Battle of Nahrawan

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

Rashidun Caliphate victory

Black flag.svg Rashidun Caliphate Khawarij (Kharijites)
Commanders and leaders
Imamah Flag.pngAli ibn Abu Talib
Imamah Flag.pngHassan ibn Ali
Imamah Flag.png Al-Ashath ibn Qays al-Kindi[1]
Abdullah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi
Abdullah ibn Ibad
Harqus bin Zuhair
Abdullah bin Shajara
80,000 2,800
Casualties and losses
8 killed 2791 killed, 9 escaped.

The Battle of Nahrawan (Arabic: معركة النهروان‎, translit. Ma'rakat an-Nahrawān‎) was a battle between Ali ibn Abi Talib (the first Shi'ah Imam and the fourth Sunni Caliph) and the Kharijites commanded by ‘Abdullah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi, near Nahrawan, twelve miles from Baghdad.[2]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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

Later on, in 40 A.H Ali was assassinated by a Kharijite called Abd al-Rahman ibn Muljam, who attacked him with a poisoned sword while Ali was praying, in his sujood. 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.[3]

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

When Ali was told that the Kharijites had been killed, he replied: "By Allah! No, not yet. They still exist in the loins of men and wombs of women. Whenever a chief would appear from among them, he would be cut down till the last of them would turn thieves and robbers."[4][5][6][7]

The nine Kharijites that survived the battle against 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) are known as their descendants and followers.[8]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ludwig W. Adamec (2009), Historical Dictionary of Islam, p.235. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810861615.
  3. ^ Al-Islam. "The Life of the Commander of the Faithful Ali Ibn Abu Talib (as)". Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Al-Bayhaqi, al-Mahasin, 385
  5. ^ al-Mas`udi, Muruj, II, 416
  6. ^ al-Mubarrad, al-Kamil, II, 120
  7. ^ Nahj Al-Balaghah, Sermon 60
  8. ^ Kashf Al-Maghmah, Vol. 1 Pg. 267 Ch. 51, About the Actions of the Khawarij, H. 267

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°31′17″N 43°47′03″E / 34.521389°N 43.784167°E / 34.521389; 43.784167