Arabic: ‘al-kūfa


Courtyard to the Quarters of Ali, Kufa, Iraq.







City in central Iraq with about 110,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), lying on the western bank of the Euphrates river, about 170 km south of Baghdad, and 11 km northeast of Najaf.

Kufa is one of three religiously important cities that lies in a cluster south of Baghdad, together with Najaf and Karbala, the most important town in Shi’i Islam.

Kufa holds a typical Shi’i shrine built over the tombs of Muslim ibn Aqil and Hani ibn Arwa. Next to the shrine lies the extensive headquarters of Ali, protected by a 4 meters thick wall.

Kufa was for a couple of centuries one of the leading centers for Muslim theology, for Arabic grammar, philology, literary criticism, and literature.
In Kufa one of the most famous Arabic typefaces was developed, the Kufic. It is marked by square and angular letters. This script was widely used for coins as well, Kufic coins, which were in widespread use even all over Europe.

638: Founded as a garrison town by Caliph Umar 1. It was soon populated mainly by South Arabians and Iranians. At times, Kufa served as the seat of the governor of Iraq.
655: The Muslims of Kufa starts supporting the party of Ali, in his conflict with Caliph Uthman.
656: As Ali becomes the new Caliph, he turns Kufa into his capital, hence it was the capital of the Muslim world.
661: Ali dies, and the new Caliph installs himself in Damascus. Kufa continues to support the party of Ali, now represented by his son Hassan, in their claim for the Caliphate.
749: The Abbasids take control over Kufa. Kufa returns to being the capital of the Muslim world awaiting the completion of the new capital of Baghdad.
10th century: Sacked several times by the Qarmatians, and is gradually destroyed and turns into nothing more than a village.


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