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi.[1] He documents that Muhammad had promised his followers about a man from the lineage of Imam Husain who would purify Islam by remove innovations (distortion of Quranic interpretation and Prophetic traditions "Hadiths").[1] Sulaym is also one of the first to document the political divide amongst Muslims after the death of Muhammad.[2] And how certain figures in Islam distorted Prophetic traditions in order to gain power.[2] One of the events Sulaym documents is the event of Saqifah in which Abu Bakr forcefully striped the rightful leadership of Imam Ali.[2] For instance, Sulaym documents that Salman al-Muhammadi, Miqdad ibn Aswad, Ammar ibn Yasir, Abdullah ibn Ja'far, Abu al-Haytham ibn Tayhan, Khuzaymah ibn Thabit, and Abu Ayyub stated that Muhammad at Ghadir Khumm said,

"O people, the legal power (al-Wilaya) is granted only to Ali ibn Abi Talib and the trustees from my progeny, the decedents of my brother Ali. He will be the first, and his two sons, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, will succeed him consecutively. They will not separate themselves from the Qur'an until they return to Allah."[1]

The events documented in his book have either been observed by his own eyes or have been directly heard from those who have directly heard from the Divine tongues of the Muhammad or Amir al-Momineen Imam Ali ibn abi Talib.[2] Most of Sulaym's work is attributed to Muhammad.[1]

Ibn al-Nadim states and later investigation shows his book is "the oldest surviving Shi`ite book" which is written in the first Islamic century.[2]

Sayings of Imam Ali

Sulaym recorded many teachings of Imam Ali such as the following:

"God intended us by his saying, in order that you may be witnesses over humankind, for the Apostle of God is over us and we are God's witnesses over his creatures and his proofs in his earth. We are those of whom God said, 'Thus have we made you a community of the middle path.'"[5]
"Inform me of the most excellent trait (afdal manqaba) [conferred] on you (Imam Ali) by the Messenger of God, peace and blessing be upon him. He (Ali) replied, 'his appointment of me [as his successor] on the day of Ghadir Khumm when he spoke to me of walaya by the command of God the exalted and by his saying, 'You are to me of the same station as Aaron was to Moses."[6]
"Umar, resembles the Samirl, who made the Calf (an idol) for the Children of Israel."[7]

Sulaym's Legacy

Sulaym is honored for his hard work, discipline, and support of the Ahl al-Bayt. So much so that even Ja'far al-Sadiq praise Sulaym. A report from al-Sadiq states:

"The ones from our Shiites and those that loves us, who does not have Kitab (Book of) Sulaym Bin Qays al-Hilali, then there is nothing with him from our matters, nor does he know anything from our reasons, and it is the Alphabet (Abjad) of the Shiites, and a secret from the secrets of the Progeny of Mohammed."[2]

Sulyam is also honored by many Muslims around the world for preserving the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Pagano, Jo Anne. Exiles and Communities: Teaching in The Patriarchal Wilderness. Ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Hamid Dabashi, and Seyyed Vali R. Nasr. Albany, New York: State University of New York, 1989. Print. ISBN 1438414269 Pg. 15 and 17
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Ibn Qays, Sulaym. The Book of Sulaym Ibn Qays al-Hilālī. Trans. Muḥammad Bāqir. Al-Anṣārī. Bayrūt: Dār Al-Ḥawrāʼ, 2005. Print. Pg. 7 and 8
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ibn Abi Talib, Ali. Nahjul Balagha: Path of Eloquence. Trans. Yasin Al-Jibouri. Vol. 3. Bloomington, Indiana: Authorhouse, 2013. Print. ISBN 1481747878 pg. 275 and 276
  4. ^ a b c Sulh al-Hasan
  5. ^ Ayoub, Mahmoud. The Qur'an and Its Interpreters. Vol. 1. Albany: State University of New York, 1984. Print. ISBN 0791495469 Pg. 172 and 173
  6. ^ Afsaruddin, Asma. Excellence and Precedence: Medieval Islamic Discourse on Legitimate Leadership. Leiden: Brill, 2002. Print. ISBN 9004120432 Pg. 219
  7. ^ Ritter, H., and G. Endress. Oriens. Ed. R. Sellheim. Vol. 36. Neitherlands: Koninklijke Brill, 2001. Print. ISBN 9004121358 Pg. 209

External links

  • If you want to read The Book of Sulyam ibn Qays al-Hillali (full book in English) here is the link:
  • Preface of The book of Sulaym by Ismael Ansari Zanjani (in Persian)
  • The book of Sulaym ibn Qays
  • Sources of Nahj al Balaghah
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