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Khawli b. Yazid al-Asbahi

Khawli b. Yazid al-Asbahi
Murderer of Ja'far and 'Uthman b. Ali
Full Name Khawli b. Yazid al-Asbahi
Lineage Himyar
Death 66/685
Cause of Death He was killed by Mukhtar's companions
Era Yazid b. Mu'awiyya, Umayyad dynasty
Known for Killing Ja'far b. 'Ali and 'Uthman b. Ali

Khawlī b. Yazīd al-Aṣbaḥī al-Iyādī al-Dārimī (Arabic: خولي بن يزيد الاصبحي الايادي الدارمي) was in the army of 'Umar b. Sa'd in the Event of Karbala who participated in the killing and martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a), 'Uthman b. Ali (a) and Ja'far b. Ali (a). By the order of 'Umar b. Sa'd, after the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a), Khawli and Humayd b. Muslim al-Azdi took the head of Imam (a) to Ibn Ziyad. But, because they arrived there at night and the palace was closed, Khawli took the head to his house which made his wife seriously admonish him. This event is narrated in the mourning ceremonies of Shi'a as "Elegy of the Oven of Khawli". In some sources, beheading Imam al-Husayn (a) is attributed to Khawli. He was killed in the uprising of Mukhtar in 66/685.



There is no report in history books about his birth. He was not a famous nor an important person, thus his lineage is unknown. His father was Yazid al-Asbahi, who is said to be from the tribe of Himyar. He was present in Karbala and was counted as one of the killers of Imam al-Husayn (a). Al-Nawar bt. Malik or 'Ayuf was Khawli's wife. When Khawli took the head of Imam (a) to his house, his wife admonished him. She also later told the companions of Mukhtar about the hiding place of Khawli. Al-Tabari mentioned that al-Nawar bt. Malik was from Bani Asad tribe. He also mentioned that Khawli had another wife from Hadramis.

Day of 'Ashura'

It is said that he was one of the killers of Ja'far b. 'Ali and 'Uthman b. Ali. Khawli shot 'Uthman by an arrow and a man from Banu Darim killed him. In Ziyarah al-Shuhada', Khawli is cursed as the person who shot arrows toward 'Uthman b. Ali.

After that Imam al-Husayn (a) had received many injuries and felt exhausted, Khawli, encouraged by Shimr or Sinan, intended to decapitate Imam al-Husayn (a); but he started shivering in a way that he could not do that. Sinan reproached him and cut Imam al-Husayn's pure head by himself. However, in some reports, it is said that Khawli was the one who decapitated Imam al-Husayn (a). Regardless to the details, he was counted in most of the reports as one of the killers of Imam al-Husayn (a).

After 'Ashura'

'Umar b. Sa'd gave Imam al-Husayn's pure head to Khawli so that he took it to Kufa to 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad and give him the news of the victory of Kufa army. Khawli arrived in Kufa at night so took the head of imam (a) to his house and put it under a basin and told his wife,

"I have brought you something that will make us needless forever. This is the head of al-Husayn (a) which is in your house."

His wife said: "Woe be to you! Others have brought gold and silver and you have brought the head of the son of the Prophet (s)! By God I swear that my head and yours would never gather in one house."

It is famously said among people that Khawli hid the head of Imam (a) in the oven of his house. Mourning for this event is recited in the second and third ten-days of Muharram and is known as "Elegy of the Oven of Khawli".


After that Mukhtar took control of Kufa, he sent Abu 'Umra to track down the killers of Imam al-Husayn (a) including Khawli. When Khawli knew that Mukhtar's companions are at his door, he hid in the cesspit. They asked his wife about him and she, who was displeased with him and had rebuked him for bringing the head of Imam al-Husayn (a) to her house, pointed to his hideout. Mukhtar's companions brought him out and took him to Mukhtar. Mukhtar ordered them to kill him near his house and then burn his body.