Battle of the Camel

The Battle of the Camel, sometimes called the Battle of Jamal or the Battle of Bassorah, took place at Basra, Iraq on 7 November 656 (13 Jumada Al-Awwal 36 AH). The battle was fought between Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was the cousin and son-in-law of the deceased Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, considered the fourth Rashidun Caliph of the Sunnis and the first Imam of the Shias, and A'isha (the wife of Muhammad), Talhah and Zubayr who led the war against Ali claiming that they want to take revenge on the killers of the third caliph Uthman who was recently killed as a result of rebellion. Marking the second chapter of the First Fitna, the fateful battle ended with victory of Ali and defeat of Ayesha who later apologized for her wrongdoing and was pardoned by Ali.

Battle of the Camel
Part of the First Fitna
Ali and Aisha at the Battle of the Camel

Ali and Aisha at the Battle of the Camel
Date7 November 656 (13 Jumada Al-Awwal 36 AH)
Result Rashidun Caliphate victory

Rashidun Caliphate

Aisha's forces and Banu Umayya

Commanders and leaders
Ali ibn Abi Talib
Hasan ibn Ali
Hussein ibn Ali
Malik al-Ashtar
Ammar ibn Yasir
Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr
Abdul-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr
Muslim ibn Aqeel
Harith ibn Rab'i
Jabir ibn Abd-Allah
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari
Abu Qatada bin Rabyee
Qays ibn Sa'd
Qathm bin Abbas
Abd Allah ibn Abbas
Khuzaima ibn Thabit
Muhammad ibn Talha 
Zubayr ibn al-Awam 
Kaab ibn Sur 
Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr
Marwan I (POW)
Waleed ibn Uqba (POW)
~20,000[6] ~30,000[6]
Casualties and losses





Before the conflict

Rashidun Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib - علي بن أبي طالب
The Rashidun Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib forgave his opponents after the Battle of the Camel.

After the murder of Uthman, people in Medina paid allegiance to Ali as the new Muslim caliph. But after allegiance Talhah and Zubair asked Ali for permission to make pilgrimage to Mecca. He granted it and they departed. The Medina people wanted to know Ali’s point of view about war against Muslims, by asking his view about Muawiyah I and his refusal to give Ali his allegiance. So they sent Ziyad Bin Hanzalah of Tamim who was set on getting the caliphate of Ali because Uthman had died and they wanted to "get to killers of Uthman". However, they went to Basra, and not Medina where the crime happened.

He went back and told the people in Medina that Ali wanted to confront Muawiyah. In Medina, Marwan manipulated people. In Iraq many people hated the Syrians following the Byzantine-Sassanid Wars.

Aisha (Aisha bint Abu Bakr) (Muhammad's widow), Talhah (Talha ibn Ubayd-Allah) and Zubayr ibn al-Awam (Abu ‘Abd Allah Zubayr ibn al-Awwam) set off from Makah on their way to Iraq to ask Ali to arrest Uthman ibn Affan's killers, not to fight Muawiyah.[10][11]

Preparation for battle

While passing Medina, on their way to Iraq, Aisha, Talha and Zubair passed a group of Umayyads leaving Medina, led by Marwan, who said that the people who had killed Uthman, had also been causing them trouble.[12] Everyone then went to Basra, which was the beginning of the first civil war in Islam. Some historians put the number at around 3000 people.[13]

Zubair and Talha then went out to meet Ali. Not all Basra was with them. Bani Bakr, the tribe once led by the second Caliph, joined the army of Ali. Bani Temim decided to remain neutral.[14]

Before the battle started, Ali reminded Talha of the sermon of Prophet Muhammad at the event of Ghadir Khumm. Ali said to Talha, "I adjure you by Allah! Didn’t you hear the Messenger of Allah (S) when he said: 'Whoever I am his MAWLA, this Ali is his MAWLA. O God, love whoever loves him, and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him'?" Talha responded "Yes" to Ali, after which Ali asked him, "Then why do you want to fight me?" This conversation is recorded by both Shia and Sunni sources.[15][16][17][18][19]


Some chieftains of the Kufa tribes contacted their tribes living in Basra.[12] A chieftain contacted Ali to settle the matter.[12] Ali did not want to fight and agreed to negotiate.[12] He then contacted Aisha and spoke to her,[12] "It is not wise to shed the blood of five thousand for the punishment of five hundred."[12] She agreed to settle the matter.[12] Ali then met Talha and Zubair and told them about the prophecy of Muhammad. Ali's cousin Zubair said to him, "What a tragedy that the Muslims who had acquired the strength of a rock are going to be smashed by colliding with one another."[12] Talha and Zubair did not want to fight and left the field. Everyone was happy except the people who had killed Uthman and the supporters of the Qurra, who later became the Khawarij.[12] They thought that if a settlement was reached, they would not be safe.[12] The Qurra launched a night attack and started burning the tents.[12] Ali tried to restrain his men but no one was listening. Everyone thought that the other party had committed breach of trust. Confusion prevailed throughout the night.[12] The Qurra attacked the Umayyads and the fighting started.

Talhah had left. On seeing this, Marwan (who was manipulating everyone) shot Talhah with a poisoned arrow[12] saying that he had disgraced his tribe by leaving the field.[12] According to some Shia accounts Marwan ibn al-Hakam shot Talha,[20] who became disabled in the leg by the shot and was carried into Basra, where he died later of his wound.[21][22][23] According to Shia sources Marwan said,

By God, now I will not have to search for the man who murdered Uthman.[24]

In the Sunni sources it says that he said that Talha had disgraced his tribe by leaving the field.[12]

With the two generals Zubair and Talhah gone, confusion prevailed as the Qurra and the Umayyads fought.[12][25]

Qadi Kaab ibn Sur of Basra held the Quran on his head and then advised Aysha to mount her camel to tell people to stop fighting, until he was killed by arrows shot by the forces of Ali.[12] As the battle raged Ali's forces targeted their arrows to pierce the howdah of Aisha. The rebels led by Aisha then gathered around her and about a dozen of her warriors were beheaded while holding the reins of her camel. However the warriors of Ali faced much casualties during their attempts to reach Aisha as dying corpses lay piled in heaps. The battle only came to an end when Ali's troops as commanded attacked the camel from the rear and cut off the legs of the beast. Aisha fled from the arrow-pierced howdah and was captured by the forces of Ali.[26]

Ali's cousin Zubair was by then making his way to Medina; he was killed in an adjoining valley.

Aisha's brother Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, who was Ali's commander, approached Aisha, who was age 45. There was reconciliation between them and Ali pardoned her. He then sent Aisha to Medina under military escort headed by her brother Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, one of Ali's commanders. She subsequently retired to Medina with no more interference with the affairs of state.[12][27] Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was the son of Abu Bakr, the adopted son of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, and the great-grandfather of Ja‘far al-Sadiq. Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was raised by Ali alongside Hasan and Husein. Hassan also accompanied Aisha part of the way back to Medina. Aisha started teaching in Medina and deeply resented Marwan.[28][29]

Sunni View of the Battle

According to Sunnis, the rebels who had been involved in the killing of Uthman, the third Caliph, were responsible for igniting the fight. These rebels had gained much power after the killing of Uthman. It was difficult for Ali, the fourth Caliph, to instantly punish them for their role in the killing of Uthman, and this was the main reason which led to the difference of opinion between the two groups of Muslims. Some Muslims were of the opinion that they should be punished immediately, while Ali required time to punish them. He himself says in Nahjul Balagha:

"O my brothers! I am not ignorant of what you know, but how do I have the power for it while those who assaulted him are in the height of their power. They have superiority over us, not we over them." [30]

This led to difference of opinion, and a group started campaigning to pressurize Ali to punish the rebels. But when both groups confronted each other at the place of Basrah, they started negotiating. When the rebels saw that the negotiations may lead to their punishment, they attacked both the armies and disrupted the peace process. According to Sunnis, Ali was the rightly guided Caliph, and hence his decision must have been obeyed. Moreover, the hadith of Hawaab also proves that Ali's opponents were wrong in their stance. But since they also were sincere in their intentions to bring the killers of Uthman to justice, hence they must not be condemned for the violence. Both Ali and Aisha resented the outcome of the battle. Ali said after the battle, "I wish I had died two decades before this incident." [31] [32]


Ali's forces overcame the rebels, and the defeated army was treated according to Islamic law. He sent Ayesha back to Medina under military escort headed by her brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, one of Ali's commanders. She subsequently retired to Medina with no more interference with the affairs of state.

Talha, who became disabled in the leg by the shot and fled the battlefield was carried into Basra, where he died later of his wound.

When the head of Zubayr ibn al-Awwam was presented to Ali by Ahnaf ibn Qais, the Caliph Ali couldn't help but to sob and condemn the murder of his cousin. This reaction caused Ahnaf ibn Qais resentment and, drawing his sword, stabbed it into his own breast.[33]

Marwan I and the Qurra (who later became the Khawarij) manipulated every one and created conflict. Marwan was arrested but he later asked Hassan and Hussein for assistance and was released.

Ali was later killed by a Kharijite named Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam while he was praying in the mosque of Kufa.[34]

Two decades later, after years of planning and scheming and making every one else fight, Marwan came to power in Syria and the Qurra (the Kharijites) established a state in southern Iraq.[35]


The name of the battle refers to the camel ridden by Āʿisha — once the camel had fallen, the battle was over. Some Muslim scholars believe the name was recorded as such in history to avoid linking the name of a woman with a battle.[36] Ali blamed Ayesha due to such warfare. Subsequently, Ali said to her brother (Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr) to take her to Basrah. She stayed there for some days till afterwards she went to Medina but Ali sent Abdullah bin Abbas to her and warned Ayisha because the deadline was finished for her, and actually she delayed in going. Afterwards, she was taken to Medina with a number of troops.[37]

Later on, whenever Ayisha was remembering the day of Jamal, she wished to be dead before that happening, and actually she had this desire that I wish I wouldn’t be presented in that event. [38]

Sunni and Shia's split

Āʿisha's depiction in regards to the first civil war in the Muslim community reflected the molding of Islamic definition of gender and politics. As Ali was the rightly guided caliph (Sunni) and the first Imam (Shia), Aisha going against Ali meant that she went against Islam and received the curses of God. Those who did not pick a side due to the honor and respect of both Aisha and Ali onwards were called Sunnis, and those who sided with Ali alone were known as the Shia [39]


Soldiers of Imam Ali's Army

Soldiers of Aisha's Army

Others involved



  1. ^ Madelung 1997, pg. 168
  2. ^ Madelung 1997, pg. 166
  3. ^ Madelung 1997, pg. 176-177
  4. ^ Madelung 1997, pg. 167-8
  5. ^ Crone 1980, pg. 108
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b Madelung 1997, pg. 177
  8. ^ a b Jibouri, Yasin T. Kerbalā and Beyond. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, 2011. Print. ISBN 1467026131 Pgs. 30
  9. ^ a b Muraj al-Thahab Vol. 5, Pg. 177
  10. ^ Nahj al Balagha Sermon 72 Archived 7 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Medieval Islamic civilization By Josef W. Meri Page 131
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Nadvi, Sulaimān. Hadhrat Ayesha Siddiqa: Her Life and Works. Safat, Kuwait: Islamic Book, 1986. Print. Pg. 44
  13. ^ Dr. Mohammad Ishaque in Journal of Pakistan Historical Society, Vol 3, Part 1
  14. ^ Sir John Glubb, The Great Arab Conquests, 1967, p. 320
  15. ^ "A Shi'ite Encyclopedia". Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project.
  16. ^ al-Hakim. al-Mustadrak, Volume 3. p. 169.
  17. ^ al-Hakim. al-Mustadrak, Volume 3. p. 371.
  18. ^ al-Mas’udi. Muruj al-Dhahab, Volume 4. p. 321.
  19. ^ al-Haythami. Majma’ al-Zawa’id, Volume 9. p. 107.
  20. ^ "". Archived from the original on 18 June 2006. Retrieved 27 June 2006.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 June 2006. Retrieved 27 June 2006.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Ibn Saad, Tabaqat, vol. III, p. 223
  25. ^ The Early Caliphate, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Al-Jadda Printers, pg. 169-206, 1983
  26. ^
  27. ^ William Muir, The Caliphate: Its Rise, Decline and Fall from Original Sources. Chapter XXXV: "Battle of the Camel". London: 1891. p. 261.
  28. ^ Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 352
  29. ^ The shadow of the sword, The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World, Tom Holland, ISBN 9780349122359 Abacus Page 409
  30. ^ Nahj al Balagha, Sermon 168
  31. ^ Al Sunnah, Vol. 3, p. 255
  32. ^ Al Mustadrak Ala Sahihayn, Vol. 3, p. 420
  33. ^
  34. ^ Tabatabae (1979), page 192 Archived 29 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 9, Book 88, Number 228:[1] Narrated by Abu Al-Minhal. When Ibn Ziyad and Marwan were in Sham and Ibn Az-zubair took over the authority in Mecca and Qurra' (the Kharijites) revolted in Basra, I went out with my father to Abu Barza Al-Aslami till we entered upon him in his house while he was sitting in the shade of a room built of cane. So we sat with him and my father started talking to him saying, "O Abu Barza! Don't you see in what dilemma the people has fallen?" The first thing heard him saying "I seek reward from Allah for myself because of being angry and scornful at the Quraish tribe. O you Arabs! You know very well that you were in misery and were few in number and misguided, and that Allah has brought you out of all that with Islam and with Muhammad till He brought you to this state (of prosperity and happiness) which you see now; and it is this worldly wealth and pleasures which has caused mischief to appear among you. The one who is in Sham (i.e., Marwan), by Allah, is not fighting except for the sake of worldly gain.
  36. ^ Mernissi, Fatima (1987). The Veil and the Male Elite. New York: Basic Books. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-201-63221-7.
  37. ^ Masudi, Vol.3, Pg.113 114
  38. ^ Ibn A'tham Kofi, Vol.2, p. 487.
  39. ^ Spellberg, D.A. (1994). Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past. Columbia University Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-231-07999-0.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Razwy, Ali Asgher. A Restatement of the History of Islam & Muslims: 579 to 661 CE. Stanmore: World Federation of KSI Muslim Communities, 1997. Print. Ch. 62
  41. ^ a b c d Islamic period
  42. ^ a b c d Restatement of History of Islam The Battle of Basra on
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  44. ^ a b c d e f g h i Madelung, Wilferd. The Succession to Muḥammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Print. ISBN 0521646960 Pg. 18

External links

Preceded by
Muslim conquest of the Levant
Muslim battles
Year: 656 CE
Succeeded by
Battle of Siffin

Coordinates: 30°30′00″N 47°49′00″E / 30.5000°N 47.8167°E


Year 656 (DCLVI) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 656 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Abd-Allah ibn Aamir Hadhrami

Abd-Allah ibn Aamir Hadhrami was the governor of the Arabic city of Kufah during the 7th century. He had a prominent role in the Battle of the Camel.

Abdullah ibn Saba'

Abdullah ibn Sabaʾ al-Ḥimyarī (or ibn Sabāʾ, also sometimes called ibn al-Sawdāʾ, ibn Wahb, or ibn Ḥarb) was a dubious 7th-century figure in Islamic history who is often associated with a group of followers called the Sabaʾiyya (Arabic: سبئية‎).According to Sunni and Shia tradition, Abdullah bin Saba' was a Yemenite Jewish convert to Islam. Because of his exaggerated reverence for Ali, he is traditionally considered as the first of the ghulāt. In accounts collected by Sayf ibn Umar, Ibn Saba' and his followers (the Saba'iyya) are said to be the ones who enticed the Egyptians against Uthman and were responsible for breaking the near-settlement at the Battle of the Camel.Modern historians differed on the historicity of Ibn Saba'. Some believe that Abdullah Ibn Saba and ibn al-Sawdāʾ should be considered as two separate individuals (Hodgson). Some have described him as semi-legendary or legendary (Taha Hussein, Bernard Lewis, Wilferd Madelung, Leone Caetani, and Shia historians) Others such as Israel Friedlander, Sabatino Moscati, and Sunni historians affirm his existence. His Jewish origin has also been contested. Some modern historians assert that Sayf ibn Umar fabricated the episode about the killing of Uthman to "exonerate the people of Medina from participation in the caliph's murder" and the movement to support Ali as a successor to Muhammad did not exist in the time of Uthman. With the exception of Taha Hussein, most modern Sunni writers affirm the existence of Ibn Saba'. In a similar vein, Shia writers deny Ibn Saba's historical existence to rid Shia'ism of the accusation by Sunni writers that Shia'ism is originally based on Judaic doctrines.


ʿĀʾishah bint Abī Bakr (Arabic: عائشة‎ / [ʕaːʔɪʃa], c.613/614 – c.678 CE), also transcribed as Aisha () or variants, was Muhammad's third and youngest wife. In Islamic writings, her name is thus often prefixed by the title "Mother of the Believers" (Arabic: أمّ المؤمنين umm al-mu'minīn), referring to the description of Muhammad's wives in the Qur'an.Aisha had an important role in early Islamic history, both during Muhammad's life and after his death. In Sunni tradition, Aisha is portrayed as scholarly and inquisitive. She contributed to the spread of Muhammad's message and served the Muslim community for 44 years after his death. She is also known for narrating 2210 hadiths, not just on matters related to Muhammad's private life, but also on topics such as inheritance, pilgrimage, and eschatology. Her intellect and knowledge in various subjects, including poetry and medicine, were highly praised by early luminaries such as al-Zuhri and her student Urwa ibn al-Zubayr.Her father, Abu Bakr, became the first caliph to succeed Muhammad, and after two years was succeeded by Umar. During the time of the third caliph Uthman, Aisha had a leading part in the opposition that grew against him, though she did not agree either with those responsible for his assassination nor with the party of Ali. During the reign of Ali, she wanted to avenge Uthman's death, which she attempted to do in the Battle of the Camel. She participated in the battle by giving speeches and leading troops on the back of her camel. She ended up losing the battle, but her involvement and determination left a lasting impression. Because of her involvement in this battle, Shia Muslims have a generally negative view of Aisha.

Afterwards, she lived quietly in Medina for more than twenty years, took no part in politics, became reconciled to Ali and did not oppose caliph Mu'awiya.Some traditional hadith sources state that Aisha was betrothed to Muhammad at the age of 6 or 7; other sources say she was 9 when she had a small marriage ceremony; some sources put the date in her teens; but both the date and her age at marriage and later consummation with Muhammad in Medina are sources of controversy and discussion amongst scholars.

Ammar ibn Yasir

ʻAmmār ibn Yāsir ibn ʿĀmir ibn Mālik Abū al-Yaqzān (Arabic: عمار بن یاسر‎) was one of the Muhajirun in the history of Islam and, for his dedicated devotion to Islam's cause, is considered to be one of the most loyal and beloved companions of Muhammad and ‘Ali; thus, he occupies a position of the highest prominence in Islam. Historically, Ammar ibn Yasir is the first Muslim to build a mosque. He is also referred to by Shia Muslims as one of the Four Companions. Muslims consider Ammar's ultimate fate to be unique among the fates of Muhammad's companions, for they perceive his death at the battle of Siffin as the decisive distinguisher between the righteous group and the sinful one in the First Fitna.

Amr ibn Jarmouz

Amr ibn Jarmouz (Arabic: عمر بن جرموز‎) is the man that killed the famous Muslim Sahaba General Zubayr ibn al-Awwam shortly after the Battle of the Camel, while Zubayr withdrew from the army before the battle began due to a hadith that Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) had reminded him with regards to what Muhammad had said to Zubayr: “You will rise up in a battle against Ali ibn Abi Talib”.

Attab ibn Asid

ʿAttāb ibn Asīd ibn Abīʿl-ʿĪs ibn Umayya ibn ʿAbd Shams (ca. 612–644) was a member of the Banu Umayya clan who at a young age was appointed governor of Mecca in the wake of its conquest by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 629/30. He had converted to Islam after Mecca was conquered by the Muslims. Due to its sanctity for the Muslims, the governorship of Mecca was a coveted post and Attab was appointed over several other more experienced potential candidates from the Quraysh tribe, which dominated the city. He continued in the post through the caliiphate of Abu Bakr (632–634) until 634, according to 8th/9th-century historian al-Waqidi, or until 642 during the rule of Caliph Umar, according to 9th-century historian al-Tabari. Attab was married to Juwayriyya, a daughter of the pagan Qurayshi leader Abu Jahl. According to al-Waqidi, Attab died in 634, while al-Tabari held that he died in 644. His son ʿAbd al-Raḥmān was a prominent soldier in Aisha’s army who was slain by Malik al-Ashtar in the Battle of the Camel in 656.

Banu Jumah

The Banu Jumah (Arabic: بنو جُمح‎) is a clan of the Quraish tribe. They are notable for being allies to the polytheist Meccans and being in war with the Muslims. They are related to the Banu Sahm, as they both were part of a larger clan descended from the same ancestor, the Banu Husays.

In the Battle of the Camel, a group of Banu Jumah was with A'ishah[1], according to the Shia.

First Fitna

The First Fitna (Arabic: فتنة مقتل عثمان‎ fitnat maqtal ʿUthmān "strife/sedition of the killing of Uthman") was a civil war within the Rashidun Caliphate which resulted in the overthrowing of the Rashidun caliphs and the establishment of the Umayyad dynasty. It began when the caliph Uthman ibn Affan was assassinated by rebels in 656 and continued through the four-year reign of Uthman's successor Ali ibn Abi Talib. It ended in 661 when Ali's heir Hasan ibn Ali concluded a treaty acknowledging the rule of Muawiyah, the first Umayyad caliph.

Islam in Iraq

The history of Islam in Iraq goes back almost 1,400 years to the lifetime of Muhammad (died 632).

Iraq's Muslims follow two distinct traditions, majority Shia Islam and minority Sunni Islam. Arabic-speaking Shias are known as Iraqiyyuns, and Arabic-speaking Sunnis are known as Jaziran Arabs. Iraq is home to many religious cities important for both Shia and Sunni Muslims. Baghdad was a hub of Islamic learning and scholarship for centuries and served as the capital of the Abassids. Baghdad also is home to two prominent Shia Imams in what is known as Kadhimiya, Iraq. The city of Karbala has substantial prominence in Shia Islam as a result of the Battle of Karbala, fought in October 10, 680. Similarly, Najaf is renowned as the site of the tomb of Alī ibn Abī Tālib (also known as "Imām Alī"), whom the Shia consider to be the righteous caliph and first imām. The city is now a great center of pilgrimage from throughout the Shi'a Islamic world and it is estimated that only Mecca and Medina receive more Muslim pilgrims. The city of Kufa was home to the famed scholar Abu Hanifah, whose school of thought is followed by many Sunni Muslims internationally. Kufa was also the capital of the Rashidun Caliphate during the time of Ali. Likewise, Samarra is also home to the al-Askari Mosque, containing the mausoleums of the Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari, the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams respectively, as well as the maqam (or "point") of Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is the twelfth and final Imam of the Shia Madhhab. This has made it an important pilgrimage centre for Ja'farī Shia Muslims. In addition, some female relatives of Muhammad are buried in Samarra, making the city one of the most significant sites of worship for Shia Muslims and a venerated location for Sunni Muslims. Basra Iraq is also a prominent Shia area due to its significant role during the First Fitna, where Ali defeated Aisha during the Battle of the Camel.

Smaller sects of Islam exist in the country. The Muslim population of Iraq is 67.6% Shia and 32.4% Sunni. Iraqi Kurds are 85% Sunni, with 15% being Shia Feyli Kurds. Most Kurds are located in the northern areas of the country, with most following the Sunni Shafi school of Islamic law but with some being members of either the Qadiri or the Naqshbandi Sufi tariqah.

Marwan I

Marwān ibn al-Ḥakam ibn Abiʾl-ʿAs ibn Umayya (Arabic: مروان بن الحكم بن أبي العاص بن أمية‎), commonly known as Marwan I (ca. 623–626 — April/May 685) was the fourth caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate. He ruled for less than a year in 684–685, founding the Marwanid ruling house, which took over power from the Sufyanid branch of the Umayyad dynasty and remained in power until 750. Marwan had known the Islamic prophet Muhammad and is thus considered a ṣaḥābī (companion). He served as the secretary and right-hand man of his kinsman Caliph Uthman (r. 644–656) and participated in the defense of his house during a rebel siege. Uthman was killed by the rebels, prompting Marwan to kill Talha ibn Ubayd Allah, whom he held culpable, during the Battle of the Camel in 656. He subsequently gave allegiance to Caliph Ali (r. 656–661) and later served as governor of Medina under his kinsman Caliph Mu'awiya I (r. 661–680), founder of the Umayyad Caliphate.

Following the deaths of Mu'awiya I's successors Yazid I and Mu'awiya II in 683 and 684, respectively, Marwan organized the defense of the Umayyad realm in the Hejaz against Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, a rival claimant to the caliphate. Ibn al-Zubayr expelled Marwan and his clan from Medina, and they became refugees in Syria. As he was prepared to give allegiance to Ibn al-Zubayr, the ex-Umayyad governor of Iraq, Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, urged him to instead volunteer his candidacy for the caliphate during a summit of loyalist tribes at Jabiya. The tribal nobility, led by Ibn Bahdal of the Banu Kalb, ultimately elected Marwan and together they defeated the pro-Zubayrid Qaysi tribes at the Battle of Marj Rahit.

In the months that followed, Marwan reasserted Umayyad rule over the pro-Zubayrid territories of Egypt, Palestine and northern Syria, while keeping the Qays in check in Upper Mesopotamia. He dispatched an expedition led by Ubayd Allah to reconquer Iraq, but died as it was on the move in the spring of 685. Prior to his death, Marwan firmly established his sons in positions of power: Abd al-Malik was designated his successor, Abd al-Aziz was made governor of Egypt and Muhammad oversaw military command in Upper Mesopotamia. Though Marwan was stigmatized as an outlaw and a father of tyrants in later anti-Umayyad tradition, historian Clifford E. Bosworth asserts that the caliph was a shrewd, capable and decisive military leader and statesman who laid the foundations of continued Umayyad rule for a further sixty-five years.

Military career of Ali

Ali bin Abi Talib took part in all the battles of Prophet Muhammad's time, except the Battle of Tabuk, as standard bearer. He also led parties of warriors on raids into enemy lands, and was an ambassador. Ali's fame grew with every battle that he was in, due to his courage, valour, and chivalry, as well as the fact that he single-handedly, destroyed many of Arabia's most famous and feared warriors. Muhammad acknowledged him as the greatest warrior of all time.

Muhammad ibn Talha

Muhammad ibn Talhah (Arabic: محمد بن طلحة‎) was, according to a Sunni source, the son of the prominent Muslim general Talha ibn Obaidullah and Hammanah bint Jahsh. Hammanah was the sister of Zaynab bint Jahsh, one of Muhammads wives. He and his father died at the battle of the Camel.

Sayf ibn Umar

Sayf ibn Umar al-Usayyidi al-Tamimi (Arabic: سيف بن عمر‎) was an early Islamic historian and compiler of reports who lived in Kufa. He wrote Kitāb al-futūh al-kabīr wa 'l-ridda, which is al-Tabari's main source for the Ridda wars and early Muslim conquests. It also contains important information about the structure of early Muslim armies and government. According to al-Dhahabi, Sayf died during the reign of Harun al-Rashid (786-809).

Shia days of remembrance

Following page lists various days of celebration/mourning/remembrance of Shi'a Muslims.

Shia view of Aisha

The Shi'a view of Aisha is generally unfavourable. This is primarily due to what they see as her contempt for the Ahl al-Bayt (the prophet Muhammad's family) and her actions in the First Fitna (civil war) of the time. Her participation in the Battle of Jamal is widely considered her most significant sign of such contempt. They also do not believe that she conducted herself in an appropriate manner in her role as Muhammad's wife. Several prominent Shia accounts even report that she, along with Hafsa, brought about Muhammad’s death by giving him poison.Shi'a also consider Aisha to be a controversial figure because of her political involvement during her lifetime. Aisha came from a political family lineage, as she was the daughter of Abu Bakr the caliph. Aisha also played an active role in Muhammad’s political life; she was known to accompany him to wars, where she learned military skills, such as initiating pre-war negotiations between combatants, conducting battles, and ending wars.


Talhah ibn Ubaydullah (Arabic: طلحة بن عبيدالله‎) (594-656) was a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In Sunni Islam, mostly known for being of the Ten Promised Paradise. Best known for his roles in the Battle of Uhud and the Battle of the Camel, in which he died, according to Sunnis he was given the title "The Generous" by Muhammad..

Zayd ibn Suhan

Zayd ibn Suhan (Arabic: زيد بن صوحان‎) was a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and is revered by Shia Muslims. He was the brother of Sa'sa'a bin Sohan. He is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari. He was killed in the Battle of the Camel by Amr Al Yathribi.Zayd originated from the city of Qatif, Saudi Arabia.

His grave and shrine lies in the village of Malkiya in Bahrain. He is sometimes referred to as "Ameer Zayd"

Zubayr ibn al-Awam

Az-Zubayr ibn Al-Awam (Arabic: الزبير بن العوام بن خويلد‎; 594–656) was a companion of Muhammad and a commander in the Rashidun army.

Civil wars of
the early Caliphates

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