The most famous kings in ancient times were Sargon (Sharrukin) of Akkad (fl.c.2350 BC ), Hammurabi of Babylon (r.1792?–1750? BC ), and Nebuchadnezzar II (Nabu-kadurri-utsur, r.605?–560? BC ) of Babylon.
Under the caliphs Harun al-Rashid (ar-Rashid ibn Muhammad al-Mahdi ibn al-Mansur al-'Abbasi, r.786–809) and al-Mamun (abu al-'Abbas 'Abdullah al-Mamun, r.813–33), Baghdad was the center of the Arab scholarship that translated and modified Greek philosophy. A leading figure in this movement was Hunain ibn Ishaq (d.873), called Johannitius by Western scholastics. His contemporary was the great Arab philosopher Yaqub al-Kindi, whose catholicity assimilated both Greek philosophy and Indian mathematics. The founder of one of the four orthodox schools of Islamic law, which claims the largest number of adherents in the Muslim world, Abu Hanifa (d.767) was also a native Iraqi. Another celebrated figure in theology, 'Abd al-Hasan al-Ash'ari (c.913), who combated the rationalist Mu'tazila school, also lived in Baghdad; his influence still prevails in Islam. Al-Ghazali (Ghazel, d.1111), though Persian by birth, taught at the Nizamiyah University in Baghdad; he is one of the best-known Islamic philosopher-theologians. Iraq also produced famous mystics like Hasan al-Basri (642–728) and 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (1077–1166); the latter's followers are numerous among Asian Muslims, and his tomb in Baghdad draws many pilgrims. Modern Iraq has produced no artist or writer famous outside the Arabic-speaking world.
Gen. Saddam Hussein (Husayn) al-Takriti (b. 1937), served as chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and president of the country from 1979 until his ousting in 2003.