medieval city of Iraq that was a centre of Arab culture and learning from the 8th to the 10th century. It was founded in 638 as a garrison town by 'Umar I, the second caliph. The city lay on the Hindiyah branch of the Euphrates River, about 7 miles (11 km) northeast of an-Najaf. It was populated largely by South Arabians and Iranians and served as the seat of the governor of Iraq, sometimes sharing this position with its sister city, Basra. In 655 the Muslims of Kufah became the first to support the claims of 'Ali, son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad, against the caliph 'Uthman; Kufah subsequently served as 'Ali's capital (656-661). Throughout Umayyad rule Kufah remained a constant source of unrest. In 683, in the civil war following the death of the caliph Yazid I, it recognized as caliph 'Abd Allah ibn az-Zubayr; then in 685 it violently resisted the Shi'ite doctrine forced on it by al-Mukhtar ibn Abu 'Ubayd at-Thaqafi.
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