Daʾwa al-Islamiyya, al-

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Iraqi Shiʿite political party, whose name means Call to Islam.

Al-Daʿwa al-Islamiyya was formed by Shiʿite clerical figures in the 1960s to combat secularist tendencies among the Iraqi elites. It operated underground, since religious expression was suppressed by the secular socialist Baʿth Party, which came to power in 1968, attempted to control the national religious life and internal structure of the Shiʿite clergy. Members of the clergy, including Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr and Ayatullah Muhsin Hakim, backed or helped in the creation of the party, which organized antigovernment demonstrations on behalf of the deprived Shiʿite population of southern Iraq in the early 1970s. With the Shiʿite clergy in power in Iran after the revolution of 1979, the party became more politically active and received funding and backing from Iran. This led to heavy persecution and mass imprisonment and executions by Saddam Hussein's government. In turn, the Daʿwa Party launched attempts to assassinate government officials. In 1985, various Shiʿite parties, including the Daʿwa Party, formed in Tehran the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. But the Daʿwa Party was weakened by the counter-efforts of the Iraqi government to court the Shiʿite masses with economic and religious concessions, and by the Iraqi Shiʿa's lack of identification with their Iranian coreligionists.

After the 1991 Gulf War, the Daʿwa Party led a rebellion against the government of Saddam Hussein, but it was ruthlessly crushed. Party members established a London branch, which joined the coalition of Iraqi opposition groups aligning themselves with the United States. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Daʿwa Party was revived within Iraq, but political differences seem to have surfaced between the London branch and the Iraqi branch regarding the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The party cooperated with the U.S. forces and its leader, Abd al-Zahra Uthman Muhammad (editor of several newspapers and magazines), joined the Iraqi Governing Council appointed in July 2003 by Paul Bremer, the official leader of the U.S. civil administration of Iraq.

Although the party is supported by Ayatullah Kazim al-Haʾiri, many within it look to the guidance of other ayatollahs as well, including the powerful Grand Ayatullah Ali al-Sistani. Despite their differences, the various branches seem to be united in their desire to swiftly end the U.S. occupation, and in creating an Islamic state in Iraq, though not necessarily along the Iranian lines of clergy domination.

See also Baʿth, al-; Hussein, Saddam; Shiʿism; War in Iraq (2003).


Batatu, Hanna. "Shiʿism Organization in Iraq: AlDaʿwah al Islamiyya and al Mujahidin." In Shiʿism and Social Protest, edited by Juan Cole and Nikki Keddie. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986.

Wiley, Joyce N. The Islamic Movement of Iraqi Shiʿas. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1992.

maysam j. al-faruqi