Date of Graduation

Summer 2020


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

Djene Bajalan


This research examines the diverse historical narratives of the 1918 Najaf Revolt against British forces during the concluding months of World War I on the Mesopotamian front. For a century, two distinguishable narratives have been developed and promoted in Iraqi literature: Pan-Arabist and religious, reflecting the objectives, motivations, and present-mindedness of two political eras in modern Iraqi history. Several local primary sources, mostly memoirs of Najafis who witnessed or participated in the revolt, have been re-surfaced and re-visited during the past twenty years. These primary sources shed new light on the established Pan-Arabist narrative or the recent religious framing of the revolt. The thesis aims to examine these primary sources to reveal how they corroborate or contradict with these two dominant interpretations of the revolt. This comparison showcases a complicated political and social reality on the ground in Najaf on the eve of a post-Ottoman Iraq, where simple and straightforward labels of Pan-Arabist or religious narratives do not entirely convey the complex social and political landscape, competing loyalties, and personal interests and objectives among the population of Mesopotamia's holiest city.


British occupation of Mesopotamia, Iraq, local revolts against British forces, Mesopotamian Campaign, military campaigns, Najaf, World War I

Subject Categories

Islamic World and Near East History | Military History | Political History


© Mohammed Harba

Open Access