Abu Mikhnaf was a Muslim historian active in Kufa, near Baghdad and author of the lost work Kitab Maqtal al-Hussain (History of the Battle of Karbala). His grandfather was a companion of ‘Ali and this close connection to the prophet's companion and his family background made it possible for this author to gather great amounts of information of the "inner circle". Abu Mikhnaf's principal work, the Kitab Maqtal al-Hussain, has reached us through the work of his student, Hisham ibn al-Kalbi (d. 204 ah). His work was considered reliable among later Shi'a and Sunni historians like Tabari.
As far as Abu Mikhnaf's reports are concerned, it can be said that his approach was anti-Umayyad and in favour of Imam al-Hussain, but whether he was actually a Shi’i is questionable. Certainly, he is hostile to both Ibn Ziyad and Yazid; both poke at the teeth in the head of the martyred Imam in his account.
Because of the nature of al-Tabaris annalistic approach to history, Abu Mikhnaf's beginning of the account is missing, as it does not belong to events of the year 60. Part of it may be preserved by al-Baladhuri by using the collective term qalu. When the Imam al-Hasan died, the Shi’i in Iraq wrote to the Imam al-Hussain to ask him to come to lead them. He wrote back reminding them of the agreement that his brother had made with Mu'awiya and promising to lead them. Mu`awiya heard that the people thought that the Imam al-Hussain would lead them after his death and wrote to him warning him against this. The Imam al-Hussain wrote back denouncing him. Thus, the scene is set for the confrontation on the death of Mu'awiya.
The variety of Abu Mikhnaf's stories and his statement about the majority of the reporters suggest that he was reporting from an existing literature.
- U. Sezkin, op. cit., pp. 116-22