Muslims, Islam, and Iraq

Muslims, Islam, and Iraq

Prof. Alan Godlas, University of GeorgiaThe focus of this webpage, unlike most websites dealing with Iraq (which focus on the political aspects of the war), is to inform the public in a scholarly manner both about Islam and Muslims in Iraq, as well as about the relationship of the war in Iraq to Islam and Muslims, including Shi’ites, Kurdish Sunnis, and Arab Sunnis.

Table of Contents

Breaking News on Iraq with Scholarly Commentary
Maps of Iraq
Modern History of Islam in Iraq
Muslim Sects and Organizations in Iraq
Shi’ites in Iraq
Iraqi Shi’ite News
Iraqi Shi’ite History
The Future of Iraqi Shi’ites
Links for Shi’ism in Iraq
Kurdish Sunnis in Iraq
Arab Sunnis in Iraq
Underlying Causes of the War
Muslim Responses
American Muslim Responses
Responses from Muslim Scholars and Leaders
Responses from non-Islamic Religions
Iraqi Americans
Iraqi Christians
Ben Ladin, al-Qa’ida, and Iraq
General Websites on the Iraq Crisis
Resources in Print on Muslims and Islam in Iraq
Iraqi Governing Council
Miscellaneous Relevant Links

The shrine of the Shi’ite Imam ‘Ali in Najaf (click to enlarge)
(link fixed 11 March 2006)

Kurds fleeing during the 1991 mass exodus, in the vicinity of Kirkuk
(link fixed 24 December 2005)

By Dr. Alan Godlas, Associate Professor of Religion (Islamic Studies and Arabic) at the

University of Georgia

and webmaster of Islam and Islamic Studies. Many of the links on this page have been provided by the scholars who comprise the Study of Islam Section of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). This is a work in progress and is continually being updated. If you are aware of links that are relevant to the Islamic focus of this website, please email them to me at

Breaking News on Iraq, with Scholarly Commentary

  • Informed Comment, a weblog dealing with the changing events in Iraq from a scholarly perspective; currently very frequently updated, by Professor Juan Cole, Middle Eastern and South Asian History, University of Michigan.

    Maps of Iraq

  • Map of Iraq from the CIA 1993, from CIA Atlas of the Middle East, relief map, high resolution.
  • Political Map of Iraq from the CIA, 2004. (link changed 11 March 2006)
  • Map Comparing the Area of Iraq with the US
  • Map of Ethnic and Religious Groups of Iraq from the University of Texas archive.
  • Map of Kurdish Areas of Northern Iraq from the University of Texas archive (link fixed 25 December 2005).
  • Interactive Map of Iraq from the Encyclopaedia of the Orient.
  • National Geographic Map of Iraq with the surrounding countries of the Middle East clearly visible.
  • Map of Iraq apparently originally from the Encarta encyclopedia.
  • Map of Iraq showing Ethnic/Religious Group Distribution
  • Detailed Map of Baghdad (at the University of Texas archive).

    Modern History of Islam in Iraq

    A project that must soon be undertaken by scholars is the writing of a history of Islam in Iraq.  There is as yet no comprehensive history of Islam in Iraq in either the pre-modern or modern periods.  In lieu of providing such a history, we have linked the useful historical survey that is part of a comprehensive study of Iraq provided by the Library of Congress.  A similar website with regard to comprehensiveness is Iraq: Geograpy, Demographics, and Resources (the source of which is apparently the Encarta Encyclopedia, although this link is to the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education [NITLE] website). See also the bibliographic section at the end of this page.Chapters from Iraq- A Country Study, Library of Congress, edited by Helen Chapin Metz, 1988.

  • The Ottoman Period, 1534-1918
  • World War I and the British Mandate
  • Iraq as an Independent Monarchy
  • Republican Iraq
  • Coup, Coup Attempts, and Foreign Policy
  • The Emergence of Saddam Husayn, 1968-79
  • The Iran-Iraq Conflict
  • Sunni-Shi’i Relations in Iraq ————————————–
  • International Religious Freedom Report In particular, this documents Saddam Husayn’s persecution of Shi’ite religious leaders. Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and online at the US Department of State website (October 7, 2002).

    Muslim Sects and Organizations in Iraq

    Arab Shi’ites are currently the majority in Iraq, comprising between 55 to 60% of the population; Sunni Kurds are estimated to comprise 20% and Arab Sunnis 15- 20% of the total population (Chibli Mallat, “Iraq,” Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, 1995, vol. 2, p. 237). In 1997, the official estimate of the population of Iraq was 22,017,983 (UK, Country Assessment, 2.3, appears to be based on the Europa Yearbook and the US. Dept. of State Report on Human Rights Practices). (The percentage of Christians is commonly cited at 3%. See below for Iraqi Christians.

  • Islamist Politics in Iraq after Saddam Hussein is an excellent survey article by Graham E. Fuller, a highly regarded scholar of political Islam. Published as a United States Institute of Peace “Special Report” 108, August 2003.

    Iraqi Shi’ites

    Keeping the Shi’ites Straight by Roy Parviz Mottahedeh, professor at Harvard, in Religion in the News, Summer 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2. Here Prof. Mottahededh helps readers to sort out important Shi’ite factions in Iraq.

    Iraqi Shi’ite News
  • Obituary: Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim by Lawrence Joffe of the Guardian (UK), August 30, 2003. Slain Iraqi Shi’ite cleric was anti-occupation but preached moderation (offline) An AFP (Agence France-Presse) news article (August 29, 2003) that discusses the views of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, who was killed in a car bomb explosion outside the 85 (including Ayatoolah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim) Killed in Car Bomb Attack at Iraq Mosque, an Associated Press news article in the Houston Chronicle, August 29, 2003. The bombing occuring outside of the Imam ‘Ali mosque in Najaf, just after delivering the sermon for the Friday prayer service on August 29, 2003. Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim had been one of Iraq’s leading Shi’ite clerics.
  • Iraq Shiite Leader Calls for Islamic Rule after returning from a lengthy exile in Iran, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, head of SCIRI (Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq), declared his support for moderate Islam in Iraq to a crowd of supporters in Basra: “We don’t want extremist Islam, but an Islam of independence, justice and freedom;” an article written by Associated Press writer, Ali Akbar Dareini (May 10, 2003).
  • Shiite Religious Parties Fill Vacuum in Southern Iraq is the best online scholarly article to discuss the major Iraqi Shi’ite groups as they jockey for power at the beginning of post-Saddam Iraq; by Juan Cole, professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan (MERIP, April 22, 2003).
  • Shi’ites in Anti-American Protest in Baghdad briefly discusses protests concerning the arrest of Shaykh Muhammad al-Fartusi, who may be close to the Shi’i faction that was involved in the killing of Abdul Majid al-Khoei (Reuters, April 21, 2003)
  • Shi’ite Demands Pose Challenge to U.S. (link fixed 18 August 2005) a news article that briefly discusses the major Shi’ite groups that have emerged immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein: 1) Followers of Ayatollah ‘Ali Sistani; 2) the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraqi, (SCIRI); 3) the followers of Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq Sadr (assassinated 1999) and his son Muqtada Sadr; 4) Da’wa Islamiyah (Islamic Call) (John Mintz and Dana Priest , Washington Post, April 15, 2003).
  • The Prospect of a Shiite-Led Iraq Needn’t Scare Us(where “Us” refers to the United States) by Prof. Yitzhak Nakash (Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2003, online at the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan-PUK- website!).
  • Siege of Iraqi Shi’ite Cleric Over (link fixed 18 August 2005) It was announced by Mohammad Baqir Mohri, an aide to Ayatollah Sistani, that Shi’ite tribal leaders had managed to establish order in Najaf and end the seige of Ayatollah Sistani’s house. (Reuters, April 14, 2003)
    The Murder of Abdul Majid al-Khoei and the Threats Against Ayatollah Sistani ( Seestani )

    On April 10, 2003, prominent Shi’ite cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei was murdered in the shrine of Imam ‘Ali in Najaf, Iraq. Abdul Majid, who was the son of one of Iraq’s most revered Ayatollah’s, Abulqasim al-Khoei (d. 1991), had just returned from self-imposed exile in London with the hope of helping to lead the Iraqi Shi’ite community in post-Saddam Iraq. Some accounts assert that his murderers were connected with Saddam. Nevertheless, the perpetrators of this murder (according to the Washington Post article linked below) seem to have been followers of Muqtada Sadr, a 30 (but most articles say 22) year-old son of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq Sadr. Ayatollah Sadiq Sadr, along with two of his sons, was assassinated apparently by agents connected to Saddam in Najaf in February, 1999. [Following Ayatollah Sadiq Sadr’s assassination there were three days of riots in Saddam City, a poor area of Baghdad populated largely by about 2 million Shi’ites.]The assertion that the murderers of Abdul Magid Khoei were followers of Ayatollah Sadr’s son seems to be more plausible in view of two facts: 1) that the mob was originally seeking Haidar Kelidar ( as noted by most sources and in an article in the Pakistani publication “Dawn,” Shia Leader Shot Dead in Najaf –the name used in a few sources, Haider Kadar, seems to be a mistake) — who had been an official in Saddam’s Ministry of Religion, who was regarded as a traitor (or even an “animal” as one account stated), and whose family were the traditional custodians of the shrine of Ali– but Abdul Magid Khoei intervened and attempted to quell the violent mood of the mob (link fixed 25 December 2005); and 2) Saturday April 12th’s news, in which it was reported that the house of the chief Iraqi Shi’ite leader, Ayatollah Seestani ( Sistani ) was being surrounded by a mob led by Muqtada Sadr, who was ordering Ayatollah Seestani (and other non-Iraqi born Ayatollahs) to leave Iraq within 48 hours. Although Ayatollah Seestani was apparently not inside the house, Seestani’s son was there. One source indicated that the violence was extending into Najaf beyond simply the house of Ayatollah Seestani. Ayatollah Abulqasim Dibaji, a Kuwaiti-based Ayatollah, said, “Total terror reigns in Najaf.” As of noon on Sunday, April 13, it was finally being reported that US troops were now helping restore order. Although as of about 10 pm US EST, Lt. Cmdr Charles Owens (a spokesman of the US Central Command) in a report originating with the Associated Press indicated that as far as US troops were concerned, the problem was none of their business.

  • Mob Demands Top Iraqi Shiite Cleric Leave (Yahoo News/Associated Press, about 10 pm US EST, April 13, 2003.)
  • Armed Group Tells Top Shi’ite Leader to Leave Iraq This is the account, refered to above, of the actions and threats of Muqtada Sadr and his thugs against Ayatollah Seestani. The report is based in part on comments made by Kuwait-based Ayatollah Abulqasim Dibaji. (Mehrdad Balali and Esmat Salaheddin, Yahoo News, Sunday, April 13, 2003.)
  • Divided Shi’ites in Power Play by Hooman Peimani, who focuses on how the Iran-based organization, Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) is positioning itself to influence the development of post-Saddam Iraqi Shi’ism, especially in view of the recent murder of Abd al-Majid al-Khoei, who was seen as being aligned with Western interests, in contrast to SAIRI. (Asia Times, April 12, 2003.)
  • Killing of Shi’ite cleric is blow to plans for pro-West government This article cites an unnamed Western intelligence source who blames Iranian agents for Abdul Majid al-Khoei’s murder. This contrasts with other sources that assert that the murder was carried out by those Shi’a who are not only against Western influences (al-Khoei was not opposed to the US) but against Iranian Shi’ite leadership (World, April 12, 2003).
  • Mob Kills Two Clerics At Shiite Shrine a detailed report containing eyewitness accounts (Glenn Frankel and Nora Boustany Washington Post, April 11, 2003 (Offline 25 December 2005)).
  • Iraqi Shiite cleric Abdul Majid Khoei murdered in Najaf (link fixed 18 August 2005) a notice on his murder from Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) Headline News.
  • Allied Forces Respecting Shiite Muslim Holy Sites by Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Pittsburgh Post, April 7, 2003.
    History of Iraqi Shi’ism

    Shi’ite Islam has had a rich history in Iraq. Some of the most important and tragic events of early Islam occured there. One of these was the asassination (in 661 AD) in Kufa of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, whom Shi’ites regard as their first imam (believing that he was the rightful political and spiritual successor of the Prophet Muhammad). The very word “Shi’a” is an abbreviation of the phrase “Shi’at ‘Ali,” meaning “the partisans of ‘Ali.” In addition, for Sunnis, Ali is beloved as the husband of the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah and respected as fourth of the “rightly guided caliphs” (al-khulafa’ ar-rashidun), and for Sufis he is also regarded as the first recipient in a lineage of spiritual transmission from the Prophet and reaching down to them even in present times. In 656, after the asassination of the third caliph, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali succeeded him and in 656 had moved to Kufa, an early center of the Shi’is that is just slightly to the northeast of Najaf.Unfortunately for Muslim unity, Mu’awiya ibn Abi Sufyan ibn Harb (supported by a significant number of Muslims) came to lead those who opposed –for various reasons– Ali’s caliphate. (It should not be forgotten that Abu Sufyan – Mu’awiya’s father- had been one of the most significant leaders of the Meccans who had opposed Muhammad and Islam, until after the surrender of Mecca, when he embraced Islam.) The rebellion led by Mu’awiya ultimately resulted in the bloody battle of Siffin (Safar, 37 AH / July, 657 CE). But just as it seemed that Ali and his supporters were about to be victorious, Mu’awiya (as advised by ‘Amr ibn ‘As) instructed his soldiers to put leaves of the Qur’an on their spears, as a sign that the battle should end and that the issue of the caliphate should be decided by God’s book, the Qur’an. A significant number of Ali’s supporters were receptive to this ploy; and consequently Ali reluctantly agreed. So on 13 Safar 37 AH / 30 July 657 CE, Ali signed an agreement submitting to arbitration concerning the issue of who should hold the office of caliph (khalifa). The result of the arbitration, which was concluded in Sha’ban 37 AH / January 658 CE, was that neither should ‘Ali nor Mu’awiya be Caliph. Ali, however, did not view the result as being valid. It is reported that he said, “The judgement is not based upon the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, which was the condition for arbitration. Therefore it cannot be accepted.” The Kharijites (an early group of extremists who had from the beginning rejected as being un-Islamic the idea of the arbitration) became open rebels, opposing both Mu’awiya and ‘Ali, ultimately decided to attempt to assassinate ‘Ali, Mu’awiya, and ‘Amr ibn ‘As. Nevertheless, only their assassination of ‘Ali succeeded. It was in Kufa that in 661, Ibn Muljam, one of the Kharijites, asassinated him.

    More information about these events is available at a The origins of the Shia/Sunni division – Part I and The origins of the Shia/Sunni division – Part II

    Read here an account of Ali’s martyrdom (from a larger book on Ali put online at a Sunni website). (Links fixed 18 August 2005.)

    A second tragedy in Iraq, even more significant in the lives of Shi’ites down through the centuries and today, was the massacre (by the army of the Yazid, the son of the Sunni Caliph Mu’awiya) of the Prophet’s grandson, Ali’s son Husayn, along with most of his family and many of his followers, at Karbala in 680 AD. Read here the full story of the tragedy, from the perspective of the Shi’a. This tragedy is commemorated by annual ritual mourning by Shi’ites all over the world during Ashura in the month of Muharram.

    Historically the city of Najaf (which according to one etymology is derived from the phrase “nay jaff” meaning “dry river” or possibly dry reed; it may also mean “sand hill or dune” and which is located about 120 miles south of Baghdad) where Ali’s shrine is located, has been a major Shi’ite center. Similarly the city of Karbala (which according to one etymology offered by the famed Muslim geographer, Yaqut al-Hamawi, is derived from a word meaning “soft earth” [karbalat]) located about 50 miles southwest of Baghdad and the site of Husayn’s martyrdom and his shrine, also became a very important Shi’ite center. Najaf is on a canal linked to the Euphrates river, while Karbala is slightly to the west of the river and north of Najaf. Kufa, which is where ‘Ali was actually killed is 11 km northeast of Najaf.

  • Karbala and Najaf: Shia Holy Cities A BBC News Report, March 26, 2003.
  • Archive of Pictures of Najaf (links 18 August 2005) contains over a hundred and fifty pictures, most of which are of the shrine of ‘Ali.
  • Archive of Pictures of Karbala (link fixed 18 August 2005) (also sometimes written as Kerbala) containing a large number of pictures of the shrine of Imam Husayn. Here is one of the few pictures that shows the shrine of Imam Husayn from a distance.
  • Archive of Pictures of Kufa includes pictures of the place in which ‘Ali was fatally wounded by his assassin in the mosque of Kufa, the mosque of Kufa itself, and the gate of ‘Ali’s house, among other pictures.
  • The Origins and Early Development of Shi’a Islam by S. H. M. Jafri is a scholarly and detailed workShi’ites have been a presence in Iraq from the very beginning of Shi’ism. Their presence continued during the days of glory of Sunni Islam in Iraq, which peaked during the Abbasid Caliphate, beginning in 750 AD. Locating their capital at Baghdad, the Abbasids reined until the Mongols destroyed them in 1258 AD. After that time, for five centuries Iraq did not have a strong central government. In addition, even after the Ottomans made Iraq an Ottoman territory after they took possession of Baghdad in 1533, between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries Iraq became a frontier zone, a region for which both the largely Sunni Ottoman empire (centered in Istanbul) and the Shi’ite Safavid empire (in Iran) vied. Because of the frontier quality of Ottoman Iraq (as well as its distance from Istanbul), Ottoman control over Iraq was often rather minimal (Nakash, The Shi’is of Iraq, pp. 14-15). During this period some Bedouin tribes converted to Shi’ism, being motivated in part by their independent spirit and their desire not to be controlled by the Ottoman authorities (Yann Richard, Shi’ite Islam, p. 110). At the end of the 16th century (AD), Iraqi Shi’ites were predominantly Arab. Persians, however, began moving to Iraq in large numbers in the 18th century and by mid-19th century Persian ‘ulama’ (religious scholars) controlled most of the religious endowments and schools (madrasas) (Nakash, The Shi’is, p. 14-15).

    In modern Iraq, Shi’ism only began to flower in the mid-18th century, even though Shi’ism had come to characterize Iranian society in the 16th and 17th centuries. There are two particular qualities of this distinctly Iraqi flowering at this time: 1) Najaf and Karbala began to attain more prominence as Shi’ite centers in the mid-18th century, a prominence that previously had been difficult to gain on account of Ottoman rule; and 2) The settled tribes of Iraq had converted to Shi’ism but maintained their traditional Arab tribal values and customs–in contrast to the Persian customs and values that pervaded Iranian Shi’ism (Nakash, “The Nature of Shi’ism in Iraq,” pp. 23).

    Although it might be thought that since, over the centuries, Shi’ites in Iran were able to develop enough of a power base to eventually defeat the Shah of Iran, Shi’ites of Iraq should have been able to do the same in Iraq. Nakash, however, points out two characteristics of Iraqi Shi’ites that limited their power, characteristics that were not qualities of Iranian Shi’ites. Unlike in Iran, Shi’ism in Iraq has never been characterized by a close interdependence between the ‘ulama (religious scholars) and the commercial classes. Consequently, Iraqi Shi’ite opposition groups have not been able to rely on Shi’ite merchants for their support. In addition, unlike the case in Iran, Iraqi Shi’ites do not possess significant endowment properties (waqf) and hence lack the waqf-based revenues that Iranian Shi’ites have. Hence, with neither support from the bazaar nor from endowments, Iraqi Shi’ites have been unable to finance sustained opposition to the state in Iraq (Ibid, pp. 24-26).

  • The Making of Iraqi Shi’i Society See excerpt 1-6 for the beginning of the first chapter of Prof. Yitzhak Nakash’s book,The Shi’is of Iraq.
    The Future of Shi’ism in Iraq

    In the West one commonly hears the fear expressed that in a post-Saddam Iraq, the Shi’ites of Iraq will unite with Iranian Shi’ites with the result being a huge Shi’ite power bloc that would be a realistic threat to stability in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the leading authority on Iraqi Shi’ism, Yitzhak Nakash of Brandeis University rejects this possibility and asserted in a presentation to The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in February, 2003, entitled “The Shi’is and the Future of Iraq” that as a result of the birth of a representative government in post-Saddam Iraq, Iraqi Shi’ites will most likely be able to establish themselves as a moderate political bloc that will be independent of the influence of Iran.He characterizes Iraqi Shi’ism as historically being more in line with Iraqi nationalism than Ayatollah Khomeini’s doctrine that the responsibility to rule should rest in the hands of the Shi’ite clerics (vilayat-e faqih). Although the summary of Nakash’s paper does not mention the example of the Iraqi Grand Marja’ (authority), Ayatollah al-Kho’i (d. 1992), he is certainly an example of the kind of political moderation to which Nakash is referring. Al-Kho’i’s policies reflected the principle that “the religious establishment should not be directly involved, in general terms, in political affairs” (Yousif al-Kho’i, “Grand Ayatollah Abu al-Qassim (sic) al-Kho’i,” p. 226). It is possible that this principle was the basis of a statement reputedly made (linked 18 August 2005) by the current pre-eminent authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Seestani (or Sistani) (link fixed 18 August 2005), in which he advised Shi’ites not to oppose American troops in their conflict with Saddam’s troops.

    Furthermore in suggesting as evidence for his contention that Iraqi Shi’ites will not align themselves with Iran, Nakash cited the example of the Iran-Iraq war, in which Iraqi Shi’ites were the majority of the infantry who faught against Iranian Shi’ites; and also the example of the events following the 1991 Gulf War, when the Iraqi Shi’ite authorities did not support the Shi’ite rebellion against Saddam. Consequently, Nakash contends that Iraqi Shi’ites will act as an alternative to both hardline Iranian Shi’ism and the militancy of Shaykh Mohamed Hussein Fadlallah (of Lebanon) and others who are regarded as extremist Shi’is. In addition, another hope is that an invigorated moderate Iraqi Shi’ism will be able to counterbalance growing extremist Arab Sunni wahhabism, which at best sees Shi’is as only marginal Muslims and at worst views them as unbelievers. Given the Bush administration’s deep connections with the Washington Institute (click here and scroll down to see the Institute’s Board of Advisors), it is likely that Professor Nakash’s views are an important component of the administration’s Iraq policy. See below the summary of Prof. Nakash’s address to the Washington Institute:

  • The Shi’is and the Future of Iraq is a report (March 3, 2003) prepared by Evan Langenhahn on the basis of an address (on February 21, 2003) by Yitzhak Nakash at the Washington Institute’s Special Policy Forum. Dr. Nakash, professor of Middle East History at Brandeis University, is the author of the authoritative word on Iraqi Shi’ites, The Shiis of Iraq (Princeton University Press, 1994.Yet even more important than Prof. Nakash assessment is no doubt a document titled The Declaration of the Shi’a of Iraq (English version). (See also the Arabic text. if Arabic does not appear, on MS Explorer go to the view menu, choose “encoding,” then “more,” then “Arabic Windows.”) This was the product of two years of discussions among Shi’i leaders (apparently in exile). The document elucidates the changes that the signees feel need to occur in the Iraq, which are as follows:
    1) The abolition of dictatorship and its replacement with democracy.
    2) The abolition of ethnic discrimination and its replacement with a federal structure for Kurdistan.
    3) The abolition of the policy of discrimination against the Shia.
    See Fear Not the Shias by Stephen Schwartz, which summarizes the declaration and adds further evidence supporting the contention that Iraqi Shi’ites are strongly motivated to end Saddam Hossein’s rule and form a civil society that will be independent of outside Shi’i influences.

    Links for Shi’ism in Iraq
  • Biography of Grand Ayatollah al-Sayyid al-Seestani This biography is more detailed than the one linked above and is provided courtesy of the Imam Ali Foundation website at Ayatollah al-Seestani’s liason office in London (links fixed 24 December 2005).
  • Books of Ayatollah Seestani and Others at Ayatollah al-Seestani’s Imam Ali Foundation. These can either be read online or downloaded.
  • Downloadable Books of Ayatollah Seestani in addition to the Tawdih al-masa’il of Ayatollah al-Kho’i (archived; fixed 24 December 2005).
  • Biography of Grand Ayatollah al-Khoei ( al-Khu’i or al-Kho’i ) somewhat detailed, by Yasin T. al-Jibouri (October 1, 1992).
  • Iraq’s Forgotten Majority by independent journalist, Frank Smyth, New York Times (October 3, 2002) (link fixed 24 Decemeber 2005).
  • The Supreme Council for Islamic Resistance in Iraq (SCIRI) The official website of the Shi’ite oranization founded by Grand Ayatollah Muhsin Al Hakim and which is now headed by his son, Ayatollah Sayed Mohamad Baqir Al-Hakim. An important question is the degree to which SCIRI actually represents Iraqi Shi’ites.
  • Questions and Answers: Iraqi Opposition Leader Seyyed [Muhammad Baqer] Hakim is an MSNBC News and Newsweek interview that done in December of 2002. The good quality jpg image of Seyyed Hakim is particularly striking.
  • The Role Of Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr In Shi’a Political Activism In Iraq From 1958 TO 1980, by T.M Aziz, an online book written in a scholarly manner.
  • The Fate of 106 Religious Clerics and Students Still Unknown After Ten Years, an Amnesty International Report concerning students or followers of Grand Ayatollah al-Kho’i, following the 1991 Shi’i uprising in Iraq (March 29, 2001).

    Iraqi Sunni Kurds

    The four main political groups among the Iraqi Sunni Kurds are the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Islamic Movement in Iraqi Kurdistan (IMIK) and the extremist group, Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam). Each of these groups has a degree of religious affiliation, but this varies. On the one hand,the two latter groups have an Islamic orientation as their focus; on the other hand, it should be emphasized that the KDP and PUK are secular, nevertheless they do have connections with Sufi orders, the Naqshbandi Sufi order in the case of the KDP and the Qadiri Sufi order for PUK. These affiliations are by no means exclusive (I was recently informed of some Naqshbandi connections in the PUK, for example); and the extent of involvement of members of the KDP and PUK with the Sufi orders is not clear and needs to be studied.

    Naqshbandi Sufi Order

    Today the Naqshbandi order is followed in northern Kurdistan as well as to a certain degree in western Kurdistan. Until late in the 19th century, however, these areas had been dominated by the Qadiri order; but at that time the Naqshbandi order began to spread there due to the influence of Mawlana Khalid Naqshbandi (d. 1827). The Barzani tribe, which leads the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), is affiliated with the Naqshbandi order (Izady, The Kurds). Although its longtime leader, Mulla Mustafa Barzani (1903-1979), spent years in the Soviet Union, he abandonned communism in the mid 1960s (Kullberg, The Strategic Game). An important elderly Kurdish Naqhsbandi leader, Shaykh Ma’sum, heads a different branch of the Naqshbandi order traditionally centered in Biyara (which for a few years was a stronghold of the terrorist group, Ansar al-Islam) and lives today in Arizona (US).

    Qadiri Sufi Order

    The Qadiri order, on the other hand, is followed by “most people” in southern, central, and eastern Kurdistan, being centered in Barzanja, which is close to Sulaymaniya (Izady, The Kurds). Between 1920 and 1940, an important Qadiri shaykh of Barzanji named Shaykh Mahmud led many Kurdish uprisings against the British while they were colonizing Iraq. The Tâlabâni tribe, which leads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), is affiliated with the Qadiri Sufi order (Izady, The Kurds). Unlike the Naqshbandi Barzani, who gave up communism, Kurds who wanted to retain communism were those who founded the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) (Kuhlberg, “The Strategic Game”). Today the PUK is considered to be “staunchly secular” (ICG, “Radical Islam”).

  • Tariqa Casnazaniyyah or Kasnazaniya is originally a Kurdish branch of the Qadiri Sufi order. Pictures of a dhikr ceremony taken in 1996 can be seen here. As of 1996, the shaykh, Muhammad al-Shaykh Abdul Carim al-Casnazani al-Hussainy, lived in Baghdad.
    Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan (IMIK)

    The Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan (IMIK) is the third largest Iraqi Kurdish political force, but in 1992 elections in Iraqi Kurdistan it was not able to attain the minimum figure of 7% of the vote, which would have been necessary for it to obtain seats in the regional parliament. It is centered in Halabja. The IMIK is considered to be the largest group of the Kurdish “Islamists” (ICG, “Radical Islam”) — with the vague term “Islamist” usually denoting Muslims whose primary focus is to build an Islamic state. IMIK has its origins in the spread of the Muslim Brotherhood into Iraq around the year 1952. As time went on, particularly after increasing Ba’thist persecution of the Kurds, leading Kurds who were members of the Brotherhood became dissatisfied with the Iraqi Brotherhood’s lack of effort to work for the establishment of a Kurdish state and lack of willingness to call for “armed struggle” against the Ba’thist party and government. These men rejected the Muslim Brotherhood’s primary method of political change, which in Iraq at that time had focused on peaceful and pious methods in order to advanced toward their political goals (Noted in the “Iraq: Country Assessment, 3.22, UK).Then, in 1986, the Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan (IMIK) –Bizutnewey Islami le Kurdistani Iraq (Kurdish) and al-Haraka al-Islamiyya fi Kurdistan al-‘Iraq (Arabic) — was founded by a group of Sunni religious leaders (mullahs) who had been affiliated with a non-political organization called the “Union of Religious Scholars” (Yaketi Mamostayani Ayni Islami — in Kurdish– and Ittihad ‘Ulama ‘ al-Din –in Arabic). Among these mullahs was Shaykh ‘Uthman ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, whom IMIK appointed as their mufti (one who is empowered to make fatwas, which are religiously binding decrees) (UK, “Country Assessment”) and who was considered to be the “main spiritual guide” of the movement (Shourush, “Islamic Fundamentalist Movements”). He died in 1999, and his brother, Mullah ‘Ali ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, centered in Halabja, became the leading figure in the party. IMIK has received assistance from Iran and other Islamic countries (UK, Country Assessment). In 1998 the US also began assisting it (as well as six other Iraqi opposition groups) (UK, Country Assessment). It was reported in one source that during the year 2001, the IMIK split up into four factions in contention with each other: 1) “Islamic Group,” 2) Unification movement (probably “Tawhid” referred to below), 3) Soran Force, and 4) Jund al-Islam (The Force of Islam) (UK, “Iraq: Country Assessment, 3.22)

    Ansar al-Islam

    This terrorist group, which had a stronghold for a few years in Biyara, in Eastern Iraqi Kurdistan, appears to have been driven out and defeated by the beginning of April, 2003. (See Villagers Rejoice Over Freedom From Militants by Gretel Kovach, (link fixed 24 December 2005). Their history seems to have begun in 1998, when Najm al-Din Faraj, generally known as Mullah Krekar (also spelled Kerekaar ) along with other militants, some of whom were veterans of the Afghan war, left IMIK and formed an extremist organization which was at first called Kurdish Hamas. Another similar splinter group was called Tawhid. These later merged and were called “Soldiers of Islam” (jund al-islam). A few months after 9/11 Mullah Krekar became the head of this group, which now became known as Ansar al-Islam. Earlier the Jund al-islam had declared a jihad against the secular Kurdish parties; and the Ansar appear to be continuing this policy (ICG, Radical Islam). Among their extremist tactics is assassination of rival Muslim leaders, an example of which was their murder of Shawkat Hajji Mushir, a high level PUK leader with whom they were supposedly negotiating. Also, in a manner typical of wahhabi-influenced extremists, they desecrated the graves of the Naqshbandi shaykhs of Biyara. (See Ansar Al-Islam: Iraq’s Al-Qaeda Connection, by Jonathan Schanzer, January 17, 2003.)The information on the various groups of Iraqi Kurds came from the following sources:

  • Mehrad Izady, The Kurds: A Concise Handbook (1992) (Sufism section);
  • Anssi Kristian Kullberg (University of Tartu), The Strategic Game on (sic) Iraq’s Kurds, in The Eurasian Politician, Issue 2 (link fixed 24 December 2005).
  • International Crisis Group (ICG), Radical Islam in Iraqi Kurdistan: The Mouse That Roared (Link fixed 18 August 2005) (which is a PDF file; click here for an html formatted summary (link fixed 18 August 2005);
  • Country Information and Policy Unit, Immigration and Nationality Directory, Home Office, UK, Country Assessment – Iraq (a PDF file), 44pp, October, 2001;
  • Sami Shourush, “Islamic Fundamentalist Movements Among the Kurds,” (from a paper originally delivered in 1997) in Ayatollahs, Sufis and Ideologues: State, Religion and Social Movements in Iraq, ed. by Faleh Abdul-Jabar, London, Saqi Books, 2002, pp. 177-182.
  • The Kurds and Islam by Professor Martin van Bruinessen (link fixed June 28, 2003). This is a detailed study focusing on the whole of Kurdistan, although van Bruinessen (one of the few experts on Kurdish Islam) does extensively discuss the Kurds of Iraq. Published as “The Kurds and Islam,” Working Paper no. 13, Islamic Area Studies Project, Tokyo, Japan, 1999 [slightly revised version of the article in Islam des Kurdes (Les Annales de l’Autre Islam, No.5). Paris: INALCO, 1998, pp. 13-35].
  • For general information on Sufis and Sufi orders see Sufism, Sufis, and Sufi Orders,.For the Kurds see also the following links:
  • Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the official site.
  • Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the official site.
  • Religions in Kurdistan from The Kurds: A Concise Handbook (link fixed 18 August 2005), by Dr. M. R. Izady, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, USA, 1992
  • The Kurds of Iraq: Recent History, Future Prospects by Professor Carole A. O’Leary, of the American University Center for Global Peace (MERIA, vol. 6, no. 4, Dec. 2002). While this article does not deal with the Islamic aspect of the Kurdish situation, it does provide useful political information.
  • Research Guide: Kurdish Studies by Hamit Bozarslan, Associate Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. (Online at MERIA) Also, see below at Resources in Print for a useful bibliography.

    Iraqi Arab Sunnis

    The chief mainstream Iraqi Arab Sunni organization to emerge after the fall of Saddam Hussein is the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMS – Hay’at al-‘Ulama’ al-Muslimin fi al-‘Iraq), also known as Association of Muslim Clerics, the Muslim Clerics Council (MCC), the Sunni Muslim Clerics Association, the Muslim Ulama Council, or the Ulema Council, headed by Shaykh Harith al-Dhari (al-Dari — spelled not with a dhal but with a daad, alif, ra’, yaa) (link fixed 24 December 2005). A brief but useful summary of the history and aims of council can be found at Association of Muslims Scholars webpage on the Global Security.Org website.Another important Iraqi Arab Sunni organization is the Iraqi Islamic Party, which is the Iraqi branch of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood, the secretary general of which is Muhsin Abdul Hamid (the link is to a recent photo of him with professor Mark Juergensmeyer of the University of California, Santa Barbara). See Iraqi Islamic Party compiled by Global Security.Org. See also the party’s own website (in Arabic) Al-Hizb al-Islami al-‘Iraqi.

    In addition to the above two Sunni organizations, which are religiously oriented, there appear to be three main Sunni secular political parties:
    1) the Iraqi National Movement, led by Hathem Mukhlis;
    2)the Constitutional Monarchy Party, led by Sharif Ali bin Hussein; and
    3)the Assembly of Independent Democrats, led by 80 year old Adnan Pachachi.

    Although Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi and his branch of al-Qaeda is a Sunni Arab organization operating in Iraq, he and his organization do not represent a large number of Iraqis.

  • Iraqi Sunnis make US pullout top priority, quoting a leading cleric in the Sunni Muslim Clerics Association, Abdel Salam al-Kubaisi (Daily Times, February 19, 2005).
  • Drawing Lines (And Crossing Them) about efforts toward Muslims Sunni-Shi’ite unity in Iraq, efforts explicitly connected to the Association of Muslim Scholars; written in Baghdad by journalist David Enders (Mother Jones, February 16, 2005).
  • Constitutional Participation in Iraq deals with strategies for involving Sunni Arabs in democratic Iraq. Andrew Arato, Professor at the New School University, argues for certain strategies and against others. (February 4, 2005).
  • Similarities Seen in Iraqi, British Vote, meaning that there are similarities between the current election in Iraq and previous elections when Iraq was controlled by Britain from the 1920s though the 1950s. By Antonio Castaneda, San Jose Mercury News, January 28, 2005.
  • Lost in the shuffle, Sunni Arabs ponder their role in new order Quoting Muhsin Abdul Hamid, chairman of the Iraqi Islamic Party; Hachim Hassani, a Sunni and Iraq’s minister of Industry and Minerals, and Adnan Pachachi, a Sunni and former member of the now-defunct Governing Council. By Edmund Sanders and Ashraf Khalil, Los Angeles Times (published here in the Seattle Times), January 27, 2005.
  • ‘The US is behaving as if every Sunni [in Iraq] is a terrorist’ by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in the Guardian, January 26, 2005.
  • Iraq’s Sunni Muslims ready to take part in post-poll politics, quoting Sheik Ibrahim Al-Adhami, a senior member of the Muslim Scholars Association. The article was written by the Press Trust of India and published in the Hindustan Times, January 25, 2005.
  • Fear of Civil War as Sunnis Turn Away from Polls by Rory McCarthy in Baghdad, published in the Guardian, January 24, 2005.
  • Islamic Group Intervenes to Release Chinese Hostages is a short article noting the efforts of the Iraqi Association of Muslim Scholars to gain the release of eight Chinese hostages in Iraq. Published on, January 20, 2005.
  • Despite a likely Sunni boycott, Iraq’s divisions are overstated (link fixed 24 December 2005) By Kamran Karadaghi, The Daily Star, January 18, 2005
  • Sunni Election Dilemma “The prevalent view from outside Iraq is that Sunnis will boycott the elections – but the situation is not so cut and dried.” The article discusses the attitudes toward the election on the part of the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Iraqi Islamic Party (branch of the Muslim Brotherhood); written by Kamran Al-Karadaghi in London, published at the Institue for War and Peace Reporting (ICR No. 97, 14-Jan-2005).
  • Sunnis May Participate in Iraq’s Elections This article, originally published in, refers to the Association of Muslim Scholars as the “most powerful Sunni group.” It also refers to Sheikh Harith al-Dhari as the leader of the Association and to Abdul-Salam al-Kobeisi as its public relations chief. January 09, 2005.
  • Muslim scholars arrested in Iraq “US forces in Iraq have arrested a number of members of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) in Iraq after their participation in a conference calling for boycotting Iraqi elections.” The most significant scholar arrested was ‘Abd al-Sattar ‘Abd al-Jabbar. The article quotes the spokesman of the AMS, Bashar Muhammad al-Faydhi. By Ahmed Janabi in, October 22, 2004.
  • Militant Group Asks Sunni Muslim Body in Iraq for Religious Edict on Kidnappings (link fixed 25 December 2005). In the course of the article, Abdel Satar Abdel Jabar, a spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars, is quoted. By Bassem Mroue, Associated Press Writer, published Sept. 05, 2004.
  • [Muthannah Harith] Al-Dari’s Arrest US ‘Punishment’ (link fixed 24 December 2005) Is the statement of Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi, the official spokesman of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) in Iraq. Muthannah Harith al-Dari is the son of the chairman of the Association, Harith al-Dari, and the media spokesman of the Association’s Shura Council at the time of his arrest. The article is an English translation of a transcript of an interview done with al-Faydi on Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic on August 02, 2004.
  • Radical Islam grows among Iraq’s Sunnis By Dan Murphy, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, July 28, 2004.
  • Sunni Disposition: These moderates should be our friends.” By Hedieh Mirahmadi, former senior advisor, US embassy, Kabul. She argues for improved relations with Iraqi Sunni Sufis. Published in the National Review Online, May 7, 2004.
  • Feeling Besieged, Iraq’s Sunnis Unite Once-Dominant Minority Forms Council To Counter Shiites and Negotiate Future By Alan Sipress, Washington Post Foreign Service, Tuesday, January 6, 2004
  • Sufi Baathists among Fallujah insurgents published in the Financial Times originally on or before April 21, 2004. Among the names and places mentioned in the article are takiya (tekke) of Shaykh Hassan the Flying Man (al-Tayyar ?) (d. 14th cent.?); Mohammed Eissawi, shaykh of the Qadiriya order and khatib (preacher) at the Gailani mosque of Baghdad; Mohammed Abu Khomra, shaykh of the Rifa’iya order; Salah Hashem al-Janabi, a popular singer from Fallujah; Abdulwahab al-Toma, an imam at the Gailani mosque; Sheikh al-Qummer takiya in northern Baghdad and its shaykh, Thahir al-Sheik Qummer; Sheikh Dhari (whose grandson heads the Council of Muslim Scholars) who participated in the Shi’i revolt in the 1920s and shot the “arrogant” British political officer at the time Colonel Gerard Leachman; Saddam Hussein’s deputy Ezzat al-Douri, who is reputed to have been a Sufi devotee; the son of Shaykh Abu Khomra, who set up a political party named the Coalition for Iraqi National Unity (CUNI), and who publishes the newspaper, al-Mashriq; and Paishrow Abdel Kadir, who is either a second son of Shaykh Abu Khomra, or his brother, who runs the Establishment Protection Company, a Sufi militia providing guards for the Coalition Provisional Authority base in Kirkuk.
  • The Iraqi Tribes and the Post-Saddam System, discusses the Iraqi Sunni tribes and leaders, by Amatzia Baram, Professor of Middle East History, University of Haifa, Israel. Iraq Memo #18, Brookings Institution, July 8, 2003.
  • A “Third Force” Awaits the US in Iraq by Syed Saleem Shahzad in Asia Times Online (March 1, 2003), discusses the revival of the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq in recent years.
  • Bin Laden Gives Iraq an Unlikely Unity by Syed Saleem Shahzad. Syed Saleem in this article attempted to argue the point that Bin Laden is supported by Iraqi Sufis and Shi’ites. Nevertheless he did not successfully support his contention. He visited a couple of men whom he regarded as being (Sunni) Sufis in Baghdad: Sheikh Bakar Samaray, who is the prayer leader at the mosque at the Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani in Baghdad; Syed Ahmed Gillani (sic), the custodian of the shrine of Shaykh Abdul Qadir; Shahzad notes but does not quote or paraphrase two other Sufi shaykhs, Sheikh Mostafa bin Abdullah of the Naqshbandi order in Arbil, of whom Mulla Omar of the Taliban apparently is a disciple (according to Shahzad!); and Maulana Khalid (who may be a descendant of the well-known Kurdish Naqshbandi, Mawlana Khalid) of the Naqshandi order, in Baghdad, who Shahzad states has good ties with Izzat Ibrahim, the deputy leader of Iraq, who is himself a Sufi of the Qadiri and Rifa’i orders. Syed Saleem did, however, visit and obtain quotes supporting Bin Laden from two custodians of Shi’i shrines.
  • The Saddam Branch of Islam contains some interesting remarks about the Muslims Brotherhood, Iraqi attitudes to Wahhabi Islam and Ben Ladin, and remarks from an Iraqi Sufi, Syed Ahmed Gillani (sic) who is a descendant of Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, the founder of the Qadiriya Sufi order. (By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online, February 8, 2003).
  • Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (Hayat al-‘Ulama’ al-Muslimin fi al-‘Iraq)– the chairman of which, as of October 22, 2004, was Harith al-Dhari–has emerged in post-Saddam Iraq as the leading mainstream Iraqi Sunni organization. This article, provided by, is to a short notice describing them.
  • Al-Basa’ir News (Jaridat al-Basa’ir) is the newsservice of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq. (Only in Arabic.)
  • The Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq until 1991 is a brief summary written by Dr. Godlas and derived from a lenghthier article by Basim al-‘Azami.
  • The Iraqi Islamic Party The website of the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood. Unfortunately it is only in Arabic at this time.
    Miscellaneous Iraqi Islamic Organizations
  • Iraqi Islamic Patriotic Front: one of its representatives is Shaikh Mohamad Nadeem Al-Tae.

    Underlying Causes of the Crisis

  • Iraq and the Failures of Democracy, by Prof. Richard Falk (Princeton) and David Krieger, Feb. 24, 2003

    Concerning Muslim Responses to the Crisis

  • A Muslim World Torn (link fixed 18 August 2005) notes the strong but sometimes ambivalent feelings that Muslims around the world have toward the war in Iraq (Glenn Frankel, Washington Post, April 6, 2003).
  • At Least 50,000 Muslims Protest {in Bangladesh] Against Iraqi War (link fixed 18 August 2005) From Reuters reporting about demonstrations occuring in Dhaka (the capital of Bangladesh). (South Africa Broadcasting Corporation, SABC News, March 29, 2003.)
  • View from the Street This article is comprised of interviews with Muslims in a variety of countries in the Arab world. (The Guardian, March 19, 2003)
  • [Indonesian] Religious leaders take over peace campaign by Richel Langit in Asia Times online, March 15, 2003.
  • The War on Iraq would be seen as an attack on Islam, says former [UK] Cabinet minister, The Muslim News (UK), March 14, 2003.
  • Muslims plead for ‘return from the brink’ by Jeevan Vasagar in the Guardian (UK), March, 7, 2003.  This notes that “in contrast to the attack on Afghanistan, when Muslim MPs and peers supported military action, every leading British Muslim politician has come out against war with Iraq.”
  • U.S. Asks Muslims’ Reaction to Attack on Iraq  a wire originally from United Press International, February 14, 2002.
  • Indonesian Muslims hold huge protest against war in Iraq (link fixed 24 Decemeber 2005), February 10, 2003.
  • [Nigerian] Government Stops Muslims’ Pro-Iraq Protest in Abuja (link fixed 24 December 2005) written by Kingsley Omonobi and Victoria Ojeme in the newspaper “Vanguard” (Lagos), February 8, 2003. Scroll to near the bottom of the page.
  • Thai Muslims Rally Against Iraq War, BBC, February 6, 2003.
  • The Impending Slaughter of Muslims in Iraq , by Nadeem Ilyas, at the online radical Islamic journal, ,  the point of this article (and the entire website) is to motivate Muslims worldwide “to work… to rid their lands of any foreign influcence” and to work for “regime and ideology change in Islamic lands” in order to unite and form a single Islamic government; February 2, 2003.
  • Muslims Urge Iraq Co-operation The countries of Turkey, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt urged ‘Iraq to co-operate with the UN weapons’ inspectors; from the newspaper, Herald Sun (Australia), January 24, 2003.
  • Islamic Hackers Step Up Attacks A report by the BBC stating that in response to US plans for war in Iraq, Islamic hacking groups are stepping up their attacks on websites run by Western governments and large corporations. (October 29, 2002.)

    American Muslim Responses to the Crisis

  • Muslims [in the US] React, Respond to Iraq War A report in the Daily Illini based on interviews with Muslim students at the University of Illinois. (April 3, 2003.)
  • Muslims in U.S. Gripped by Iraq War A MSNBC news report based largely on interviews with Muslim students in the US, by Vidushi Sinha. (March 27, 2003.)
  • New Jersey Muslims Cheer, Fear Start of War (link fixed 18 August, 2005) by Wayne Parry, AP writer, at (March 20, 2003).
  • Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Statement on the Brink of War This American Muslim organization states its opposition to the war in Iraq but does not jump on the bandwagon of those Muslim organizations outside the US that are calling for jihad.
  • Even A Quick War Has Negative Consequences Say [ American ] Muslims a U.S. newswire from the Washington-based Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), March 19, 2003 (link fixed 25 December 2005).
  • American Muslims Prepare for Backlash by Mark O’Keefe, Newhouse News Service, March 19, 2003.
  • Iraqi Immigrants Want Saddam Ousted (link fixed 18 August, 2005) Based on interviews with Detroit area Iraqi Muslim and Christian Americans. (Steve Miller, Washinton Times, March 11, 2003.)
  • Muslim Students Lead War Protests (link fixed 18 August, 2005) A news report noting that Muslims students in a variety of universities across the US are playing important roles in the anti-war movement. (Julia Duin, Washington Times, March 5, 2003.)
  • Local [Houston] Muslims discuss possible attack against Iraq , by Paris Achen of the Houston Chronicle and based on actual interviews March 4, 2003.
  • Department of State and Defense Produce Brochure for US Muslims, a brochure “aimed at influencing American Muslims to support action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.” A Newsmax wire (January 23, 2003). The same report, apparently written by by Pamela Hess , San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, was interestingly introduced on the website of pollster John Zogby as The [American] Regime Caught Red Handed Distributing Pentagon Psyops Propaganda In USA.

    Responses of Muslim Scholars and Leaders Concerning the Crisis

  • Iraq leader hedges on Islam’s role in law (link fixed 24 December 2005) discusses a statement by the president of Iraq’s Governing Council, Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, an Arab Sunni; written by Scheherezade Faramarzi, Seattle Times, Feb. 19, 2004.
  • Top Cleric Urges Shi’ites Not to Resist Allies (link fixed 18 August 2005) discusses Ayatollah Sistani’s fatwa and its positive implications for the US effort to topple Saddam Hussein and rebuild Iraq, by David Sands (Washington Times, April 4, 2003).
  • Shiites Told to Stand Aside (link fixed 24 December 2005) discusses the fatwa of Ayatollah Ali Sistani in which he called on Shi’ites to “remain calm and to not interfere with coalition actions” (Todd Zeranski, April 4, 2003.)
  • Syrian Mufti Calls for Suicide Operations This UPI article discusses a statement made by Sheikh Ahmad Kaftaro, who is the chief legal authority of Syria. (March 27, 2003) (link fixed 25 December 2005).
  • Fear Not the Shias by Stephen Schwartz, the author of The Two Faces of Islam, who asserts that Iraqi Shi’is support the ousting of Saddam Hussain and that in a post-Saddam Iraq they will not represent a threat to a unified and moderate Iraq. (The Weekly Standard, Volume 008, Issue 27, March 24, 2003.)
  • Muslim Cleric from Iraq Supports Removal of Saddam Hussein Shaykh Fadhel al-Sahlani, who is the president of the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center in New York and representative of marhum Ayatollah al-Khoei, states that concerning Saddam that “… I believe he has to be removed by any means” (Judy Aita, March 22, 2003).
  • Hamas Urges Iraqi Suicide Attacks on US-Led Forces a news article — referring to statements by Hamas leaders Abdel Aziz-al-Rantissi and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin — by Nidal al-Mughrabi, reporting from Gaza for Reuters (March 21, 2003).
  • Furious Arabs Protest Invasion of Iraq (link fixed 18 August 2005), Fox News story, briefly describes the call to martyrdom in an address given to 4000 Palestinians in Amman, Jordan, by Hamza Mansour, who is a cleric leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. In contrast, King Abdullah II of Jordan advised Jordanians to act in a “civilized manner.” This Fox News report notes a call to jihad given in a sermon by Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the grand sheik of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, and a similar call delivered to 6000 Muslims at the Friday prayer in India’s largest mosque in New Delhi by Syed Ahmed Bukhari. (March 21, 2003.)
  • Asian Muslims Denounce Attack on Iraq Statements made by leaders of Muslim organizations in Southeast Asia just after the US began its attack on Iraq (Yahoo, relying on Reuters, March 20, 2003).
  • Iraq War and Call for Jihad a PBS interview of Prof. Akbar Ahmed of American University in Washington by Bob Abernethy concerning the recent declaration concerning jihad on the part of the scholars of the Islamic Research Academy of al-Azhar University. (Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, March 14, 2003).
  • Scholars Urge Jihad in the Event of Iraq War (link fixed 20 August, 2005) Muslim scholars of the Islamic Research Academy of al-Azhar University in Cairo issued a statement on March 10, 2003, urging Muslims to defend themselves and engage in jihad in the event of a US invasion of Iraq. (Washington Post, March, 10, 2003.)
  • Resisting U.S. Aggression Islamic Duty: Al-Azhar Grand Imam, Shaykh Tantawi stated, [It is] “a religious duty to side with Iraq against any aggression to befall it.” The article also included a statement made by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, one of the most highly regarded Muslim scholars, in which he asserted that fighting U.S. troops (deployed to attack Iraq) is “legal Jihad”. He added that “death while defending Iraq is a kind of martyrdom”, as it comes in the defense of a Muslim land against aggressor enemies. (Sobhi Mujahid, February 22, 2003).
  • Muslim leaders’ Declaration on Iraq (link fixed 20 August, 2005), originally published in the newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi on February 13, 2003, and then put online by the Muslim Association of Britain (, this article discusses a statement signed by more than two hundred prominent Muslim Scholars and public opinion leaders from all over the Muslim world, a statement that, among other things, said that “any contribution to war on Iraq is not permissible by Shari’ah.”
  • Sheikh calls for unity against Iraq war Statement of the Shaykh Tantawi, the “Shaykh al-Azhar”, who is the leading institutional Sunni Muslim authority in Egypt. Reported in the Middle East Times, January 31, 2003 (link fixed 24 December 2005).
  • Colonialism, Iraq, and Islam, a paper delivered by Dr. Imran Waheed, spokesman for British branch of the Hizb al-Tahrir, a radical Muslim organization, at a panel discusssion at St. Annes College, University of Oxford, on Tuesday 29th October 2002.
  • Fatwe [ie. fatwa] seen as dividing Muslims and Arabs on Iraq   by Uwe Siemon-Netto in the Middle East Times, August 19, 2002 (link fixed 24 December 2005).
  • Fadlallah bans Muslims from collaborating with Americans against Iraq    a fatwa (religious edict) issued by the chief Shi’ite leader of Lebanon, Grand Ayatullah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, on August 12, 2002.

    Responses from Non-Islamic Religions

  • Christian, Muslim Clergy Stand Together Against War (link fixed 20 August, 2005) discusses a joint statement issued by 200 Lebanese clerics. (Samer Wehbi, The Daily Star, April 7, 2003)
  • Muslims, Christians side by side as Iraq peace protests sweep globe (link fixed 24 December 2005; scroll halfway down page) as reported by Yahoo News Australia, March 31, 2003.
  • Episcopalians Respond to Beginning of War with Iraq (link fixed 24 December 2005) An article on the official website of US branch of the Episcopal Church asserting that the war should be seen as a defeat for humanity; and that it is not a war of Christianty against Islam. (James Solheim, March 26, 2003.)
  • Why Jews Should Oppose the War in Iraq is the text of a statement signed by 465 Jews (including 125 rabbis) and published as a full-page ad in the New York Times on March 21, 2003. (Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center) (link fixed 24 December 2005).
  • Confronting Iraq: Might Doesn’t Make Right  by Ian Urbina and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984), International Herald Tribune, March 14, 2003
  • Don’t Iritate 1 Billion Muslims By Attacking Iraq: Vatican Warns  a Press International (PINA) press release online at; January 31, 2003.
  • Bishop [of Stafford, UK] starts dialogue with Muslims, A brief article about a statement (including the statement) made by Anglican Bishop, Christopher Hill, in which he asserts that a war against Iraq is not a war against Islam, January 26, 2003 (link fixed 24 December 2005).
  • War in Iraq is wrong, 51 church leaders say by George Tasker, Miami Herald (October 21, 2002).
  • Conservative Christians Biggest Backers of Iraq War by journalist Jim Lobe in the progressive Common Dreams News Center. Lobe focuses on the coalition of fundamentalist Christians and Jewish supporters of Israel (October 10, 2002).

    Iraqi Americans

  • Iraqis in U.S. Hail Crumbling of Regime by Wayne Parry, Associated Press, April 9, 2003.
  • Iraqi American Council (link fixed 20 August, 2005), appears to be an official website containing useful information about Iraqi Americans as well as the “mission statement” of the organization and a description of the organizations activities in the past year.

    Iraqi Christians

    The last “reliable” census of Iraq in 1957 (under the monarchy) showed that the Christians comprised 3% of the population. A recent article (January 3, 2003) in the Church of Ireland Gazette Online asserted that the number of Iraqi Christians was about 650,000. An American of Iraqi Christian descent who is “ministering” to the Iraqi Christians in his an article titled, The Forgotten Christians of Iraq asserted that the population of Iraqi (Assyrian) Christians still living in Iraq is 1.2 million:”approximately 200,000 in Northern Iraq, approximately 1,000,000 in Central Iraq, mostly in Baghdad and a third smaller group of a few thousand in Southern Iraq”

  • One View from Iraq on the Eve of War Here an American Christian visiting Iraq tells readers about some of the fears of Iraqi Christians (and some Muslims) that he met a couple of months before the war began. He noted that although Christian and Muslim Iraqis had lived in harmony for “hundreds and hundreds of years,” recent events in Iraq were threatening that.
  • Iraqi Christians, fearing war, called to prayer (link fixed 20 August, 2005), by Rainer Lang, Ecumenical News Service, November 15, 2002.
  • Kurdish Christians (link fixed 20 August, 2005) from Mehrdad Izady, The Kurds: A Concise Handbook Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, USA, 1992

    Bin Laden, al-Qa’ida, and Iraq

  • Alleged Bin Laden Tapes a Call to Arms, CNN, February 14, 2003.
  • Ben Laden Urges Muslims to Support Iraq (link fixed 24 December 2005), ABC News, February 11, 2003.
  • Ansar Al-Islam: Iraq’s Al-Qaeda Connection, by Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, published online in Frontpage, January 17, 2003
  • Iraqi fundamentalist leader deported from the Netherlands (link fixed 20 August, 2005) by Toby Sterling, Associated Press, deals with the deportation of Mullah Krekar, the head of the Ansar al-Islam. (January 13, 2003)

    General Websites on the Iraq Crisis

  • The Crisis Over Iraq, by Daniel Varisco Martin, Professor of Anthropology, Hofstra University.  This contains links in the following categories: latest news, background information, Iraqi governmental website, Iraqi opposition groups,  and anti-war protests

    Resources in Print on Muslims, Islam, and Iraq

  • Ayatollahs, Sufis and Ideologues: State, Religion and Social Movements in Iraq, edited by Faleh Abdul-Jabar.  Up until recently, there was no comprehensive work on Islam in Iraq.  Abdul-Jabar’s work, published by Saqi Books (August 2002) and distributed by Palgrave/Macmillan in the US,  is a major step in this direction.
  • The Shi’is of Iraq by Yitzhak Nakash (Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University) (Princeton, 1994); see above for a discussion of Nakash and his work.
  • The Arab Shi’a: The Forgotten Muslims a book by Graham E. Fuller (Senior Political Analyst at RAND Corporation) and Rend Rahim Francke (Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation), contains one chapter for every Arab country that contains a significant Shi’a population, including one chapter that deals with the Shi’a of Iraq; in addition, other relevant chapters are topic centered, such as “The Shia Identity,” “The Shi’a in a Sunni Stae,” “Shi’ite Demands and PoliticalStrategy,” and “The Iranian Connection.” (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2000 [hardcover], 2001 [paperback]) (Link fixed August 29, 2003)
  • Research Guide: A Bibiliography of the Kurdish Question in the Middle East by Engin Erdem, Ph.D. student, International Studies at Old Dominion University, VA.(Online at MERIA)
  • “Modernity and Tradition in the Islamic Movements in Iraq: continuity and discontinuity,” dealing with the Shi’ite Da’wa Party, by Keiko Sakai of the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETO) in Arab Studies Quarterly, vol. 23, no.1, Winter issue, 2001.

    Iraqi Governing Council

    The Iraqi Governing Council, chosen by the US administration in Iraq, is comprised of 25 people who represent Iraq’s various religious and ethnic groups. The proportion of each of these groups within the population of Iraq as a whole is roughly the same as their representation in the governing council.

  • The Iraqi Governing Council Members is an article from the BBC news service. It includes brief biographies of each member as well as group picture. (July 14, 2003)

    Miscellaneous Relevant Links

    For the most part, these are links that do not fall within the primary categories of this website but that have been suggested to me by scholars affiliated with the Study of Islam section of the American Academy of Religion.

  • Iraqi Forces Take Cover in Ancient Mosque is a Yahoo News report about Iraqi troops using the shrine of ‘Ali in Najaf and about the instructions given to American troops not to damage the shrine, which, after Mecca and Medina, is the holiest city for Shi’ites.
  • A Postwar Who’s Who By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., Corine Hegland and John Maggs (National Journal March 28, 2003).
  • The Iraq Foundation, established in 1991, is an organization of expatriate Iraqis the main purpose of which is to work for a democratic Iraq.
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: War in Iraq contains extensive news and analytical articles as well as many web resources.
  • Iraqi Opposition Groups A useful synopsis of the major Iraqi opposition groups. (
  • Iraqi Opposition Groups and Individuals A detailed and hypertext linked description of the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussain. See also the Members of the Follow-Up and Arrangement Committee , 65 individuals who were selected to be on the Follow-Up and Arrangement Committee (FUAC) of the Iraqi opposition during the London conference of 14-17 December 2002.
  • The Iraqi National Congress (link fixed 24 December 2005) (INC) is an umbrella organization formed in 1991 designed to unite and coordinate all Iraqi groups opposed to Saddam Hussein.
  • Is the War on Iraq Lawful? by Professor Michael C. Dorf of Columbia Law School, is a concise analysis that examines the following: 1) three possible grounds for war from the perspective of international law; 2) the legality of war from the perspective of American law; and 3) the war from a moral and practical perspective.(FindLaw’s Legal Commentary, March 19, 2003.)
  • Today, I Weep for My Country Summary of Senator Robert Byrd’s speech to the US Congress denouncing President Bush as being misguided, a speech given just prior to the US invasion of Iraq.
  • Bush Justifies First Strike (link fixed 20 August, 2005) referring to a prime time address that President Bush delivered on Monday, March 17 from the White House; an article (accompanied by a video broadcast of the address) by Marsha Mercer, Media General New Service, March 21, 2003.
  • Letter from Coleman Barks, translator of Rumi, to President Bush urging him to rethink the war.
  • How to Build a New Iraq After Saddam included here is the complete introduction to the book by Patrick Clawson, the Deputy Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which may be the most influential think-tank on American Middle East and Iraqi policy.
  • Human Rights Watch World Report 2003: Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan And see the earlier State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Iraq – 2001 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor March 4, 2002
  • Opposing War is Good, But Not Good Enough an article by Faleh A. Jabar, Research Fellow, Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the editor of the only comprehensive work dealing with Islam and modern Iraq: Ayatollahs, Sufis, and Ideologues: State, Religion, and Social Movements in Iraq (The Progressive, January 2003) (link fixed 24 December 2005).
  • The Iraqi Opposition’s Evolution: From Conflict to Unity? by Dr. Robert Rabil, Project Mnager of the Iraq Research and Documentation Project at the Iraq Foundation, Washington, DC (MERIA, vol. 6, no. 4, December 2002).
  • Exploiting Islam, a chapter in the US government’s publication Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’’s Disinformation and Propagana, 1990-2003
  • A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Places in Iraq by a Pakistani shaykh of the Qadiri Sufi order, Hazrat Syedna Tahir Alauddin al-Qadri al-Gilani. This includes the tombs of Sufis, Shi’is, companions of the Prophet, important Sunnis, and prophets (PDF format).
  • Advertisements

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s