The Most Famous

RELIGIOUS FIGURES from Iraq

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This page contains a list of the greatest Iraqi Religious Figures. The pantheon dataset contains 2,272 Religious Figures, 28 of which were born in Iraq. This makes Iraq the birth place of the 14th most number of Religious Figures behind Poland and Greece.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Iraqi Religious Figures of all time. This list of famous Iraqi Religious Figures is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Iraqi Religious Figures.

Photo of Abraham

1. Abraham (-1813 - -1638)

With an HPI of 93.68, Abraham is the most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 144 different languages on wikipedia.

Abraham (originally Abram) was the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he was the founding father of the covenant of the pieces, the special relationship between the Hebrews and God; in Christianity, he was the spiritual progenitor of all believers, Jewish or Gentile (non-Jewish); and in Islam he is seen as a link in the chain of prophets that begins with Adam and culminates in Muhammad.The narrative in the Book of Genesis revolves around the themes of posterity and land. Abraham is called by God to leave the house of his father Terah and settle in the land originally given to Canaan but which God now promises to Abraham and his progeny. Various candidates are put forward who might inherit the land after Abraham; and, while promises are made to Ishmael about founding a great nation, Isaac, Abraham's son by his half-sister Sarah, inherits God's promises to Abraham. Abraham purchases a tomb (the Cave of the Patriarchs) at Hebron to be Sarah's grave, thus establishing his right to the land; and, in the second generation, his heir Isaac is married to a woman from his own kin, thus ruling the Canaanites out of any inheritance. Abraham later marries Keturah and has six more sons; but, on his death, when he is buried beside Sarah, it is Isaac who receives "all Abraham's goods", while the other sons receive only "gifts".The Abraham story cannot be definitively related to any specific time, and it is widely agreed that the patriarchal age, along with the Exodus and the period of the judges, is widely seen as a late literary construct that does not relate to any period in actual history. After a century of exhaustive archaeological investigation, no evidence has been found for a historical Abraham. His story was probably composed in the early Persian period (late 6th century BCE) as a result of tensions between Jewish landowners who had stayed in Judah during the Babylonian captivity and traced their right to the land through their "father Abraham", and the returning exiles who based their counterclaim on Moses and the Exodus tradition.

Photo of Sarah

2. Sarah (-1803 - -1676)

With an HPI of 84.09, Sarah is the 2nd most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 58 different languages.

Sarah (Hebrew: שָׂרָה‎, Modern: Sara, Tiberian: Sārā; Arabic: سَارَة‎ Sarah, born שָׂרַי‎ Sārai) is a biblical matriarch and prophetess, a major figure in Abrahamic religions. While some discrepancies exist in how she is portrayed by the different faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all depict her character similarly, as that of a pious woman, renowned for her hospitality and beauty, the wife and half-sister of Abraham, and the mother of Isaac.

Photo of Abu Hanifa

3. Abu Hanifa (698 - 767)

With an HPI of 83.32, Abu Hanifa is the 3rd most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.

Abū Ḥanīfa al-Nuʿmān b. Thābit b. Zūṭā b. Marzubān (Arabic: أبو حنيفة نعمان بن ثابت بن زوطا بن مرزبان‎; c. 699 – 767 CE), known as Abū Ḥanīfa for short, or reverently as Imam Abū Ḥanīfa by Sunni Muslims, was an 8th-century Sunni Muslim theologian and jurist of Persian origin, who became the eponymous founder of the Hanafi school of Sunni jurisprudence, which has remained the most widely practiced law school in the Sunni tradition, predominates in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Persia (until the 16th century), Balkans, Russia, Chechnya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Muslims in India, Turkey, and some parts of the Arab world.Some followers call him al-Imām al-Aʿẓam ("The Greatest Imam") and Sirāj al-aʾimma ("The Lamp of the Imams") in Sunni Islam.Born to a Muslim family in Kufa, Abu Hanifa is known to have travelled to the Hejaz region of Arabia in his youth, where he studied in Mecca and Medina. As his career as a theologian and jurist progressed, Abu Hanifa became known for favoring the use of reason in his legal rulings (faqīh dhū raʾy) and even in his theology. Abu Hanifa's theological school is claimed to be what would later develop into the Maturidi school of Sunni theology.

Photo of Mani

4. Mani (216 - 274)

With an HPI of 80.32, Mani is the 4th most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.

Mani (in Middle Persian: 𐭌𐭀𐭍𐭉/𐭬𐭠𐭭𐭩/𐮋𐮀𐮌𐮈/𐬨𐬁𐬥𐬌/𐫖𐫀𐫗𐫏 Māni, New Persian: مانی Māni, Chinese: 摩尼 Móní, Syriac Mānī, Greek Μάνης, Latin Manes; also Μανιχαῖος, Latin Manichaeus, from Syriac ܡܐܢܝ ܚܝܐ Mānī ḥayyā "Living Mani", c. April AD 216–2 March AD 274 or 26 February AD 277), of Iranian origin, was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a religion of late antiquity strongly influenced by Gnosticism which was once widespread but is no longer prevalent by name. Mani was born in or near Seleucia-Ctesiphon in Babylonia, at the time still part of the Parthian Empire. Seven of his major works were written in Syriac, and the eighth, dedicated to the Sasanian emperor Shapur I, was written in Middle Persian. He died in Gundeshapur.

Photo of Rabia of Basra

5. Rabia of Basra (710 - 801)

With an HPI of 78.83, Rabia of Basra is the 5th most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 42 different languages.

Rābiʿa al-ʿAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya (Arabic: رابعة العدوية القيسية‎) (714/717/718 — 801 CE) was a Sunni Muslim saint and Sufi mystic. She is known in some parts of the world as, Hazrat Bibi Rabia Basri, Rabia Al Basri or simply Rabia Basri.

Photo of Belshazzar

6. Belshazzar (-600 - -600)

With an HPI of 77.99, Belshazzar is the 6th most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.

Belshazzar (Babylonian cuneiform: Bēl-šar-uṣur, meaning "Bel, protect the king") was the son and crown prince of Nabonidus (r. 556–539 BC), the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Through his mother he might have been a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 605–562 BC), though this is not certain and the claims to kinship with Nebuchadnezzar may have originated from royal propaganda. Belshazzar played a pivotal role in the coup d'etat that overthrew the king Labashi-Marduk (r. 556 BC) and brought Nabonidus to power in 556 BC. Since Belshazzar was the main beneficiary of the coup, through confiscating and inheriting Labashi-Marduk's estates and wealth, it is likely that he was the chief orchestrator. Through proclaiming his father as the new king, Belshazzar also made himself the first-in-line to the throne. As Nabonidus was relatively old at the time, Belshazzar could expect to become king within a few years. Nabonidus was absent from Babylon from 553 BC to 543 or 542 BC, in self-imposed "exile" at Tayma in Arabia, for unknown reasons. For the duration of the decade-long absence of his father, Belshazzar served as regent in Babylon, a period which some historians characterize as a co-regency. Belshazzar was entrusted with many typically royal prerogatives, such as granting privileges, commanding portions of the army, and receiving offerings and oaths, though he continued to be style as the crown prince (mār šarri, literally meaning "son of the king"), never assuming the title of king (šarru). Belshazzar also lacked many of the prerogatives of kingship, most importantly he was not allowed to preside over and officiate the Babylonian New Year's festival, which was the exclusive right of the king himself. Belshazzar's fate is not known, but is often assumed that he was killed during the Cyrus the Great's Persian invasion of Babylonia in 539 BC, presumably at the fall of the capital Babylon on 12 October 539 BC. Belshazzar appears as a central character in the story of Belshazzar's feast in the Biblical Book of Daniel, recognized by scholars as a work of historical fiction. Daniel's Belshazzar is not malevolent (he for instance rewards Daniel for his interpretation of "the writing on the wall"), but in later Jewish tradition Belshazzar was presented as a tyrant who oppresses the Jewish people.

Photo of Muhammad al-Mahdi

7. Muhammad al-Mahdi (869 - 941)

With an HPI of 77.30, Muhammad al-Mahdi is the 7th most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Mahdi (Arabic: مُحَمَّد بِن ٱلْحَسَن ٱلْمَهْدِي‎, Muḥammad bin al-Ḥasan al-Mahdī) is believed by the Twelver Shia to be the Mahdi, an eschatological redeemer of Islam and the final Imam of the Twelve Imams who will emerge with Isa (Jesus) in order to fulfil their mission of bringing peace and justice to the world. Twelver Shias believe that al-Mahdi was born on the 15th Sha'ban 870 CE/ 256 AH and assumed Imamate at nearly four years of age following the killing of his father Hasan al-Askari. In the early years of his Imamah, he is believed to have had contact with his followers only through The Four Deputies. This period was known as the Minor Occultation (ٱلْغَيْبَة ٱلصُّغْرَىٰ) and lasted from 873 to 941 CE. A few days before the death of his fourth deputy Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samarri in 941, he is believed to have sent his followers a letter. In that letter, which was transmitted by al-Samarri, he declared the beginning of Major Occultation (ٱلْغَيْبَة ٱلْكُبْرَىٰ), during which Mahdi was not to be in contact with his followers directly, but had instructed them to follow the pious high clerics for whom he has mentioned some distinguishing merits.Most Sunni Muslims reject that he was the Mahdi and believe that the Mahdi has not yet been born. They believe his exact identity is only known to Allah, other than the idea that he is to be from the descendants of Muhammad. Aside from the Mahdi's precise genealogy, Sunnis accept many of the same hadiths which Shias accept about the predictions regarding the Mahdi's emergence, his acts, and his universal Caliphate. Sunnis also have many hadiths about Mahdi which are in their Hadith collections. Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan and At-Tayyib Abu'l-Qasim ibn Al-Mansur are descendants of Muhammad who are considered by different groups of Shi'ites (respectively Twelvers and Tayyibi Isma'ili-Musta'li-Isma'ilis) to be Occulted Imams and Mahdis.

Photo of Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin

8. Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (659 - 713)

With an HPI of 77.23, Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin is the 8th most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (Arabic: عَلِيّ ٱبْن ٱلْحُسَيْن زَيْن ٱلْعَابِدِين‎), also known as al-Sajjad (Arabic: ٱلسَّجَّاد‎, "The Consistently Prostrating") or simply Zayn al-Abidin (Arabic: زَيْن ٱلْعَابِدِين‎, "Adornment of the Worshippers"), (c. 4 January 659 – c. 20 October 713) was the fourth Imam in Shiʻi Islam after his father Husayn ibn Ali, his uncle Hasan ibn Ali, and his grandfather, Ali. He is considered a respected scholar among Sunnis and hadiths reported by him are recorded in all six major Sunni hadith collections. He was born, according to some sources, from Shahrbanu. Ali was just one of three boys called Ali, in his family. The two others were killed in The Battle of Karbala, one of them just an infant. Zayn al-Abidin survived the Battle, since he was ill, and did not participate in the battle. Later on he was sent to Kufa along with surviving women and children. In Kufa, he was about to be killed by Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, who disdained him by saying that God killed his family. Ali ibn Husayn, condemned ibn Ziad, by quoting a verse of Quran, which says otherwise. Ali, then was sent to Damascus, where he had a Sermon at Yazid I's palace, in presence of people who Yazid expected to take his side. In this sermon, Ali introduced himself and his family as Ahl al-Bayt of the prophet of Islam who were killed by Muslims! Eventually, he was allowed to return to Medina, where he led a secluded life with a few intimate companions. Ali took part in no political movement for or against Umayyeds. One of this movements was Battle of al-Harra ( Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr's revolt against Umayyad Caliphate which was suppressed), after which Ali was excepted from giving oath of allegiance to Yazid, while others had to do so. Another event was Mukhtar al-Thaqafi's revolt in which all killer of Husayn ibn ali were punished by Mokhtar. According to Shia sources, Mokhtar, first wanted to start his rise in the name of Zayn al-Abidin, however after his refusal, Mokhtar went to Ali's uncle, Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah. Thus, for some time, Muhammad ibn Hanafiyya had more followers than Zayn al-abidin. These Shias who wanted to take revenge for Husayn's blood, were gathered around Mokhtar, and were called Kaysanites. According to Chittick, Ali ibn al-Husayn fathered fifteen children, eleven boys and four girls, from his wife, Umm Abdullah Fatimah bint Hasan, and some concubines. Zayn al-Abidin's life and statements was entirely devoted to asceticism and religious teachings, mostly in the form of invocations and supplications. His famous supplications are known as Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya "The Scripture of Sajjad".

Photo of Idris

9. Idris (-3500 - )

With an HPI of 76.85, Idris is the 9th most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

ʾIdrīs (Arabic: إدريس‎) is an ancient prophet mentioned in the Quran, whom Muslims believe was the third prophet after Seth. He is the second prophet mentioned in the Quran. Islamic tradition has unanimously identified Idris with the biblical Enoch, although many Muslim scholars of the classical and medieval periods also held that Idris and Hermes Trismegistus were the same person.He is described in the Quran as "trustworthy" and "patient" and the Quran also says that he was "exalted to a high station". Because of this and other parallels, traditionally Idris has been identified with the biblical Enoch, and Islamic tradition usually places Idris in the early Generations of Adam, and considers him one of the oldest prophets mentioned in the Quran, placing him between Adam and Noah. Idris' unique status inspired many future traditions and stories surrounding him in Islamic folklore. According to hadith, narrated by Malik ibn Anas and found in Sahih Muslim, it is said that on Muhammad's Night Journey, he encountered Idris in the fourth heaven. The traditions that have developed around the figure of Idris have given him the scope of a prophet as well as a philosopher and mystic, and many later Muslim mystics, or Sufis, including Ruzbihan Baqli and Ibn Arabi, also mentioned having encountered Idris in their spiritual visions.

Photo of Ezra

10. Ezra (-500 - -401)

With an HPI of 75.80, Ezra is the 10th most famous Iraqi Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 47 different languages.

Ezra (; Hebrew: עֶזְרָא‎, ʿEzrāʾ; fl. 480–440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (עֶזְרָא הַסּוֹפֵר‎, ʿEzrāʾ hasSōfēr) and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra, was a Jewish scribe (sofer) and priest (kohen). In Greco-Latin Ezra is called Esdras (Greek: Ἔσδρας). According to the Hebrew Bible he was a descendant of Sraya, the last High Priest to serve in the First Temple, and a close relative of Joshua, the first High Priest of the Second Temple. He returned from Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem. According to 1 Esdras, a Greek translation of the Book of Ezra still in use in Eastern Orthodoxy, he was also a High Priest. Rabbinic tradition holds that he was an ordinary member of the priesthood.Several traditions have developed over his place of burial. One tradition says that he is buried in al-Uzayr near Basra (Iraq), while another tradition alleges that he is buried in Tadif near Aleppo, in northern Syria.His name may be an abbreviation of עזריהו‎ Azaryahu, "Yah helps". In the Greek Septuagint the name is rendered Ésdrās (Ἔσδρας), from which the Latin name Esdras comes. The Book of Ezra describes how he led a group of Judean exiles living in Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem where he is said to have enforced observance of the Torah. He was described as exhorting the Israelite people to be sure to follow the Torah Law so as not to intermarry with people of particular different religions, a set of commandments described in the Pentateuch.Ezra, known as "Ezra the scribe" in Chazalic literature, is a highly respected figure in Judaism.

Pantheon has 28 people classified as religious figures born between 3500 BC and 1969. Of these 28, 2 (7.14%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living religious figures include Louis Raphaël I Sako and Bashar Warda. The most famous deceased religious figures include Abraham, Sarah, and Abu Hanifa. As of October 2020, 3 new religious figures have been added to Pantheon including Ibn Sa'd, Haran, and Yitzhak Kaduri.

Living Religious Figures

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Deceased Religious Figures

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Newly Added Religious Figures (2020)

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Which Religious Figures were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 6 most globally memorable Religious Figures since 1700.