Is Abu Lulu Buried in Kashan?

Fīrūz Abū Lulu was an Iranian captured in the expansion wars after the demise of the Prophet (p). He was enslaved by Mughīra b. Shu’ba and was allowed to live inside the city of Medina due to his work experience and skill set. This is despite the second caliph’s ban preventing freed slaves from residing in Medina. Fīrūz had gotten into a dispute with ‘Umar the second caliph over financial matters, and on the 23rd of Dhū al-Ḥijjah, assassinated ‘Umar.

When Iranian government authorities shut down the supposed shrine of Abū Lulu in Kashān in 2007, there was outrage amongst some Shī’a as they blamed this move to be a result of requests made by a large number of Ahl al-Sunnah scholars who wanted the shrine demolished. However, it behooves one to know whether this shrine even belongs to Abū Lulu in the first place or is it simply a grave of someone else which was misattributed to the killer of ‘Umar during the Safavid period.

The supposed shrine of Abū Lulu in Kashan before being closed (top), and after being closed (bottom).

Most historians believe Abū Lulu was from Nahāwand, who was captured by the Muslims in battle and became a slave of Mughīra. The only book that mentions him as being from the city of Kashan is Mujmal al-Tawārikh wa al-Qiṣaṣ, in which it gives the possibility of him being from a district of Hamadan called Abādjard, or from the district of Fīn in Kashān.1

This possibility is restricted to this single work written in 520 AH and its author is unknown. The district of Abādjard is not mentioned in any works of geography, so it is not clear what area the author was referring to. Kashān is only mentioned as another possibility. Nevertheless, this excerpt is unreliable and cannot be trusted, especially when no other historian affirms or entertains these possibilities. Those who believe Fīrūz was from Kashān have only this statement from an unknown author to rely upon.

As for what happened to Abū Lulu after he killed ‘Umar, historians agree that he died in Medina. How he died has been disputed, some mentioning he committed suicide after killing ‘Umar. They say, after stabbing ‘Umar, people chased him. Whoever would approach Fīrūz, he would attack them, and he killed and injured a few more individuals like this. Finally, a person was able to catch him. Since Abū Lulu knew he would be killed, he decided to stab himself.2

In some reports, it says he was killed by others. Ya’qūbī mentions he was killed by ‘Ubaydullah b. ‘Umar.3 Ṭabarī says he was killed by a man from Banī Tamīm.4 Balādhurī says he was killed by Kulayb b. Qays and that his head was detached by ‘Abdullah b. ‘Awf.5

In works found centuries later, a strange version of what occurred to Abū Lulu began to be spread in some Shī’ī circles. The earliest book which mentions him escaping Medina is Kāmil-e Bahāī, written by ‘Imād al-Dīn Ṭabarī, in the year 675 AH. He says, 13 men chased him and most of them were killed while chasing him. One of the men wanted to catch him and accidentally stabbed and killed himself.6 He then brings “another tradition regarding the murder of ‘Umar” which says Abū Lulu went to the house of Imam Ali (a). The Imam was sitting in his house, he got up and moved to another spot. When people came to seek Abū Lulu, the Imam swore that ever since he’s been sitting in this location, he hasn’t seen anyone.  That night he made Abū Lulu sit on a horse by the name of Duldul and sent him off to the city of Qom. Over there Abū Lulu ended up marrying a woman who gave birth to a child during that year. ‘Imād al-Dīn ends this report off by saying, “this report has no authenticity.”7

Despite the fact the author of the book himself says this story is not real and implies it is fabricated, later on, this version of events became popular. Though the report says Abū Lulu went to Qom, eventually even this place was changed to Kashān. The story had gained such popularity that Nuṣrat ‘Alawī, an 8th century hijrī poet, coined this couplet8 in the praise of the Ahl al-Bayt (a):

شهریاری‌ کو‌ امامت ز ایزد جبار داشت

خون و اندام و روان از احمد مختار داشت

آن علی‌ای کاسیابانی ز یثرب‌ دلدلش‌ برد

در یک شب به کاشان چون عدو را خوار داشت

That king whose Imāmat was from the Almighty

Who possessed the blood, body and soul of the chosen (prophet) Aḥmad

That ‘Alī whose Duldul took the wheat-grinder9 from Yathrab

To Kashān in one night, and debased the enemy

Another late report from the Qajar dynasty says:

“They say, because he had killed the second caliph, he had sought Haḍrat’s (i.e. Imām ‘Alī) permission to depart the city and go towards Iraq. Through the power of thaumaturgical teleportation (ṭayy al-arḍ), he was able to travel to Kashān in a short time, where he remained safe and became a resident. He lived a long life in worship of the Lord until he developed a connection with the sacred realm. He eventually left this world there as well.”10

The content of these reports themselves signifies that they are imaginary tales made up, most likely by exaggerators. For a killer of a caliph to simply disappear from the city and be secretly teleported to another city, and this not being reflected in any early work of history is an absurdity to say the least. That being the case, it can confidently be said that the grave attributed to Abū Lulu in Kashān today also has nothing to do with him. Historically speaking, this place was attributed to him after 8th-century hijrī. A few contextual indicators can be provided for this – as recorded in the work Kashān Dar Masīr-e Tashayyu’ by Muṣṭafa Ṣadiqī:

1. We do not have exact information about the history of this shrine. The Cultural Heritage Organization of Kashān (Idarah Mirath Farhangi) has placed a signboard on it, which says it dates back to the Ilkhanid-Safavid period and that it is the shrine of Bābā Shujā’ al-Dīn. There is nothing else that we know about the actual building of the shrine.

2. The writing on the gravestone does not mention the name of Abū Lulu or Fīrūz the killer of ‘Umar. The date written on the gravestone shows it is from the 8th-century hijri. This gravestone is not present in the shrine today, however, in books that discuss the shrines of Kashān, it says that on the gravestone after Sūrah Fātiḥa and Tawḥīd, the following is written:

هذا قبر عبدٍ من عباد الله الصالحين حشره الله مع مَن كان يتولّاه بتاريخ ٧٧٧

“This is the grave of a slave from the pious worshippers of Allah. May Allah (swt) gather him with those who he loved – year 777 hijri.”11

Based on this writing, it can be said that the grave belongs to one of the Shī’a and it began to be attributed to Abū Lulu. We also know through historical sources that at some point, people began gathering at this shrine to commemorate the 9th of Rabī’ al-Awwal, which falsely became to be known as the death anniversary of ‘Umar. It was probably around the same period that they began deeming the shrine to be of Abū Lulu’s.

Another possibility is that the grave belongs to one of the Sufis, because the title “Bābā” is generally given to personalities that belong to certain Sufi orders.

3. Kitāb al-Naqḍ of ‘Abd al-Jalīl Qazwīnī – written approximately in 560 AH, does not mention anything about Fīrūz, his escape to Kashan, or his shrine. This is important because Kitāb al-Naqḍ talks about the Sḥī’a of Kashān on numerous instances and it even speaks about Abū Lulu many times. However, it does not mention anything about Abū Lulu’s escape from Medina, nor does he mention a shrine or grave of Abū Lulu in Kashān. Things had changed so much over the next few centuries that by 10th-century hijrī we find the Sunnī scholar, Mīr Makhdūm Sharīfī in his Nawāqiḍ al-Rawāfiḍ, considering people’s attention towards this attributed shrine of Abū Lulu as one of the major signs of one’s tashayyu’.

4. It has been said, in the town of Turbat Ḥaidariyyah there is another grave attributed to Abū Lulu. I’tiṣām al-Mulk in 1255 SH went to visit this town and writes in his travelogue:

From there (the shrine of Qutub al-Dīn Ḥaider) I went to a small shrine where there was a small cemented grave. They said, it is the grave of Abū Lulu. I recited Fātiha.12

This is good evidence to suggest that in various locations, for celebrating certain personalities, symbolic buildings and graves were built and people would go visit them. Especially in some eras when ‘Id al-Zahrā had a lot of importance in some cities, these shrines could have been built for bringing together the community.

Due to the strong precedent of Shī’a in Kashān and because Abū Lulu has been mentioned in one report from an unknown author to be from the district of Fīn which is in Kashān, the shrine of Abu Lulu had been considered a significant location up until very recently.

This post was merely discussing whether Abū Lulu is buried in Kashān or not. We have hopefully shown that this shrine has nothing to do with Abū Lulu, and neither did Abū Lulu secretly teleport to Kashān after murdering the second caliph through the help of Imam ‘Alī (a). He was captured and killed in Medina soon after he committed the murder. Historical reports do not mention Imam ‘Alī (a) ever supporting this individual nor his murder. There is further discussion on whether Abū Lulu was a Zoroastrian or a Christian or simply a polytheist. While that question can be addressed elsewhere, those that take it as far as to say he was a Shī’ī and a follower of Imam ‘Alī (a) do a disservice not just to scholarship, but as well as the Imam (a) himself.


  1. Mujmal al-Tawārīkh wa al-Qiṣaṣ, pg. 280.
  2. This version has been mentioned in Ṭabaqāt al-Kubra, vol. 3, pg. 257, 263-265; Ansāb al-Ashrāf, vol. 10, pg. 414, 423, 425, 426; Murūj al-Dhahab, vol. 2, pg. 320; and other works.
  3. Tārīkh al-Ya’qūbī, vol. 2, pg. 160.
  4. Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī, vol. 4, pg. 240.
  5. Ansāb al-Ashrāf, vol. 10, pg. 425; vol. 11, pg. 99.
  6. Kāmil-e Bahāī, vol. 2, pg. 105
  7. Kāmil-e Bahāī, vol. 2, pg. 111.
  8. Majmū’eh Kammīneh, pg. 176
  9. Abū Lulu was known for grinding wheat and was good at making mills for grinding.
  10. Tārīkh-e Kashān, by ‘Abd al-Raḥim Kalāntar, pg. 438.
  11. Āthār Tārīkhī Shehr-hāye Kashān wa Naṭanz, pg. 186. Muḥammad Bāqir Marandī, the author of the book Nūr Bāhir, says he saw this gravestone in the year 1381 AH and mentions it in his book on page 14.
  12. Safarnāmeh Mīrzā Khānlarkhān I’tiṣam al-Mulk, pg. 135.

1 thought on “Is Abu Lulu Buried in Kashan?”

  1. Salam brother, thank you for your hard work, and sharing knowledge.
    I am a Hawza student myself, and recently visited this shrine. As you know it’s occupied by police, while the shrine is intact on one side. I am not sure to this point who does this shrine belong to? However, you able to draw the conclusion in the article, how?
    Contradicting history, and possibility of Imam’s Karama, shrinking of earth, and wisdom of Allah SWT, anything is possible. For me, i would leave it saying, we don’t know who does it belong to. Please write me back.

Comments are closed.