Al-Hirah (Arabic: الحيرة al-Ḥīrah, Syriac: ܚܝܪܬܐ Ḥīrtā,[1] Middle Persian: Hērt [2]) was an ancient city in Mesopotamia located south of what is now Kufa in south-central Iraq.

al-Ḥīrah الحيرة
Ḥīrtā ܚܝܪܬܐ
Kamal-ud-din Bihzad - Construction of the fort of Kharnaq.jpg
Al-Hirah is located in Iraq
Shown within Iraq
RegionNajaf Governorate
Coordinates31°53′0″N 44°27′0″E / 31.88333°N 44.45000°E / 31.88333; 44.45000Coordinates: 31°53′0″N 44°27′0″E / 31.88333°N 44.45000°E / 31.88333; 44.45000
A Persian miniature from the 15th century describing the constructing of Khawarnaq (Persian: خورنگاه, which means Mansion) in Hira, the capital city of the Lakhmids; miniature painting by Kamāl ud-Dīn Behzād


Kingdom of the LakhmidsEdit

Al-Hirah was a significant city in pre-Islamic Arab history. Al-Hirah (4th-7th centuries) served as the capital of the Lakhmids, an Arab vassal kingdom of the Sasanian Empire, whom it helped in containing the nomadic Arabs to the south. The Lakhmid rulers of al-Hirah were recognized by Shapur II (309-379), the tenth Sasanian emperor.

A particular Mār 'Abdīšo' (Syriac: ܡܪܝ ܥܒܕܝܫܘܥ) was born in Maysan (Syriac: ܡܝܫܢ Mayšān) and moved to Ḥīrā after studying elsewhere under Mār 'Abdā. There he gained widespread respect as he built a monastery and lived a pious life. The Sasanian emperor Bahram V won the throne with support of al-Mundhir I ibn al-Nu'man, king of Ḥīrā, in 420. He was amazed and showed great respect as he encountered the saint near the village of Bēṯ 'Arbī on his way back from the imperial capital Seleucia-Ctesiphon.[3]

From c. 527, al-Hirah was opposed by the Ghassanids, a Byzantine-sponsored Arab state in Syria and Palestine. The two powers engaged in a long conflict of their own that functioned as a proxy war for the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires.

In 531, the Sasanians defeated the Byzantine general Belisarius at the Battle of Callinicum south of Edessa (now in southeastern Turkey), with the help of al-Hirah. In 602, Khosrow II deposed al-Nu'man III ibn al-Mundhir and annexed al-Hirah.

Ecclesiastical historyEdit

Hirta was the seat of a bishopric of the Church of the East from the 4th century until the 11th century. It belonged to the Patriarchal Province of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.

Today, Hirta is a titular Catholic diocese in Iraq.

Spread of IslamEdit

Following the Battle of Hira, the city was captured by an army of the Rashidun Caliphate under the command of Khalid ibn al-Walid in May 633.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Thomas A. Carlson et al., “Ḥirta — ܚܐܪܬܐ ” in The Syriac Gazetteer last modified June 30, 2014,
  2. ^ Daryaee 2002, p. 42.
  3. ^ Anthony Alcock (2014). The Chronicle of Seert.


External linksEdit