Islam in Iraq
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|Islam by country|
The history of Islam in Iraq goes back almost 1,400 years to the lifetime of Muhammad (died 632). Iraq's Muslims follow two distinct traditions, Shia Islam (majority in South and East Iraq) and Sunni Islam (majority in North and West Iraq).
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Iraq is home to many religious cities important for both Shia and Sunni Muslims. Baghdad was a hub of Islamic learning and scholarship for centuries and served as the capital of the Abbassids. Baghdad also is home to two prominent Shia Imams in what is known as Kadhimiya, Iraq. The city of Karbala has substantial prominence in Shia Islam as a result of the Battle of Karbala, fought in 10 October 680. Similarly, Najaf is renowned as the site of the tomb of Alī ibn Abī Tālib (also known as "Imām Alī"), whom the Shia consider to be the righteous caliph and first imām. The city is now a great center of pilgrimage from throughout the Shi'a Islamic world and it is estimated that only Mecca and Medina receive more Muslim pilgrims. The city of Kufa was home to the famed scholar Abu Hanifah, whose school of thought is followed by many Sunni Muslims internationally. Kufa was also the capital of the Rashidun Caliphate during the time of Ali. Likewise, Samarra is also home to the al-Askari Mosque, containing the mausoleums of the Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari, the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams respectively, as well as the maqam (or "point") of Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is the twelfth and final Imam of the Shia Madhhab. This has made it an important pilgrimage centre for Ja'farī Shia Muslims. In addition, some female relatives of Muhammad are buried in Samarra, making the city one of the most significant sites of worship for Shia Muslims and a venerated location for Sunni Muslims. Basra Iraq is also a prominent Shia area due to its significant role during the First Fitna, where Ali defeated Aisha during the Battle of the Camel.
The Muslim population of Iraq is 64-66% Shia and 34-36% Sunni. Iraqi Kurds are 85% Sunni, with 15% being Shia Feyli Kurds. Most Kurds are located in the northern areas of the country, with most following the Sunni Shafi school of Islamic law but with some being members of either the Qadiri or the Naqshbandi Sufi tariqah.
- "Middle East :: IRAQ". CIA The World Factbook.