Battle of al-Harrah

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Battle of al-Harrah
al-Harrah, near Medina, Saudi Arabia
Result Umayyad victory
Umayyads Supporters of Abdullah ibn Zubayr
People of Medina
Commanders and leaders
Muslim ibn Uqba al-Murri Unknown
10,000 Unknown
Casualties and losses
Medium 4,000[1]-11,000[citation needed]

The Battle of al-Harrah (Arabic: وقعة الحرة‎) was a battle fought at al-Harrah on 26 Dhu al-Hijjah 63 H./26 August 683,[2] a volcanic hill[3] then lying to the northeast of Medina. The battle was fought between the army of Yazid ibn Muawiyah and an allied force made of Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr's troops, the people of Medina, and several notable Sahabah, many of whom were killed in the battle. Occurring after the battle of Karbala, it is the second most infamous battle during the reign of Yazid bin Muawiyah, the second Umayyad Caliph, described as one of the Umayyads' "major" crimes.[2]


The Battle of Karbala was an influential incident in the formation of the Medinise uprising against Yazid I, especially since Zeinab bint Ali incited the people of Medina against Yazid, after returning Medina from Karbala.[4] Behaviors such as having singing girls entertain him and "playing with a pet monkey", reported in traditions with regard to Yazid, made the people of Medina feel that he was unsuitable for ruling as caliph and subsequently led to their withdrawing their allegiance from him.[5] The people of Medina at the time, who were mostly the children of Islam’s first military generation, also felt threatened at the potential loss of inherited military pensions brought about by Umayyad fiscal reforms; the reforms called for pensions to be given only in exchange for direct military service.[6]

To reconcile with Medina’s people, Yazid requested that they send a delegation to the Umayyad capital Damascus.[6] Upon arrival, Yazid attempted to win over the delegates by lavishing them with gifts and money.[6] This effort proved fruitless when the delegates returned to incite the people of Medina with accounts detailing Yazid’s scandalous lifestyle.[6]

The most vociferous critic among the delegates was Abd Allah ibn Hanzala. He added that he and his sons would fight against Yazid, if others were not to help him and that, though he was respected by Yazid, he aimed to use the gifts he was given by Yazid against Yazid himself.[4] On the other hand, Abdullah ibn Zubayr, who was the grandson of first Caliph Abu Bakr, decided to stand up against Yazid to establish his own caliphate and introduce himself as the commander of the faithful.[5] Abdullah bin Zubayr later launched an insurgency in the Hejaz region, the heartland of Islam, where Makkah and Medina are located.

The governor Yazid appointed to Medina in late 682 or early 683, Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Sufyan, was young, inexperienced and unable to control the brewing opposition to Umayyad rule.[6]

Yazid sent an army of 10,000 fighters from Syria against Medina in 683[2] under General Muslim ibn Uqba[7] to "crush" the opposition from both the Medinese and Abdullah ibn Zubayr.[5]

Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, then a young soldier and who later played an important political role in the Umayyad caliphate, was part of this army.[citation needed] Abu Sa`id al-Khudri, a Medinite Sahabi, also fought against the Umayyad army in this battle.[citation needed]


Place and date[edit]

Harrah is referred to an area covered by black pebbles in Arabic. The incident took place in a pebbly area in east of Medina, hence the name "Battle of Harrah". According to the most of the sources, the incident occurred on 2 Dhu al-Hijjah[1] or two or three days to the end of Dhu al-Hijjah of 63, hence the reports saying it took place in 62 H seem inaccurate.[1] The incident occurred after the battle of Karbala, where Husayn ibn Ali was killed along with some of his family members and his companions.[2]


Following their victory, the Syrian army looted the city for three consecutive days. A large number of its occupants were killed. The cruelty against the people of Medina by the Umayyad army became a cause célèbre that was invoked by future generations.[8] Muslim bin Uqbah al-Marri was henceforth known as "Musrif" meaning "he who exceeds all bounds of propriety".[8] Women from Quraysh (Mohammad's tribe) and from Ansar were raped by Yazid's army. Also, Yazid's army under the command of Muslim bin Uqbah extracted the fetuses of pregnant women and killed the fetuses.[9] Medina was recaptured and Makkah was also besieged. Musrif forced a number of Medina's "prominent men to return to their allegiance to Yazid."[7]


  1. ^ a b c Mohammad Pour 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Hawting 2000, pp. 47-48.
  3. ^ Krech & Steinicke 2011, p. 179.
  4. ^ a b Elhami 1997.
  5. ^ a b c Hawting 2000, p. 47.
  6. ^ a b c d e Vaglieri, p. 226.
  7. ^ a b Hawting 2016.
  8. ^ a b Lassner 1986, p. 51-52.
  9. ^ Krech 2011, p. 179.


  • Hawting, Gerald R. (2000). The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate AD 661-750. Routledge.
  • Lassner, Jacob (1986). Islamic Revolution and Historical Memory: An Inquiry Into the Art of ʻAbbāsid Apologetics. American Oriental Society.
  • Hawting, G.R. (25 August 2016). "Yazīd (I) b. Muʿāwiya". Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill.
  • Krech, Volkhard; Steinicke, Marion (2011). Dynamics in the History of Religions Between Asia and Europe: Encounters, Notions, and Comparative Perspectives. Brill. ISBN 9004185003.
  • Mohammad Pour, Mohammad (2014). "Harra Incident". Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (in Persian). Islamic Encyclopedia foundation. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  • Elhami, Davoud (1997). "Revivalist movements affected by Hussayn ibn Ali's movement" (PDF). Misbah Quarterly (in Persian) (22). Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  • Vase'ee, Sayyid Ali Reza; Saleh Shari'ati, Tahereh Sadat (2015). "Unveiling the reasoning behind Imam Sajjad's disagreement with the people of Medina over Harra incident" (PDF). Shia Studies (in Persian). 1 (1). Retrieved 29 August 2018.

Coordinates: 24°28′N 39°38′E / 24.467°N 39.633°E / 24.467; 39.633