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Religion in Iraq

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Although members of the ruling Baath Party generally are ideologically committed to secularism, about 95 percent of Iraqis are Muslim and Islam is the officially recognized state religion. Islam came to the region with the victory of the Muslim armies under Caliph Umar over the Sassanians in A.D. 637 at the battle of Al Qadisiyah.

The majority of inhabitants soon became Muslim, including the Kurds, although small communities of Christians and Jews remained intact in the area of present-day Iraq. Iraq has been the scene of many important events in the early history of Islam, including the schism over the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad.

Data as of May 1988; Source: Library of Congress Country Studies

Country Overview

Background: Iraq lies in the lower part of the Tigris-Euphrates valley, the heart of one of the four great ancient civilizations. The area was overrun by Arab, Mongol, and Turkish conquerors and became a British mandate following World War I. Independence came in 1932. Iraq's pro-Western stance ended in 1958 with the overthrow of the monarchy. Its subsequent turbulent history has witnessed the dictatorship of SADDAM Husayn, civil war with the Kurds, a bloody conflict with neighboring Iran, and, in 1990, an invasion of Kuwait, swiftly turned back by a Western coalition led by the US. Noncooperation with UN Security Council resolution obligations and the UN's inspection of Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological, and long-range missile weapons programs remain major problems.

Source: CIA

History of Iraq: Timeline of Events, 3500 BCE - 2004 CE
This chronology lists some of the major events which have defined the course of Iraqi history: wars, coups, births, deaths, and assassinations. The period covered begins with ancient Mesopotamia, goes through the British Mandate of the region, and finishes with events during the two invasions of Iraq by the United States.

Biography: Saddam Hussein
Short biography of Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq. Reviews his political history as well as some of the reasons for his popularity.

Iraq: Islamic Relations
Relations between Shia Muslim and Sunni Muslims in Iraq, with the role played by the ruling Baath Party.

Iraq: Islam
History of Islam with an emphasis on the how it was introduced and how it has developed in Iraq.

Iraq: Sunni Islam
History of Sunni Islam with an emphasis on the role it has played in Iraq.

Iraq: Shia Islam
History of Shia Islam with an emphasis on the role it has played in Iraq.

Iraq: Conflict with Iran
Overview and history of the war between Iraq and Iran.

Iraq: Religious Liberty
United States State Department report on religious liberty in Iraq, detailing the relationship between religion and state and the treatment of religious minorities.

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