|The Republic of Iraq
|Religion||Islam 97% (60% Shi'a, 37% Sunni), other religions 3%|
Imams Buried in Iraq
Important Historic Events
Sites for Ziarah
Shi'a Clergies in Politics
Important Shi'a Families
Buried in Iraq
The Republic of Iraq (Arabic:جمهوریة العراق) is a Middle East country situated in the southwest of Asia. The majority of Iraqi people are Shi'a Muslims, mostly located in the south of this country. Iraq is important to Shi'a Muslims because of the holy shrines of six Shi'a Imams in Najaf, Karbala, Kadhimiyya, and Samarra, as well as other significant places such as the Great Mosque of Kufa and al-Sahla Mosque. The seminary of Najaf is an added importance too.
Historically, many crucial events took place in Iraq such as the Battle of Jamal, the Battle of Siffin, the Battle of Nahrawan, the Battle of Karbala, and Uprising of al-Mukhtar. Shi'a rulers always paid enormous attention to the holy shrines in Iraq and they regularly donated their wealth to rebuilding the shrines throughout the years.
The originality of Shi'ism in Iraq goes back to the time of Imam Ali (a), where it spread across other territories such as Iran. Although Shi'ite governments were ruling in Iraq, including Hamdani, Buyid, and Safavid, they were merely influential in administrative affairs. However, by the time Ottomans established their government, Shi'ite Muslims were removed from political authorities. After the occupation of Iraq by Britain, Shi'a Muslims played an active role against them, and many scholars, including Muhammad Taqi al-Shirazi, issued fatwas of jihad against British forces. Al-Da'wa party, an influential political party in Iraq, was founded at that time, which kept Shi'a Muslims active and helped them undertake a consequential role in achieving the independence of Iraq.
The ba'ath government tried their best to keep Shi'a Muslims from political power. In 1411/1991, Shi'a Muslims started an uprising against the Ba'ath government called al-Intifada al-Sha'baniyya. Iraqi army massacred Shi'as all over the country, and Shi'a leaders were killed, imprisoned, or exiled.
After the occupation of Iraq by the United States and the fall of Saddam in 2003, Shi'a Muslims again came back to the political stage in Iraq. According to the new constitutional law of Iraq, the Prime minister must be chosen from Shi'as; since then, three Shi'a Prime ministers of Iraq were chosen from the Islamic Da'wa party.
Al-Sayyid Ali al-Sistani is regarded the most notable Marja' in Iraq. Shi'a Muslims from all over the world visit Iraq in order to make pilgrimage to Imam's (a) shrines in this country. Today, the most populated gathering of Shi'a Muslims is held in Karbala in Arba'in.
Iraq is located in the Middle East and southwest of Asia, neighboring Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the south, Jordan and Syria to the west, Iran to the east and Turkey to the north. Iraq has a narrow coastline on the northern part of Persian Gulf. The Tigris and the Euphrates flow through Iraq from north to south of the country and finally into Persian Gulf. Iraq and Jordan founded the Arab Federation in 1958.
The total area of Iraq is 438,317 Km2 which largely contains dessert. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains with cold weather and occasional heavy snows, the center is mostly humid and hot and the west is hot and dry.
The autonomy of the Kurdistan regional government is located in the north of the country, which is neighboring Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the east. It includes 5 million people. Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament includes 100 members, a prime minister and a cabinet. 17 percent of the total budget of Iraq is allocated to Kurdistan regional government. They speak Kurdish and their official flag is different from the flag of Iraq. Erbil is the capital of this autonomy region. Also Sulaymaniyah is a notable city there. The Day of 'Ashura in Muharram is an official holiday in Kurdistan.
Having important Shi'ite religious cities, Tourism industry in Iraq is profitable and it plays a crucial role in economy of the country.
Religions and Ethnicities
Iraqi people are mainly Shi'ite or Sunni Muslims. It is estimated that 60% of people are Shi'ite, 37% are Sunni and only 3% are followers of other religions, including Christians, Jews, and Assyrians.
Shi'a Arabs, the bulk of the population of Iraq, mainly settle in the south. Karbala, al-Diwaniya, Hillah, Muntafiq, al-Amara and al-Kut are Shi'ite cities of Iraq. Diyala, Baghdad, and Basra mainly contain Shi'a Muslims, while they also live in other provinces of Iraq. On the other hand, Sunni Muslims are settled largely in the north of the country. Kurds are settled in mountainous regions in the northeast; they are concentrated mostly in Sulaymaniyah and Mosul.
In the aspect of races, 70% of Iraqi people are Arabs, 20% are Kurd, 4% are Persian and 6% are Turkmen as well as other races. Turks who are living in the north of the country are called Turkmen.
Population of Muslims According to Different Sources
|Total Population||Muslims||Shi'a||Percentage of Shi'a||Year||Sources|
|23.150.926||70٪||2000||Encyclopedia of Imam al-Husayn (a)|
|28.945.657||28.086.017||17.372.794 -18.820.527||60-65 ٪||2007||CIA|
|28.800.000||18.158.400||63 ٪||2008||Ahl al-Bayt (a) World Assembly|
|35.000.000||30.428.000||22.000.000 - 19.800.000||65-75 ٪||2009||PEW institute|
|30.428.000||19.800.000||Ganjineh magazine of Ahl al-Bayt (a) World Assembly|
Turkmens of Iraq
Turkmens of Iraq are mainly followers of Shi'ism. It is said that Shi'ism among Turkmens goes back to the time of King Ruh, a descendant of Timur. When the Qaraquyunlu government, led by Jahan Shah, conquered Baghdad and northern regions of Iraq, he was then able to expand his ruling territory to the south of Iraq. Afterward, Turkmens of Iraq expanded Shi'ism among Iraqi people and also Turkmens in other regions. Later, Isma'il, a Safavid ruler, strengthened Shi'ism in Iraq. Currently Shi'a Turkmens are living in Tal 'Afar, Daquq, Khurmatu, and Bashir region near Kirkuk. Besides, a number of Shi'a Turkmen are living in Sunni settled cities such as Altun, Kupri, Kirkuk, and Kufri.
Alid, Bektashi, and Sarali are the main sects of Shi'ism among Turkmen; after the occupation of Iraq by the British army they regularly visited Karbala and Najaf as a result they held solid relations with Fiqahat Shi'ism. However, Shi'a Turkmen were living in harsh situations in the time of Ba'ath regime. Saddam tried to persuade and convince them to support him but he failed. Thus he decided to prosecute and exile a large number of them.
Shi'a Kurds are currently settling in Diyala province particularly in Khanaqin region and 'Aqd al-akrad in Baghdad; they are called Fayli Kurds in Iraq who are all followers of Shi'ism. Previously they were all living in Diyala, but after facing hostilities from the Ba'ath regime they emigrated to Baghdad and its neighboring regions. They are a branch of Nomadic tribes from Ilam and Kermanshah in Iran, so they are not related to Kurds living in the north of Iraq; they are politically independent. As they regularly visited Iran, they learned Farsi and they can speak Arabic and Turkish as well. A large number of them are presently living in Kirkuk and Irbil. Also, some Iranians living in Ilam Province are Fayli Kurds. According To Rasul Ja'farian, a historian, the population of Fayli Kurds is about one million. In the time of Saddam, they introduced themselves as Arabs and they hid the fact of being Shi'a Muslim. After the fall of Saddam, they became politically active as Fayli Kurd Islamic Union. A number of expelled Iranians from Iraq in the time of Saddam were Fayli Kurds.
Shabak people are an Iraqi tribe who speak a special language close to Kurdish. In the aspect of religion, they are close to Alid of Anatolia (Qizilbash). Shabak people are mainly living in Mosul, about 250 to 300 thousand. Besides, a number of Shi'a Shabak people are living in fifty villages and towns in Nineveh plains.
Iraq is regarded a country with ancient history, it includes historical monuments all over the country, from thousands of years B.C to the time after the emergence of Islam. Formerly Iraq was called Mesopotamia, one of the earliest civilizations in Asia.
Iraq or as was called Mesopotamia includes ancient civilizations of six thousand years old. Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyria, Amorites, and Chaldean were among the first civilizations founded in Iraq thousands of years B.C. Hammurabi is one the most notable Kings of ancient times in Iraq. The Law Code of Hammurabi is regarded as the first written and organized law in the world. Babylon was the capital of his empire which was the most prosperous and flourishing city of ancient times.
About 500 years B.C, Cyrus (an Achaemenid king) seized the center and north of Mesopotamia as a part of Persian territory. After the Achaemenid, Seleucid Empire, Parthian Empire, and Sassanid ruled in Iraq, which became massively important in the Sassanid era and Ctesiphon (Tisfun or as called al-Mada'in now) became the capital. Taq Kasra a Sassanid-era monument in al-Mada'in was built at this time.
Sassanid (226 - 652 AD) ruled in Iraq for four centuries. In 16/637-8 Muslims' army attacked Iraq and defeated Iranian army. However, Iraq remained a part of Iran's territory.
In 14/ 635-6, al-Mada'in was conquered by Muslims. Salman al-Farsi and Hudhayfa b. Yaman, companions of the Prophet Muhammad (s), were governors of al-Mada'in for some years. Iraq was attached to Muslims' territory in the time of the second caliph, 'Umar b. al-Khattab. Later, Imam Ali (a) changed his capital from Hijaz to Kufa in 35/655-6. Three major battles, Jamal, Siffin, and Nahrawan took place in this region. Also, Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions were martyred in Karbala in 61/ 680 by Yazid b. Mu'awiya.
Baghdad was the capital of Abbasid dynasty. Mongols attacked and conquered Baghdad in 656/ 1258-9 they controlled it until Aq Quyunlu took over. However Safavid came and captured Iraq and made it part of Iran's territory. Later Ottomans defeated Iran and they managed to seize Iraq in 1535; which was called the state of Baghdad under the Ottomans.
In 1919 Iraq was detached from the Ottomans and it was dominated by the British. Faysal I formed the Monarchy of Iraq. With long and continuous oppositions and resistance of religious scholars such as Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, Muhammad Khalisi Zadih and Ayatollah Kashani, Iraq became independent in 1932.
'Abd al-Karim Qasim ended the monarchy system in Iraq through a coup and formed Republic governing system in Iraq. Later Ba'ath party changed the governing system into the People's Democratic Republic of Iraq.
After the Islamic revolution of Iran, Saddam came to power in Iraq in 1979, he imposed an eight-year war against Iran in September 1980. Then in 1991, he attacked Kuwait. In 2003, American and British troops occupied Iraq in order to punish Saddam and bring democracy to Iraq. In 2005 Parliament election was held in Iraq. Jalal Talabani became the president and Ibrahim al-Jaafari became the prime minister of Iraq. Also in October 2005, the constitution of Iraq was approved. Nouri al-Maliki replaced Ibrahim al-Jaafari in 2006 and stayed in this position until 2014. Fuad Masum is the current president of Iraq and Heydar al-Abadi is the prime minister.
The Battles of Imam Ali (a)
- Battle of Jamal
The Battle of Jamal took place between Nakithun (the Oath-Breakers) and the army of Imam Ali (a) in 36/656. This battle started by Aisha (Prophet Muhammad's widow), Talha, and Zubayr in a region near Basra; which ended with the victory of Imam Ali's (a) forces over Nakithun.
- Battle of Siffin
The Battle of Siffin was a battle between Imam Ali (a) and Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan occurred in the Safar of 37/ May 657 in an area called Siffin. Mu'awiya and his army later came to be called Qasitun. When the army of Mu'awiya was about to be defeated, they put copies of the Qur'an on their spears and discouraged some people in Imam Ali's (a) army from the battle. Eventually, some arbiters were elected in order to judge between the two parties, and the battle ended with no result.
- Battle of Nahrawan
It was among the battles during the caliphate of Imam Ali (a) which happened after the Battle of Siffin and following the event of Hakamiyya in Safar of 38/658. On one side of the battle was a group of people known as Mariqun or Kharijites. In this battle, Kharijites were conquered by the army of Imam Ali (a). It is said that less than ten soldiers from Kharijites could run away unharmed. Among them, Abd al-Rahman b. Muljim al-Muradi, the murderer of Imam Ali (a).
The Peace Treaty between Imam al-Hasan (a) and Mu'awiya
It refers to a peace treaty between Imam al-Hasan (a) and Mua'wiya (Abu Sufyan's offspring) in 41/661, after Imam Ali (a)'s demise. This treaty contained some provisions, the most important of which was Mu'awiya not assigning a successor, not to conspire against Imam al-Hasan (a), and to protect his Shi'a and companions' lives.
The Battle of Karbala
On Muharram 10, 61/October 13, 680, the army of Yazid b. Mu'awiya led by 'Umar b. Sa'd killed Imam al-Husayn (a), his companions and relatives in Karbala; they also took the rest of his caravan as captives.
- The Uprising of al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi
On Rabi' I 14, 66/October 22, 685, al-Mukhtar executed a rise in revenge of Imam al-Husayn's (a) blood. The Shi'a of Kufa supported him. He killed Shimr b. Dhi l-Jawshan, Khawli b. Yazid, 'Umar b. Sa'd, and 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad in his rise.
- Tawwabun Uprising
It is the first of Shi'a uprisings which took place after the Battle of 'Ashura in revenge of Imam al-Husayn's (a) blood in 'Ayn al-Warda region led by Sulayman b. Surad al-Khuza'i.
- The Uprising of Zayd b. Ali
Zayd b. Ali launched a rebellion, which led to his martyrdom, in 122/740 against Umayyad due to a number of reasons, including the tyrannies of Umayyad and invitations of people of Kufa.
Presence of Imams (a) in Iraq
|Imam||Imamate Duration||Presence in Iraq||Contemporary Caliphs||Caliphate Duration||Events in Iraq|
|Imam Ali (a)||29 years (11/632 to 40/661)||Kufa (after accepting the caliphate)||Abu Bakr 'Umar'Uthman||4 years and 9 months||Battle of Jamal Battle of Siffin Battle of Nahrawan|
|Imam al-Hasan (a)||10 years (40/661 to 50/670)||Kufa (to the time of Peace Treaty with Mu'awiyya||Mu'awiyya||6 months||making Peace Treaty with Mu'awiyya|
|Imam al-Husayn (a)||11 year (50/670 to 61/680)||•Kufa (to the time of Peace Treaty of Imam al-Hasan (a) •Karbala (Battle of Karbala)||Mu'awiyya (from 41/661 to 60/680) Yazid (from 60/680 to 64/683||Battle of Karbala|
|Imam al-Sajjad (a)||34 year (from 61/680 to 95/731||•Karbala (Battle of Karbala) •Kufa (During captivity after the Battle of Karbala)||Yazid (from 60/680 to 64/683 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr (Mecca) Mu'awiyya b. Yazid Marwan b. Hakam 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik||Battle of Karbala Tawwabun Uprising Uprising of al-Mukhtar|
|Imam al-Baqir (a)||19 years||Karbala (Battle of Karbala)||Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik Sulayman b. 'Abd al-Malik 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz Yazid b. 'Abd al-Malik Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik||Battle of Karbala Tawwabun Uprising Uprising of al-Mukhtar|
|Imam al-Sadiq (a)||34 years||Kufa (at the end of his life; training students and pupils)||Walid b. Yazid Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik Ibrahim b. al-Walid Marwan b. Muhammad Abu l-'Abbas al-Saffah Mansur al-Dawaniqi||Uprising of Zayd b. 'Ali|
|Imam al-Kazim (a)||35 years||Baghdad (as a prisoner)||Mansur al-Dawaniqi Mahdi al-'Abbasi Hadi al-'Abbasi Harun al-Rashid|
|Imam al-Jawad (a)||17 years||Baghdad (by command of Mu'tasim he was sent at the end of his life)||al-Ma'mun al-Mu'tasim|
|Imam al-Hadi (a)||34 years||Samarra||Mu'tasim Wathiq Mutawakkil Muntasir Mu'taz|
|Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari||4years||he was brought to Samarra by his father||Mu'tazMuhtadi Mu'tamid|
|Imam al-Mahdi (a)||he was born in Samarra in 255/869|
Rulers of Iraq
Iraq was ruled by Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Achaemenid, Sassanid, and some others. Therefore a number of kings ruled over it such as Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, and Alexander the Macedonian ruled.
Banu Hashim were descendants of Quraysh tribe; Hashim b. 'Abd Manaf was their ancestor. Prophet Muhammad (s) and Shi'a Imams were all descendants of this tribe. Imam Ali (a) and Imam al-Hasan (a) were caliphs of Muslims. Imam Ali (a) changed his capital from Medina to Kufa. After martyrdom of his father, Imam al-Hasan (a) became the caliph of Muslims. However, after some time he agreed a peace treaty with Mu'awiya and gave caliphate to him.
Umayyads (41/661-62 – 132/ 749-50) are a branch of Quraysh tribe, who are descendants of Umayya b. 'Abd Shams b. 'Abd Manaf. They came to power in 41/ 661-2 and they ruled over Iraq until 132/749-50. They changed Caliphate to Monarchy. Umayyad caliphs and leaders held adversaries against Banu Hashim which continued throughout their ruling era. Mu'awiya and Yazid were the first caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty.
Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan: He was the first Umayyad caliph. He usurped the caliphate from Imam al-Hasan (a) by means of the peace treaty between them in 41/661-2. He changed the capital from Kufa to Syria. He launched the Battle of Siffin against Imam Ali (a).
Yazid I: He was the second Umayyad caliph who came to power after the death of his father, Mu'awiya. Yazid's parents were fierce enemies of the Prophet (s) prior to the Conquest of Mecca. He was the first one chosen by his father to be the next caliph, in a hierarchical fashion. Yazid I was famous for being drunk and playing musical instruments. He had committed many crimes including the Battle of Karbala, the Incident of Harra, and the attack on Ka'ba.
Abbasid caliphs' lineage goes back to 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, the cousin of the Prophet (s). Although Saffah was the first Abbasid caliph, al-Mansur is known as the founder of the Abbasid caliphate. Six Shi'a Imams have lived during the time of Abbasids, including Imam al-Sadiq (a), Imam al-Kazim (a), Imam al-Rida (a), Imam al-Jawad (a), Imam al-Hadi (a), and Imam al-Hasan al-Askari (a); they were all martyred by Abbasid rulers.
Ottomans ruled over Iraq for some years. Sultan Sulayman Qanuni, a Sunni Ottoman ruler, has flourished Najaf. Actually, there was a contest between Shi'a Safavid rulers and Sultan Sulayman in order to flourish Najaf.
Buyids was a Shi'ite government that ruled from 328/939-40 to 446/ 1054-5 in Iraq and Iran, they managed to overcome Abbasid caliphate. At the beginning they established their government in Iran, then Ahmad b. Buya expanded Buyid territory to Iraq. 'Adud al-Dawla was the most powerful ruler of the Buyid dynasty. After his reign, Buyid rulers came against each other through disagreements which finally led to the fall of this Shi'ite dynasty by the hands of Sultan Mahmud, a Ghaznavid ruler.
Having Shi'a ministers including Ibn 'Amid, Sahib b. al-'Ibad, al-Muhallabi, and Ave Sina (Ibn Sina) in Buyid government, Shi'ism expanded throughout the region. Mourning ceremonies in 'Ashura, writing Shi'ite poem on walls of mosques in Baghdad, making pilgrimage of Shi'a Imams' shrines, building mosques, and resting places for pilgrims in Najaf and Karbala were significant actions taken by Buyid rulers.
Mongol Ilkhanate was a Shi'ite government that ruled over Iran, they ruled over Iraq in the eighth/fourteenth and ninth/fifteenth centuries. A number of Ilkhanate governors are buried in the holy shrine of Imam Ali (a) in Najaf.
Safavid dynasty founded their government based on Shi'ism. They chose Shi'a Islam as their official religion, which heavily affected Iranian culture. Transferring the Euphrates' water to Najaf and rebuilding the holy shrine of Kadhimiyya by the order of Shah Isma'il were the significant impact of Safavid government in Iraq.
In the ruling era of the first Safi, the Ottomans attacked Iran. As a result, the Zuhab treaty was agreed between the Ottomans and Safavid in 1049/1639, in which Iraq was detached from Iran and attached to Ottomans' territory. Zuhab treaty made peace between the two parties for a century.
Local Shi'ite Rules
They were Twelver Shi'a rulers who ruled over Mosul and Aleppo in the third/ninth and fourth/tenth century . Abu l-Hayja' 'Abd Allah b. Hamdan was the founder of Hamdani in Mosul. He rebuilt the wall around the city Najaf and ordered to build a dome on the burial site of Imam Ali (a). He also defended Muslims' territory against the Roman army and he ordered mint coins with the names of Ashab al-Kisa'.
- Banu al-Mazid
Banu al-Mazid (350/ 961-62 – 454/1062-63): They were initially part of the Banu Asad tribe who started living in the regions near Kufa. Ali b. Mazid, known as Sana' al-Dawla, was permitted by Ahmad Mu'iz al-Dawla's government to found the city Hillah in Iraq, which became their capital later. They actually acquired titles from the Buyid government and they established an independent state. Banu al-Mazidi established the seminary in Hillah for the first time in the 5th/11th century.
- Shahiniyya Shi'ite government
Shahiniyya (338/949-50 – 381/991-2) was established by 'Imran b. Shahin in Batiha, between Wasit and Basra, Iraq.
- Banu 'Aqil Shi'ite government
They were descendants of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'a. They migrated from Arabian Peninsula to Iraq and became reliant on Hamdanis. In the time of the decline of Hamdani, Banu 'Aqil took over Mosul. Later they managed to expand their territory from Baghdad to Aleppo. However, when they faced attacks from the Seljuk government, they let Turkish rulers take charge of Iraqi military soldiers. Finally, when they lost their power they migrated back to the eastern regions of Saudi Arabia.
They were Shi'a families in Iraq who were ruling over the south of Iraq and Khuzestan province in Iran in the beginning of the 4th/10th century. Abu Yusuf al-Baridi was the governor of Basra and its region in 320/ 932-3. Then 'Abd Allah al-Baridi was ruling in Wasit and Baghdad in 329/940-1, and he made al-Muttaqi, an Abbasid governor, to offer the ministry of Abbasid caliphate to him; although it was usurped from him soon. In the time of Buyid, Abu l-Qasim al-Baridi was chosen as the governor of Basra and then in 335/946-7 became the governor of Wasit and its region. He ruled over Basra until 349/960.
Muhammad b. Fallah al-Musha'sha'i, the student of Ibn Fahad al-Hilli, founded a Shi'ite government in the south of Iran and Iraq.
An important city in Iraq that is mostly inhabited by Shi'a Muslims due to the presence of the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali (a). In fact, it was hugely regarded as a crucial city for rulers throughout history, as well as the existence of seminaries there.
The existence of Imam al-Husayn (a)'s shrine in Karbala has made this city globally well-known. It was under attacked several times throughout history. Also 'Abbas b. Ali and other martyrs of the Battle of Karbala have been buried there.
Kadhimiyya is a destination for Muslim pilgrims due to the presence of the Kazimayn shrine. This city is regarded as the third important city to Shi'a Muslims, after Najaf and Karbala.
Shi'a Muslims visit Samarra due to the presence of holy shrines of Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a). Also, a great number of Shi'a religious and scientific figures are buried there. This city was the capital of Abbasid caliphate for half a century. Imam al-Mahdi (a) was born in Samarra.
Kufa is among the firsts cities built by Muslims. It was the capital of Muslims in the time of the caliphate of Imam Ali (a) and Imam al-Hasan (a). A large number of scientific Shi'ite families were born in Kufa. Al-Sahla mosque and the great mosque of Kufa are the main religious places in the city.
Baghdad is currently the capital of Iraq. It was previously either the capital of Muslim territory or among the most important cities where Imam al-Sadiq (a) was imprisoned in the time of Harun al-Rashid.
The Holy Shrine of Imam Ali (a)
Imam Ali (a) is buried in Najaf. The first shrine was built in the time of Harun al-Rashid, which was later rebuilt and expanded many times. Several Shi'a rulers and religious scholars are buried there.
The Holy Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a)
The holy shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a) is situated in Karbala. Traveler Prayer is treated the same as Masjid al-Haram, al-Masjid al-Nabawi, and Great Mosque of Kufa; in which travelers' prayer are allowed to be performed in four rak'a.
The Holy Shrine of Kadhimiyya
Imam al-Kazim (a) and Imam al-Jawad (a) are both buried in Kadhimiyya, which is located in the north of Baghdad. The shrines were rebuilt and renewed several times; the longest one took about 21 years in the time of Shah Isma'il Safavid. Also, a number of Shi'a figures are buried there.
The al-'Askariyyayn Shrine in Samarra
Imam al-Jawad (a) and Imam al-Hadi (a) are both buried in Samarra; the shrine is called Askariyayn. It was under attack many times, and recently it was under attack in 2014 by ISIS. They attacked Samarra in order to destroy the shrines, however, they faced Iraqi people and military resistances.
The Shrine of Abbas b. Ali (a)
'Abbas b. Ali is buried in Karbala near the shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a). The distance between the shrines of Imam al-Husayn (a) and Abbas b. Ali is called Bayn al-Haramayn (Between the two shrines).
Shi'a Seminaries in Iraq
Shi'a Seminary of Baghdad
Shi'a seminary in Baghdad was established in the time of Imam al-Kazim (a). After the emergence of religious scholars such as Ibn al-Junayd, al-Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Sayyid al-Murtada and al-Shaykh al-Tusi in the time of Buyid dynasty, Shi'a seminary in Baghdad became the superior seminary among Shi'a Muslims. However, after the entrance of Tughril, a Seljuk leader, in Baghdad in 477/1084-5, the Shi'a seminary in Baghdad declined. As a result, most religious scholars migrated to Najaf.
Shi'a Seminary of Najaf
The presence of al-Shaykh al-Tusi in the Shi'a seminary of Najaf made it a scientific and intellectual center in Shi'ism. Then in the sixth century A.H after the emergence of Muhammad b. Idris al-Hilli, Shi'a seminary of Najaf declined and the superiority transferred to Shi'a seminary of Hillah. However Muhaqqiq Ardabili made the Shi'a seminary of Najaf prominent again. Since the fourth decade of the eleventh century, Shi'a seminary of Najaf involved in Akhbarism, just like other Shi'a seminaries. The emergence of 'Allama Bahr al-'Ulum and the students of Wahid al-Bihbahani in the thirteenth century in Shi'a seminary of Najaf, made again the most influential and major Shi'a seminary among Shi'a Muslims.
Shi'a Seminary of Hillah
Shi'a seminary of Hillah was founded by Banu Mazid in the 5th/11th century, which became the superior seminary among Shi'a Muslims from the middle of the sixth century to the end of the eighth century. Numerous grand scholars have taught and studied there such as Ibn Idris al-Hilli, Mughaqqiq al-Hilli, 'Allama al-Hilli and Ibn Tawus.
- Ash'ari Family
Ash'ari family was a Qahtani tribe from Yemen. After the promotion of Islam in Yemen, a large number of them converted to Islam. After the conquest of Iran by Muslims, they came and settled in Kufa, also they played crucial roles in social and political events in Iraq. Then after the prosecutions of Shi'a Muslims by Hajjaj b. Yusuf they migrated to Qom in Iran.
- Banu Asad
Banu Asad are 'Adnani Arabs who settled around Kufa, Basra and Syria. Habib b. Muzahir and Muslim b. Awsaja who were martyred in the Battle of Karbala were from Banu Asad tribe; the tribe that buried martyrs of the battle of Karbala. Banu Mazid was a branch of Banu Asad, who founded the city Hillah in the time of their rule. The establishment of Shi'a seminary in Hillah is regarded as their most significant scientific – cultural action taken by Banu Asad.
- 'Abd al-Qays tribe
- Tayy tribe
Shi'ism in Iraq
The origin of Shi'ism in Iraq goes back to the time of Imam Ali (a), which started in Kufa. A large number of hadith narrators in Kufa were Shi'a Muslims, who transmitted Shi'ism to Baghdad in the middle of the 2nd/8th century. Although Shi'ism originated from Medina, Kufa is regarded as their leading base. One-third of Kufa people were Shi'a in the time of Umayyad dynasty. Shi'ism expanded from Kufa to other cities including Baghdad, Basra, and a number of cities in Iran. Abu Bakr al-Khwarizmi (d. 383/993) sent a letter to Shi'a Muslims in Neyshabur and introduced Shi'ism as a religion that originated from Iraq: The land known as Iraq, except for Baghdad and the northern regions is the region that Shi'a Muslims are living in. In fact, the place that Imam al-Husayn (a)'s blood shed, initiated the expansion of Shi'ism.
Shi'ism in Basra
A large number of Shi'a Muslims of Basra opposed the enemies of Imam Ali (a) in the Battle of Jamal. The tribe of 'Abd al-Qays who were living in Basra were Shi'a Muslims and followers of Imam Ali (a). Khuza'a and Bajila tribes were Shi'ite. When Imam al-Husayn (a), set out for Kufa, he sent a letter to Shi'a Muslims of Basra and invited them to support him. They gathered around in the house of Mariya al-'Abdiyya. Sharik b. A'war, a prominent Shi'a figure in Basra, passed away just before the martyrdom of Muslim b. 'Aqil. Shi'a Muslims of Basra were mentioned in the ancient historical books. 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Jaludi was a Shi'a author from Basra. The names of hundreds of Shi'ite figures from Basra were mentioned in the book al-Nusra li Shi'at al-Basra. Baridis, Shahiniyya, and Banu Mazid were a number of Shi'a rulers in Basra. Today Basra is the second-largest city of Iraq and one of the most important Shi'ite cities in the world.
Shi'ism in Baghdad
After Baghdad was founded by immigrants from Kufa, Basra, and Khorasan as well as settlement of a large number of grand Shi'ite scholars in Karkh, a region in Baghdad, who were noble or official chiefs in Baghdad. The region of Karkh is called the region of Rafidi in sources. Yaghut al-Himawi expressed: "Those who lived in Karkh were all Twelver Shi'a Muslims and there were no Sunni among them." When Buyids came to Baghdad in 344/955, they remarkably supported Shi'a Muslims and Shi'ite ceremonies such as holding mourning ceremonies of the Day of 'Ashura and eid al-Ghadir, which led to start of oppositions between Sunni Muslims of Bab al-Basra and Shi'a Muslims of Karkh region. Then after the emergence of Turks in Baghdad, Shi'a Muslims were prosecuted and distressed.
The region of Buratha which includes Buratha mosque is regarded as an important Shi'ite region in Baghdad. It is regarded as a sacred region for Shi'a Muslims which was damaged and destroyed many times. Today this region is considered as one the most important Shi'ite communities where Friday's prayers are held.
Except for the region of karkh, a large number of Shi'a Muslims are living in Bab al-Taqa region. Husayn b. Ruh al-Nowbakhti was living in this region which was called Nowbakhtiyya. He is currently buried in that region which is known as Sawq al-Shurja, a Shi'ite region in Baghdad. Imam al-Kazim (a) and Imam al-Jawad (a) are buried in a cemetery known as Kadhimiyya, where grand Shi'ite figures are buried, including Al-Sayyid al-Murtada and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi.
Shi'ism in Wasit
Wasit was founded by Hajjaj b. Yusuf near Tigris River on the way of Kufa and Basra, therefore it was called Wasit; which means in the middle. A flood of Tigris River later destroyed it. Today Wasit is a province in Iraq, with al-Kut as its capital; it is regarded a Shi'ite region.
Sa'id b. Jubayr was regarded a prominent leading member of tabi'un who had tendencies toward Shi'ism; he was also a student of Ibn 'Abbas. He was slayed by the orders of Hajjaj b. Yusuf. Twelver and Zaydi Shi'a Muslims gradually settled in Wasit in the time of the Abbasid dynasty. Hisham b. Hakam, a well-known Shi'a Mutikallim, was born in Kufa but he grew up and started his trades in Baghdad. Ibrahim b. Hayyan al-Asadi al-Kufi, a companion of Imam al-Sadiq (a), moved from Kufa to Wasit and stayed there. Ubay Allah b. Abi Zayd Ahmad al-Anbari, Ahmad b. Sahl al-Wasiti, 'Ali b. Bilal al-Baghdadi and 'Ali b. Muhammad Shakir Laythi Wasiti lived in Wasit.
Hasan b. 'Ali b. Nasr b. 'Aql, known as Abu 'Ali 'Abdi al-Wasiti al-Baghdadi was an Iraqi poet in the 6th/12th century who composed a number of poems for rulers of the time. Abu l-Fadl Isfandyar b. Muwaffaq b. Muhammad b. Yahya, a Shi'a poet, was born in Wasit.
Muhammad b. Fallah Masha'sha'i, the founder of Musha'sha'iyya Shi'a government in the south of Iran and Iraq, was also born in Wasit. He studied in Hillah, he was a student of Ibn Fahd al-Hilli. A number of descendants of Shi'a Imams are buried in Wasit as well.
Shi'ism in Northern Half of Iraq
The history of Shi'ism in Samarra does not go back so long. Only Mirza Shirazi lived in Samarra when he was a marja' al-taqlid. Balad, a city 20 km off Samarra, is entirely Shi'ite, except for a number of villages around it. The burial place of al-Sayyid Muhammad is one the Shi'ite sites there. In 1991 a large number of people of Balad were in trouble, 395 were executed, 225 were imprisoned and more than one hundred families were forced to leave the city; they settled in a desert in the southwest of Iraq.
Erbil is also regarded a Shi'ite city in this region. 'Ali b. Isa Irbili, the author of "Kashf al-Ghima" was born there.
Shi'ism in Mosul goes back to the time of Hamdani and Buyid governments. Badr al-Din Lu'lu' al-Musili, governor of Mosul in the 7th/13th century, made huge efforts in expanding Shi'ism. The burial places of Shi'a poets, literary men and descendants of Imams in the sixth and seventh centuries which were mentioned in sources as Ghali or Rafidi prove the history of Shi'ism in Mosul. More than 400 Shi'ite families are living in Mosul. Shi'a Turkmen currently are living in Kirkuk, 100 meters north of Mosul.
Shi'ism among Nomadic Tribes
Shi'ism among a number of Nomadic unions such as Banu Salama and Ta'i goes back to a long time ago. However, Shi'ism is fresh among other nomadic tribes including Rabi'a, Khaz'al, Banu Tamim, Zubayd, Banu 'Umayr, al-Diwar, al-Dafafi'a. Iranian's visit to Holy shrines in Iraq as well as the presence of clergymen in order for preaching and expanding Shi'ism led to the growth of Shi'a Muslims among nomadic tribes. Ibrahim al-Haydari al-Baghdadi (1882) in his book "Al-Majd" explained about Shi'ism among nomadic tribes in Iraq and differentiated between Sunni and Shi'a tribes there.
Influence of Shi'ism in Iraq (Kufa, Najaf, and Hillah) on Iran
The original Shi'ism was spread to Iran many times from Kufa, Najaf, and Hillah:
1. The immigration of Ash'ariyyun to Qom: Ash'ariyyun were members of a tribe from Yemen who immigrated to Iraq in order to support Prophet Muhammad (s) in his conquests in Iraq. A large number of them were students and followers of Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and later they converted to Shi'ism. After Umayyad rulers prosecuted Shi'a Muslims, they immigrated to Iran and settled in Qom. Ash'ariyyun maintained their Arabic identity for centuries.
2. Shi'ism spread to Iran from the school of Baghdad in the time of al-Shaykh al-Tusi and his son, Abu Ali: al-Shaykh al-Tusi spend most of his life in Baghdad. But when his library was set on fire, he moved to Najaf and founded a seminary there. Meanwhile, a number of Iranian Shi'a Muslims immigrated to Iraq who was mainly from Qom, Rey, Sari, and Gorgan. They became students of al-Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Shaykh al-Mufid, and al-Sayyid al-Murtada afterward.
3. Shi'ism spread to Iran from the School of Hillah: The school of Hillah was managed by Ibn Idris, Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, and al-'Allama al-Hilli which influenced Muslim world. A large number of Iranian students have studied there and the thoughts of Al-Allama al-Hilli were promoted in Iran for two centuries. Constant travels of clergymen between Iran and Hillah and occasional visits of al-Allama al-Hilli to Iran in the time of Sultan Muhammad Khudabande exerted a powerful influence over the promotion of Shi'ism in Iran. This scientific movement continued in the time of Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin.
4. The influence of the seminary of Najaf on Iran: Massive immigration of religious scholars of Jabal Amel to Iran greatly influenced this matter. A number of them settled in Iraq, and a number of them directly immigrated to Iran. Most of these religious scholars were invited to Iran by Safavid rulers, including Shah Tahmasib, to strengthen religious seminaries in Iran. They brought Shi'ite texts which enriched Shi'ism in Qazvin and Isfahan in Safavid era. Al-Muhaqqiq al-Karki was among the prominent figures of the time.
Contemporary Situation of Shi'ism
The Revolution of 1920
Although Shi'a Muslims were treated harshly in the Ottoman era, they stood firm and defended themselves against British soldiers. This resistance was inspired by fatwas of religious scholars of Najaf. Sayyid Muhammad Sa'id Habbubi, Shaykh Abd al-Karim al-Jazayeri and Sayyid Kazim Yazdi gave speeches in order to encourage the resistance. Muhammad Mahdi Khalisi in Kadhimiyya emphasized resistance in his statements. Sayyid Mahdi Heydari and Muhammad Taqi Shirazi issued fatwas. Even Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, as the leader of Shi'a Muslims of Iraq and his successor, Al-Shaykh al-Shari'a al-Isfahani, made huge efforts in achieving independence of Iraq from the Ottomans.
After the opposition of religious scholars of Najaf with policies of the British in Iraq, rulers of Iraq exiled them in 1337 A.H. Sayyid Abu al-Hasan al-Isfahani and Mirza Husayn Na'ini along with a number of other religious scholars were exiled to Iran. Sunni Muslims were holding the official authorities at that time. In the meantime, the al-Da'wa party started its activities in 1958.
No Shi'a Muslim was ever appointed as a minister in Iraq until 1947. Malik Feysal tried to convince Shi'a religious clergymen to get them involved in government affairs. Al-Sayyid Hibi al-Din al-Shahristani held the ministry of Ma'arif (theology) for some time. Also Al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Sadr, Salih Jibar and Abd al-Wahhab Marjan were prime ministers of Iraq from 1947 to 1957.
Shi'a Muslims in Ba'ath Time
The Ba'ath government tried its best to keep Shi'a Muslims and Kurdish Iraqis away from political power. From 1920 until the occupation of Iraq by the American army in 2003 Sunni were largely in charge of political power in Iraq. After the attack of Iraq on Kuwait in 1991 and afterward the attack of the United States' army to Iraq, Shi'a Muslims started a revolution against the Ba'ath government called Sha'baniyya, which was supported by a grand religious leader, Ayatollah Khoei. After the failure of this riot, the Iraqi army massacred Shi'a Muslims all over the country; they used tanks that carried flags written on them "There will not be any Shi'a Muslim anymore." According to sources, between three hundred to five hundred thousand Shi'a were murdered. In the meantime, the war between Iraq and Iran and also the expulsion of Iranian from Iraq took place.
Sha'ban Intifada in Iraq was a riot against the government of Saddam Husayn in Sha'ban month in 1411 A.H/1991. It took place after the defeat of the Iraqi army in their attack on Kuwait. Subsequently, the Iraqi army suppressed the rioters and oppositions, killing thousands of people while two million left their houses. Meanwhile, the holy shrines of Imam Ali (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a) were damaged and Ayatollah Khoei was arrested.
After the time of Saddam Husayn
After the fall of Saddam Husayn's Government in 2003, Shi'a Muslims who were exiled to Iran and Syria returned to their homeland. After a couple of months, the first parliament was formed with 25 members, including 13 Shi'a representatives; Ibrahim al-Jaafari was the head of this Majlis. The United States proposed writing a constitutional law for Iraq which was rejected by Ayatollah Sistani. His opposition with the American plan made Ayatollah Sistani the defender of the Iraqi people. The United States was interfering with the internal affairs of Iraq, which led to civil wars in the country. Ayatollah al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim and 'Iz al-Din Salim were martyred in these incidents. Suicidal attacks in Karbala, Kadhimiyya and other holy shrines led to the killings of a large number of Shi'a Muslims in Iraq.
Constitution of Iraq and the New Government
After the fall of the Ba'ath government, Shi'a Muslims and Kurds found a chance to get involved in political activities in their country. Iraq conducted nationwide parliamentary elections in 2005. Shi'a Muslims' representatives managed to achieve140 chairs out of total of 257 chairs of the parliament. Ibrahim al-Ja'fari became the head of the government. In 2005 fifty members including 28 Shi'a Muslims became responsible to draw up the new Constitution of Iraq. Later Sunni representatives also were added to them, which made them a 75 member group. On the 25th of October, a referendum was held in Iraq on the new Constitution which was accepted by 78% of the Iraqi people. Al-Sayyid Ali al-Sistani and later the leaders of Islamic Da'wa party and Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq were leaders of Shi'a Muslims throughout these political occasions. Currently, the prime minister of Iraq is a Shi'a Muslim. Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, Nouri al-Maliki and Haider al-Abadi were Prime ministers also for some time. Today sixty percent of ministries of Iraq are administrated and managed by Shi'a representatives.
Shi'a Political Parties
Islamic Da'wa Party
Islamic Da'wa party is regarded as one of the main Shi'ite parties in Iraq. It was founded in Najaf by al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim and Muhammad Sadiq al-Qamusi. al-Sayyid Murtada al-Askari became a member of this party later.
Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq
Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq was founded in 1982 in Tehran with the purpose of throwing down the Ba'ath government in Iraq. Al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim was a pioneer in founding this Majlis. It includes Shi'ite, Sunni, Kurd, Arab and Turkmen members, with Arab Shi'ite as their majority. It also comprises a number of political parties and groups including the Islamic Da'wa party, Islamic Action Society, Haraka al-Mujahidin al-'Araqi'in, Hizbullah of Kurdistan, and numbers of al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin in Iraq. Al-Sayyid Mahmud al-Hashimi and Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim were previously the head of this Majlis, currently 'Ammar al-Hakim is the head of this organization.
Shi'ite Media in Iraq
These are a number of popular broadcasting bases which are managed and administrated by Shi'a Muslims of Iraq:
- Afaq Satellite Channel,
- Afaq Radio,
- Bintu al-huda Radio,
- Islamic Da'wa Journal that was suspended after issue num.10,
- Al-Bayan and al-Da'wa.
Iraq was part of Persia's territory in ancient times. After the foundation of the Ottoman government in Istanbul, Iraq was conquered frequently by Iran and Ottoman armies. Shah Isma'il, a Safavid ruler, conquered Baghdad in 914/1508. However, Iraq was seized by Ottoman's ruler Sultan Murad IV in 1059/1649; it was the last time that Iran ruled over Iraq. After the fall of the Ottoman dynasty, Tehran and Baghdad had conflicts over the Arvand Rud river. Later in 1937, they reached an agreement to settle the conflicts on this river which kept them in peace until 1958.
When Ba'ath regime came to power, conflicts between the two countries resumed. Ba'ath began the expulsion of a thousand Iranian settlers in Iraq, while they welcomed Teymur Bakhtiyar, the former head of the Savak Agency of Iran. These incidents intensified the hostilities between Iraq and Iran. 1975 Algiers Agreement between Iraq and Iran temporarily ended their disputes. The invasion of Iraq in 1980 to Iran started the darkest time between the two countries which led to an eight-year war. However after the Ba'ath government collapsed in the invasion of the United States army, political, social and economic relations between Iraq and Iran resumed into their normal conditions. Currently, Iran is supporting Iraq in recent years after the attacks of ISIS to northern parts of this country.
Exile of Religious Leaders
Mirza Muhammad Taqi al-Shirazi issued a Jihad fatwa against British occupiers in Iraq, accordingly, Iraqi and Iranian people including Sayyid Muhammad Yazdi, Sayyid Ali Damad Tabrizi, Shari'at Isfahani, Mirza Muhammad Shirazi and Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Khwansari attended the battle and fought against British troops. On the other hand, the British exiled a number of religious leaders of Iraq including Mirza Muhammad Shirazi, Shaykh Jawad Zanjani, Muhammad Taqi Khwansari and 'Abd al-Karim Puyan to Hingam Island. When Ayatollah Shirazi passed away, Shari'at Isfahani was chosen as the new leader of the opposition against the British which started a new wave of encounters. Afterward al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Khalisi along with a number of religious leaders were exiled to Qom in Iran.
Iranian Settlers in Iraq
A number of Iranians immigrated to Iraq many years ago, they were living in Karbala, Najaf, and Kadhimiyya near Baghdad. A number of them were forced to leave Iraq in the time of Saddam's government. However, after the fall of the Ba'ath regime, some of them returned back to Iraq.
Hakim family with Iranian origins is a well-known Shi'ite family who is prominent in scientific and political areas. Their ancestor al-Sayyid Ali al-Hakim, the son of al-Sayyid Murad b. Sayyid Shah Asad Allah was the special doctor of Shah Abbas I, a Safavid ruler. He accompanied Shah Abbas in his visit to Najaf but he stayed there due to the medical needs of people. Thus he was known as al-Sayyid Ali al-Hakim (Hakim means doctor in Arabic).
Iraqi Immigrants in Iran
A number of Arab and Kurd Iraqi people have immigrated to Iran in recent decades. According to an official census in 2001, about two hundred and three thousand Iraqi people were living in Iran. Some sources believe about five hundred thousand Iraqi people live in Iran. Many of them have become Iranian citizens and are mainly living in Qom, Tehran, Khuzestan and Khorasan. Nevertheless, some of them returned to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Husayn's regime.
Shi'ite Rituals and Ceremonies
The largest gathering of Shi'a Muslims in the whole world is held every year in Arba'in in Karbala. Shi'a Muslims from different countries move toward Karbala every year in order to attend mourning ceremonies there. They also walk on foot the distance between Najaf and Karbala. In the time of Ba'ath regime Shi'a Muslims were not allowed to hold or attend Arba'in ceremonies which were conducted for many centuries in Karbala; therefore, after the fall of Saddam Husayn procession of Arba'in resumed.
ISIS Attacks on North of Iraq
After an attack of Iraq's army on some Sunni settlers in 2014, the Iraqi army was forced to retreat and leave Ramadi and Falluja in al-Anbar province. It gave a chance to ISIS forces to occupy these cities consequently. However, after a series of attacks and clashes, the head of ISIS in Ramadi was killed and they lost control of these two cities.
In June 2014, ISIS attacked to northern parts of Iraq and they occupied Mosul, the second-largest city of Iraq. They destroyed all the historical sites and mosques in Mosul which Shi'a Muslims valued. ISIS forces demolished the burial places of the prophet Yunus (Jonah), Jirjis, Sheeth (Seth) and Yahya b. Zayd near Mosul. Ayatollah Sistani asked Iraqi people to stand and fight against ISIS, which made a large number of people encouraged and motivated.
Currently, northern parts of Iraq near the borders of Syria are occupied by ISIS including cities like Nineveh, Tikrit, and Yathrib. There is no official account of the number of casualties in the ISIS attacks, it is reported only in August 2014 attacked ISIS injured 1370 and killed 1420 Iraqi. Unofficial reports reported that ISIS attacks have made five hundred thousand Iraqi leave their houses. About a thousand infants and children were killed in Nineveh and Salah al-Din. Numerous governments and international organizations have condemned ISIS attacks.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from عراق in Farsi WikiShia.