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date: 12 November 2019

Kufa [al-Kūfa; Kufah]locked

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[al-Kūfa; Kufah]

Site on the Euphrates in south-east Iraq. Founded in ad 638 by the general Sa‛d ibn Abi Wakkas a year after the Muslims captured the Sasanian capital at Ktesiphon, Kufa developed in the 7th century from a military encampment into a major city, with a strong intellectual and religious life. In 655 it became the first city to support the claims of the Prophet’s son-in-law ‛Ali against the third caliph ‛Uthman (reg 644–56), and it served as ‛Ali’s capital until his death in 661. In the following years Kufa and its sister city of Basra were the principal centres of early Islamic civilization. From the outset, Kufa was planned with a central public area containing a mosque and the governor’s palace (Arab. dār al-imāra). From this central area radiated avenues that separated tribal lots. The original mosque was square with many gateways, had a covered colonnade on the south side and used spolia from nearby churches. Under the governorship of Ziyad Ibn Abihi (670–3), fired bricks were introduced and were used to rebuild the mosque and the governor’s palace, which adjoined it to the south. The palace seems to have been both an administrative and residential building, with an interior court and an iwan-like basilical hall leading to a domed room on the south....

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Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden, 1954–)