[ by Charles Cameron — “religious warfare” is, ahem, warfare that is significantly religious ]
The upper image was posted on Twitter by Aymenn Al-Tamimi the other day. His tweet indicates “an Iraqi army soldier salutes Ali” and notes that it is taken from an “Iraqi army Baghdad division page”.
Both these images, to the best of my knowledge, show (above) the triumvirate of Imam Hussain (Husayn ibn Alî), Imam Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib) and Hazrat Abbas (Abbas ibn Ali). I have yet to find the details, however, which would allow me to distinguish the three of them from each other, although I believe that the face with the wounded brow is that of Abbas: if anyone can point me to a well-researched source on Shia iconography, I’d appreciate it. Below are the Twelve Imams of the Shia — with the Mahdi far left, his face transfigured into light.
Here’s another Iraqi soldier saluting Ali, also from Aymenn Al-Tamimi:
— Aymenn J Al-Tamimi (@ajaltamimi) May 18, 2014
These Shi’ite soldiers are saluting images of Ali, who was the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet, the first male to embrace Islam, and is considered the first of the Twelve Imams of the Shia — among the Sunni, Ali is numbered fourth of the rightly guided Caliphs.
Note how the chain of command here transcends human generalship and extends, at least for purposes of morale, to the paradisal gardens of the martyrs.