List of Umayyad governors of Iraq

This is a list of governors of the Umayyad province of Iraq.


In medieval history, Iraq (Arabic: العراقal-ʿIrāq) was the area comprising the lower parts of Mesopotamia, being roughly equivalent in size and shape to the ancient region of Babylonia.[1] It was bounded to the northwest by al-Jazira, to the north by Adharbayjan (the Sassanid Aturpatakan), to the northeast by al-Jibal, to the east by al-Ahwaz, to the southeast by the Sea of Fars (the Persian Gulf), and to the southwest by the desert of Arabia.[2]

In the administrative structure of the Umayyad Caliphate, Iraq was at first not a unified province; rather, it was divided between the governors of the important garrison towns of Basra and Kufa. The two towns were united for the first time in 670 AD, when the caliph Mu'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan gave control of both to Ziyad ibn Abihi.[3] After Ziyad's death the two towns were again separately administered, but subsequent caliphs were to repeat the combination and from the reign of 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan on, Iraq was usually in the hands of a single governor.

The governor of Iraq was an extremely powerful individual within the administrative hierarchy of the Umayyad government. In addition to Iraq itself, he was frequently granted the responsibility for the provinces of the empire that had originally been conquered with Basran or Kufan troops, including al-Ahwaz, al-Jibal, Fars, Kerman, Khurasan, Sijistan, Makran, al-Sind, and Jurjan. He was furthermore given authority over the provinces of eastern Arabia, namely al-Bahrayn, al-Yamamah[4] and Oman.[5] In total, these provinces constituted almost half of the entire empire and produced a substantial amount of the revenues collected by the central government in Damascus. The governor had the power to appoint and dismiss sub-governors to each of these provinces, and each of his sub-governors reported directly to him, rather than to the caliph.[6]

Governors who were appointed to Iraq all took up residence within the province during their tenure of office; the specific seat of government, however, tended to change over time. Under Ziyad ibn Abihi, Basra and Kufa served as twin capitals and he stayed at both towns during each year of his governorship.[7] Basra subsequently edged out Kufa as the chief town of the province, and served as the seat of the governors for the remainder of the seventh century. The famous governor al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf al-Thaqafi ordered the construction of a third garrison town, that of Wasit, which he then used as his residence for the remainder of his life. Thereafter, Wasit was often used by the governors as their primary residence, although they continued to sporadically move to other towns, such as Kufa and al-Hirah.[8]

Iraq remained as an Umayyad province until the year 749/750, when an Abbasid army besieged Wasit and forced the last governor of Iraq, Yazid ibn Umar al-Fazari, to surrender.[9] Following their victory over the Umayyads, the Abbasids abolished the governorship of Iraq and resumed the practice of appointing separate governors to the individual districts of the region.[10]

List of governors[]

Only governors that were in control of both Basra and Kufa at the same time appear in this list.[11]

Name Start End Nature of Termination Notes
None 661 670 n/a Basra and Kufa were under separate governors during this period[12]
Ziyad ibn Abihi 670 673 Died in office Appointed by the caliph Mu'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan[13]
None 673 680 n/a Basra and Kufa were under separate governors during this period[14]
'Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad 680 684 Resigned Son of Ziyad ibn Abihi. Appointed by the caliph Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah[15]
None 684 691 n/a Iraq was outside of Umayyad control for most of the second fitna. From 686 to 691, the Zubayrid Mus'ab ibn al-Zubayr was in control of Basra and Kufa.[16]
691 693 n/a Basra and Kufa were under separate governors during this period[17]
Bishr ibn Marwan 693 694 Died in office Brother of the caliph 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, who appointed him[18]
Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf al-Thaqafi 694 714 Died in office Appointed by 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan[19]
Yazid ibn Abi Kabshah al-Saksaki 714 715 Dismissed Appointed by the caliph al-Walid ibn 'Abd al-Malik[20]
Yazid ibn al-Muhallab al-Azdi and Salih ibn Abd al-Rahman 715 717 Dismissed Yazid was appointed governor for military and religious affairs and Salih was appointed governor in fiscal affairs by the caliph Sulayman ibn 'Abd al-Malik[21]
None 717 720 n/a Basra and Kufa were under separate governors during this period[22]
Maslama ibn 'Abd al-Malik 720 721 Dismissed Brother of the caliph Yazid ibn 'Abd al-Malik, who appointed him[23]
'Umar ibn Hubayra al-Fazari 721 724 Dismissed Appointed by Yazid ibn 'Abd al-Malik[24]
Khalid ibn 'Abdallah al-Qasri 724 738 Dismissed Appointed by the caliph Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Malik[25]
Yusuf ibn 'Umar al-Thaqafi 738 744 Dismissed Appointed by Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Malik[26]
Mansur ibn Jumhur al-Kalbi 744 744 Dismissed Appointed by the caliph Yazid ibn al-Walid[27]
'Abdallah ibn 'Umar 744 745 Dismissed Son of the caliph 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz. Appointed by Yazid ibn al-Walid[28]
Al-Nadr ibn Sa'id al-Harashi 745 745 Resigned Appointed by the caliph Marwan ibn Muhammad[29]
Yazid ibn Umar al-Fazari 745 750 Killed Son of 'Umar ibn Hubayra. Appointed by Marwan ibn Muhammad[30]

See also[]


  1. ^ Le Strange, p. 24
  2. ^ Le Strange, Map 1
  3. ^ Shaban, p. 87; Morony, pp. 72-73
  4. ^ Al-Askar, pp. 133-36
  5. ^ Al-Rawas, pp. 62 ff.
  6. ^ Blankinship, pp. 57, 60-63
  7. ^ Morony, p. 73
  8. ^ Morony, p. 158; Djaït, p. 271
  9. ^ Kennedy, pp. 49 ff.
  10. ^ Morony, p. 163; Crone, p. 61
  11. ^ For a summary of when these towns were administratively united under the Umayyads, see Blankinship, p. 296 n. 75
  12. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 18: pp. 20-21, 70, 75-78, 87, 90, 92-93, 95
  13. ^ Ziyad may have been given control of Kufa as early as 669. Al-Tabari, v. 18: pp. 96-97, 103, 164-67; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "'Ziyad b. Abihi" (I. Hasson); Shaban, p. 87
  14. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 18: pp. 171, 179, 181-82, 187, 191, 198, 207; v. 19: p. 1
  15. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 19: pp. 18, 90, 194, 200; v. 20: pp. 5-6; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad" (C. F. Robinson)
  16. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 20: pp. 123, 176, 182 ff.; v. 21: pp. 67, 83-84, 85 ff., 118-22, 153, 168, 170, 171 ff.; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr" (H. Lammens-[Ch. Pellat])
  17. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 21: pp. 191, 193, 212
  18. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 21: 233-34; v. 22: pp. 3, 11, 13; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "Bishr b. Marwan" (L. Veccia Vaglieri); Shaban, pp. 101-02
  19. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 22: pp. 12-13, 92, 175-76, 181, 186, 195; v. 23: pp. 13, 34, 71, 76, 115, 130, 139, 145, 148, 181, 183, 202, 214, 216-17; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "Al-Hadjdjadj b. Yusuf" (A. Dietrich); Shaban, pp. 102, 119
  20. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 23: p. 217; Crone, p. 96
  21. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 24: pp. 4-5, 29, 38, 60, 75; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "Muhallabids" (P. Crone); Shaban, pp. 127-28, 132-33
  22. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 24: pp. 75, 88, 126
  23. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 24: pp. 148, 162-3; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "Maslama b. 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan" (G. Rotter); Shaban, pp. 136-37
  24. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 24: pp. 163, 165, 167, 191; v. 25: p. 4; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "Ibn Hubayra" (J.-C. Vadet); Crone, p. 107; Shaban, pp. 137, 139
  25. ^ There is some disagreement on the exact year of Khalid's appointment. Al-Tabari, v. 25: pp. 4, 7, 23, 28, 32, 44, 63, 68, 94, 96, 98-100, 110, 122-23, 130, 166, 172 ff.; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "Khalid b. 'Abd Allah al-Kasri" (G. R. Hawting); Crone, p. 102; Shaban, pp. 139, 143
  26. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 25: pp. 178 ff., 187, 194; v. 26: pp. 35, 55, 65, 69, 125, 195 ff.; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "Al-Thakafi" (G. R. Hawting); Shaban, pp. 143, 159
  27. ^ Al-Tabari, v. 26: pp. 195 ff., 219-20; Crone, p. 158; Shaban, p. 159
  28. ^ 'Abdallah refused to accept his dismissal and became a rebel. Al-Tabari, v. 26: pp. 219-20; v. 26, pp. 12 ff.; Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "'Abd Allah b. 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz" (K. V. Zettersteen); Shaban, pp. 159, 161-62
  29. ^ Al-Nadr was never able to effectively establish his rule in Iraq and eventually returned to Syria. Al-Tabari, v. 26: pp. 12 ff., 23-24, 27; Crone, p. 144; Shaban, pp. 161-62
  30. ^ While Yazid was appointed in 745, it took two years and several military campaigns for him to secure his hold over the country. Al-Tabari, v. 27: pp. 24-26 52, 56-57, 92, 123, 133, 185 ff., 191-92; Crone, p. 107