Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Siffin (657)

Now it’s the 1359th anniversary of Siffin, but otherwise I think you’ll find this post as informative–or not–as it was last year on this date. Enjoy!

and that's the way it was

Today we’re on the 1358th anniversary of the start of hostilities in Battle of Siffin, during the First Fitna (civil war) in Islamic history. Regular readers may have heard of it before. The Caliph, Ali, took an army of 80,000 men (allegedly; historical sources of all cultures are notoriously unreliable when it comes to army sizes) against the governor of Syria, Muʿawiyah, and his 120,000 man army (again, allegedly) at Siffin, in what is now the Raqqa Province of Syria. Ali’s accession as Caliph had been marred by the assassination of his predecessor, Uthman, and by Ali’s inability and/or unwillingness to bring Uthman’s killers to justice. The latter point especially became a pretext for resistance among several leading members of the Islamic community who had done quite well for themselves under the previous caliphs. They were now worried because it looked like Ali was planning to upend the social…

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