Battle of 'Ayn al-Warda

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Battle of 'Ayn al-Warda
Part of the Second Fitna
DateJanuary 685
Result Umayyad victory
Umayyad Caliphate Penitents (Pro-Alids)
Commanders and leaders
Husayn ibn Numayr al-Sakuni Sulayman ibn Surad al-Khuza'i  
Rifa ibn Shaddad
20,000 5,000

The Battle of 'Ayn al-Warda (Arabic: معركة عين الوردة‎) was fought in early January 685 between the Umayyad army and the Penitents (Tawwabun), a group of pro-Alid Kufans led by Sulayman ibn Surad al-Khuza'i, a companion of Muhammad, who wished to atone for their failure to assist Imam Husayn ibn Ali in his uprising against the Umayyads, in which he was killed at the Battle of Karbala in 680. With the outbreak of the Second Muslim Civil War and the collapse of Umayyad authority across Iraq in 683/684, Sulayman ibn Surad began in November 684 to call upon his fellow Kufans to avenge their failure. Although some 16,000 pledged to support him, only some 4,000 showed up at Nukhayla, a suburb of Kufa, their mustering place. Undeterred, they moved up the Euphrates towards the Jazira (Upper Mesopotamia).

At al-Qarqisiya, the Qaysi refugees from the Battle of Marj Rahit aided the Penitents with supplies and advice but refused to join them, seeing no hope in their endeavour. The Penitents pressed on to 'Ayn al-Warda (identified with Ras al-'Ayn), where they encountered an Umayyad army of 20,000 under Husayn ibn Numayr al-Sakuni. The battle lasted for three days; although the Penitents held the upper hand in the first skirmish, in the following two days the numerical superiority of the Umayyad army began to prevail. Finally, Sulayman ibn Surad was killed and the Penitents were surrounded and almost annihilated. Rifa ibn Shaddad advised the survivors to return and brought them to al-Qarqisiya after their defeat. The small number of Penitents who survived the battle of 'Ayn al-Warda went over to the pro-Alid leader al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. These Kufans, who formed the backbone of al-Mukhtar's movement, called themselves Shi'at al-Mahdi (Partisans of the Mahdi), Shi'at al-Haqq (Partisans of Righteousness) or Shi'at al-Muhammad (Partisans of Muhammad).


  • Kennedy, Hugh N. (2001). The Armies of the Caliphs: Military and Society in the Early Islamic State. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 27–29. ISBN 0-415-25093-5.
  • "Origin and rise of the Tawwabun". Retrieved 23 November 2013.