TAWUS IBN KAYSAN (Arabic: طاووس بن كيسان) (died 723). he was named Tawus because of his fine reading of the Qur’an. Tawus means ‘peacock’:
He was one of the scholars of the Tabi‘in, one of the narrators of hadith, and a companion of, Ali Zayn al-Abidin, Ali Ibn al-Hussein. Ibn Hajar related that Tawus was a Persian who inhabited an area called al-Jund and that he was the master of Hamadan in Iran. Ibn Hayyan said about him: “He was among the worshipers of the people of the Yemen* and the masters of the leading members of the next generation.” He performed the hajj forty times and narrated some of the whispered prayers of Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin. Ibn Kaysan was also a student of Abdullah ibn Abbas. It was said that he was a great tabi’i who met over 50 companions. Tawus heard all the ahadeeth from the mouth of ibn Abbas (Radiyyallahu ‘anhumaa). Tawus himself was the main teacher of Umar ibn Abdul Aziz.
Hadith from him are recorded by Muhammad al-Bukhari (85 traditions), Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj (78 traditions), al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
Tawus Ibn Kaisan (like other Tabi’is) is often introduced as a Yemeni with no mentioning of his Persian origin. Persian presence in Yemen was well known even before the advent of Islam this is because Yemen was occupied and ruled by the Persian empire. The ruler of Yemen back then was Persian so were many of its soldiers and generals who settled in Yemen. Those Persians who settled in Yemen (and in many cases took Yemeni women as concubines or wifes) were known as ‘Abnaa’ Faris (the sons of Persia). The grandfathers of the likes of Tawus (and Ibn Wahb, and FAYRUZ al-Daylami and other than them) came to Yemen among those dispatched by Kisra (king of Persia) for aiding Yemen against Abyssinia (Ethiopia), where they settled down and multiplied by generation. Then they were known with the term ‘the sons’, i.e. sons of the Persians.
The great Sunni scholar Abu Saeed Abdul-Karim al-Sam’ani (Imam al-Dhahabi al-Turkamani said about him:
لإمام الحافظ الكبير الأوحد الثقة محدث خراسان –
The great hafidh [al-Sam’ani], the trustworthy MUHADDITH OF KHORASSAN/Persia) in his book ‘al-Ansaab’, 1/76 says:
قال السمعاني في الأنساب:1 /76 ، ما خلاصته: « كل من ولد باليمن من أبناء الفرس وليس بعربي يسمونهم الأبناء ، ومن جملتهم أبو يوسف محمد بن وهب اليماني الأبناوي ، ووهب بن منبه الأبناوي ، وأخوه همام بن منبه أبناوي أيضاً . وأبو عبد الرحمن طاووس بن كيسان الهمداني اليماني الأبناوي الخولاني ».
‘All those sons of PERSIA who were born in Yemen and were NOT of Arab origin are called ‘Al-Abnaa’ (the sons), and amongst them are [the following great Sunni scholars]:
“Abu Yusuf Mohammad Ibn Wahb al-Yamani al-Abnawi, Wahb Ibn Munabbih al-Abnawi and his brother Humam Ibn Munabbih al-Abnawi and Abu Abdurrahman TAWUS IBN KAISAN al-Hamadani al-Yamani al-Abnawi al-Khawlani …”
As you can see, although it is right to call the likes of Tawus a Yemeni (al-Yamani), yet unfortunately you will barely hear any scholar of student of knowledge of today mentioning his (and many of his likes) Persian origin. The impression giving in many lectures about this great Tabi’i is that he was an Arab Yemeni, although he was an ‘Ajami (non-Arab) Persian Yemeni. Of course Iran today being a majority Rafidi country and also the mostly briefly written articles about the origin of these great men might be one reason why many Muslims (even Persians themselves) are not aware that these great men, the likes of Tawus, were actually of Persian descent. A fact often shocking even to students of knowledge and some scholars as we have experienced.