Al-Hirah (Arabic: الحيرةal-Ḥīrah, Syriac: ܚܝܪܬܐḤīrtā) was an ancient city in Mesopotamia located south of what is now Kufa in south-central Iraq.

al-Ḥīrah الحيرة
Ḥīrā ܚܝܪܬܐ
Al-Hirah is located in Iraq
Shown within Iraq
RegionNajaf Governorate
Coordinates31°53′0″N 44°27′0″E / 31.88333°N 44.45000°ECoordinates: 31°53′0″N 44°27′0″E / 31.88333°N 44.45000°E
Kamal-ud-din Bihzad 001
A Persian miniature from the 15th century describing the constructing of al-Khornaq Castle (Persian: خورنگاه‎, which means Mansion) in Hira, the capital city of the Lakhmids; miniature painting by Kamāl ud-Dīn Behzād


Middle Ages

Al-Hirah was a significant city in pre-Islamic Arab history. Al-Hirah (4th-7th centuries) served as the capital of the Lakhmids, an Arab vassal kingdom of the Sasanian Empire, whom it helped in containing the nomadic Arabs to the south. The Lakhmid rulers of al-Hirah were recognized by Shapur II (337-358), the tenth Sasanian emperor.

Ḥīrā was a Christian centre, being a diocese of the Church of the East between the fourth and eleventh centuries. A particular Mār 'Abdīšo' (Syriac: ܡܪܝ ܥܒܕܝܫܘܥ‎) was born in Maysan (Syriac: ܡܝܫܢMayšān) and moved to Ḥīrā after studying elsewhere under Mār 'Abdā. There he gained widespread respect as he built a monastery and lived a pious life. The Sasanian emperor Bahram V won the throne with support of al-Mundhir I ibn al-Nu'man, king of Ḥīrā, in 420. He was amazed and showed great respect as he encountered the saint near the village of Bēṯ 'Arbī on his way back from the imperial capital Seleucia-Ctesiphon (Syriac: ܣܠܝܩ ܩܬܝܣܦܘܢSalīq-Qṭēspōn).[1]

From c. 527, al-Hirah was opposed by the Ghassanids, a Byzantine-sponsored Arab state in Syria and Palestine. The two powers engaged in a long conflict of their own that functioned as a proxy war for the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires.

In 531, the Sasanians defeated the Byzantine general Belisarius at the Battle of Callinicum south of Edessa (now in southeastern Turkey), with the help of al-Hirah. In 602, Khosrow II deposed al-Nu'man III ibn al-Mundhir and annexed al-Hirah. The Muslim conquest of Persia occurred in the 7th century.

Spread of Islam

Following the Battle of Hira, the city was captured by army of the Rashidun Caliphate under the command of Khalid ibn al-Walid in May 633.

See also


  1. ^ Anthony Alcock (2014). The Chronicle of Seert.


External links

'Amr ibn Imru' al-Qays

'Amr ibn Imru' al-Qays (Arabic: عمرو بن امرؤ القيس‎) was the third Lakhmid king of al-Hirah, reigning in 328–363. A son of the famed Imru' al-Qays ibn 'Amr who had defected to the Roman Empire, he returned to Sassanid allegiance.

His mother was Mariya al-Barriyah, a sister of the Ghassanid king Tha'laba ibn 'Amr. 'Amr was very active in the wars of his Sassanid Persian overlords against the Romans, and was even nicknamed "warmonger" for the wars he engaged in. In 337 AD the Persian shah Shapur II harassed the Roman borders and commissioned the Arabs to attack and invade as well.

Abda of Hira

Abda of Hira (died 680) was a monk of the Assyrian Church of the East.

He was born at Al-Hirah, the son of Hanif. He became a monk under Mar Abda of Gamre. After having taught as a disciple by Mar Babai he later lived in a cave. One of his miracle deeds was to have treated with healing oil a wound of a hunter who had been injured by a lion.

He preached Christianity to the Zoroastrian Persians and was said to have worked many miracles before dying in his cave in 680.

Abu Ya'fur ibn Alqama

Abu Ya'fur ibn Alqama ibn Malik ibn Uday ibn Dhumayl ibn Thawr ibn Asis ibn Ruba ibn Namara ibn Lakhm was a Lakhmid general who governed al-Hirah for some years after the death of al-Nu'man II ibn al-Aswad in 503.

Abu Ya'fur was of the Dhumayl, a noble family of Lakhmid – but non-dynastic – origin. Very little is known about his life beyond the Nu'man appointed him as a military governor of al-Hira because he was occupied with the wars against the Byzantines, where he was killed near Circesium. It is unclear whether Abu Ya'fur actually ruled the Lakhmids for a while instead of Nu'man's son, al-Mundhir III, or whether Mundhir assumed control of the tribe immediately upon his father's death.

He appears in a letter by Philoxenus of Mabbug in which Philoxenus tells Abu Yaf'ar of the "heresy" of Nestorius. Abu Yaf'ur resumed attacks on Byzantine-controlled land.

Adi ibn Zayd

Adi ibn Zayd was a 6th-century Arab Christian poet from a family in al-Hirah. He was married to the granddaughter of Nu'man ibn Mundhir (580–595), and is said to have helped Nu'man accede to power as ruler of al-Hirah.


Al-A'sha (Arabic: اَلأَعْشَى) or Maymun Ibn Qays Al-a'sha (d.c. 570– 625) was an Arabic Jahiliyyah poet from Riyadh, Najd.

He traveled through Mesopotamia, Syria, Arabia and Ethiopia. He was nicknamed Al-A'sha which means "weak-sighted" or "night-blind" after he lost his sight. He continued to travel even after becoming blind, particularly along the western coast of the Arabian peninsula. It was then that he turned to the writing of panegyrics as a means of support. His style, reliant on sound effects and full-bodied foreign words, tends to be artificial.His love poems are devoted to the praise of Huraira, a black female slave. Even before the time of Mohammed he is said to have believed in the Resurrection and Last Judgment, and to have been a monotheist. These beliefs may have been due to his interactions with the bishop of Najrān and the 'Ibādites (Christians) of Al-Hirah. His poems were praised for their descriptions of the wild ass, for the praise of wine, for their skill in praise and satire, and for the varieties of metre employed.One of his qasidah or odes is sometimes included in the Mu'allaqat, an early Arabic poetry collection done by the critic Abu 'Ubaydah.

Al-Mundhir IV ibn al-Mundhir

Al-Mundhir IV ibn al-Mundhir (Arabic: المنذر بن المنذر‎) was the king of the Lakhmid Arabs in 574–580.

The son of the great al-Mundhir III ibn al-Nu'man (r. 502–554), he succeeded to the throne after his brothers 'Amr III ibn al-Mundhir (r. 554–569) and Qabus ibn al-Mundhir (r. 569–573). His succession was unpopular with the inhabitants of the capital, al-Hirah, because of his violent nature and his paganism. A Persian governor, Suhrab, was appointed and ruled Hirah for a year, until Zayd ibn Hammad persuaded the people to accept Mundhir as their king. The events of his reign are mostly obscure, except for the sack and razing of Hirah by the Ghassanids under al-Mundhir III ibn al-Harith in 575. He was succeeded by his son al-Nu'man III ibn al-Mundhir (r. 580–602), the last Lakhmid king of Hirah.

Two of his wives are known by name: the Jewish captive Salma bint al-Sa'igh, the mother of his heir Nu'man, and the Christian Mariya bint al-Harith ibn Djulhum. Mundhir is known to have had twelve or thirteen sons.

Al-Nu'man III ibn al-Mundhir

Al-Nu'mān III ibn al-Mundhir (Arabic: النعمان بن المنذر‎), also transcribed Na'aman, Nu'aman and Noman and often known by the name Abu Qabus (أبو قابوس), was the last Lakhmid king of Al-Hirah (582 – ca. 602 AD) and a Nestorian Christian Arab.

He was the son of al-Mundhir IV ibn al-Mundhir and Salma, the daughter of a Jewish goldsmith from Fadak. He succeeded his father in 580. In later histories, he is celebrated for his patronage of numerous poets. He was also the only Lakhmid ruler to convert to Nestorian Christianity.Al-Nuʻmān’s rule of al-Ḥīrah was heavily supported by the Sassanid

Emperor Khusraw or Kisrá; however Khusraw killed al-Nuʻmān after a conflict arose between


According to Arab accounts, he refused to assist Khosrau II during his flight from the usurper Bahram Chobin in 590, and his reign was supported by Khosrau. Nevertheless, discord arose between them. '

The reason for this conflict is unclear, but some historians believe that it occurred because al-Nuʻmān demanded complete Lakhmid independence. Other historians and akhbārs (anecdotal narratives found in literary compendiums) relate that the conflict occurred because al-Nuʻmān refused to marry his daughter, Hind, to Khusraw, after which, Khusraw attacked the kingdom of al-Ḥīrah and killed al-Nuʻmān after capturing him'. (The daughter, Hind bint al-Nuʻmān, was apparently then given protection by the poet Al-Ḥujayjah.) It seems that Al-Nuʻmān was imprisoned around 602 and killed that year or later. Some narratives have Khosrau having al-Numān crushed by elephants; however, according to a Syriac chronicle, Khosrau invited Nu'man to a feast where he was dishonored and trapped; another Syriac chronicle states that Khosrow captured Nu'man along with his sons, who then were poisoned. He was succeeded by Iyās ibn Qubayṣah.This was the spark that lead to the Battle of Dhi Qar in 609. His destiny after his arrival at Ctesiphon is largely disputed, even in near-contemporary sources; he was either immediately executed or imprisoned for a period of time and then executed, but in 609 he was certainly dead and Iyas his ex-friend was installed, marking the end of the dynasty, although Nu'man's son al-Mundhir tried reviving the kingdom during the Ridda wars and ruled the Bahrain region for a short period of eight months until he was captured.

Al-Nuʻmān ibn al-Mundhir 'was the most famous Lakhmid king because he was celebrated in pre-Islamic poetry and was a patron of the pre-Islamic poet al-Nābighah'.

Al-Nu'man I ibn Imru' al-Qays

Al-Nu'man I ibn Imru' al-Qays (Arabic: النعمان بن امرؤ القيس‎), surnamed al-A'war (الأعور, "the one-eyed") and al-Sa'ih (السائح, "the wanderer/ascetic"), was the king of the Lakhmid Arabs (reigned ca. 390–418).

Nu'man was the son of Imru' al-Qays II ibn 'Amr and followed his father on the throne. He is best known for his construction of two magnificent palaces, the Khawarnaq and Sadir, near his capital al-Hirah, which were accounted by contemporary Arab lore among the wonders of the world. The Khawarnaq was built as a resort for his overlord, the Sasanian Persian shah Yazdegerd I (r. 399–420) and his son Bahram V (r. 420–438), who spent his childhood years there.According to later Arab tradition, he renounced his throne and became an ascetic, after a reign of 29 years. He is also reputed to have visited the Christian hermit Symeon the Stylite between 413 and 420. He was succeeded by his son al-Mundhir I (r. 418–452), who played an important role by assisting Bahram V in claiming his throne after Yazdegerd's death and by his actions in the Roman–Sasanian War of 421–422.


Hind bint al-Nuʻmān (Arabic: هند بنت النعمان), also known as Al-Ḥurqah was a pre-Islamic poet. There is some historiographical debate, going back to the Middle Ages, over precisely what her names were, with corresponding debates over whether some of the bearers of these names were different people or not. An example of a poet-princes, she has been read as a key figure in pre-Islamic poetry.

Aws ibn Qallam

Aws ibn Qallam ibn Batina ibn Jumayhir al-Lihyani was the fourth king of al-Hirah, he reigned in 363–368, interrupting the succession of the city's Lakhmid rulers.

He was the scion of a noble Christian Arab family. One of his relatives built a church, and one of his descendants was Jabir ibn Sham'on, the bishop of al-Hira. Aws was the one who brought the family of Uday ibn Zayd to al-Hira. Aws was killed by the Lakhmid nobleman Juhjuban ibn Atik al-Lakhmi during the latter's revolt.

Azadeh (Shahnameh)

Āzādeh (Persian: آزاده‎) is a Roman girl in Shahnameh and other works in Persian literature. When Bahram-e Gur (Bahram V) was in al-Hirah, she was offered to him as a slave-girl. Azadeh was a harpist. Her story with Bahram is mentioned in other works such as Nezami Ganjavi's Bahramnameh (also known as Haft Paykar) and Tha'alibi's Ḡorar. She always accompanies Bahram in hunting. One day she expresses sympathy for the gazelles, instead of praising Bahram's hunting skills. The young and ignorant Bahram become angry of this and let his camel trample her. Tha'alibi mentions that Al-Mundhir I ibn al-Nu'man had the event painted in the palace of Khawarnaq. This story is also narrated by Nezami Ganjavi, but with a happy ending. In Nezami's version, her name is mentioned as Fetneh (فتنه). The hunting scene of Bahram and Azadeh was a popular subject in Persian miniature.

Battle of Firaz

The Battle of Firaz (Arabic: معركة الفراض‎) was the last battle of the Muslim Arab commander Khalid ibn al-Walid in Mesopotamia (Iraq) against the combined forces of the Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Empire.The result of the battle was a victory for Khalid and the first Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia.

Battle of Hira

The Battle of Hira (Arabic: معركة الحيرة‎) was fought between the Sassanians and the Rashidun Caliphate in 633. It was one of the early battles of the Muslim conquest of Persia.

Battle of Namaraq

Battle of Namaraq (Arabic: معركة النمارق‎) (634 CE) was a conflict between Muslims and the Sasanians that occurred in Namaraq, near modern-day Kufa (Iraq). During the Khilafat of Abu Bakr, Muslims under the command of Musana and Khalid bin Walid conquered Al-Hirah, a part of the Persian Empire. The Persians became furious and determined to recover Al-Hirah from the Muslims. Rostam Farrokhzād, a famous Sasanian general, sent some of his relatives from the Ispahbudhan family along with some Persian generals. Khalid bin Walid had already left for Syria so Musana had to fight alone. Umar sent Abu Ubaid with reinforcements. In the battle that followed the Persians were defeated.

Battle of Ullais

The Battle of Ullais (Arabic: معركة أليس‎) was fought between the forces of the Rashidun Caliphate and the Sassanid Persian Empire in the middle of May 633 AD in Iraq, and is sometimes referred to as the Battle of Blood River since, as a result of the battle, there were enormous amounts of Sassanian and Arab Christian casualties.

Before taking on the Persians Khalid ibn al-Walid wrote to Hormuz, the Persian governor of the frontier district of Dast Meisan, saying:

This was now the last of four consecutive battles that were fought between invading Muslims and the Persian army. After each battle the Persians and their allies regrouped and fought again. These battles resulted in the retreat of the Sassanid Persian army from Iraq and its capture by Muslims under the Rashidun Caliphate.

Harith ibn Hilliza Al-Yashkuri

Al-Ḥārith Ibn Ḥilliza Al-Yashkurī, Arabic الحارث بن حلزة اليشكري was a pre-Islamic Arabian poet of the tribe of Bakr, from the 5th century. He was the author of one of the seven famous pre-Islamic poems known as the Mu'allaqat. Little is known of the details of his life.The story of the mu'allaqa which Al-Harith composed is as follows. A dispute had arisen between the men of Taghlib and those of Bakr after a number of young Taghlib men had died in the desert. The men of Taghlib chose their prince, Amr ibn Kulthum, to plead their cause before 'Amr ibn Hind (d.569), the king of Al-Hirah in southern Iraq. Ibn Kulthum pleaded the Taghlib's cause by reciting the sixth of the mu'allaqāt. A quarrel then broke out between Ibn Kulthum and Al-Nu'man, the Bakr spokesman, as a result of which the king dismissed them both and asked Al-Harith to act as spokesman for the Bakr tribe instead of Al-Nu'man. Whereupon, Al-Harith recited the seventh mu'allaqa. It is said that Al-Harith was an old man by this time, and afflicted with leprosy, so that he was required to recite his poem from behind a curtain. He is said to have been of noble birth and a warrior.

Although the mu'allaqa is mostly a plea, interspersed with flattery of King 'Amr, it begins conventionally in the usual style of a qasida with a brief section of regret for a lost love and a description of a flight by camel. The metre is khafīf.

Of Al-Harith's other poems only a few fragments remain.


The Iraqi people (Arabic: العراقيون ʿIrāqiyyūn, Kurdish: گه‌لی عیراق Îraqîyan, Classical Syriac: ܥܡܐ ܥܝܪܩܝܐ‎ ʿIrāqāyā, Turkish: Iraklılar) are the citizens of the modern country of Iraq.Arabs have had a large presence in Mesopotamia since the Sasanian Empire (224–637). Arabic was spoken by the majority in the Kingdom of Araba in the first and second centuries, and by Arabs in al-Hirah from the third century. Arabs were common in Mesopotamia at the time of the Seleucid Empire (3rd century BC). The first Arab kingdom outside Arabia was established in Iraq's Al-Hirah in the third century. Arabic was a minority language in northern Iraq in the eighth century BC, from the eighth century following the Muslim conquest of Persia, it became the dominant language of Iraqi Muslims because Arabic was the language of the Quran and of the Abbasid Caliphate.Kurds who are Iraqi citizens live in the Zagros Mountains of northeast Iraq to the east of the upper Tigris. Arabic and Kurdish are Iraq's national languages.

Iyas ibn Qabisah al-Ta'i

Iyas ibn Qabisah al-Ta'i (Arabic: إياس بن قبيصة الطائي‎) was the Sasanian governor of al-Hirah from 602 to 617—he was the co-governor of the city alongside the Persian noble Nakhiragan. They succeeded the last Lakhmid ruler of al-Hirah, al-Nu'man III ibn al-Mundhir, after he was deposed by king Khosrow II (r. 590–628). Azadbeh succeeded them in 617.


The Lakhmids (Arabic: اللخميون‎) referred to in Arabic as Al-Manādhirah (Arabic: المناذرة) or Banu Lakhm (Arabic: بنو لخم‎) were an Arab kingdom of southern Iraq with al-Hirah as their capital, from about 300 to 602 AD. They were generally but intermittently the allies and clients of the Sassanian Empire, and participant in the Roman–Persian Wars.

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