Who was Ziyad ibn Abeeh?
Ziyad was the son of a loose woman named Sumayyah, who in slavery bore Ziyad to a Greek Retainer of the tribe Saqeef named Ubaid. This fact was not generally known, and Ziyad’s parentage was generally supposed to be uncertain, whence he was called “his father’s son” (Ibn Abeeh). When Mu’awiyah became a candidate for the Caliphate and required help, he endeavored to enroll among his adherents a number of the most sagacious of the Arabs.
Among these was Ziyad, whom he determined to adopt. He therefore obtained an affidavit from a wine-dealer of Taif named Abu Maryam Saluli, to the effect that Abu Sufyan had come to his tavern and demanded a prostitute, that Sumayyah had been brought by him to Abu Sufyan, and that she in consequence gave birth to Ziyad. The best historians disbelieve this story, which they suppose to have been the fabrication of Mu’awiyah got up with the intention of securing the services of Ziyad, an intention which was realized. Ziyad in consequence came to be called son of Abu Sufyan, after having been called son of Sumayyah or his father’s son. (History of Islamic Civilization: Umayyads and Abbasids - Jurji Zaydan).
Mu’awiyah appointed him as the governor of Iraq and Fars. Ziyad made a minute search of the Shi’ah of Imam Ali (a.s.) and having seized them, amputated their hands and feet, blinded them, hanged them on the branches of date-palm trees, exiled them and killed them so that eventually the distinguished Shi’ah of Iraq were eliminated. Thus he killed Rushayd Hajari, ‘Amr bin Humaq, Juwayrah bin Mushir Abdi etc. and instigated the murder of Hujr bin Adi. It has been related by prominent narrators (as quoted in this book) that one of the disgraces which befell Kufa was including Ziyad (the illegitimate) among the Bani Umayyah.
Similar was his son Ubaydullah (born to a prostitute Marjanah) who equated him with regard to despotism and bloodshed. He was the chief instigator of the mass slaughter of the Prophet (S)’s family at Karbala. Yazid, following the footsteps of his father Mu’awiyah made him the governor of Kufa and Basra and incited him to murder Imam Husayn (a.s.).