First Fitna

The First Fitna (Arabic: فتنة مقتل عثمانfitnat 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 Egyptian 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.[1]

First Fitna
Part of the Fitnas
First Fitna map blank

  Region under the control of the Rashidun (Ali ibn Abi Talib)
  Region under the control of Muawiyah I
  Region under the control of Amr ibn al-As
Result Rebellion successful, peace treaty signed;
Muawiya I begins the Umayyad dynasty
Rashidun Caliphate Aisha's forces
Muawiya's forces
Commanders and leaders
Ali ibn Abi Talib
Ammar ibn Yasir
Malik al-Ashtar
Aisha bint Abu Bakr
Talha ibn Ubayd-Allah
Zubair ibn al-Awam
Muawiya I
'Amr ibn al-'As[b]
  1. The Kharijites were a portion of Ali's supporters that defected and later opposed both parties.


The Islamic caliphate expanded very quickly under Muhammad and the first three caliphs. In 639 Muawiyah I was appointed the Governor of Syria by Umar after his elder brother Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan (Governor of Syria) died in a plague, along with Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah (the Governor before him) and 25,000 other people.[2][3]

The rapid Muslim conquest of Syria and Egypt and the consequent Byzantine losses in manpower and territory meant that the Eastern Roman Empire found itself struggling for survival. The Sassanid Dynasty in Persia had already collapsed.

The Islamic empire expanded at an unprecedented rate, but there was a cost associated with it. Many desert nomads and some bandits living between current-day Iraq and Saudi Arabia also joined in, not out of commitment to Islam but to share the spoils and benefit from the change in the social order, after the defeat of the Persian Empire.[4]

Byzantine and Sassanid Empires in 600 CE
Byzantine and Persian Sassanid Empires in 600 CE

Before Islam, the Roman-Persian Wars and the Byzantine–Sasanian wars had occurred every few years for hundreds of years between 69 BCE and 629 CE. High taxes were imposed on the populations in both the Byzantine Roman and Sassanid Persian empires to finance these wars. There was also continuous bloodshed of the people during these wars. The Arab tribes in Mesopotamia were paid by the Persian Sassanids to act as mercenaries, while the Arab tribes in Syria were paid by the Byzantines to act as their mercenaries. The Persians maintained an Arab satellite state of Lakhm and the Byzantine Empire maintained the Arab satellite state of Ghassan, which they used to fight each other.[5] The Syrians and the Mesopotamians had been fighting each other for centuries. Therefore, each wanted the capital of the newly established Islamic state to be in their area.[6]

As Uthman ibn Affan became very old, Marwan I, a relative of Muawiyah I, slipped into the vacuum and became his secretary, slowly assuming more control and relaxing some of these restrictions. Marwan I had previously been excluded from positions of responsibility. Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, the son of Abu Bakr and the adopted son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifa, the adopted son of Uthman, had no senior positions.

Sects started to form, among them the Sabaites named after Abdullah Ibn Saba.[7] There is also Jewish literature from that time, regarding Abdullah Ibn Saba. Much of the Jewish literature on him from that time regards him as an apostate from Judaism and asks Jews to keep away from him.[8][9][10][11]

Qurra dispute

There was also the movement towards more autonomous tribal groupings, which was particularly strong in Kufa, in Mesopotamia; they wanted to rule their own states. Among them developed a group called the Qurra, which later became known as the Kharijites.[12][13] The earliest reference to these people are as Ahl al-Qura, the people of the village, those who fought with Abu Bakr against the desert tribes of Yamama during the Ridda wars when some of the tribes refused to pay taxes.[14][15][16] Afterwards they were granted trusteeship over some of the lands in Sawad in Mesopotamia and were now called Ahl al Ayyam, those who had taken part in the eastern conquests.[14][17] Some modern scholars like R. E. Brunnow trace the origins of the Qurra and the Kharijites back to Bedouin stock and desert tribesmen, who had become soldiers not out of commitment to Islam but to share the spoils. Brunnow held that the Kharijites were Bedouin Arabs or full blooded Arabs.[18]

The Qurra received the highest stipend of the Muslim army, the sharaf al ata, and they had the use of the best lands which they came to regard as their private domain. The Qurra received stipends varying between 2,000 and 3,000 dirhams, while the majority of the rest of the troops received only 250 to 300 dirhams. The other Ridda tribesmen in Kufa, in Mesopotamia, resented the special position given to the Qurra. The tension between the Ridda tribesmen and the Qurra threatened the Qurra's newly acquired prestige. The Qurra therefore felt obliged to defend their position in the new but rapidly changing society.

The Qurra were mainly based in Kufa.[14][19] They had not been involved in Syria. But later when Uthman declined to give them more lands in Persia[14][19] they felt that their status was being reduced and therefore started to cause trouble.[19][20] He also removed the distinction between the Ridda and pre-Ridda tribesmen which was not to their liking and lessened their prestige.[14][15][21] As a result, they rebelled.[19][22][23][24]

Some of the people with their tribal names as Qurra had been expelled from Kufa, for fomenting trouble and were sent to Muawiyah in Syria. Then they were sent to Abdur Rahman ibn Khalid ibn Walid who sent them to Uthman in Madina. In Madina they took an oath that they would not cause trouble and following the example of Muhammad, Uthman accepted their word and let them go.[25] They then split up and went to various different Muslim centers and started fomenting rebellion, particularly in Egypt.[7]

The Qurra then felt that Abu Musa al-Ashari could look after their interests better. In 655 the Qurra stopped Uthman's governor Sa'id ibn al-'As at Jara'a, preventing him from entering Kufa and declared Abu Musa al-Ashari to be their governor.[26]

In 656, The Qurra approached Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr the son of Abu Bakr and the adopted son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and asked him why he was not a governor. They had fought under the service of his father in the Ridda wars. They also asked Uthman's adopted son, Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifa, who Uthman had refused to appoint as a governor of any province, why he was not a governor.

Siege of Uthman

As Muawiyah and Caliph Uthman were preparing to besiege Constantinople, in 656, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr showed some Egyptians the house of Uthman ibn al-Affan. Finding the gate of Uthman's house strongly guarded by his supporters, the Qurra climbed the back wall and sneaked inside, leaving the guards on the gate unaware of what was going on inside. Hassan and Hussein were also guarding Uthman at the time.[27] The rebels entered his room and struck him on the head.[28]

Uthman had been besieged in his palace for 49 days before he was killed. Ali had done a great deal to attempt to save Uthman; however, Marwan prevented Ali from being able to help Uthman. Uthman only listened to the advice of Marwan and Saeed bin Aas, and Marwan did his best to act as a barrier between Ali and Uthman.[29]

Uthman's death had a polarizing effect in the Muslim world at the time. Questions were raised not only regarding his character and policies but also about the relationship between Muslims and the state, religious beliefs regarding rebellion and governance, and the qualifications of rulership in Islam.[30]

Succession of Ali

The people of Medina asked Ali, who had been chief judge in Medina, to become the Caliph and he accepted. Unlike many of the other companions of Muhammad, Ali had not been involved in the camel caravan trade and had less business and administrative experience. Ali was convinced to make Kufa the capital.[31]

Muawiyah I the governor of Syria, a relative of Uthman ibn al-Affan, and Marwan I wanted the murderers of Uthman arrested. In Mesopotamia, many people hated the Syrians. Some of Ali's supporters were also very extreme in their views and considered everyone to be their enemy. They also felt that if there were peace, they would be arrested for the killing of Uthman.[32] Many of them later became the Kharijites and eventually killed Ali.

Battle of the Camel

Aisha bint Abu Bakr (Muhammad's widow), Talhah ibn Ubayd-Allah, and Zubayr ibn al-Awam went to Basra to ask Ali to arrest Uthman ibn Affan's killers, rather than fighting Muawiyah.[33][34] Some chieftains of the Kufa tribes contacted their tribes living in Basra.[35] A Chieftain contacted Ali to settle the matter.[35] Ali did not want to fight and he agreed.[35] He then contacted Aisha and she agreed to settle the matter.[35] Ali then met Talha and Zubair and both of them left the field.[35]

However, the Qurra and the Sabaites were unhappy with the settlement and launched a night attack.[35] Ali attempted to restrain his men but nobody paid attention, as everyone thought that the other party had breached the trust. Confusion prevailed throughout the night.[35] Qazi K'ab of Basra advised Aisha to mount her camel to tell people to stop fighting.[35] Ali's cousin Zubair was by then making his way to Medina and he was killed in an adjoining valley by a Sabait[35] called Amr ibn Jarmouz, who murdered him while he was praying.[35] Marwan shot Talhah with a poisoned arrow saying that he had disgraced his tribe by leaving the field.[35] With the two generals Zubair and Talhah gone, confusion prevailed.[35][36]

Aisha's brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Ali's commander and adopted son, approached Aisha. Ali pardoned Aisha and her brother escorted her back to Medina.[35] Hassan also accompanied her part of the way back to Madina.[37] Marwan and some of Ali's supporters who later became the Khawarij caused a lot of trouble. Marwan was arrested but he later asked Hassan and Hussein for assistance and was released.[33]

Battle of Siffin

Balami - Tarikhnama - Battle of Siffin (cropped)
Combat between the forces of Ali and Muawiyah I during the Battle of Siffin, from the Tarikhnama.

Ali's inability to punish the murderers of Uthman and Muawiyah's refusal to pledge allegiance eventually led Ali to move his army north to confront Muawiyah. The two armies encamped themselves at Siffin for more than one hundred days, most of the time being spent in negotiations. Neither side wanted to fight. Then on 29 July 657 (11th Safar), the Mesopotamians under Ashtar's command, the Qurra in Ali's army, who had their own camp, started the fighting in earnest. The battle lasted three days. The loss of life was terrible. Suddenly one of the Syrians, Ibn Lahiya, out of fear of further civil war and unable to bear the spectacle rode forward with a copy of the Quran on the ears of his horse to call for judgement by the book of Allah, and the other Syrians followed suit. Everyone on both sides took up the cry, eager to avoid killing their fellow Muslims - except for the conspirators. The majority of Ali's followers supported arbitration. Nasr b Muzahim, in one of the earliest sources states that al-Ashath ibn Qays, one of Ali's key supporters and a Kufan, then stood up and said:

O company of Muslims! You have seen what happened in the day which has passed. In it some of the Arabs have been annihilated. By Allah, I have reached the age which Allah willed that I reach. but I have never ever seen a day like this. Let the present convey to the absent! If we fight tomorrow, it will be the annihilation of the Arabs and the loss of what is sacred. I do not make this statement out of fear of death, but I am an aged man who fears for the women and children tomorrow if we are annihilated. O Allah, I have looked to my people and the people of my deen and not empowered anyone. There is no success except by Allah. On Him I rely and to Him I return. Opinion can be both right and wrong. When Allah decides a matter, He carries it out whether His servants like it or not. I say this and I ask Allah's forgiveness for me and you.

Then, Nasr b Muzahim says people looked at Muawiya who said

He is right, by the Lord. If we meet tomorrow the Byzantines will attack our women and children and the people of Persia will attack the women and children of Mesopotamia. Those with forebearance and intelligence see this. Tie the copies of the Quran to the ends of the spears.

So the fighting stopped.[38]

Every time Ali tried to negotiate the Qurra and the Sabait started wars and launched night attacks, fearing that if there was peace, then they will be arrested.[39]


It was decided that the Syrians and the residents of Kufa should nominate an arbitrator, each to decide between 'Ali and Mu'awiya. The Syrians choice fell on 'Amr bin al-A'as who was the rational soul and spokesman of Muawiya. 'Amr ibn al-'As was one of the generals involved in expelling the Romans from Syria and also expelled the Romans from Egypt.[40] A few years earlier 'Amr ibn al-'As with 9,000 men in Palestine had found himself confronting Heraclius' 100,000 army until Khalid crossed the Syrian desert from Mesopotamia to assist him.[40] He was a highly skilled negotiator and had previously been used in negotiations with the Heraclius the Roman Emperor.[41] Ali wanted Malik Ashtar or Abdullah bin 'Abbas to be appointed as an arbitrator for the people of Kufa, but the Qurra strongly demurred, alleging that men like these two were, indeed, responsible for the war and, therefore, ineligible for that office of trust. They nominated Abu Musa al-Ash'ari as their arbitrator. (During the time of 'Uthman, they had appointed Abu Musa al-Ash'ari as the Governor of Kufa and removed 'Uthman's governor before they started fighting Uthman) Ali found it expedient to agree to this choice in order to ward off bloody dissensions in his army. According to "Usd al-G̲h̲āba", Ali had, therefore, taken care to personally explain to the arbitrators, "You are arbiters on condition that you decide according to the Book of God, and if you are not so inclined you should not deem yourselves to be arbiters."[42]

When the arbitrators assembled at Dumat al-Jandal, which lay midway between Kufa and Syria and had for that reason been selected as the place for the announcement of the decision, a series of daily meetings were arranged for them to discuss the matters in hand. When the time arrived for taking a decision about the caliphate, Amr bin al-A'as convinced Abu Musa al-Ashari that they should deprive both Ali and Mu'awiya of the caliphate, and give to the Muslims the right to elect the caliph. Abu Musa al-Ash'ari decided to act accordingly. As the time for announcing the verdict approached, the people belonging to both parties assembled. 'Amr bin al-A'as requested Abu Musa to take the lead in announcing the decision he favoured. Abu Musa al-Ash'ari agreed to open the proceedings, and said, "We have devised a solution after a good deal of thought and it may put an end to all contention and separatist tendencies. It is this. Both of us remove 'Ali as well as Mu'awiya from the caliphate. The Muslims are given the right to elect a caliph as they think best."[43] On his turn 'Amr bin al-A'as stated that he agreed with the part of Abu Musa Ash'ari's verdict that 'Ali should be deposed but he himself was in favour of retaining Mua'wiyah on his post.

Ali refused to accept the verdict as he felt he had been cheated and the verdict was one sided.[44][45][46] This put Ali in a weak position even amongst his own supporters.[47] The most vociferous opponents of Ali in his camp were the very same people who had forced Ali to appoint their arbitrator, the Qurra who then became known as the Kharijites.[43] Feeling that Ali could no longer look after their interests[19] and that they could be arrested for the murder of Uthman if there were peace, they broke away from Ali's force, rallying under the slogan, "arbitration belongs to God alone."[43] The Qurra then became known as the Kharijites ("those who leave"). The Kharijites then started killing other people.

Conflict with Kharijites

In 659 Ali's forces finally moved against the Kharijites and they finally met in the Battle of Nahrawan. Although Ali won the battle, the constant conflict had begun to affect his standing.[43] Tom Holland writes "Ali won a victory over them as crushing as it was to prove pyrrhic: for all he had done, in effect was to fertilise the soil of Mesopotamia with the blood of their martyrs. Three years later, and there came the inevitable blowback: a Kharijite assassin."[48]

While dealing with the Iraqis, Ali found it hard to build a disciplined army and effective state institutions to exert control over his areas and as a result later spent a lot of time fighting the Kharijites. As a result, on the Eastern front, Ali found it hard to expand the state.[49]

Ali was assassinated by Kharijites in 661. On the 19th of Ramadan, while Praying in the Great Mosque of Kufa, Ali was attacked by the Kharijite Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam. He was wounded by ibn Muljam's poison-coated sword while prostrating in the Fajr prayer.[50] When Alī was assassinated, Muawiyah had the largest and the most organized and disciplined force in the Muslim Empire.

Peace treaty with Hassan

Six months later in 661, in the interest of peace, Hasan ibn Ali made a peace treaty with Muawiyah. By now Hassan only ruled the area around Kufa. In the Hasan-Muawiya treaty, Hasan ibn Ali handed over power to Muawiya on the condition that he be just to the people and keep them safe and secure and after his death he does not establish a dynasty.[51][52]

In the year 661, Muawiyah was crowned as caliph at a ceremony in Jerusalem.[53] Ali's caliphate had lasted for 4 years. After the treaty with Hassan, Muawiyah ruled for nearly 20 years most of which were spent expanding the state.[54]


  1. ^ Martin Hinds. "Muʿāwiya I". Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Brill. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  2. ^ History of the Jihad By Leonard Michael Kroll Page 123
  3. ^ Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present By Mark Weston Page 61 [1]
  4. ^ Modern Intellectual Readings of the Kharijites By Hussam S. Timani Page 49 [2] Some modern scholars like R.E. Brunnow trace the origins of the Qurra and the Kharitites back to Bedouin stock and desert tribesmen, who had become soldiers not out of commitment to Islam but to share the spoils. Brunnow held that the Kharijites were Bedouin Arabs (Beduinenaraber) or full blooded Arabs.
  5. ^ A Chronology Of Islamic History 570-1000 CE, By H.U. Rahman 1999 Page 10
  6. ^ Iraq a Complicated State: Iraq's Freedom War By Karim M. S. Al-Zubaidi Page 32
  7. ^ a b Hadhrat Ayesha Siddiqa her life and works by Allamah Syed Sulaiman Nadvi translated by Syed Athar Husain and published by Darul Ishaat Page 39
  8. ^ History of the Jews: From the Roman Empire to the Early Medieval ..., Volume 2 By Simon Dubnov page 330 where it talks about Abdullah Ibn Saba [3]
  9. ^ Jewish Literature from the Eighth to the Eighteenth Century: With an ... By Moritz Steinschneider, William Spottiswoode page 59 [4]
  10. ^ history of the jews, Volume 2 By Ernst G. Maier Page 330
  11. ^ There is also other non Muslim literature from near that time like The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus By Bar Hebraeus [5]
  12. ^ al-Baladhuri and At-Tabari 5:66
  13. ^ Modern Intellectual Readings of the Kharijites By Hussam S. Timani Page 62 [6]
  14. ^ a b c d e Muawiya Restorer of the Muslim Faith By Aisha Bewley Page 13
  15. ^ a b Modern Intellectual Readings of the Kharijites By Hussam S. Timani Page 61 [7]
  16. ^ Muawiya Restorer of the Muslim Faith by Aisha Bewley, page 14, with text from Al-Baladuri
  17. ^ Modern Intellectual Readings of the Kharijites By Hussam S. Timani Page 62 [8]
  18. ^ Modern Intellectual Readings of the Kharijites By Hussam S. Timani Page 49 [9]
  19. ^ a b c d e Modern Intellectual Readings of the Kharijites By Hussam S. Timani Page 61-65 about the writings of M. A. Shahban, In his Islamic History A.D. 600-750 (A.H. 132): A new Interpretation (1971) [10]
  20. ^ Kirk H. Sowell (2004). The Arab World: An Illustrated History. Hippocrene Books. pp. 41–42. ISBN 978-0-7818-0990-0.
  21. ^ Muawiya Restorer of the Muslim Faith By Aisha Bewley Page 14 with text from Al-Baladuri
  22. ^ Hussam S. Timani (2008). Modern Intellectual Readings of the Kharijites. Peter Lang. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-8204-9701-3.
  23. ^ Muawiya Restorer of the Muslim Faith By Aisha Bewley Page 14 with text from Al-Baladuri
  24. ^ Ahmad Bin Yahya Bin Jabir Al Biladuri (1 March 2011). The Origins of the Islamic State: Being a Translation from the Arabic Accompanied With Annotations, Geographic and Historic Notes of the Kitab Futuh Al-buldan. Cosimo, Inc. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-61640-534-2.
  25. ^ Muawiya Restorer of the Muslim Faith By Aisha Bewley Page 16
  26. ^ Muawiya Restorer of the Muslim Faith By Aisha Bewley Page 14
  27. ^ A Chronology Of Islamic History 570-1000 CE, By H.U. Rahman 1999 Page 53
  28. ^ The Many Faces of Faith: A Guide to World Religions and Christian Traditions By Richard R. Losch
  29. ^ Razwy, Sayed Ali Asgher. A Restatement of the History of Islam & Muslims. p. 536.
  30. ^ Valerie Jon Hoffman, The Essentials of Ibadi Islam, pg. 8. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2012. ISBN 9780815650843
  31. ^ Iraq, a Complicated State Page 32
  32. ^ Hadhrat Ayesha Siddiqa By Allamah Syed Sulaiman Nadvi Page 44
  33. ^ a b Nahj al Balagha Sermon 72 Archived 2013-05-07 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ Medieval Islamic civilization By Josef W. Meri Page 131
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Hadhrat Ayesha Siddiqa By Allamah Syed Sulaiman Nadvi p. 44"
  36. ^ The Early Caliphate, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Al-Jadda Printers, pg. 169-206, 1983
  37. ^ See:
  38. ^ Muawiya Restorer of the Muslim Faith By Aisha Bewley Page 22 from Ibn Hisham from Ibn Muzahim died 212 AH from Abu Mikhnaf died 170 AH
  39. ^ Hadhrat Ayesha Siddiqa her life and works by Allamah Syed Sulaiman Nadvi translated by Syed Athar Husain and published by Darul Ishaat Page 44
  40. ^ a b Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi, Page 31 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2013-09-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  41. ^ Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Futuh ash-Sham by al-Waqidi Translated by Sulayman al-Kindi "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2013-09-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  42. ^ "Usd al-G̲h̲āba", vol 3, p. 246. Name of book needed
  43. ^ a b c d A Chronology of Islamic History 570-1000 CE By H U Rahman Page 59
  44. ^ A Chronology of Islamic History 570-1000 CE By H. U. Rahman, Page 60
  45. ^ Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia edited by Alexander Mikaberidze, p. 836 [11]
  46. ^ Ground Warfare: H-Q edited by Stanley Sandler, p. 602. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  47. ^ A Chronology of Islamic History 570-1000 CE By H U Rahman Page 60
  48. ^ In the shadow of the sword, The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World By Tom Holland, ISBN 978-0-349-12235-9 Abacus Page 399
  49. ^ A Chronology of Islamic History 570-1000 By H. U. Rahman
  50. ^ name="Tabatabaei 1979 192"
  51. ^ The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate By Wilferd Madelung Page 232 [12]
  52. ^ Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 3, Book 49 (Peacemaking), Number 867
  53. ^ History of Israel and the Holy Land By Michael Avi-Yonah, Shimon Peres. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  54. ^ Hadhrat Ayesha Siddiqa her life and works by Allamah Syed Sulaiman Nadvi translated by Syed Athar Husain and published by Darul Ishaat, Page 47


  • Ali ibn Abi Talib (1984). Nahj al-Balagha (Peak of Eloquence), compiled by ash-Sharif ar-Radi. Alhoda UK. ISBN 0-940368-43-9.
  • Holt, P. M.; Bernard Lewis (1977). Cambridge History of Islam, Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-29136-4.
  • Lapidus, Ira (2002). A History of Islamic Societies (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-77933-3.
  • Madelung, Wilferd (1997). The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-64696-0.
  • Tabatabae, Sayyid Mohammad Hosayn (1979). Shi'ite Islam. Translated by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Suny press. ISBN 0-87395-272-3.

Further reading

  • Djaït, Hichem (2008-10-30). La Grande Discorde: Religion et politique dans l'Islam des origines. Editions Gallimard. ISBN 2-07-035866-6. Arabic translation by Khalil Ahmad Khalil, Beirut, 2000, Dar al-Tali'a.
'Abd Allah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi

ʿAbd Allāh (or ʿAbdullāh) ibn Wahb al-Rāsibī (died 17 July 658 AD) was an early leader of the Khārijites. Of the Bajīla tribe, he was a tābiʿī, one who learned the teachings of Islam directly from a ṣaḥāba (companion) of Muḥammad. He prostrated himself in prayer so frequently that he developed calluses on his forehead, leading to the nickname, dhu ʾl-thafināt, "the man with the calluses".ʿAbd Allāh fought under Ṣaʿd ibn Abī Waḳḳāṣ in the conquest of Iraq. In the first Muslim civil war, he took the side of the Caliph ʿAlī and fought for him at the Battle of Ṣiffīn (657). He opposed ʿAlī's decision to accept arbitration to end the civil war and joined the dissidents, soon to be known as Khārijites, gathering at Ḥarūrāʾ in Iraq. They later moved to Kūfa, where they elected ʿAbd Allāh as their amīr (commander) and not, as is sometimes claimed, the true caliph (successor of Muḥammad). They marched out in March 658 and were routed by ʿAlī in the Battle of Nahrawān on 17 July (9 Ṣafar 38 AH). ʿAbd Allāh was killed in battle.

'Amr ibn al-'As

'Amr ibn al-'As (Arabic: عمرو بن العاص‎; c. 585 – 6 January 664) was an Arab military commander who led the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 640. He was a contemporary of Muhammad and one of the Sahaba ("Companions") who rose quickly through the Muslim hierarchy following his conversion to Islam in the year 8 AH (629). He founded the Egyptian capital of Fustat and built the Mosque of Amr ibn al-As at its center.


‘Ā’ishah bint Abī Bakr (Arabic: عائشة‎ / [ʕaːʔɪʃa], c.613/614 – c.678 CE), also transcribed as Aisha () or variants, was one of Muhammad's wives. In Islamic writings, her name is thus often prefixed by the title "Mother of the Believers" (Arabic: أمّ المؤمنين umm al-mu'minīn), per 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. 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 married 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 of marriage, after which she stayed in her parents' home, and later consummation with Muhammad in Medina are sources of controversy and discussion amongst scholars. (Further information below.)

The Shia have a generally negative view of Aisha. They accuse her of hating Ali and defying him during his caliphate in the Battle of the Camel, when she fought men from Ali's army in Basra.


Ali ( ; 15 September 601 – 29 January 661) was the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the last prophet of Islam. He ruled as the fourth caliph from 656 to 661, but is regarded as the rightful immediate successor to Muhammad as an Imam by Shia Muslims.

Born to Abu Talib and Fatimah bint Asad, Ali is born inside the sacred sanctuary of the Kaaba in Mecca, the holiest place in Islam. Ali was the first male who accepted Islam, and, according to some authors, the first Muslim. Ali protected Muhammad from an early age and took part in almost all the battles fought by the nascent Muslim community. After migrating to Medina, he married Muhammad's daughter Fatimah. He was appointed caliph by Muhammad's companions in 656, after Caliph Uthman ibn Affan was assassinated. Ali's reign saw civil wars and in 661, he was attacked and assassinated by a Kharijite while praying in the Great Mosque of Kufa, being martyred two days later.Ali is important to both Shias and Sunnis, politically and spiritually. The numerous biographical sources about Ali are often biased according to sectarian lines, but they agree that he was a pious Muslim, devoted to the cause of Islam and a just ruler in accordance with the Qur'an and the Sunnah. While Sunnis consider Ali the fourth and final of the Rashidun (rightly guided) caliphs, Shia Muslims regard Ali as the first Imam after Muhammad due to their interpretation of the events at Ghadir Khumm. Shia Muslims also believe that Ali and the other Shia Imams (all of whom are of Ahl al-Bayt, People of the Household (of Muhammad)) are the rightful successors to Muhammad. It was this disagreement that split the ummah into the Shia and Sunni branches.

Ali as Caliph

Ali was the caliph between 656 and 661 CE, one of the hardest periods in Muslim history, coinciding with the first Muslim civil war. He reigned over the Rashidun empire which extended from Central Asia in the east to North Africa in the west. He became known as a both just and fair ruler.

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. Some Shia 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.

Assassination of Ali

Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth (last) Rashidun caliph and first Shi'ite Imam, was assassinated by a Kharijite called Ibn Muljam on 26 January 661, at the Great Mosque of Kufah in present-day Iraq. Ali, who was then 62 or 63 years of age, died due to his injuries two days after Ibn Muljam struck him on his head by a poison-coated sword, on the 21 (or 19) Ramadan 40 AH (28 January 661 CE). He was the third successive caliph, after Umar and Uthman, to be assassinated.

Ali became the caliph after the assassination of Uthman in 656. However he faced opposition from some factions including the Levant governor, Muawiyah I. A civil war, called the First Fitna, took place within the early Islamic state which resulted in the overthrow of the Rashidun caliphs and the establishment of the Umayyad dynasty. It began when the caliph Uthman ibn Affan was assassinated in 656 and continued through the four-year reign of Ali.

After Ali agreed to arbitration with Muawiyah I following the Battle of Siffin (657), a revolt happened against him by some members of his army, later known as Kharijites ("those who leave"). They killed some of Ali's supporters, but they were crushed by Ali's forces at the Battle of Nahrawan in July 658.Ibn Muljam met up with two other Kharijites namely al-Burak ibn Abd Allah and Amr ibn Bakr al-Tamimi at Mecca, and concluded that the situation of the Muslims at the time was due to the errors of Ali, Muawiah and Amr ibn As, governor of Egypt. They decided to kill the three in order to resolve the "deplorable situation" of their time and also avenge their companions killed at Nahrawan. Aiming to kill Ali, Ibn Muljam headed toward Kufa where he fell in love with a woman whose brother and father had died at Nahrawan. She agreed to marry him if only he could kill Ali. Consequently, Ali was stabbed by Ibn Muljam at the Great Mosque of Kufa. After Ali's death, Ibn Muljam was executed in retaliation by Hasan ibn Ali.

Battle of Nahrawan

The Battle of Nahrawan (Arabic: معركة النهروان‎, translit. Ma'rakat an-Nahrawān) was a battle between Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph and the extremist group called Kharijites near Nahrawan, twelve miles from Baghdad. The battle ended in a total defeat of the Kharijites. Ali led the battlefield himself with his two sons, Hassan and Hussein.

Ali said ' Without a doubt These people infer such wrong meanings out of books ,which are absolutely criminal in Islam and detrimental for humanity '.

Battle of Siffin

The Battle of Siffin (Arabic: وقعة صفين‎; May–July 657 occurred during the First Fitna, or first Muslim civil war, with the main engagement taking place from July 26 to July 28. It was fought between Ali ibn Abi Talib who ruled as the Fourth Caliph and Muawiyah I, on the banks of the Euphrates river, in what is now Raqqa, Syria.

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.

Habib ibn Maslama al-Fihri

Ḥabīb ibn Maslama al-Fihrī (Arabic: حبيب بن مسلمة الفهري‎; c. 617–c. 662) was an Arab general during the Early Muslim conquests, under Mu'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan.

Hasan–Muawiya treaty

In 661 CE, after Ali's murder, Hasan ibn Ali attained to the caliphate. There was a military conflict between Ahl al-Bayt and Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan (see Battle of Siffin); and to avoid the agonies of a further civil war, Hasan signed the Hasan–Muawiya treaty with Muawiyah. According to the treaty, Hasan ceded the caliphate to Muawiyah but the latter could name no successor during his reign; instead, he was to let the Islamic world choose its successor afterward.

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, such as the small Shaykhist community concentrated in Basra and Karbala.

The Muslim population of Iraq is approximately Shia 64-69%, Sunni 29-34%. Iraqi Kurds are mostly Sunni, with about 2% being Shi'a Faili 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.

Malik al-Ashtar

Malik Al-Ashtar (Arabic: مالك الأشتر‎) (also known as Malik bin al-Harith al-Nakha'i) was one of the most loyal companions of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Malik al-Ashtar became a Muslim during the time of Muhammad and since then remained an avid and loyal supporter of Muhammad's progeny and Hashemite clan. He rose to a position of prominence during the caliphate of Ali Ibn Abi Talib and participated in several battles, such as the Battle of Jamal and Siffin.

Malik has been described as a "brave" and "fearless" warrior by numerous Shia sources and his title "al-Ashtar" signifies an eyelid injury he received during the Battle of Yarmouk.

Muawiyah I

Muawiyah I (Arabic: معاوية بن أبي سفيان‎, translit. Muʿāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān; 602 – 26 April 680) was the founder and first caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate. He was the first who established the Umayyad dynasty in Islam of the caliphate, and was the second caliph from the Umayyad clan, the first being Uthman ibn Affan.Muawiyah was appointed as the Governor of Syria after his brother Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan died. During the time of Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muawiyah convinced Talha and Zubayr to revolt against Ali. This led to the Battle of the Camel, the first battle in the First Fitna (the first Islamic civil war). In 657, Muawiya's army attacked the army of Ali at the Battle of Siffin. After the death of Ali in 661, Muawiya's army approached that of Ali's son and successor, Hasan ibn Ali. In order to avoid further bloodshed, Hasan signed a peace treaty with Muawiyah. Muawiyah then assumed power; however, Muawiyah ended up breaking all his requirements set out by the peace treaty.In power, Muawiyah developed a navy in the Levant and used it to confront the Byzantine Empire in the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. The caliphate conquered several territories including Cyzicus which were subsequently used as naval bases.


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..

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.

Zufar ibn al-Harith al-Kilabi

Zufar ibn al-Ḥārith al-Kilābī (also known as Zufar Abū al-Hudhayl, fl. 656–692) was a Muslim general, chieftain of the Arab tribe of Banu 'Amir, and the preeminent leader of the Qays faction in the 7th century. He commanded his tribesmen in Aisha's army during the First Muslim Civil War, and later served as the Umayyad governor of Jund Qinnasrin. In 684, during the Second Fitna, he supported Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr's bid to wrest the caliphate from the Umayyads. Afterward, he based himself in al-Qarqisiyah (Circesium) and led the Qays tribes against the Yaman, launching several raids against the latter in the Syrian Desert. By 688–689, he also became entangled in a conflict with the Banu Taghlib. Zufar made peace with the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik in 691 by abandoning Ibn al-Zubayr's cause in return for stately and military privileges. During the reigns of Abd al-Malik's successors, Zufar and his family maintained their high-ranking positions in the Umayyad government.

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