Zayd b. Arqam al-Anṣārī al-Khazrajī (Arabic: زَید بن أرقَم الأنصاري الخَزرَجي) was among the Sahaba of the Prophet (s), special companions of Imam ‘Ali (a) and one of the transmitters of the hadith al-Ghadir. After the Event of ‘Ashura’, he seriously objected the behavior of Ibn Ziyad towards the head of Imam al-Husayn (a).
His Lineage and Kunya
His lineage is mentioned as Zayd b. Arqam b. Zayd b. Qays b. Nu’man b. Malik al-Ansari al-Khazraji. About the kunya of Zayd, there are disagreements in different sources: Abu Sa’d, Abu Insiyya, Abu ‘Amr, Abu ‘Amir, Abu Sa’ida, Ibn ‘Adiyy, Abu ‘Imara, Abu Hamza, Abu Anis.
The Time of Prophet (s)
Zayd participated in 19 battles, in 17 of which he was accompanying the Prophet (s). The first battle he participated in was Muraysi’. He did not participate in Uhud and Badr due to his young age.
Zayd is the one who reported about the ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Ubayy’s hypocrite word to the Prophet (s). ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Ubayy denied his wrong word, insisted on lying of Zayd b. Arqam, swore and elders of the Helpers backed him and said that Zayd was a child and has made a mistake. Then, verses 7 and 8 of the Sura al-Munafiqun were revealed to the Prophet (s) and mentioned the wrong words of ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Ubayy.
The Time of the Three Caliphs
It is narrated from Fadl b. Shadhan that Zayd b. Arqam was among the first people who turned back to Imam ‘Ali (a). In the Event of Saqifa, in support of Imam ‘Ali (a), Zayd believed that if he (a) was chosen as the caliph after the Prophet (s), there would be no disagreement.
In the Government of Imam ‘Ali (a)
Zayd accompanied Imam ‘Ali (a) in the Battle of Siffin and was among his best companions. Some have said that when Imam ‘Ali (a) asked his companions to testify on what they have heard from the Prophet (s) regarding the hadith “Man kunt-u mawlah fa Ali-yyun mawlah” (“one for whom I am the master, ‘Ali is his master”), Zayd did not testify and Imam (a) asked God that Zayd becomes blind and he became so. Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin wrote that since this report has been given about al-Bara’ b. ‘Azib, it seems that reports about Zayd’s hiding testimony have mistaken him with al-Bara’, because many narrators have narrated the Hadith of Ghadir from Zayd. Moreover, Zayd was among those who regarded Imam ‘Ali (a) superior to others and was among his special companions.
Narrating Hadith al-Ghadir
Zayd was among narrators of Hadith al-Ghadir from the Prophet (s) and many narrators in authentic Sunni sources (including Ahmad b. Hanbal in his Musnad, al-Nasa’i in al-Sunan al-kubra and Khasa’is Amir al-mu’minin, al-Hakim al-Niyshapuri in Mustadrak) have narrated this hadith though different references from him.
His Reaction after the Event of ‘Ashura’
His Objection to Ibn Ziyad
Allama Majlisi wrote, “From Sa’id b. Mu’adh and ‘Amr b. Suhayl, it has been narrated that we were in the gathering of Ibn Ziyad and saw that ‘Ubayd Allah using a stick was hitting the eyes and lips of Imam al-Husayn (a) and was insulting him; Zayd b. Arqam was also sitting there and said, ‘O Ibn Ziyad, put away your stick, because I saw the Prophet (s) putting his lips on these lips and mouth, (and kissed them),’ Then, he cried loudly.
Here, Ibn Ziyad said, ‘O enemy of God! May God make your eyes tearful! If you were not a very old man who has lost his mind, I surly would order to behead you.'”
Reciting the Qur’an on Spear
Another report has been narrated from Zayd that, “when the head of Imam al-Husayn (a) was passed before me in Kufa while it was on spear, I was sitting in a room. When it arrived in front of me I heard him saying, “Do you suppose that the Companions of the Cave and the Inscription were among Our wonderful signs?” (18:9) so, it was stunned and called, ‘O son of the Prophet (s)! Swear by God! You head is more astonishing and more wonderful.'”
The year of his demise is disagreed among different sources. Ibn Sa’d in al-Tabaqat al-kubra, al-Hakim in Mustadrak, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in al-Isti’ab, and Ibn Athir in Usd al-ghaba have said that he passed away in Kufa in 68 AH/687-688. Some have considered his demise during the rule of Mukhtar in Kufa in 66 AH/685-686 or some regarded it in 65 AH/684-685.