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  The Origins and Early Development of Shi`a Islam

Chapter 5

Kufa: Stage of Shi`i Activities

From the time `Ali moved to Kufa in 36/656, or even earlier,
the city became the main centre of Shi`i movements,
aspirations, hopes, and sometimes concerted efforts. It was in
and around Kufa that so many of the stormy events which
make up the early history of Shi'i Islam took place: events
such as the mobilization of forces by `Ali for the battles of Al-
Jamal and Siffin the election and abdication of Hasan, the
uprising of Hujr b. `Adi al-Kindi, the massacre of Husayn
and his companions, the movement of the Tawwabun, and
the revolt of Mukhtar. Yet Kufa also proved to be a source of
setbacks, disappointments, frustrations, and even treachery
and failure in the Shi`i desire to see the house of `Ali in
command of the affairs of the Muslim community. This
chapter, therefore, endeavours to examine in brief the nature
and composition of the city of Kufa and the characteristic
tendencies of its people.
The city of Kufa was founded in the year 17/638, about
three years after `Umar b. al-Khattab assumed the caliphate
at Medina.
1 After the Muslim victories at the battles of Al-
Qadisiya in 15/636 and that of Jalula' in the following year,
the Caliph ordered Sa`d b. Abi Waqqas, the commander of
the Muslim armies in Iraq, to remain where he was, no doubt
with the idea of consolidating Muslim control of Iraq and
then making further advances into Persia whenever this
might prove advisable. Sa`d b. Abi Waqqas therefore stationed
the Arab armies at the newly conquered Sassanian capital of
Al-Mada'in, which soon proved to be unsatisfactory to the
Arabs because of its damp climate, crowded living conditions,
and the lack of a desert environment providing pure air and
open pastures for grazing cattle. Informed of the hardships
the Arab troops were experiencing in a strange environment,
the Caliph wrote to Sa`d to remove the armies from Al-
Mada'in and find a place which would suit the Arab way of
life and meet their requirements. After two or three places
had been tried, and with the help of Salman al-Farisi and
Hudhayfa b. al-Yaman, the choice fell on a plain lying on the
west bank of the Euphrates close to the old Persian city of Al-
Hira.
2 Subsequently Sa'd ordered his forces to encamp there
and make it their home. This was the beginning of Kufa. The
choice of the place for the envisaged city was not a hasty one,
but was made after careful consideration and a thorough
search of the area lasting almost two years.
3
The description of the founding (Khitat) of Kufa given by
the sources leaves us in no doubt that at first it was not meant
so much to develop a township as to establish a strong,
permanent, and strategically located garrison for the Arab
armies in the newly conquered distant territory of Iraq. This
is clear from `Umar's directive when he wrote to Sa`d "Choose
for the Muslims a place for migration (dar hijra) and a centre
[for carrying out] war (manzil jihad)."
4 By dar hijra at this
particular time, `Umar meant a permanent home for those of
the fighters of Al-Qadisiya who came for the conquest of Iraq
from far-off places and who were supposed to stay there to
maintain Muslim control over the new territory; by manzil
jihad he most probably indicated that these settlers would be
expected to undertake further military actions into Persia.
Baladhuri gives a slightly different version of `Umar's
directive in which besides "a place to which Muslims could
migrate" he adds the phrase "and which the Muslims could
use as a meeting place (qayrawan)."
5 This again means that in
`Umar's mind Kufa was meant as a garrison town where
different contingents from distant places could stay and
should be readily available whenever required. The first
settlers in this garrison town were, therefore, those hurriedly
collected contingents who fought at the battle of Al-Qadisiya
and were known as ahl al-ayyam wa'l-Qadisiya.
The planning of the new city and the organization of the
quarters for the first inhabitants, especially when they were
drawn from such a great variety of tribes, as will be seen
presently, must have been a great task for Sa`d b. Abi Waqqas.
Except for Basra, which had been founded only a year earlier
and was still in the formative stages, the Arabs of northern
and central Arabia had little experience in establishing
townships. The conception of a town as a political or social
unit was still something foreign to the Arab sense of
belonging. Even in old cities in northern and central Arabia
such as Ta'if, Mecca, and Medina, socio-political units were
not the cities, but the tribes.
With the beginning of `Umar's caliphate and the thrust of
outward expansion, those Arabs who seized the first opportunity
to fight, and accordingly migrated to Syria, were
organized in relatively cohesive groupings since they belonged
to large and homogeneous tribes. Similarly, in the Basran
territories there were mainly two predominant tribes, Tamim
and Bakr, and only a negligible number of 300 other people
who came from distant areas.
6
At Kufa, on the other hand, the number of those who came
to live from far-off places ranged between 15,000 and 20,000,
and were exceedingly heterogeneous in tribal composition.
There was a marked absence of large dominating clans or
groups of clans. At first, Sa`d found the solution in dividing
them not into individual clans or tribes, but into their broader
tribal categories of Nizari (North Arabs) and Yemeni (South
Arabs). The Nizaris were therefore quartered on the western
side of the plain, and the Yemenis on the eastern side,
according to the lots drawn with arrows, as was the custom of
the Arabs.
7 The large plot of land which he demarcated for
the mosque was to be the centre of the city. Adjoining the
mosque the governor's residence and the treasury were built.
This first arrangement of the population of Kufa, however,
had to go through three successive reorganizations in the
following 33 years.
The organization of the Kufan population into the two
broad groupings of the Nizaris and the Yemenis soon proved
to be unsatisfactory. Firstly, neither the various tribes of the
Nizaris nor the different groups of the Yemenis found ita
congenial to put up together and soon encountered serious
problems. Secondly, such an arrangement presented serious
difficulties in forming compact military contingents. Kufa
was founded as a garrison town intended to furnish well-
organized contingents ready for action. This was difficult
when people were grouped into two broad divisions. Finally,
the lack of small groupings into clans or groups of allied clans
made it difficult to organize the distribution of stipends on
which the population depended. Experiencing these difficulties
Sa`d, after consulting the Caliph `Umar, reorganized the
population into seven groups. This reshuffling or balancing
out, `addala, ta`dil, was made on the basis of genealogies and
alliances with the assistance of two recognized experts in
Arab genealogies (nussab).
8 The guiding principle employed
in the reorganization was clearly the pre-Islamic or traditional
Arabian pattern of tribal organization in which tribes or clans
of tribes made political alliances in the form of loose
confederacies.
The entire population of Kufa was thus divided into seven
groups, described as asba`, in the following units:
9

1 Kinana with their allies from the ahabish and others and the
clan of Jadila. Kinana was a Meccan tribe and Quraysh was
one of its branches, whereas Jadila, a branch of Qays `Aylan,
was also from the Hijaz and had some connections with
Kinana. Both of them were regarded as people of prestige (ahl
al-`aliya). Kinana and Quraysh, along with some other tribes,
had in the past formed a group known as Khindif. It was
natural that in Kufa both Kinana and Jadila should enjoy a
close relationship and collaborate with the Qurayshi governors
and, even though small in number, maintain a privileged
position.
10
2 Quda`a, Ghassan, Bajila, Khath`am, Kinda, Hadramawt, and
Azd,
11 combined together, formed a strong Yemeni contingent.
Two of them, the Bajila, led by their chief Jarir b. 'Abd
Allah,
12 who was a personal friend of the Caliph 'Umar, and
Kinda, whose leader was Ash`ath b. Qays,
13 had dominating
positions in this group.
3 Madhhij,
14 Himyar, 15 Hamdan, 16 and their allies. This was
another powerful Yemeni group, in which the Hamdan
attained a significant position in Kufa and played an
important role and produced some staunch supporters of the
Shi'i cause.
17
4 Tamim, Rihab, and Hawazin, all three belonging to the
Mudar group.
18
5 Asad, Ghatfan, Muharib, Nimr, Dubay`a, and Taghub,
19
most of these belonging to the Nizari group from Rabi`a and
Bakr.
6 Iyad, `Akk, 'Abd al-Qays, Ahl al-H ajar, and Hamra'. Iyad
20
and `Akk,
21 of Nizari `Adnani origin, had long been resident
in the Iraqi region and had joined the Muslim forces against
the Sassanian armies. `Abd al-Qays,
22 also an `Adnani branch
had migrated to Bahrayn and was known as Ahl al-H ajar.
They sent a large delegation from Bahrayn to Medina in the
year 9/630 and accepted Islam, many of them distinguishing
themselves as Companions of the Prophet.
23 Though com-
posed of a hodge-podge of Arab tribes, their importance can
hardly be under-estimated, as the ~Abd al-Qays came to Al-
Qadisiya under a powerful Tamimi chief, Zuhra b. Hawiya,
one of the chief architects of the Muslim victory at Al-
Qadisiya, who solidly united these three tribes under his
command to inflict heavy losses on the Persians. Soon after
Al-Qadisiya, the strength of this group was immensely
increased when 4,000 Persian slaves under their leader
Daylam (hence the name Daylamites) accepted Islam on
special terms secured from Sa`d, and joined this Tamimi
dynastic chief, who became their patron. They were thus
united in a confederacy with the Iyad, `Akk, and the `Abd al-
Qays. The name Hamra' in this group refers to these 4,000
Persians.
24 This group, however, at least numerically, formed
one of the strongest units at Kufa, and consequently their
numerically advantageous position was bound to come into
direct conflict, in the not too distant future, with the interests
and superior claims of the tribes of high social standing in the
Kufan socio-political complex. Elements of this group,
especially the `Abd al-Qays, are particularly noted by the
sources for their strong support for `Ali at both AI-Jamal and
Siffin.
25
7 The seventh group, Sub`, not specifically named by Tabari, is
certainly the Tayy, a powerful tribe of Yemen. The fact that
it must have been the Tayy is evident from numerous
references to it spread over hundreds of pages which Tabari
devotes to the events in Kufa until the time of Mu'awiya. The
Tayy converted to Islam in 9/630, and when in 11/632 all
other distant tribes apostatized, the Tayy remained steadfast
in Islam. They joined Muthanna b. al-Haritha in the wars of
Iraq at the conquest of Al-Hira, and then took part in the
battle of Al-Qadisiya. We then hear of Tayy as one of the
strongest supporters of `Ali at Al-Jamal and Siffin.
26 Again
we come across `Adi b. Hatim, the chief of Tayy, among the
supporters of Hasan, urging the people of Kufa to respond to
the call of "their Imam, the son of the daughter of their
Prophet".
27 It seems, however, that the number and strength
of Tayy gradually declined in Kufa itself and most of them
went and joined their tribesmen in the stronghold of the
mountains between Basra and Kufa.
28 Thus we hear of
Tirimmah b. 'Adi at-Ta'i who met Husayn on his way to
Kufa and made a strong appeal to him to abandon his plan of
going there and, instead, to come with the former to the safety
of the invincible Tayy mountains.
29

The city of Kufa was thus organized into seven tribal
contingents (muqatila) divided into seven military districts
which became the gathering points for mobilization and the
administration of stipends and booty. Each group was given
its own jabbana: open places for the grazing of cattle and for
graveyards. These jabbanas were of great importance in the
later development and expansion of the city, because they
provided enough space for those who came to Kufa later and
joined their respective clansmen.
This grouping of the tribes continued for nineteen years
until it underwent another change in 36/656, when `Ali came
to Kufa. As will be seen later, during the previous twenty-odd
years the power structure within each of the seven groups
had drastically changed: certain clans in the various groups
had acquired an undue dominating position over the other
component parts of the group. Also in this period, some tribes
were joined by a large number of newcomers of their
tribesmen and became exceedingly numerous, thus upsetting
the power balance in the group. 'Ali, therefore, while retaining
the number of groups as seven, made some significant changes
in the composition and external make-up of these seven
groups by way of reshuffling or shifting certain tribes from
one group to the other. According to Massignon's analysis,
'Ali rearranged the tribes as follows:

1: Hamdan and Himyar (Yemenis);
2: Madhhij, Ash`ar, and Tayy (Yemenis);
3: Kinda, Hadramawt, Quda`a, and Mahar (Yemenis);
4: Azd, Bajila, Khath`am, and Ansar (Yemenis);
5: All the Nizari branches of Qays, `Abs, Dhubya, and the
`Abd al-Qays of Bahrayn;
6: Bakr, Taghlib, and all the branches of the Rabi`a
(Nizaris);
7: Quraysh, Kinana, Asad, Tamim, Dabba, Ribab (Nizaris).
30

Three important points must particularly be noticed in
this new grouping. First, there are a few clan names, such as
Ash`ar, Mahar, and Dabba, which di4 not appear in the
grouping of Sa`d. This probably means that these clans were
numerically negligible at the time of Sa`d in 17/638; by
36/658, however, they had become numerous enough to
require an individual identity. Secondly, in Sa`d's organization
there were three Yemeni groups and four Nizari. In
`Ali reorganization the number of Yemeni groups was raised
to four and the Nizaris' reduced to three. It will be pointed
out below that from the very beginning the Yemenis were
greater in number than the Nizaris (12,000 and 8,000
respectively). `Ali seems to have taken into consideration the
population strength of the two branches of the Arabs and
reorganized the groups according to their numbers, thus
giving the Yemenis their due importance in Kufa. Finally,
`Ali did not change the tribal basis of genealogies on which
Sa`d had organized the population.
The fourth and last change in Kufan administration took
place fourteen years later, when Ziyad b. Abi Sufyan took
charge of the city as governor in 50/670. He totally abolished
the tribal organization into seven groups and re-organized
the entire population into four administrative blocks (arba`)
as follows:

1: Ahl al-`Aliya;
2: Tamim and Hamdan;
3: Rabi`a (Bakr) and Kinda;
4: Madhhij and Asad.
31
There are many important points to be observed in Ziyad's
reorganization. Firstly, he was governor not only of Kufa but
also of Basra, where, from the very beginning, the entire
population was divided into four administrative blocks
(arba'). This division had proved so successful in controlling
the people of Basra that Ziyad decided to apply the same
administration system in Kufa as well. Secondly, he completely
disregarded the recognized Arabian principle of
genealogies and alliances in forming tribal groupings. Instead,
he mixed the Nizaris and the Yemenis together, except for
the first group, the Ahl al-`Aliya. Thirdly, again excepting
the first group, he picked out the six most powerful tribes and
merged all the other smaller clans or tribes with them.
The first group, the Ahl al-'Aliya consisted of the branches
of the Meccans and Quraysh which he did not disturb
because they had been the natural allies of the Qurayshi
governors from Sa`d onwards. Moreover, this was the smallest
allied group of the population in Ku fa, and Ziyad had nothing
to fear from them. In the second block (rub) he combined the
Tamim (Nizari) and Kinda (Yemeni). In the third were Bakr
(Nizari) and Kinda (Yemeni), and in the fourth, Asad (Nizari)
and Madhhij (Yemeni). Over each block he appointed a chief
or supervisor of his own choice,
32 among whose duties must
have been the maintenance of a firm control over the
component parts of their respective groups. Finally, one
cannot fail to observe that Ziyad's reorganization of the Kufan
asba` into arba` was based neither on genealogies nor on
alliances, but totally on political considerations intended to
consolidate Umayyad power in the city.
The exact number of the first settlers in Kufa is difficult to
ascertain; nevertheless, from the various reports given by the
sources we can make a fairly clear estimate of this. Tabari
gives a detailed account of the Arab forces who fought at the
battle of Al-Qadisiya, and says there were about 30,000 Arabs
in this battle.
33 This figure might be an exaggerated one, and
in any case not all of the Al-Qadisiya veterans stayed at Kufa.
According to one report given by Yaqut, `Umar ordered Sa'd
to plan the mosque of Kufa so that it could accommodate the
40,000 troops who were to be stationed there.
34 A more
moderate and perhaps more reliable report is given by
Baladhuri, who reports on the authority of Ash-Sha`bi that
the total number of the first Arab settlers at Kufa was 20,000
12,000 Yemenis and 8,000 Nizaris. To this Baladhuri adds
4,000 Daylamites (al-Hamra'), who were certainly among the
first settlers alongside the Arabs.
35 It seems that the total of
24,000, being a moderate estimate compared to other inflated
figures, was the number of settlers with which the city of
Kufa started its history. Of these first settlers or early comers,
as they are often described, special mention must be made of
a sizeable body of 370 Companions of the Prophet, from
among both the Muhajirun and the Ansar, who were
domiciled at Kufa soon after its foundation
36. Among them
were such important personalities as `Abd Allah b. Mas`ud,
`Ammar b. Yasir, Hudhayfa b. al-Yaman, Al-Bara`a b. ~Azib,
Salman al-Farisi, Zayd b. al-Arqam, and Abu Musa al-
Ash'ari. Ibn Sa`d counts 70 of them as among those who
fought for Islam in the first encounter with the Meccans at
Badr in 2/623, and 300 as among those who renewed their
pledge of loyalty to the Prophet at the occasion of the treaty
of al-Hudaybiya in 7/628.
37 This pledge is known as the
Bay`at al-Ridwan, and was later considered a source of great
Islamic prestige and honour for those who had demonstrated
their unshaken belief in Muhammad at that moment of trial.
The heterogeneous nature of the Kufan population, with
the absence of any one single tribe as a dominating group,
prompted `Umar to take a special interest in the new city. He
thought that the very agglomeration of so many clans and
tribes, never experienced before in the Arabian social system,
and the presence of so many companions of high standing to
infuse Islamic spirit in them, would shape Kufa into a
genuinely Islamic c6smopolitan city. So great was `Umar's
interest in Kufa that he described it as "tower of Islam" (qubbat
al-Islam) and ~'the head of the people of Islam" (ras ahl al-
Islam). Similarly, in describing the settlers of Kufa he said,
"They are the lance of God, the treasure of faith, the cranium
of the Arabs, who protect their own frontier forts and
reinforce other Arabs."
38 It is important to note that these
epithets of honour and distinction were not accorded to any
other city, such as Damascus or Basra. `Umar was certainly
opposed to the tribal supremacies so predominant in Arabian
socio-political system. The heterogeneous character of the
Kufan population provided him with a suitable ground for
establishing an Islamic socio-political system in which tribal
hegemony might be submerged under Islamic hegemony.
This in effect meant that predominance and leadership must
be exercised only by those who possessed Islamic priority
(sabiqa), and that tribal authority must be submerged under
Islamic authority. The selection of `Ammar b. Yasir, of no
tribal prominence, but one of the earliest converts and a man
most devoted to the cause of Islam, as the governor of Kufa,
and `Abd Allah b. Mas`ud as deputy governor, was a clear
manifestation of his policy.
39 At the time of their appointments
`Umar wrote to the people of Kufa:

'I am sending you `Ammar as the governor and `Abd Allah as
your teacher [in Islam] and the deputy [to `Ammar]. Both of them
are from among the most illustrious and distinguished (nujaba')
companions of the Prophet. Listen to them and follow them. I
preferred you over my own self [otherwise I would have liked to
keep them with me)."
40

The emphasis put on the qualifications and distinctions of
`Ammar and Ibn Mas`ud as being among the most illustrious
Companions of the Prophet and therefore chosen for the
leadership of Kufa reveals `Umar's intention to replace tribal
claims with Islamic claims, and in this way to maintain the
political hegemony of Medina.
When in 20/641 `Umar organized the system of distribution
of stipends (diwan) his sole criterion was the principle of
Islamic priority. He divided the settlers of Kufa into three
groups: the various groups of the Muhajirun and the Ansar;
people who took part in operations against the apostasy and
rebellion or, say, prior to Yarmuk and Al-Qadisiya, and then
took part in these battles and were known as ahl al-ayyam
wa'l Qadisiya; and the rawadif, people who came to Kufa
after Yarmuk and Al-Qadisiya, or the second and third waves
of migrants, who were graded depending on the time when
they first participated in the conquests.
41 Accordingly, their
stipends were fixed at the rates of 5,000 to 3,000, 3,000 to 2,000,
and ranging from 1,500 to 200 dirhams per annum respec-
tively. The most important point for our purpose here is that
for the distribution of the stipends each category was divided
into smaller groups or units, and a person from each group
was appointed as the supervisor of distribution. These groups
were known as `irafa and the person in charge as the `arif (pl.
`urafa'). In most cases `irafas were probably composed of
people from the same clan, but essentially or coincidentally a
group of people with identical standing in Islam,
42 since
usually it was a clan as a whole or a group of related people
who converted, rather than one individual. These `urafa of
Kufa must have had some dominating position in the political
affairs of the city. The term Ashraf al-qaba'il in the descriptions
of Kufan affairs is generally understood to be only the tribal
leaders, but the numbers of these leaders cannot be as high as
the impression one gets from the sources. It is, therefore,
highly possible that these 'urafa' might have assumed the role
of leading their respective groups or `irafas in the troubled
days of 'Uthman, 'Ali; and later. It seems rather difficult to
identify and apply the term ashraf, as it is so commonly and
widely used by the historians, if the body of Kufan `urafa' is
not included in it.
The Muslim empire was expanding at an amazing rate
during the caliphate of'`Umar, and so grew also the population
of Kufa. Two important new influxes must immediately be
recognized. First, there were waves of the Arab newcomers
called the rawadif who, after the completion of the conquests
of Syria, Egypt and the Jezira by 20/64I, seeing no more
chances for booty on these western fronts, anticipated a
renewal of the offensive into the Persian Empire and thought
this would bring them fresh opportunities for booty and gain.
This caused a new Arab influx into Kufa. When the Muslim
forces from Kufa were mobilized for the battle of Nihawand
in 21/642, these newcomers were naturally the most enthu-
siastic to make their services available, and in the encounters
with the Persians these were the people who demonstrated
extraordinary valour. 'Umar was so impressed by them that
he made some modifications in the policy of his diwan, and
raised the stipend of these newcomers to the level of the first
settlers, the ahl a1-Qadisiya.
43 This gave a further incentive to
others to flock into Kufa, thus increasing the city's Arab
population, in most cases adding to the number of the existing
tribes and clans. The second influx into Kufa was that of the
new waves of Persians. There were many reasons (which will
be elaborated shortly) for their flocking into Kufa in greater
numbers than in any other city.
As a result of these new influxes, however, the population
of Kufa in a few years' time, even before the close of `Umar's
caliphate, had risen considerably. We are told that soon after
'Umar's death, when `Uthman appointed Al-Walid b. `Uqba
as governor of Kufa in 24/645 or 25/646, the number of
fighting men (muqatila) alone was 40,000.
44 Taking into

consideration many of those early comers of Al-Qadisiya, who
were no longer capable of bearing arms but made Kufa their
permanent home, and a great number of slaves and family
members of these 40,000 troops, the population in a decade
must have risen to well over 100,000. To this figure we must
add a good number of those who gradually occupied the
Sawad of Kufa--the rich agricultural land of Iraq--, which
`Umar had ruled should not be divided among the conquerors
of Al-Qadisiya, but must be left for those who would come to
the region later. The original inhabitants of the Sawad were
to be allowed to cultivate the land as people under protection
(dhimma), and were to pay taxes to be used for the stipends of
the Kufans.
45 On the other hand, the lands belonging to the
Sassanian kings and the royal families (known as sawafi)
were reserved by `Umar for the exclusive use of the conquerors
of Al-Qadisiya. They were allowed to divide it among
themselves, settling on it if they so wished, or to put in charge
of it administrators of their own choosing. The result was that
in a short period of time the city of Kufa was surrounded by
densely populated villages inhabited by, besides the original
cultivators, those who went there to work on the newly
acquired estates. This was possible because of the increased
number of slaves and labourer classes who were now
assembled in the Kufan territories. Moreover, with the
expansion of economic life in Kufa, as in other newly founded
garrison cities, a great number of tradesmen, craftsmen, and
domestics thronged into the towns and settled there
permanently.
With this brief outline of the foundation and early
development of Kufa, we must now turn to our main purpose
of examining the general structure, characteristics, and
features of the population which influenced their religio-
political tendencies and aspirations. This is not an easy task,
however. There were many complex factors--geographical,
historical, ethnic, racial, and economic--mixed together, and
these made the city and its people most difficult to analyse.
What must be noted first of all is that the population of the
city almost since its very foundation was composed of two
distinctly unique groups: the Arabs and the Persians. We
may call the Arab group the "founding element" and the
Persians the "second basic element".
The Arab element in Kufa was extremely complex in its
Composition--more so than in any other Arab city. Looking
at the list of the seven groups of the tribes enumerated earlier
and the subsequent waves of the Arab early comers, one
immediately notices that the "Arab element" was extraordinarily
heterogeneous in origin and background. It was, in the
first place, sharply divided into two groups, the Nizaris and
the Yemenis, among which we may further distinguish:

1 A small number of the Quraysh from the Hijaz, with their
long-standing reputation for sedentary living, nobility, and
sharaf;
2 Elements that were strongly nomadic, such as Mudar
groupings, especially the Tamim and some of their Yemenite
neighbours from among the Tayy;
3 Semi-nomadic elements such as Rabi`a, Asad, Bakr, belonging
to or coming from the north, northwest, east, and southeast of
Arabia, and `Abd al-Qays from Al-H ajar;
4 Truly south Arabian elements coming from further a field,
from Hadramawt and Yemen, some of whom had been living
a semi-sedentary life there, such as Kinda and Bajila, and
others who had lived in true and very ancient settlements,
such as Madhhij, Himyar, and Hamdan;
46
5 Yet another section of the Arabs who settled down in Kufa at
the time of its foundation were some of the Christian tribes
such as Taghlib, Nimr, Iyad and even some Christians from
Najran.
47 These Christian tribes had been accorded special
terms and privileges by the Prophet, which were maintained
by Abu Bakr and `Umar.
6 Still another section from among the Arabs counted above
must necessarily be recognized: this consisted of the outstand-
ing noble families known as the buyutat al-Arab. Ibn Sa`d
particularly notes this point and says that all the noble houses
of the Arabs were represented in Kufa, whereas this was not
the case in Basra.
48

The second basic element of the Kufan population in
shaping the character of the city was that of the Persians.
There were many factors which account for their great influx,
particularly into Kufa rather than into any other city. Three
of these are conspicuous. First, the Arab conquests of Al-
Mada`in, Al-Qadisiya, and ultimately the great victory at the
battle of Nihawand resulted in a large number of Persian
captives falling into the hands of the conquerors as slaves and
being brought to the city of Kufa. Most of them soon
embraced Islam and earned their freedom from their Arab
masters, but remained their allies or clients. Secondly, the
geographical affinity of Kufa, being on the border of Sassanian
Iraq, made the city the most suitable place for migration for
those of the Persians who had lost much of their means of
livelihood in the Persian Empire. To them Kufa promised
fresh opportunities. Similarly, a large number of peasants,
with the collapse of the Sassanian feudal system and the
freedom provided by Muslim rule, found the land no longer
profitable and moved to the growing cities for alternative
occupations. Kufa was the most attractive place for them.
Thirdly, the presence of those 4,000 Persians known as the
Daylamites, who had settled down in Kufa from its very
foundation, and the addition of a sizable number of Nihawand
prisoners of war, provided a congenial social atmosphere for
other uprooted Persians to join their countrymen there.
Moreover, among the prisoners of war there was a consider-
able number of women who had fallen to the lot of their Arab
conquerors. These women became the lawful wives of their
Arab captors and bore them children. The result was that in
less than twenty years' time, by the time `Ali came to Kufa,
there was a youthful new generation of Kufan Arabs who
had Persian mothers. Thus, for example, the mother of the
famous scholar of Kufa of this period, Ash-Sha`bi, was a
woman captured at the battle of Jalula.
49 It is important to
note here that the Persians in Kufa were not granted equal
status by their Arab co-citizens in the social system of the city.
They were called mawali (sing. mawla), or clients, a term to
indicate inferior social standing. Since the mawali played an
important role in Kufan religio-political history, especially in
Shi`i movements, it would be helpful to know a little more
about them. Though the term mawali was originally meant
for freed slaves, after the Muslim conquest it was extended to
a variety of non-Arab peoples. In Kufa, the mawali can be
divided into five groups:

The non-Arab soldiers who adopted Islam and joined the
Arab armies. These were mostly the Persian soldiers, who
accepted Islam and fought alongside the Arab forces, such as
the Hamra', or the Daylamites. They were used by the Kufan
governors as the police force, and received fair treatment
from the Arabs. In most cases they had to join an Arab clan
or associate themselves with an Arab chief as their patron, as
did the Daylamites when they accepted the leader of the tribe
of Tamim as their patron.
2 The peasants (mainly Persians) whose towns and villages
were destroyed during the Muslim conquests and who left
their cultivable land and moved to Kufa in search of other
work. The collapse of the Sassanian feudal system and the
freedom given by the Muslim rulers allowed the peasants to
abandon their land, which was no longer profitable. Due to
this fact, the treasury began to lose land taxes and, as a result,
the administration increased taxation on those who were still
working on their land. This led to many more peasants
leaving their land to avoid increased taxation and coming to
Kufa for more lucrative employment These peasants,
however, made up a group of mawali who were not associated
with any tribal group. They were under the direct jurisdiction
of the governor, who had extensive powers over them and in
return was responsible for their protection. In case of an
unintentional homicide committed by any of them, the
treasury had to pay the blood-wit.
50
3 The vast groups of Persians and others who converted to
Islam, many of them coming to Kufa as traders and craftsmen.
Their lands were conquered by the Muslims, yet they were
not enslaved. They embraced Islam on their own, and in
order to improve their economic conditions they moved to
Kufa and worked as traders and craftsmen. In terms of
numbers they probably formed the largest mawali group in
Kufa; and with the economic development of the city their
numbers were constantly increasing. They were almost
independent members of the tribes with which they were
associated for administrative purposes.
4 Freed slaves. This group consisted of those who were taken
by the Arabs as prisoners of war, converted to Islam, and
earned their freedom, but were bound to be associated with
the family of which they had been the slaves. In the technical
or rather the original meaning of the term, they were the real
mawali and, in Kufa, their numbers were second only to the
third category mentioned above.
5 Persians and other converts to Islam who belonged to noble
families. They were exempted from the poll-tax (jizya), which
they regarded as degrading, but they had to pay on their own
lands (kharaj). They seem to have been treated by the Arabs
somewhat differently from the other groups of the mawali,
since they were the nobles of their own people, even though
defeated. They were free to change their wala if they so
desired from one tribe to another. Nevertheless, their status
remained that of mawali; or second-class citizens, and
therefore of subservient positions in the tribe. In many cases,
however, their interest in Kufa coincided with that of the
Arab tribal leaders.
51

The total number of all classes of mawali; however,
increased to the extent that within only a few decades they
almost outnumbered their Arab counterparts. In the battle of
Jamajim, the mawali forces which came to fight for Ibn al-
Ash'ath are reported to have been 100,000.
52 With all their
numbers and strength, on the whole they were treated by the
Arabs as second-class citizens. The Arabs maintained against
them not only the idea that they were the conquerors, but also
a superior racial attitude. This naturally led to an ever-
growing feeling of discontent among the mawali in Kufa.
To this population structure three observations must be
added. Firstly, from its very beginning Kufa was not a purely
Arabian city such as Mecca, Medina, or even Damascus.
Secondly, the majority of the first settlers in Kufa, whether
Arabs or Persians, were the military contingents who, in most
cases, came without their families and for quite some time
lived as a standing army ready for action. It seems natural
that their militant character should persist even though
ultimately they settled down as civilians and were joined by
other sophisticated groups from among both the Arabs and
the Persians. This, along with many other factors, explains
their restlessness, their resentful and often rebellious be-
haviour. Finally, and perhaps most important, Kufa had no
tradition of its own which could have absorbed or influenced
the people. After the great outward thrust from the Peninsula,
those of the Arabs who migrated to the cities of Syria, Egypt,
and Persia came under the direct impact of and were
influenced by the existing traditions of those cities. Kufa, on

the other hand, was founded as a garrison on a virgin plain
lying between the Arabian Desert and the old city of the
Lakhmid kingdom of Al-Hira, which had been under the
suzerainty and cultural influence of Persia. The newly
founded city had to evolve its own character, which was not
so easy in such an agglomeration of people, where the Arabs
of the North and the South, or the Nizaris and Yemenis, the
nomads and the sedentaries, the old aristocracies of the
famous noble houses (buyutat al-`Arab) and the commoners,
and the Persians of various classes came to live together. Yet
there was one factor to dominate the trend of the majority of
the people. Among the Arab element of the population, the
Yemenis, or South Arabians, were more numerous (12,000)
than the Nizaris, or the North Arabians (8,000). It has been
discussed in detail in Chapter I that the South Arabians, due
to their long and deep-rooted tradition of the priest-king with
hereditary sanctity and therefore hereditary succession, were
more prone toward what we called the Shi`i ideal of leadership
of the community. In this they were joined by the Persian
element of the population, which had an almost similar
tradition of religio-political leadership. Thus, the Yemenis
and the Persians together, making more than two-thirds of
the population, set the trend of the city well on the road
toward Shi`i inclinations and moods of thinking. This does
not, however, mean that all the Yemenis residing in Kufa
were Shi'is, or that none of the Nizaris of the northern Arabs
sided with the Shi`i school of thought. In such a complex
situation a clear-cut categorisation would not be correct. What
is suggested reflects general tendencies of the major groups
based on certain backgrounds which might be easily sup-
pressed should there arise politico-economic considerations.
The first serious tension in Kufa, however, appeared on the
surface as a clash of interests between the two power groups,
which we may term the newly emerging "religious or Islamic
hierarchy" and the "traditional tribal aristocracy". The first
group consisted of those Companions of the Prophet whose
claim to the leadership of Kufa rested on their early
conversion, their services to the cause of Islam, and above all
the esteem in which they were held by the Prophet himself.
As has been said earlier, 'Umar wanted to govern Kufa
through those who possessed Islamic priority and thereby to

undermine and suppress tribal authority. He did not,
therefore, allow anyone from among the ridda leaders to have
any position of command, no matter how powerful they were.
The other power group consisted of tribal leaders whose
claims, according to the old Arabian tradition, were based on
their wealth and the status, strength, and prestige of the tribes
they led. Naturally, it was difficult for them to tolerate for
long the supremacy and leadership of those who had no tribal
authority or who belonged to no ruling family.
As long as `Umar lived, the tribal leaders could not do
much to exert their power. With the death of `Umar and the
succession of the weak 'Uthman in 23/643, things started to
change drastically and the struggle for power, so far
suppressed, came into the open. The appointment of Al-
Walid b. `Uqba, `Uthman's half brother and an aristocrat
himself, as the governor of Kufa greatly helped the tribal
leaders to restore their power and authority. Thus we find
that not only the strong tribal leaders but even the ridda
leaders emerged with full vigour and were soon at the helm
of affairs in the province.
53 For example, Al-Ash`ath b. Qays
al-Kindi, a famous leader of the apostates, was entrusted with
sole command of Ardabi1, and a large number of people
dispatched there to form a permanent settled force were put
under his command.
54 This was done at the expense of those:
Kinda leaders, such as Hujr b. `Adi al-Kindi, who had mort
Islamic prestige than tribal. Another glaring example was the
appointment of Sa`id b. Qays al-Hamdani to Rayy,
55 where
Yazid b. Qays al-Arhabi had been in charge since 221643.
56
The former belonged to one of the most influential families of
Hamdan, but had no Islamic priority, whereas the latter
possessed status mainly as an Islamic leader, though in
Hamdani tribal hierarchy he had hardly any significant
place. That a leader such as Al-Ash`ath, with his ridda
background, and Sa`id b. Qays, with no standing in Islamic
terms, should receive high offices, was clearly a major
departure from the existing order. This suddenly changed
the power structure and resulted in the displacement of those
early comers whose social status and power base was Islamic
rather than tribal In the long list of such displaced leaders, of
particular interest are Malik b. Ashtar an-Nakha`i, Musayyab
b. Najaba al-Fazari; Yazid b. Qays al-Arhabi, `Adi b. Hatim

al-Ta`i and Sa`sa`a b. Suhan al-'Abdi. Unseated from their
positions, these notables of Kufa, also described by the sources
as among the leading qurra' of Kufa,
57 were among the
strongest opponents of Al-Walid b. 'Uqba and his successor,
Sa'id b. al-`As, another aristocrat of Mecca, and consequently
of 'Uthman, who allowed himself to be dominated by the old
aristocracy. Not long afterward, the opposition grew both in
strength and dimension and was joined by a large number of
people who came to Medina. The rebellion resulted in the
murder of 'Uthman. The mode of the city was thus set,
dividing the population into two groups:

1:The strong and influential tribes and clan leaders along
with their followings, especially from among the early comers.
These leaders are generally described as the ashraf al-qaba'il;
2: People less influential in terms of tribal or clan leadership,
who nevertheless had been in privileged positions during the
time of 'Umar due to their Islamic priority, and who were
now deprived of their power. They included most of the late
comers, a large number of the qurra' or religious intelligentsia
of different affiliations and backgrounds, a number of splinter
clan groups, and a great majority of hodge-podge people from
among both the early comers and the late settlers. The Persian
element, or the mawali; of the city naturally had to throw in
their lot with this second category.

It is against this background that the third and most critical
phase of Kufan history began. The first phase had seen the
city's foundation in 17/638 and extended until the death of
'Umar in 24/644; the second ended with the death of'`Uthman
in 35/655; this ushered in the third phase, which was
dominated by the rise of `Ali to the caliphate in the same year.
As has been discussed in Chapter 4, `Ali was installed as the
caliph mainly by the popular vote of the Ansar of Medina
and the rebel contingents who came from the provinces. The
Kufan contingent was the first to pay homage to `Ali under
the leadership of Malik al-Ashtar.
58 Naturally, the over-
whelming support of these elements for `Ali's election to the
supreme authority was taken as a serious threat not only by
the Umayyad aristocracy, which during twelve years of
Uthman's rule had appropriated all positions of power and
advantage for themselves, but also by Quraysh in general. In

opposition to 'Ali, therefore, besides the Umayyads in Syria,
there emerged at Mecca a body of Quraysh, many of them
Companions and Muhajirun, who, while being opposed to
Umayyad domination, in fact under their mask as Muhajirun
favoured overall domination by Quraysh.
59 Military power
was now divided into two rival military camps, Kufa and
Basra, with large territories under their influence, whereas
Syria was wholly under the firm control of the Umayyads.
Taking advantage of the rivalry between Basra and Kufa, the
Meccans moved to Basra to mobilize tribal support from
there. 'Ali was thus left with no choice but to leave Medina
for Iraq and count on the support of the Kufans, who had
shown their inclinations towards him. He arrived in the
neighbourhood of Kufa with about 1,000 men who accom-
panied him from Medina, and was readily joined by about
12,000 Kufans.
60 They formed the main part of his army at
the battle of Al-Jamal. The Meccan-Basran alliance was
defeated, and 'Ali was able to bring Basra well under his
control and appointed 'Abd Allah b. 'Abb~s as his governor.
'Ali then entered Kufa, not to make it his capital, but only to
mobilize further support and organize the Kufans for another
much more serious encounter with Mu'awiya.
What should be noted here, however, is that at the battle of
Al-Jamal, while a large section of the Kufans supported 'Ali,
the clan and tribal leaders who had entrenched themselves
during the caliphate of 'Uthman did not wish to side with
him, or at least they remained uncommitted. These tribal
leaders, such as Al-Ash'ath b. Qays, Jarir b. 'Abd Allah, and
Sa'd b. Qays, undoubtedly felt the same fears of 'Ali as did the
Meccans and the Umayyads. In order to consolidate his
power in Kufa, 'All had to establish a purely Islamic socio-
political system, which meant that the old Islamic leadership
in Kufa had to be restored at the expense of traditional tribal
aristocracy that had emerged during the caliphate of``Uthman.
As has been said earlier, the population of Kufa was organized
in seven tribal groups according to either genealogies or
alliances. It was in that tribal grouping that the new leadership
had established its roots. The first step 'Ali took to weaken
this leadership was to make some drastic changes in the
external composition of these seven groups by reshuffling
and reorganizing the tribes from one group to the other. In

this way he tried to restore to power those erstwhile leaders
whose claims were based on Islamic priority. We see that men
such as Malik b. Harith al-Ashtar, Hujr b. `Adi al-Kindi; and
'Adi b. Hatim al-Ta'i, eclipsed by the strong tribal leaders, re-
emerged once again. For example, Al-Ash`ath b. Qays was
replaced by Hujr b. `Adi, and in the battle of Siffin Hujr was
given the leadership of Kinda.
61 AI-Ashtar became the leader
of a new clan group consisting of Madhhij, Nakha`i, and
some other sub-clans. His position was further strengthened
when he was appointed by `Ali as the governor of the Jazira.
62
Similarly, another early leader, `Adi b. Hatim, was supported
by `Ali to become the sole leader of the Tayy, even though
there was considerable opposition from other branches of the
tribe.
63
Leaders such as Al-Ashtar, Hujr, and `Adi, together with
their following, especially from the newcomers of their tribes,
formed the backbone of `Ali's supporters and were the nucleus
of the Shi`i of Kufa. On the other hand, the strongest clan
leaders, who had built themselves up on the strength of their
tribes, did not show much interest in `Ali. The sharp contrast
between these two groups is clearly illustrated by the fact that
since `Ali's arrival in Kufa, Al-Ashtar, Hujr, `Adi and other
Shi`i leaders consistently urged `Ali to attack Mu`awiya
without delay and without entering into correspondence with
him, while most of the strong tribal leaders advised him not
to take any early action.
65 When, however, the armies of `Ali
and Mu`awiya came to meet at Siffin, these tribal leaders of
Kufa saw their position as precarious. They could not remain
completely aloof from `Ali and had to appear with him on the
battlefield; yet they remained half-hearted and lukewarm. In
fact, they saw their interests best served by a deadlock between
Ali and Mu`awiya. They were in a dilemma, in that `Ali's
success would mean a loss of their tribal power, but on the
other hand, Mu`awyia's victory would mean the loss of the
Iraqi independence upon which their power depended. In
short, "from the time of `Ali's arrival in Kufa, through the
time of the confrontation at Siffin and subsequent develop-
ments in Iraq, and until the time of his death, the position of
these two alignments remained consistent. The Shi'i leaders
urged `Ali to fight Mu`awiya, they were opposed to the
arbitration proposal, and they pledged themselves to `Ali

unconditionally. Most of the clan leaders, on the other hand,
showed no inclination to fight Mu`awiya went to Siffin in a
spirit of indifference, and accepted with alacrity the peace
offered by the arbitration proposal."65
It is generally suggested that the qurra' forced `Ali to
submit to arbitration, but it seems that the tribal leaders and
their following were in fact responsible, for they had nothing
to gain from fighting and much to gain from a stalemate.
Similarly, it is also stated that it was the qurra' group which
compelled 'Ali to accept Abu Musa al-Ash'ari as his arbitrator,
though Abu Musa's record indicated that he had been in
favour of the Meccans and of overall domination by Quraysh,
and therefore must have been the choice of the tribal leaders.
The word qurra' as used in the accounts of Siffin must be
approached with some caution. The early qurra' of Kufa who
led the revolt against 'Uthman had as their leaders such men
as Malik, Hujr, and 'Adi; and were the die-hard supporters of
'Ali. Besides these original qurra' of Kufa, at Siffin we meet
a great number of people who are described by the sources,
rather conveniently, as qurra'. Some of them came from
Basra, others from far-off outposts of both territories. They
must have been, therefore, tribesmen who were trying to
advance their claims through Islamic priority. And these
were the people who, misled by the tribal leaders, at first
supported arbitration and then revolted against it. They
became the Khawarij, and in the events that followed Siffin
they further weakened 'Ali's position both at home and
against Mu`awiya.
The main reason for the resentful attitude of the ashraf al-
qaba'il of Kufa was perhaps 'Ali's egalitarian policy. In the
first place, in the distribution of stipends he abolished the
distinction made between early and latecomers to Kufa and
instead made his criterion not only Islamic priority, but also
adherence to Islamic values and standards. This is so very
clear from the numerous addresses he delivered in this period,
as preserved in the Nahj al-Balagha.
66 When 'Ali came to
Kufa, there was another influx of newcomers to the city, those
who came with 'Ali himself, and he treated them with
equality irrespective of their early domicile. This was a
serious threat to the tribal leaders who had been enjoying a
larger share of the Kufan treasury, which had already been

shrinking in its resources due to the lull in the conquests In
the second place, `Ali observed equality in the allotment of
stipends to Arabs and non-Arabs. This was especially
offensive to the ashraf al-qaba'il since, besides financial
considerations, they believed that the non-Arab mawali, as
conquered people, should not and could not be treated equally
with their conquerors.
67
It was beyond any doubt clear to the tribal leaders and
their clansmen that under Ali's rule they stood to lose
whatever they had managed to gain due to their tribal
strength under `Uthman. It was, however, still not possible or
advisable for them, in the conditions in Kufa at the time, to
come out in open revolt against `Ali. Nevertheless, after the
inconclusive results of Siffin and the unfavourable outcome
of the arbitration that followed, the tribal leaders hitherto
wavering between indifference and treachery became more
pronounced in their resentful attitude toward `Ali. They did
remain in the rank and file of his army, which he was
mobilizing for a final and decisive encounter with Mu`awiya,
yet totally ignored his call to go out to fight the Syrians.
Instead they insisted on dealing with the Khawarij who had
gathered at Nahrawin.
68 What they were concerned with
was the maintenance of their own position as Kufan tribal
leaders: the Khawarij were a threat to that, Mu`awiya was
not. After the Khawarij were defeated at Nahrawan and `Ali
then called upon them to move against Mu`awiya, Al-Ash`ath
and other strong tribal leaders refused, ostensibly on lame
excuses, and `Ali was thus obliged to return to Kufa.
69 `Ali's
position was further weakened since the battle of Nahrawan
had earned him many enemies among the relatives and
kinsmen of the slain Khawarij; additionally, the tribal leaders
took further advantage of his increasing unpopularity among
the large number of tribes. Moreover, since the arbitration
Mu`awiya had been in constant touch with these tribal
leaders, trying to win them over through offers of power and
wealth. They were thus deliberating on what could best serve
their purposes.
The attitude of these Kufans is best indicated by `Ali
himself in a number of speeches which he delivered in this
period. In one of his speeches shortly before he was
assassinated, he addressed the people and said:

"Behold, I have called upon you day and night, secretly and
openly, to fight these people [the Syrians]. I have said to you:
'Fight them before they fight you, for, by God, never do a people
fight within their own territory without being dishonoured.' But
you tarried and vacillated until you have been attacked repeatedly
and your territory has been lost to you ... How strange indeed--
a strangeness in which God makes the hearts dead and brings
grief--is the gathering of these people [Mu'awiya's supporters] in
their falsehood and your standing aloof from your right. Woe
unto you, and fire upon you, for you have become a target which
is shot at; you are raided and you raid not; you are attacked and
you do not fight back; and God is disobeyed and you are content
to see that.
"When I order you to march toward them during the summer
season, you say: 'This is the season of intense heat; grant us
respite until the heat has abated from us.' And when I command
you to proceed toward them in winter, you say: 'This is the season
of intense cold; give us time until the cold is dispelled from us.'
With all this fleeing from heat and cold, by God, you will flee
even more readily from the sword.
"O you who look like men but are not men, having the intellect
of children and the wits of women, I wish I had never seen or
known you, for acquaintance with you has drawn regret and
brought in its wake grief and sorrow. May God destroy you. You
have filled my heart with pus and have lined my breast with
anger. You have made me drink draughts of anxiety one after the
other and have corrupted my judgment by your disobedience
and desertion, so that Quraysh say that the son of Abu Talib is a
brave man but had no knowledge of warfare. For God be their
father! Is any one of them more experienced in warfare or does
any of them occupy a place in it higher than mine? I started
fighting when I was not yet twenty years of age, and here I am the
same fighter when I have passed the age of sixty. But there could
be no judgment for him who is not obeyed."
70

'Ali thus left behind the people of Kufa divided into two
groups of conflicting interest which could now be more easily
defined and categorised than when he arrived at Kufa five
years earlier. There was, firstly, a group of his faithful
followers, both from the early and the late comers, who were
not only committed to his person, but also believed that the
leadership of the Muslims must remain in the house of the
Prophet. In this, indeed, there appear to have been some
considerations of a socio-economic nature, but these were only

concomitant with the idea of justice and religious values
which, they thought, could be realized only through a divinely
inspired leader. Among them there were people, however
small in number, to whom religious and spiritual considerations
were the only driving force: economic factors, even
though these seem to have been the cause of certain incidents,
had nothing to do with their adherence to `Ali. For others,
economic factors were just as important as religion; they felt
that an appropriate combination of the two could be realized
only through `Ali. Whatever the degree of emphasis on one
aspect or the other, the conviction of both sections of `Ali's
firm supporters was the same: the leadership of the Muslim
community must come from the family of the Prophet.
Secondly, there was a group consisting of clan and tribal
leaders, along with those whose interests were dependent on
these leaders. They were basically interested in preserving
and maintaining their political positions and economic
monopolies, which would be seriously threatened should `Ali
succeed in firmly establishing his rule in Kufa. They were,
therefore, indifferent to `Ali and were inclined towards
Mu`awiya, in whom they saw security for their privileged
positions and vested interests. But at the same time, they were
hesitant to openly submit to Mu`awiya and thereby lose their
bargaining position. It was for this reason that outwardly
they remained in the rank and file of `Ali's army while putting
pressure on Mu`awiya for the guaranteeing of their privileges.
They thus pretended to be the supporters of the Shi'i cause.
These were the people who composed the political supporters
of `Ali, as discussed in Chapter 4.
To these two groups of opposite interest we must add a
third, consisting of the vast masses of Kufa, mostly the
Yemenis and the non-Arab mawali, who theoretically were
inclined to the Shi'i ideal of leadership but were hopelessly
devoid of resolve in the face of any danger which might befall
them. Emotionally, whenever they saw any hope of success of
someone from the Ahl a1-Bayt, they swarmed around him;
practically, they deserted him as soon as they saw the hope of
success dwindling away. They lacked the necessary courage
or the firmness of character to withstand a moment of trial.
The events described in the following two chapters will
explain the behaviour and attitude of these three groups.

Here it remains to note that after the death of `Ali and the
abdication of his son Hasan, when Mu`awiya took control of
Kufa, the strong tribal and clan leaders were made to serve as
the intermediaries in the power structure of the province.
The central authority in Damascus was concerned with
exercising power both over and through them. The old style
tribalism was reinforced and governmental power was
grounded on a tribal organization in which tribal leaders
supported and in turn were supported by the government. At
the time of `Ali's death, the tribal leaders were on one side of
the scale, the committed shi`at `Ali on the other, while the
great masses were wavering between the two. The following
years were to prove decisive in resolving this basic contradiction
of interests.


Notes to Chapter 5

1Baladhuri, Futuh al-Buldan, trans. Philip K. Hitti, The Origins
Have the Islamic State (Beirut, 1966), p.434; Yaqut, Mu'jam al-Buldan
(Tehran, 1965), IV, p.323; Tabari; I, p.2485; Khalifa b. Khaybar,
Ta'rikh, ed. Zakkar (Cairo, 1967), I, p.129
2 See sources cited in note I above
3 Muhammad Husayn al-Zubaydi, Al-Hayat al-ijtima'iya wa'l
iqtisadiya fi'l Kufa (Cairo, 1970), p.25; Yusuf Khalif, Hayat al-Shi'r
fi'l-Kufa (Cairo, 1968), p.23
4 Tabari, I, p.2360; Yaqut, Mu'jam al-Buldan, IV, p.322
5 Baladhuri, Origins, p.434
6 M. Hind, "Kufan Political Alignments in the Mid-7th Century
AD", International Journal of Middle East Studies, (October, 1971),
p.351
7 Baladhuri, Origins, pp.435 f.; Yaqut, Mu'jam al-Buldan, IV,
p.323
8 Tabari, I, p.2495
9 ibid.
10 For Kinana see 'Umar Rida Kahhala, Mu'jam Qaba'il al-'Arab
(Damascus, 1949), p.996; 'Iqd, III, pp.339, 359; for Jadlia of Qays
'Aylan see Kahhala, p.173; 'Iqd, III, p.350
" For the details of these Yemeni tribes, see Kahalla, pp.957,
844f., 63 ff, 131 f., 998 ff, 282, 15 ff respectively; 'Iqd, III,
pp.37',
382, 388, 391 f., 403, 375, 385 respectively
12 Kahhala, p.64; 'Iqd, III, p.388
13 He led the delegation of Kinda to Medina in 9/630 to accept
Islam. See Kahhala, p.999
14 From Madhhij there were many important sub-tribes, such as
Nakhkha' and Tayy. See Kahhala; p. 1062; 'Iqd, III, p.393
15 Kahhala, pp.305 f.; `Iqd, III, p.369
16 Kahhala, p.1225; 'Iqd, III, pp.389 f.
17 Kahhala, p.1225; 'Iqd, III, p.389
18 Kahhala, pp. 126 ff., 315, 1231 respectively; 'Iqd, III, pp.344 ff,
343 f., 353 ff.
19 Kahhala, pp.21 ff., 888, 1042, 1192, 664 120 ff. respectively;
'Iqd, III, pp.340 ff., 35', 319, 358, 356, 359
20 Kahhala, pp.52 ff
21 Of uncertain origin. Some said they belonged to the Qahtanis,
others describe them as 'Adnanis from al-Dayth b. `Adnan. .See
Kahhala, pp.802 f.
22 Kahhala, pp.726 f.; 'Iqd, III, p.357
23 Kahha1a, p.726
24 Baladhuri, Origins, pp.440 f.; El2 article "Daylam"
25 Kahhala, p.726
26 Kahhala, p.691
27 Maqatil, p. 61; Sharh, XVI, p.38. See p. 142 below
28 Kahhala, p.689
29 Tabari, II, pp.304 ff. See p.200 ff below
30 Massignon, Khitat p.11. Cf. Tabari, I, p.3174; Khalif, Hayat
ash-Shi`r fi'l Kufa, p.29
31 Massignon, Khitat, pp.15 f. Cf. Tabari, II, p.131; Khalif, op.
Cit., pp.30 f.
32 Tabari, II, p.131
33 Tabari, I, pp.2221 f.
34 Ma'jam al-Buldan, IV, p.324
35 Baladhuri, Origins, pp.436,440; Yaqut, Mu'jam al-Buldan, IV,
p.323
36 Ibn Sa'd, VI, p.9
37 ibid, VI, p.12-66
38 Ibn Sa'd, VI, p.7; Ba1adhuri, Origins, p.448
39839 Ibn Sa'd, VI, pp.13 f.; Tabari, I, p.2645
40 Ibn Sa'd, VI, p.7
41 Tabari, I, pp. 2414 f.
42 Tabari, I, p.2496. For the institution of the `arif see E12 article
"'Arif"
43 Tabari, I, p.2633
44 Tabari, I, p.2805
45 Tabari, I, p.2418
46 Massignon, Khitat, p. 13; Tabari; I, p.2418
47 Tabari, I, pp.2418 f.
48 Ibn Sa'd, VI, p.11
49 Tabari, I. p.2464
50 S.A.A1-'Ali, Al- Tanzimat al-ijtima`iya wa'l-iqtisadiya fi'l Basra,
2nd ed. (Beirut, 1969), pp.88 ff.
51 ibid, p.82
52 Tabari, II, p.1072
53 Tabari; I, p.2668
54 Tabari, I, p.2927
55 ibid.
56 Tabari, I, p.2651
57 Baladhuri, Ansab, V, p.46
58 Tabari; I, pp.3075 ff; AI-Imama wa'l-siyasa, I, p.47
59 Hind, op. cit., p.361
60 Tabari, I, p.3174
61 Nasr, Waq`at Siffin, p.105
62 Ibn A`tham, II, p.350; Nasr, Waq`at Siffin, p.12
63 Tabari, I, p.3279
64 Tabari, I, p.3256
65 Hind, op. cit., p. 363
66 e.g., Khutabat nos. 21, 23, 24, 42, to cite but a few
67 For 'Ali's fiscal policies and egalitarian attitude, see Tabari, I,
p.3227
68 Mas'udi, Muruj, II, p.404
69 ibid., p.407
70 Nahj al-Balagha, I, pp. 76-79; Mubarrad, Kamil, I, pp.20 f.,
with slightly different readings in some cases. I have followed the
Nahj al- Balagha's text.

 

 

Index