Chapter Three: The actual beliefs espoused by the people of Kufa


The majority of Kufans were avid supporters of the Khilafat of the Shaikhain. The famous Sunni scholar Allamah Shibli Naumani in his world famous book Al-Farooq had credited the second caliph Omar for the construction of city of Kufa by writing:


al-Faruq (English) Vo. 2 pages 94-95 by Shibli Numani

al-Faruq (English) Vo. 2 pages 94-95 by Shibli Numani

“When a number of cities were conquered, Saad bin Waqqas wrote to Omer that Arabs are becoming spoiled (with all the successes), Omer wrote back to find a spot that has both land and sea strategic importance. Hence Suleiman Hazeefah choose the land of Kufa and named it such.

The city was founded in 17 AH and, as Omar had expressly commanded, houses sufficient to lodge forty thousand persons were constructed. Arab tribes were allotted separate quarters under the supervision of Hayaj ibn Malik. Omar had given explicit instructions with regard to the planning of the city as well as its construction……. The Jami Masjid was built on a raised squared platform and was so spacious that forty thousand persons could pray in it at one time.”
Omar the great (Al Faruq), Volume 2 page 95


Faruq (English) Vo. 2 page 96 by Shibli Numani

Faruq (English) Vo. 2 page 96 by Shibli Numani

“Besides the Jami Masjid, separate mosques were built for each tribe based quarter of the city. Among the settled tribes in Kufah were twelve thousand men from Yemen and eight thousand from the Nazar Clan. There were numerous other tribes settled such as Saleem, Saqeef, Humdaan, Bajablah, Nim-ul Lat, Taghlab, Bani Asad, Nakha, Kindah, Azd, Mazainah, Tamim Muharab, Asad and Amirm Jadilah and Akhlat, Juhaina, Muhjaz, Hawazin, etc”.

“In Omar’s lifetime the city came to attain such greatness and splendor that the Caliph called it the head of Islam. It had indeed become a center of Arab power”.
Omar the great (Al Faruq), Volume 2 page 96

There is no doubting that the Kufan residents were loyal to Umar to the extent that he deemed Kufa to be the head of Islam. Now if the Nawasib are still delusional then we would like to question them to clarify to us that the main mosque that could gather 40 thousand worshippers and many smaller mosques that were built under the auspices of Omar were they all Shia Imami mosques? Was Omer intent on developing a huge Shia city, wherein beliefs centered on affirming that Ali (as) was the true Khalifa of the Prophet (s) and that he was an usurper?

We are not able to find any valid sources from the history of Islam that affirm that at the time of Martyrdom of Imam Hussain (as) the majority of Kufans were Imami Shias on the contrary we find numerous sources that tell us clearly that the majority of Kufans were followers of Uthman bin Affan. Allamah Yaqoot Hamawi is a famous Sunni scholar who wrote ‘Majma ul Buldaan’. This book contains a detailed history of different cities under Islamic rule. It contains a history of Kufa in its Volume 7 pages 295 – 300. He does not mention a single instance, that would suggest that Kufa was a Shia Imami city.

Kufa during the era of Imam Ali (as)

In chapter 2 evidenced that those who pledged their allegiance to Imam Ali (as) following the murder of Uthman bin Affan they believed in the Khilafat of the Shaikhain. Imam Ali has mentioned cited this himself, as is found in in Nahjul Balagha:

“People who pledged their allegiance to Abubakr and Omar and Uthman, pledged their allegiance to me on same basis that they pledged their allegiance to them. So according to that logic the one who was present cannot back out off their allegiance and the one who was absent during the allegiance does not have the right to declare the allegiance null and void. The consultation (Shurah) belongs to Mohajirun and Ansar.”

The Kufans that came to kill Uthman bin Affan wanted to do so because they felt he had breached the condition on which he accepted office, namely his adherence to the path of the first two Caliphs, a violation they felt merited the death penalty. The people of Kufa were staunch supporters of Talha bin Obaidullah, this fact is well known as it has been recorded in Tareekh Tabari. We for example read in the History of Tabari, Volume 16 page 43:

“They went down – Talha and Zubayr to Mecca four months after the killing of Uthman. Ibn Amir, a very rich man was there, and Yala b. Umayyah had arrived with him with a large sum of money and more than 400 camels. They gathered together in Aishah’s house and exchanged opinions. “Let’s go to Ali and fight him,” they said. “We don’t have the strength to fight the people of Medina,” one of them replied. “Let us rather enter al-Basrah and al-Kufah. Talhah has a following and popularity and support in al-Basrah”. So they agreed to go to al-Basrah and al-Kufah, and Abdullah b. Amir gave them much money and camels. Seven hundred men from Medina and Mecca set off, and other joined until their number reached 3000”.

During the Khilafat of Imam Ali (as) the Imami Shias began to settle in Kufa, we therefore had two kinds of Shia groups that lived in Kufa:

  1. The political Shias who deemed the Khilafat of Abu Bakr and Umar to be rightful.
  2. The Imami Shias that considered Ali (as) as their Imam and considered him the rightful Caliph after the Prophet Muhammad (s) and rejected the Khilafat of the Shaikhain. These Imami Shias were small in number and were the minority in Kufa.

The acceptance of Uthman’s caliphate by the political Shias of Kufa

The political Shias of Kufa deemed the Khilafat of Abu Bakr and Umar to be legitimate. They also considered the Khilafat of Uthman bin Affan to be legitimate because (according to them) he was selected based on the same criteria and terms as were his predecessors. They revolted against Uthman bin Affan because unlike his predecessors they accused him of nepotism by appointing his relatives as provincial Governors. Similarly since (according to them) Imam Ali (as) was selected on the same merits and criteria they sided with him against Muawiyah at Siffeen. That is why when Malik bin Ashter spoke against Uthman bin Affan the same political Shias attacked him physically (Tarikh Tabari, v19, page 189).

During the battle of Siffeen when Muawiya’s army was facing a rout, and Amr bin Ass ordered that Qurans be raised on spears as a mechanism to halt hostilities Imam Ali (as) insisted that the fighting persist, but these same political Shias of Kufa disobeyed him (as) and insisted that the fighting be ceased. They also demanded that Malik bin Ashtar – an Imami Shia – stopped fighting and return to camp at a point when he was about to achieve victory. These events are well known and have been meticulously recorded in the works of Islamic history.

These were the same people who again revolted against Imam Ali (as) after the battle of Siffeen and evolved into the Khwarij Sect.

After the battle of Neharwan, Imam Ali (as) kept on demanding that these Political shias join him in his battle against Muawiyah but they kept on delaying and deceiving him, which is why Imam Ali (as) openly snubbed them in Nahajul Balagha at several points. After the martyrdom of Imam Ali (as) the same political shias of Kufa abandoned Imam Hasan (as) their nefarious activities forced him to abandon his struggle against Muawiyah and enter into a peace treaty with him.

The Political shias during the era of Imam Hussain (as)

After the peace treaty between Imam Hasan (as) and Muawiyah, Muawiyah became the unchallenged ruler over the Islamic world. He ruled for more then 20 years and began his reign by adopting several steps to strengthen his grip:

  1. He declared Ziyad bin Sumayah to be his brother. (He was the product of the illegitimate union between Abu Sufyan and Sumayah.)
  2. Ziyad lived in Kufa during the Khilafat of Ali (as) and hence knew the Imami Shias of Kufa very well.
  3. Tauhfa Athna Ashariya (Urdu), page 484 by Shah Abdul Aziz (Karachi)

    Tauhfa Athna Ashariya (Urdu), page 484 by Shah Abdul Aziz (Karachi)

    Muawiya won over Ziyad by declaring Ziyad bin Summiya his brother and appointed him the governor of Kufa. In the words of the famous anti Imami Shia scholar al Muhaddith Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi:“Let us mention Ziyad – the product of fornication – his actions, under Muawiya’s guidance, the first thing that he demonstrated was his enmity towards the family of Ali”.
    Tauhfa Ithna Ashari (Urdu), page 484 Published in Karachi

  4. Ziyad bin Summiya slaughtered the twelve Imami Shias of Ali (as) and his supporters without mercy. [See Al Bidayah wa’l Nihayah, Volume 3, page 50, Tarikh Kamil, Volume 3, page 245, Tarikh Tabari Tabari, volume 6, page 155, Al Istiab, volume 1, page 138].Allamah Muhammad bin Aqeel bin Hussain writes in Nasa al-Kifayah, page 70 (published in Bombay):“Muawiyah appointed Ziyad Bin Sumaya governor over the people of Kufa and joined Basrah with it. As Ziyad had lived in Kufa during the time of Ali[k], he knew all the (Imami) Shias living there. He dragged (Imami) Shias from every nook and cranny and slaughtered them, threatened them, amputated their hands and legs, had needles pierced through their eyes, hanged them on trees, exiled them from Iraq making them homeless until no renowned (Imami) Shia remained in Iraq”

This is how the Shias of Imam Ali (as) were treated under Mu’awiya’s reign. Such was its severity that when Ziyads son become Governor of Kufa, he said to Hani bin Urwa (who was an Imami Shi’a):

“Don’t you know Hani, when my father came to this land, he did not spare the life of any one of the Shi’a except for your father and Hujr? (And) You know what happened to Hujr”.
History of Tabari, English translation – Volume 19 page 38

Similarly Ibn Abbas (ra) advised Imam Hussain (as) not to go to Iraq because in Kufa besides Hani and a few more Shias no Imami Shias were left alive. Let alone the majority of population of Kufa being of Imami Shiahs of Ahle Bait as claimed by Nawasib. When Ibn Abbas (ra) visited Imam Hussain (as) for the second time he advised him:

“Cousin I invoke patience, but I do not have it. I fear you destruction and extirpation in this exercise. The Iraqis are a treacherous people. So don’t go near them. Remain in this land, for you are the leader of the people of Hijaz. If the Iraqis want you as they claim, write to them that they should drive out their enemies, and then you will some to them. If you insist on leaving, then go to Yemen. There, there are fortresses and gorges. It is a vast distant land. Your father had a Shiah there and you would be remote from the people”.
History of Tabari, English translation – Volume 19 page 67

It is obvious from the above facts that during Muawiya’s 20 years reign all the believing Imami Shia population who were staunch supporters of Imam Ali (as) were systematically murdered. Now the question arises who were the people left in Kufa and where were their loyalties?

The answer to that is those left in Kufa were Political shias who were not only supporters of who affirmed belief in the Khilafat of the Sheikheen and Uthman bin Affan as we have evidenced previously. That is why when Imami Shias such as Malik bin Ashtar spoke against the Khilafat of Uthman bin Affan, the people of Kufa got offended and attacked him, see Tareekh Tabari, Volume 5, Part 19, page 189.  The ethnic cleansing of the Shia population by Ziyad in effect meant that by the time Yazeed succeeded his father, Kufa was not a city wherein all the residents were Shias.  The city had turned into one wherein two groups of Shia existed as acknowledged by Ibn Taymiya in Minhaj al-Sunnah, Volume 4 page 554 who wrote:

وكانت الكوفة بها قوم من الشيعة المنتصرين للحسين وكان رأسهم المختار بن أبي عبيد الكذاب وقوم من الناصبة المبغضين لعلي رضي الله عنه وأولاده ومهم الحجاج بن يوسف الثقفي


In Kufa there were a group of Shia that were supporting Hussain, they were lead by al-Mukhtar bin Abi Ubaid the liar, along with a group of Nasibis that hated Ali (r) and his progeny such as al-Hajaj bin Yusuf al-Thaqafi.

Why did the Kufans that believed in the legitimacy of the three Caliphs aid Imam Ali (as) and Imam Hussain (as)?

As we have mentioned above during the leadership of Imam Ali (as) the majority of Kufans believed in the leadership of the first three caliphs. If they sided with Imam Ali (as) against Muawiya it was based on the principle that he had acquired powered via the same principles and pre-conditions that were applied to the first three caliphs. The same principle was adopted by the inhabitants of Medina, which is why despite their upholding the legitimacy of Uthman bin Affan’s Caliphate, they chose to fight under the banner of Imam Ali (as) in Jamal and Siffeen against the seditious elements..

Now the question arises why did the Kufans help Imam Hussain (as) when the ascribed to the legitimate caliphates of the first three Caliphs but not that of Imam Hasan (as)? There are some reasons for that:

  1. The Kufans had already turned against the governors of Bani Ummayah during the reign of Uthman bin Affan.
  2. Whilst deeming him to be a legitimate Caliph they nevertheless sent forces out against him.
  3. They opposed the Godfather of the Ummayad clan Muawiya since he had committed mutiny against the fourth legitimate caliph Imam Ali (as).
  4. On the orders of Muawiyah, Ziyah ibn Summiyah massacred Kufans and the Kufans did not forget his cruelty towards them.
  5. Muawiyah forced and/or bribed many to offer their allegiance to his son Yazid [laeen]. Yazid was not only a drunkard, womanizer but also extremely cruel and opportunistic. This single act of Muawiya harmed political Islam in such a way that in its history for the first time the leadership was handed down to an incompetent son hence turning the Islamic way of election and selection into nepotism and favouritism.
  6. On the other side of Equation was Hussain – the grandson of Prophet himself (peace be upon them) – whose nobility, character and decency were testified by his most staunch enemies themselves. That is why the Kufans wrote letters to Imam Hussain to come and help them out.

Shia of Muawiya during Muawiya’s rule in Kufa

Muawiya ruled the Ummah for 20 years. During his era he obviously succeeded in creating a group of loyalists and appointees in each and every city under his rule. This group was extremely anti Ahle-bait. The evidence to this claim is found in a letter that this group of Shiatul Muawiyah wrote to Yazid on the arrival of Muslim bin Aqeel. Since by now their loyalty had switched to his son Yazid bin Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan.

وخرج عبدالله بن مسلم وكتب إلى يزيد بن معاوية أما بعد فإن مسلم بن عقيل قد قدم الكوفة فبايعته الشيعة للحسين بن علي فإن كان لك بالكوفة حاجة فابعث إليها رجلا قويا ينفذ أمرك ويعمل مثل عملك في عدوك فإن النعمان بن بشير رجل ضعيف أو هو يتضعف

“Abdallah b. Muslim. B. Said al Hadrami an ally of the Banu Umayyah…went out and wrote the following letter to Yazid b. Muawiyah: ‘Muslim bin Aqeel has come to al-Kufa and the Shia have given the allegiance to him on behalf of al-Husayn b. Ali b. Abi Talib. If you have any need of Kufa send a strong man there, who would carry out your orders in the same way you would at against your enemy. Al-Nauman b. Bashir is a weak man or he is acting like a weak man”. He was the first to write to him. Then Umarah b. Uqbah wrote to him in a similar vein. As did Umar b. Sad b. Abi Waqqas”
History of Tabari, Volume 19 page 30

It was this same Sad bin Abi Waqqas who subsequently fought Imam Hussain (as) and in fact was proud at firing the first arrow at him.

Returning to Tabari as soon as Yazid obtained receipt of this letter he issued an order to Ibn Ziyad who was the son of Ziyah ibn Summayah, in which he wrote something very interesting:

أما بعد فإنه كتب إلي شيعتي من أهل الكوفة يخبرونني أن ابن عقيل بالكوفة يجمع الجموع لشق عصا المسلمين فسر حين تقرأ

“My followers (Shia) among the people of al-Kufah have written to me to inform me that Ibn Aqil is in al-Kufah gathering units in order to spread rebellion among the Muslims. Therefore, when you read this letter of mine, go to a’-Kufah and search for Ibn Aqil, as if you were looking for a bead , until you find him. Then bind him in chains, kill him, or expel him.”
History of Tabari, Volume 19 page 31

One can gauge from the above reference there were two groups of Shias in Kufa:

  1. Uthmani Shias i.e. the Umayyads, who openly showed their hostility towards the Ahl’ul bayt and were the voluntary spies for Yazid’s government. They believed in the Caliphate of the first three Caliphs and rejected Imam Ali (as)’. The famous Nasibi Ibn Taymiyah confesses in his own work:“The Uthmani Shias were openly hostile towards Ali from pulpit”.
    Minhaj al Sunnah, Volume 1 page 178 The army stationed in Kufa was sent by Muawiya soon after he became the caliph and obviously had a soft spot for Muawiyah and Yazid since the majority of the soldiers were from Syria.
  2. The ordinary Kufans fell within the political grouping of Shiatual Ali as opposed to Uthmani Shias affirmed belief in all four Caliphs. They were the majority in Kufa.
  3. The original Shia, those who followed the Ahle Bait spiritually were in minority in Kufa.

Dear Readers, in order to properly understand the events of Karbala, one needs to understand the difference between these different competing groups.

Qazi Noorullah Shosteri’s statement that the majority of Kufans were (Imami) Shias

In the end let us put another false claim of wicked Nawasib to the test. The Nawasib misquote frequently one of the claims of a famous Shia scholar namely Qazi Noorullah Shosteri and use it as base to claim that the majority of Shias of the city of Kufa were not believers in Khilafah of Shakhayn but actually Imami Shias. They knowingly quote from Majalis al-Momineen, page 25:

Nawasib quote:

“There is no reason to prove that the Kufans were Shias. The Kufans being Sunni is against logic and needs to be proven even Abu Hanifa though (who was a Kufan) was a Sunni. “

Reply One

Firstly, this quote of Qazi Noorullah is not geared towards the era of the battle of Karbala but toward the era of Abu Hanifa’s lifetime and/or afterwards. He is not describing Kufa in 61 H – the Karbala era – he is describing the time during which Abu Hanifa lived in Kufa and/or afterwards at the most. Abu Hanifa was not even born during the times of Karbala.

Reply Two

Secondly, this is Qazi’s personal opinion about Abu Hanifa’s era. The Nawasib need to show us some solid historical and factual based evidence to their claim of Kufa being Shia Imami city.

Reply Three

We have proven earlier by quoting authentic Sunni scholar and their authentic books that by the time of Karbala the Imami Shias were left in extreme minority in Kufa because the Nasibi governor Ziyah Ibn Summiyah slaughtered them mercilessly during his era.

In conclusion this is just another example of wickedness and hypocrisy of Nasibis who use these tools to deceive ordinary Sunnis. They never hesitate in quoting any historical evidence absolutely out of context and/or twist it to further their own agenda which is to lay the blame of slaughter of Aale-Nabi (peace be upon them) on the shoulder of Shia Imami Muslims in order to a absolve their four fathers from the most heinous crime committed by their first Imam Yazid-e-Laeen in the history of Islam and make fool of innocent Sunnis who are made to believe that all they are being told is the absolute truth.


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