World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Battle of Nahrawan

Article Id: WHEBN0003456312
Reproduction Date:

Title: Battle of Nahrawan  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ali, First Fitna, Shia days of remembrance, Ali as Caliph, Early scholars of Islam
Collection: Battles Involving the Rashidun Caliphate, Muslim Civil Wars, Shia Days of Remembrance
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Battle of Nahrawan

Battle of Nahrawan
Part of the First Fitna
Date 659 AD
Location Nahrawan, Iraq

Rashidun Caliphate victory

Islamic Imam or Rashidun Caliphate Khawarij (Kharijites)
Commanders and leaders
Ali ibn Abu Talib
Hassan ibn Ali
Al-Ashath ibn Qays al-Kindi[1]
Abdullah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi
Abdullah ibn Ibad
Harqus bin Zuhair
Abdullah bin Shajara

The Battle of Nahrawan (Arabic: معركة النهروانtranslit.: M'arkah an-Nahrawān) was a battle between Ali ibn Abi Talib (the first Shi'ah Imam and the fourth Sunni Caliph) and the Kharijites, near Nahrawan, twelve miles from Baghdad.


  • Background 1
  • Battle 2
  • Aftermath 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


After the unsatisfactory conclusion to the Battle of Siffin, Ali ibn Abi Talib returned with his army back to Kufa on the 13th of Safar 37 A.H. (~30 July 657 C.E.). During the march, a group of 12,000 men kept themselves at a distance from the main part of the army. People who now joined the Kharijite were instrumental in getting the Muslims to fight in the Battle of the Camel. They had started the battle while Ali was still negotiating. Many of them had also been involved in the murder of Uthman. They had started many battles fearing that if there was peace, they will be arrested for the killing of Uthman.[2]

This group, the Kharijites, were furious at the way things had ended at Siffin. They had put down their weapons on the battlefield, demanding that Ali accept the arbitration proposed by Muawiyah. They now, however, held that Ali had betrayed Islam by agreeing to the truce and should have referred judgment to the Quran alone or continued to fight. They demanded that he repent for this great sin. They were against any peace deal.

When the army neared Kufah, the Kharijites camped at a village named Harura. They began saying that all Muslims were equal and no one could rule over another, denouncing both Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muawiyah while proclaiming that their belief was in "La Hukma Illa Lillah", meaning, "No Rulership except by Allah alone."

Ali sent Sa'sa'a ibn Sauhan and Ziyad ibn Nazr al-Harisi, in the company of `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas, to treat with them; afterwards he himself went to the Kharijite encampment and tried to explain to them that they were misunderstanding the words "La Hukma Illa Lillah", and that in accepting the Arbitration (peace talks) at Siffin, he had not gone against the teachings of the Quran.

He pointed out that they themselves laid down their arms and forced him to call back Malik al-Ashtar, who was at the point of securing victory. He reminded them that they had pressed for the Arbitration and had forced him to appoint Abu Musa al-Ash'ari as his (and thus their) representative, having rejected Ali's nominees, ibn Abbas and Malik al-Ashtar. He told them that he found their present behavior very strange, considering their involvement in the army revolt at Siffin. To this they admitted that they had sinned but now they had repented for it and he should do the same.

Ali replied that he was a true believer and did not have to repent because he had not committed any sin; more discussion proved fruitless, and he dispersed the Kharijite representatives.

The Kharijites refused to accept the words of Ali and awaited the decision of Amr ibn al-Aas and Abu Musa al-Ash'ari. When they learnt of the decision they decided to revolt, setting up their headquarters at Nahrawan, twelve miles from Baghdad. A group of sympathizers from Basra came to join the rebels.

On the other side, after hearing the verdict of Arbitration Ali wrote to the Kharijites that the verdict passed by the two arbitrators in pursuance of their heart's wishes instead of the Quran and Sunnah was not acceptable to him, that he had therefore decided to fight Muawiyah, and they should now support him in crushing the Syrian. But the Kharijites replied, "When you had agreed to Arbitration in our view you had turned heretic. Now if you admit your heresy and offer repentance we will think over this matter and decide what we should do." Ali understood from their reply that their disobedience and misguidance had become very serious, and to entertain any kind of hope from them now was futile. Consequently ignoring them, he encamped in the valley of al-Nukhaylah with a view to marching towards Syria to fight against Muawiyah.


Ali mola had already set out for Syria when he received the news that the Kharijites had butchered the governor of Nahrawan, Abdullah ibn Khabbab ibn al-Aratt, and his maid, reportedly tearing a child from her womb, and had killed three women of Banu Tayyi and Umm Sinan as-Saydawiyyah. Ali ibn Abi Talib sent al-Harith ibn Murrah al-Abdi to investigate but he too was killed by the Kharijites.[3] With their rebellion at this stage it was obvious that Ali would have to deal with them; there was a danger that the Kharijites might attack Kufa while he and his men were marching to Syria, and so he decided to prevent this possibility. Ali changed his course eastward, crossed the river Tigris, and approached Nahrawan.

On reaching their stronghold Ali sent a messenger to the Kharijites demanding that those people who had murdered innocent Muslims around their camp should surrender. The Kharijites replied that they were all equally responsible for killing these sinners.

There was some reluctance amongst Ali's army to fight the Kharijites. Ali himself did not desire the bloodshed of these misguided fanatics, so he sent Abu Ayyub al-Ansari with an offer of amnesty. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari declared "Whoever comes under this banner or separates from that party and goes to Kufa or al-Mada'in would get amnesty and he would not be questioned." Subsequently Farwah ibn Nawfal al-Ashja'i said that he did not know why they were at war with the Caliph, and he separated along with five hundred men. Similarly group after group began to defect---some of them joining Ali; eventually, only a core force of 1,800 die-hards were left under the command of Abdullah ibn Wahab. They had killed Uthman and Zubayr ibn al-Awam and had started many battles.[2]

These Kharijites swore that they would fight Ali ibn Abi Talib at any cost.

A narration reports:

A narration reports:

This saying from Imam Ali proved to be true. The Kharijites attacked Ali's army, all except nine men were slain. Ali's army suffered only eight casualties. The battle took place on the 9th of Safar, 38 A.H.


Having disposed of the Kharijites at Nahrawan, According to some Shia sources Ali resumed his march to Syria. However, the chiefs of his followers urged him to stop at Kufa to let the men rest before the long journey and to enable the army to repair their weapons and armor. Ali agreed to this request and camped at al-Nukhaylah outside Kufah. The soldiers were allowed to leave the camp for a day.

On the next day, hardly any men returned and at length, Ali entered Kufah and gave a stern sermon to the people. However, nobody came forward and no one wanted to fight and finally, Ali turned away from them in disappointment. The Syrian expedition was abandoned, never to be resumed.

Others argue that the Kharijites had been making every one fight and after they separated, Ali himself also did not want to fight the Syrians.

A few years later they re-emerged in Iraq and north of the Arabian Peninsula. They were defeated by the Umayyads.

Two years later, in 40 A.H Ali was assassinated by a Kharijite called Abdul Rahman ibn Muljam, who attacked him with a poisoned sword in the mosque of Kufah, on the 19th of the month of Ramadan, finally succumbing to poison on the 21st of the month of Ramadan.

In Syria Muawiyah I had a more professional army and was not reliant of volunteers and therefore no sects developed.

A narration reports:

This prophecy of Ali also proved true word by word. Every chief of the Khawarij (Kharijites) who rose was put to sword. A few of their chiefs who were badly put to death are mentioned here:

1) Nafi` ibn Azraq al-Hanafi: the largest group of the Kharijites namely al-Azariqah is named after him. He was killed by Salamah al-Bahili during encounter with the army of Muslim ibn `Ubays.
2) Najdah ibn `Amir: the an-Najadat al-`Adhiriyyah sect of Kharijites is named after him. Abu Fudayk al-Khariji got him killed.
3) `Abdullah ibn Ibad at-Tamimi: the sect Ibadite (Ibadiyyah) is named after him. He was killed during encounter with `Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn `Atiyyah.
4) Abu Bayhas Haysam ibn Jabir ad-Duba`i: the sect of al-Bayhasiyyah is named after him. `Uthman ibn Hayyan al-Murri the governor of Medina got his hands and feet severed and then killed him.
5) `Urwah ibn Udayyah at-Tamimi: Ziyad ibn Abih killed him during the reign of Mu`awiyah.
6) Qatari ibn al-Fuja'h al-Mazini at-Tamimi: when he encountered the army of Sufyan ibn al-Abrad al-Kalbi in Tabarastan then Sawrah ibn al-Hurr ad-Darimi killed him.
7) Abu Bilal Mirdas ibn Udayyah at-Tamimi: was killed in encounter with `Abbas ibn Akhdar al-Mazini.
8) Shawdhab al-Khariji al-Yashkuri: was killed during encounter with Sa`id ibn `Amr al-Harashi.
9) Hawtharah ibn Wada` al-Asadi: was killed at the hands of a man of Banu Tayyi'
10) al-Mustawrid ibn `Ullafah at-Taymi: was killed by Ma`qil ibn Qays ar-Riyahi in the reign of Mu`awiyah.
11) Shabib ibn Yazid ash-Shaybani: died by being drowned in river.
12) `Imran ibn al-Harith ar-Rasibi: was killed in the battle of Dulab.
13-14) Zahhaf at-Ta'i and Qurayb ibn Murrah al-Azdi: were killed in encounter with Banu Tahiyah.
15) az-Zubayr ibn `Ali as-Saliti at-Tamimi: was killed in encounter with `Attab ibn Warqa' ar-Riyahi.
16) `Ali ibn Bashir ibn al-Mahuz al-Yarbu`i: al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf ath-Thaqafi got him killed.
17) `Ubaydullah ibn Bashir: was killed in encounter with al-Muhallab ibn Abi Sufrah in the battle of Dulab.
18) Abu'l-Wazi` ar-Rasibi: a man in the graveyard of Banu Yashkur felled a wall on him and killed him.
19) `Abdu Rabbih as-Saghir: was killed in encounter with al-Muhallab ibn Abi Sufrah.
20) Al-Walid ibn Tarif ash-Shaybani: was killed in encounter with Yazid ibn Mazyad ash-Shaybani.
21-24) `Abdullah ibn Yahya al-Kindi, al-Mukhtar ibn `Awf al-Azdi (Abu Hamzah ash-Shari), Abrahah ibn as- Sabbah and Balj ibn `Uqbah al-Asadi: were killed by `Abd al-Malik ibn `Atiyyah as-Sa`di in the reign of Marwan ibn Muhammad (the last of the Umayyad caliphs). [20][21][22][23]

The nine Kharijites that survived the battle against Imam Ali managed to flee to Basrah, Sistan, Khurasan, Oman, Yemen, Tell Mozan, and elsewhere, where they had their offspring, spread their beliefs and recruited more followers. Today Ibadis of Oman (and parts of Africa) and the Usooli Shi'ah, especially of Sistan and Kufah, are known as their descendants and followers.

A narration reports:


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Ayesha By Allamah Syed Sulaiman Nadvi, Pg. 44
  3. ^ Dakake, Maria Massi (2007). The Charismatic Community: Shi'ite Identity in Early Islam. USA: State Univ of New York Pr.  
  4. ^ Nahj Al-Balaghah, Sermon 36
  5. ^ Al-Zubayr ibn Bakkar, al-Muwaffaqiyyat, 350
  6. ^ al-Tabari, Ta'rikh, VI, 47
  7. ^ Ibn Qutaybah, al-'Imamah, I, 147
  8. ^ Sibt, Tadhkirah, 100
  9. ^ Ibn al-'Athir, al-Nihayah, I, 97
  10. ^ al-Mas`udi, Muruj, II, 402
  11. ^ al-Baladhuri, Ansab, II, 371
  12. ^ Sermon 59
  13. ^ Al-Bayhaqi, al-Mahasin, 385
  14. ^ al-Mas`udi, Muruj, II, 416
  15. ^ al-Mubarrad, al-Kamil, II, 120
  16. ^ Nahj Al-Balaghah, Sermon 60
  17. ^ Al-Bayhaqi, al-Mahasin, 385
  18. ^ al-Mas`udi, Muruj, II, 416
  19. ^ al-Mubarrad, al-Kamil, II, 120
  20. ^ Nahj Al-Balaghah, Sermon 60
  21. ^ Al-Bayhaqi, al-Mahasin, 385
  22. ^ al-Mas`udi, Muruj, II, 416
  23. ^ al-Mubarrad, al-Kamil, II, 120

External links

  • Article on the Battle of Nahrawan Play & Learn Website

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.