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Waq'at Siffin (book)

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Waqʿa Ṣiffīn (book)
Bibliographical Information
Author Nasr b. Muzahim
Original title وَقعَةُ صِفّین
Language Arabic
Series 1 vol.
Subject Battle of Siffin
Genre Historical
Published 1403/1982
Publisher Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi Library

Waqʿa Ṣiffīn (Arabic: وَقعَةُ صِفّین) is one of the earliest and most important Islamic history sources about Imam Ali's (a) life. It is written by the Shi'a historian, Nasr b. Muzahim (d. 212/827-8). The book consists of eight parts and reports the Battle of Siffin from the beginning to the end. Waq'a Siffin is one the few extant monographs about the Battle of Siffin. The main feature of the book is the accuracy in reporting the events related to the Battle of Siffin even in the very minor ones.


Main article: Nasr b. Muzahim

Abu l-Fadl Nasr b. Muzahim b. Sayyar (or Yasar) al-'Attar al-Minqari is a Shi'a historian of the 2nd century, who lived in Baghdad. He was a contemporary of Abu Mikhnaf. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi counted him among the companions of Imam al-Baqir (a). There is disagreement among historians and biographers about his reliability. Apparently, the disagreement originates in his faith. In the last years of his life, Nasr b. Muzahim participated in the Uprising of Abu l-Saraya against the Abbasid dynasty and Abu l-Saraya entrusted him with management of Bazaar. Waq'a Siffin, al-Jamal, al-Gharat, Maqtal Hujr b. 'Uday and Maqtal Husayn b. Ali are some of his works.


The book is about the events related to the Battle of Siffin and there are many reports about the battle as well as preceding and succeeding events. The book is important from several aspects: first, textual value of the book as an early Islamic book; second, mentioning the events and incidents during Imam Ali's Caliphate; third, it is regarded as an important source for the events that led to the Battle of Siffin.


Waq'a Siffin consists of eight parts (Juz'):

  • Starts with arrival of Imam Ali in Kufa and organizing sociopolitical affairs of his territory, and ends with sending representatives to Mu'awiya.
  • Reports about consultations, correspondence, exchange of ambassadors, …, preparing and equipping Iraq and Levant armies.
  • Mobilizing and moving both armies towards Siffin and peripheral events related to the battle.
  • Start of the Battle of Siffin and reports about the battle cries of warriors of both armies.
  • Bravery and combat skills of both armies during the battle.
  • Armed conflicts continue as political efforts of both armies, correspondence and exchanging ambassadors reach dead end.
  • Reports about determination of Iraqi army to finish the battle and on the contrary, 'Amr b. As's deception of rising pieces of the Holy Qur'an.
  • End of the battle, Hakamiyya, its effects and consequences, including the emergence of Khawarij.

Method of Compilation

This book, like other works during that period, is a Hadith-based work. The notable feature of the book is that the events are reported by two or three mediators from people who were present in the Battle of Siffin. As the book is compiled in Baghdad school of history, most reports are presented by Shi'a narrators, such as: Asbagh b. Nubata, Harith b. Husayra al-Azdi, Sa'sa'a b. Sawhan and Jabir b. Yazid al-Ju'fi; and the reports from Sunni narrators are only mentioned if the reports were accepted by the author.


Due to his interest in Imam Ali (s), Nasr b. Muzahim has narrated some sermons delivered by Imam Ali (a). He also reported many of his social, political and especially military activities. Sometimes, he presents very detailed reports about the tactics, psychological warfare, arrangement of the armies, war cries, lampoons, mournings, description of outfits, weapons, armaments, horses etc. that one can easily recreates the events, incidents and battle scenes.


The book was published in 1301 Sh/1883 in Iran for the first time. In 1340/1921 it was republished in Beirut. In 1365/1945 it was published again in a scholarly structure in one volume by the efforts of 'Abd al-Salam Muhammad Harun, the Egyptian researcher, who extracted the full text of the book from the Commentary on Nahj al-balagha, written by Ibn Abi l-Hadid, and edited it, and compared it to the first published edition of the book.