Foundation of Kufa City

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Foundation of Kufa City

The city of Kufa was wide land unoccupied by inhabitants and constructions; there were only few scattered churches and monasteries, before it has inhabited and existed as an Islamic important city. The history reported that it was a Christian area belonged to Hira called A'aquala([1]).

Kufa is an area located on the western bank of middle Euphrates, at the east side of the city Hira, which was famous monarch in the history before Islam. The historian al-Ya'qubi, died in 284 AH, said ((al-Hira is three miles far from al-Kufa))([2]).

The orientalist Louis Mason mentions the ancient al-Kufa in his saying, ((al-Kufa is in front of Hira, where there is a tongue of sand nearing vertically to Euphrates))([3]). Then he added, ((it is stretching toward the river more than toward al-Hira, and it controlled over the bridge))([4]).

In his Buldan, al-Ya'qubi described al-Kufa in his saying, ((al-Kufa is the biggest city of Iraq and the greatest capital, the Dom of Islam and the house of Muslims' immigration. It is the first city that Muslims planned in Iraq in fourteenth year, and through which Arabs planned. It is on the Euphrates from which its people drank water. It is the best and widest, richest and largest than other countries))([5]).

The historians and linguists differ in the origin of naming of al-Kufa; they have stated that al-Kufa is the red-circled sand, or any piece of sand mixed with gravels([6]),it is a substance of Kuf, Takuf, Kufa, Kufan(red sand), called so because people met there([7]).There are other meanings close to  this one.

Yaqut al-Hamawi, on the substance of al-Kufa, has stated in his saying ((the capital that is famous as Babylon land from the villages of Iraq, and they called Virgin cheek.

Abu Baker Mohammed Bin al Qasim said that it named al-Kufa because of its circled shape taken from the Arabs' saying," I saw Kufann, (with Dhama on letter (k) and Fatha on circled sand). It has said, that it named al-Kufa as Kufa because it is a meeting place for people as (their saying," the sand has gathered "))([8]).

Al-Hamawi said," Abu al-Qasim said," a few thought that it named Kufa because of its location on the ground and every piece of sand mixed with gravel, called Kufa. Others said," it named Kufa because mountain Satima surrounded it as palms of the hand. Ibn al-Kalbi said, "it named for a small hill in its center, they called it Kufan…))([9]).

When the Islamic state settled in Arab Peninsula, and the Islamic conquests started to spread over various parts of the world. The Islamic state rushed to Iraq, where it achieved many victories in Iraq villages. Moreover, it wanted to take a place or a camp for fighters, especially, after Islamic forces did great victories in al-Mada'in toward the east. Therefore, the political and military conditions required to choose a place for the Arab conquerors, where they and their families can stay. However, the chosen place must have specific terms and requirements mentioned by Arab officials, and must provide easy and close connection with Caliphate center (in Medina) so that the supplies and other communications could be easy with the center, and in the

Necessary case, the process of withdraw could be easy and without hindrance. Therefore, the coming recommendations from Medina concerning the choice of the suitable place were phrases (at the edge of the land) or (close to the countryside) or (at the border of desert). All these phrases have military meanings. 

Al-Baladhuri, deceased  in 379 AH, says in his Futihat (conquests) that the caliph Omer al-Khatab wrote to the leader who was in charge of opening Iraq and Persia country, Sa'ad Bin Abi Waqqas, ordering him to assume a headquarter for Muslims so that they could start their conquests and works.

He says also, ((Mohammed Bin Sa'ad told me that Mohammed Bin said that Omer al-Waqidi from Abdul Hamid Ja'afer and others that Omer Bin al-Khatab wrote to Sa'ad Bin Abi Waqqas ordered him to take Hijrat and Qairwana as a settlement for Muslims, and  to be close to them  and not to put a sea between him and them. Therefore, he came to al-Anbar, which he wanted to assume as a settlement, but the flies were too much, so he moved to other places until finally he moved to al-Kufa where he planned and built houses to people and settled the tribes, each in its place. In addition, he built a mosque in 17 AH([10]).

Al-Baladhuri says about the choice of al-Kufa ((when sa'ad Bin Abi Waqqas finished the battle of al-Qadisa, he went to al-Mada'in, where he reconciled the Roman and Persians, then he entered al-Mada'in, and seized Isbanubr and Kredndadh (villages) by force, in which he settled his soldiers. Omer Bin al-Khatab wrote to Sa'ad to move his soldiers to Suq al-Hikma (wisdom Bazar). Some said that he moved them to Kufya not to al-Kufa. Al-Aathrm also said that was al Takuf (i.e. the meeting). Others said that Kufa is a name of a circled place of sand. Some called the land in which gravels, mud and sand Kufa. When they settled there, the mosquitoes attached them. Therefore, Sa'ad wrote to Omer informing him that the people were suffering from the mosquitoes' bite. When they settled there, the mosquitoes attacked them. Therefore, Sa'ad wrote to Omer informing him that the people were suffering from the mosquitoes' bite.

In return, Omer wrote to Sa'ad that Arabs are at the rank of camels, and what is proper for the camels is suitable for them. So, choose another site to them, put a sea between them and me, and chose Aba al-Hiyayaj al-Asadi Umar Bin Malik Bin Jinada to plan for them the place([11]).

Abdul Masih Bin Baqilt was one of al-Hira inhabitants. ([12]) He knows the area and its nature. Therefore, he suggested to Sa'ad other suitable place to plan as a city. Al-Baladhuri says ((then Abdul Masih came to Sa'ad saying, "I show you a land that is descending far from desert and higher from stagnant water. Thus, he guided Sa'ad to the today Kufa site that called Suratan. Here, he ordered one of his soldiers to throw an arrow to the direction of Qibla, which marked its place. The second threw to the North, which indicated its place; the third one threw to the South, and marked its place, the last arrow threw to the direction of the wind, and indicated its place too; finally, the site of the mosque and the emirate house planned on high place. They threw also arrows to indicate the places of Nazar (Christians) and al-Yemen people, but the left side would be the share of the first who threw his arrow. Yemen people threw first, so they won and planned their houses on the eastern side that was better one, while Christian people took the western side. Both places were beyond the marks, and the rest of the land left for the yard of the mosque and emirate house([13])

This is the start of founding the city of al-Kufa. The people differed on the date of this planning. Al- Hamawi mentions ((the first time, kufa became a city that was in the same year in which Basra became a city in 17 AH. Others said, "It became a city two years after Basra in 19 AH, and some said, in 18 AH([14]). The first thing Sa'ad did after the planning was the choice of the inclusive mosque in al-Kufa.



[1]. The historians and researchers say ((the area of A'aquala, before the foundation of Islamic al-Kufa, was ancient settlements. It was since the dawn (rise) of history, it inhabited by Christians. Tarikh Nasara al-Iraq/Dr. Sohail Qasha:p 399.

[2]. Al-Boldan/al-Ya'qubi:p146.

[3]. Khutat al-Kufa/Louis Mason: p13.

[4]. The same reference: p13.

[5]. Boldan/al-Ya'qubi:p146.

[6]. Qamus al-Muhit / al-Fairosabadi: p851.

[7]. The same reference: p 851, look for Kuf substance in language references.

[8]. Mu'jam al-Arab/ Yaqut al-Hamawi: 4/490.

[9]. The previous reference: p 4/491.

[10]. Fetuh al-Boldan/ al-Baladhuri: p 387.

[11]. Fituh al-Boldan: p387-388.

[12]. For more information on Ibn Baqilt look at/ al-Diyarat Llshabshti: p239.

[13]. Fituh al-Boldan: p388-389.

[14]. Mu'jam al-Boldan/Yaqut al-Hamawi: 4/491.

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