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|Mosque / Shrine of Imam Ali|
The Imām ‘Alī Holy Shrine (Arabic: حرم الإمام علي), also known as Masjid Ali or the Mosque of ‘Alī, is a mosque located in Najaf, Iraq. ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib, the cousin of Muhammad, the fourth caliph is buried here. Buried next to Ali within this mosque are the remains of Adam and Noah according to Shi'a belief.
The shrine was first built by the Iranian ruler the Daylamite Fannakhosraw Azod ad Dowleh in 977 over the tomb of Ali. After being destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt by the Seljuk Malik Shah I in 1086, and rebuilt yet again by the Safavid Shah Ismail I shortly after 1500.
During the uprising of March 1991, following the Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein's Republican Guards damaged the shrine, where members of the Shia opposition were cornered, in storming the shrine and massacring virtually all its occupants. Afterwards the shrine was closed for two years, officially for repairs. Saddam also deported to Iran a large number of the residents of the area who were of Iranian descent.
The Imām ‘Alī Mosque has been noted as the third holiest site for some of the estimated 200 million followers of the Shī‘ah branch of Islām worldwide – approximately 15 percent of total Muslims. It is estimated that only Karbalā, Makkah and Madīnah receive more Muslim pilgrims.
Asia Times Online reports about Qom being the second holiest city in Iran. In an attempt to impress the importance of the Hazrat-e Masumeh shrine located in Qom, the article quotes the following famous hadith:
[O]ur sixth imam, Imām Ja‘far as-Sādiq, says that we have five definitive holy places that we respect very much. The first is Makkah, which belongs to God. The second is Madīnah, which belongs to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the messenger of God. The third belongs to our first Imām of Shia, ‘Alī, which is in Najaf. The fourth belongs to our third Imām, Husayn, in Karbalā. The last one belongs to the daughter of our seventh Imām and sister of our eighth Imām, who is called Fātimah, and will be buried in Qom. Pilgrims and those who visit her holy shrine, I promise to these men and women that God will open all the doors of Heaven to them.
The Cultural Heritage Photo Agency based in Iran states: “The world's 120 million Shias regard Najaf - a center of scientific, literary and theological studies - as their third holiest site, behind Mecca and Medina”. Modarresi News calls it: "The place was the burial site of Islam’s second most important figure and third holiest shrine".
Zaman Newspaper, based in Turkey, reports that “Because Najaf is home to the Imam Ali tomb and Mosque, Shia Muslims regard Najaf as the third holiest city after Mecca and Medina”. Referring to Najaf, ShiaNews.com describes it as “the place is the burial site of Islam’s second most important figure and third holiest shrine”
The Guardian described Najaf, as the third holiest place of Shi'ite Muslims The Boston Globe reports “for the world's nearly 120 million Muslim Shias, Najaf is the third holiest city, behind Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The CNN website states: “the Shia the city of Najaf, Islam's third holiest city after Mecca and Medina and home to the Tomb of Imam Ali, cousin of Muhammad and father of Karbala's Husayn ibn Ali”.
On the website of The Virtual Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Islamic World, a division of the University of Georgia, under Miscellaneous Relevant Links, it cites a link to a news story “about Iraqi troops using the shrine of Ali in Najaf and about the instructions given to American troops not to damage the shrine, which, after Mecca and Medina, is the holiest city for Shias.” And “American authorities have not taken an active public role in the mosque investigation because of Iraqi sensitivity to any US presence at the Najaf Shrine. The mosque is the most sacred Shia shrine in Iraq and the third holiest in the world after Mecca and Medina”
Events in 2003-2006
- April 10, 2003, Shia leader Sayed Abdul Majid al-Khoei, the son of Grand Ayatollah Abu al Qasim al-Khoei, was killed near the mosque. Al-Khoei had returned from exile in Britain to encourage cooperation with the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.
- August 29, 2003, a car bomb exploded outside the mosque just as the main Friday prayers were ending. Somewhere between 85 to 125 people were killed, including the influential Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, the Shia leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The blast is thought to be the work of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
- May 24, 2004, unidentified mortar fire hit the shrine, damaging gates which lead to the tomb of Imam Ali.
- August 5, 2004, Muqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army seized the mosque and used it as a military base for launching attacks against the Iraqi police, the provincial government and coalition forces. The fighting was eventually ended by a peace agreement. Although the neighboring buildings suffered considerable damage, the mosque itself suffered only superficial damage from stray bullets and shrapnel.
- August 10, 2006 a suicide bomber wearing an explosive harness blew himself up near the shrine, which killed 40 people and injured more than 50 others.
- ↑ al-Qummi, Ja'far ibn Qūlawayh (2008). Kāmil al-Ziyārāt. trans. Sayyid Mohsen al-Husaini al-Mīlāni. Shiabooks.ca Press. pp. 66–67.
- ↑ Iran Diary, Part 2: Knocking on heaven's door Asia Times Online
- ↑ Muslim Shia's Saint Imam Ali Holy Shrine - 16 Images Cultural Heritage Photo Agency
- ↑ The tragic martyrdom of Ayatollah Al Hakim calls for a stance Modarresi News, September 4, 2003
- ↑ Zaman Online, August 13, 2004
- ↑ Never Again! ShiaNews.com
- ↑ Why 2003 is not 1991 The Guardian, April 1, 2003
- ↑ Iraqi forces in Najaf take cover in important Shia shrine The Boston Globe, April 2, 2003]
- ↑ Religious rivalries and political overtones in Iraq CNN.com, April 23, 2003]
- ↑ "Miscellaneous Relevant Links" Muslims, Islam, and Iraq]
- GlobalSecurity.org website: past and current history of the mosque