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|Motto: City of paradise(Shahre behesht)|
</div>Location of Masshad in Iran
[[image:Template:Location map Iran|250px|Mashhad is located in Template:Location map Iran]]
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|Mashhad-Sanabad-Toos||818 AD (Martyrdom Of Imam Reza)|
|- Mayor(شهردار)||Mohammad Pejman|
|- Total||204 km2 (78.8 sq mi)|
|Elevation||985 m (3,232 ft)|
|- Population Rank in Iran||2nd|
|Over 20 million pilgrims and tourists per year|
|Time zone||IRST (UTC+3:30)|
|- Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+3:30)|
Mashhad (Persian: مشهد, literally the place of martyrdom) is one of the largest cities in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia world. It is located 850 kilometres (530 mi) east of Tehran, at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its population was 2,427,316 at the 2006 population census.
Now Mashhad is notably known as the resting place of the Imam Reza. A shrine was later built there to commemorate the Imam, which in turn gave rise to increasing demographic development.
Geography and demographics
The city is located at 36.20º latitude and 59.35º east longitude, in the valley of the Kashaf River near Turkmenistan, between the two mountain ranges of Binalood and Hezar-masjed. The city benefits from the proximity of the mountains, having very cold winters, pleasant springs, mild summers, and beautiful autumns. It is only about 250 km (156 miles) from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
The city is the administrative centre of Mashhad County (or the shahrestan of Mashhad) as well as the somewhat smaller district (bakhsh) of Mashhad. The city itself, excluding parts of the surrounding bakhsh and shahrestan, is divided into 13 smaller administrative units, with a total population of almost 2,5 million.
Mashhad consists mainly of people of Iranian descent. There are also over 20 million pilgrims who visit the city every year.
History and notable events
|The Fourteen Infallibles
Peak of Eloquence · The Psalms of Islam · Book of Fundamentals · The Book in Scholar's Lieu · Civilization of Laws · The Certainty · Book of Sulaym ibn Qays · Oceans of Light · Wasael ush-Shia · Reality of Certainty · Keys of Paradise
At the beginning of the 9th century (3rd century AH) Mashhad was a small village called Sanabad situated 24 km away from Tus. There was a summer palace of "Hamid ibn Qahtabi", the governor of Khorasan. In 808 when Harun al-Rashid, Abbasid caliph, was passing through there to settle down the insurrection of "Rafi ibn Leith" in Transoxania, he became ill and died. He was buried under the palace of Hamid ibn Qahtabi. Several years later in 818 Imam Ali al-Reza was martyred by Al-Ma'mun and was buried beside the grave of Harun.
After this event this place was called as Mashhad al-Rida (the place of martyrdom of Ali al-Rida). Shias started visiting there for pilgrimage of his grave. By the end of the 9th century a dome was built on the grave and many buildings and Bazaars sprang up around it. During more than a millennium it has been devastated and reconstructed several times.
It was not considered a great city until Mongol raids in 1220 which caused the destruction of many large cities in the Greater Khorasan territories, leaving Mashhad relatively intact. Thus the survivors of the massacres migrated to Mashhad. When the famous world traveller Ibn Battuta visited the town in 1333, he reported that it was a large town with abundant fruit trees, streams and mills. A great dome of elegant construction surmounts the noble mausoleum, the walls being decorated with colored tiles.
Later on, during the Shahrokh era, it became one of the main cities of the Timurid dynasty. In 1418 his wife Goharshad funded the construction of an outstanding mosque beside the shrine, which is known as Goharshad Mosque. The mosque remains relatively intact to this date, its great size an indicator to the status the city held in the 15th century.
Shah Ismail I, founder of the Safavid dynasty, conquered Mashhad after the death of Husayn Bayqarah and the decline of the Timurid dynasty. Mashhad was later captured by the Uzbeks during the reign of Shah Abbas I, only to be retaken by the Shah Abbas in the year of 1597 after a long and severe struggle, defeating the Uzbeks in a great battle near Herat as well as managing to drive them beyond the Oxus River.
Shah Abbas I wanted to encourage Iranians to go to Mashhad for pilgrimage. he himself is known to have walked from Isfahan to Mashhad. During the Safavid era Mashhad gained even more religious recognition, becoming the most important city of the Greater Khorasan as several Madrasah and other structures were built beside the shrine of the Imam Reza.
Besides its religious significance, Mashhad has played an important political role as well. It saw its greatest glory under Nadir Shah, ruler of Iran from 1736 to 1747 and also a great benefactor of the shrine of the Imam Reza, making the city his capital. It remained the capital of the Afsharid dynasty until Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar conquered the then larger region of Khorasan in 1796.
In 1912, the sanctuary of the Imam Reza was bombed by the Russian forces, causing widespread and persisting resentment in the Shiite Muslim world.
1935 Imam Reza shrine rebellion
In 1935 a backlash against the modernizing, anti-religious policies of Reza Shah erupted in the Mashed shrine. Responding to a cleric who denounced the Shah's heretical innovations, corruption and heavy consumer taxes, many bazaaris and villagers took refuge in the shrine, chanted slogans such as `The Shah is a new Yezid.` For four full days local police and army refused to violate the shrine and the standoff was ended when troops from Azerbaijan arrived and broke into the shrine, killing dozens and injuring hundreds, and marking a final rupture between Shi'ite clergy and the Shah.
1994 Imam Reza shrine bombing
On June 20, 1994, an explosion from a bomb occurred in a prayer hall of the shrine of the Imam Reza The bomb that killed at least 25 people on June 20 in Mashhad exploded at Ashura. Mehdi Nahvi, a member of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MKO), an Iraqi-based opposition group, claimed responsibility. The MKO stated that the bombing was carried out to commemorate the anniversary of the group's founding on June 20, 1981. Although government blamed the Mujahedin-e-Khalq in a TV show to avoid sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni, the Pakistani daily "News" of March 27, 1995 reported, “Pakistani investigators have identified a 24-year-old religious fanatic Abdul Shakoor residing in Lyari in Karachi, as an important Pakistani associate of Ramzi Yousef. Abdul Shakoor had intimate contacts with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and was responsible for the June 20, 1994, massive bomb explosion at the shrine Imam Reza in Mashhad.”
Though primarily a Muslim city, Mashhad has harbored a number of religious minorities over the centuries. Among these were Jews, who in 1839 were forcibly converted to Islam. However, in truth they lived a double life: outwardly they conformed to Islamic ways, and were known as "Jadid al-Islam" or "New Muslims," but secretly they preserved a Jewish identity and Jewish traditions.
There was a Jewish district in Jennat Street. Jennat Street is where the most prestigious shopping centers of Mashhad were located at the time and was one the most expensive places of Mashhad.
Current religious situation
Today the holy shrine and its museum hold one of the most extensive cultural and artistic treasuries of Iran, in particular manuscript books and paintings. Several important theological schools are associated with the shrine of the Eighth Imam.
The second largest holy city in the world, Mashhad attracts more than 20 million tourists and pilgrims every year, many of whom come to pay homage to the Imam Reza shrine (the eighth Shi'ite Imam). It has been a magnet for travellers since medieval times. It is said that the rich go to Mecca but the poor journey to Mashhad. Thus, even as those who complete the pilgrimage to Mecca receive the title of Haji, those who make the pilgrimage to Mashhad—and especially to the Imam Reza shrine – are known as Mashtee, a term employed also of its inhabitants. It is thought that over 20 million Muslims a year make the pilgrimage to Mashhad.
Astan Quds Razavi
Long a center of secular as well as of religious learning, Mashhad has been a center for the arts and for the sciences. The large Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, named after the great Iranian poet, is located here. The Madrassa of Ayatollah Al-Khoei, originally built in the seventeenth century and recently replaced with modern facilities, is the city's foremost traditional centre for religious learning. The Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, founded in 1984, stands at the centre of town, within the shrine complex. The prestige of traditional religious education at Mashhad attracts students, known as talaban, internationally.
Mashhad is also home to one of the oldest libraries of the Middle-East called the Central Library of Astan-e Quds Razavi with a history of over six centuries. The Astan-e Quds Razavi Museum, which is part of the Astan-e Quds Razavi Complex, is home to over 70,000 rare manuscripts from various historical eras. There are some six million historical documents in the foundation's central library.
In 1569 (977 H), 'Imad al-Din Mas'ud Shirazi, a physician at the Mashhad hospital, wrote the earliest Islamic treatise on syphilis, one influenced by European medical thought. Kashmar rug is a type of Persian rug indigenous to this region.
Apart from Imam Reza shrine there is a number of beautiful large parks, the tombs of historical celebrities in nearby Tus and Neyshabour, the tomb of Nadir Shah and Kooh Sangi park and Mellat Park that have modern attractions for children such as the biggest ferris wheel or fanfar (چرخ و فلک) in Iran and Koohestan Park-e-Shadi Complex that includes a zoo, where many wild animals are kept and which attracts many visitors to Mashhad. It is also home to the Mashhad Airbase (formerly Imam Reza airbase), jointly a military installation housing Mirage aircraft, and a civilian international airport.
Some points of interest lie outside the city: the tomb of Khajeh Morad, along the road to Tehran; the tomb of Khajeh Rabi' located 6 kilometers north of the city where there are some inscriptions by the renowned Safavid calligrapher Reza Abbasi; and the tomb of Khajeh Abasalt, a distance of 20 kilometers from Mashhad along the road to Neishabur. (The three were all disciples of Imam Reza).
The Shah Public Bath, built during the Safavid era in 1648, is an outstanding example of the architecture of that period. It was recently restored, and is to be turned into a museum.
Mashhad is served by the Mashhad International Airport which handles domestic flights to Iranian cities and international flights, mostly to neighboring, Arab countries.
The Mashhad Urban Railway Corporation (MURCO) is constructing a metro system for the city of Mashhad which includes four lines with 77km length . The first phase (line) of the metro is expected to be finished by 2009-2010 with 24km length and 25 stations.
Mashhad is connected to three major rail lines: Tehran-Mashhad, Mashhad-Bafgh (running south), and Mashhad-Sarakhs at the border with Turkmenistan. Some freight trains continue from Sarakhs towards Uzbekistan and to Kazakhstan, but have to change bogies because of the difference in Rail gauge. A rail line is being constructed off the Mashhad-Bafgh line to connect Mashhad to Herat in Afghanistan, but has not yet been completed and one is planned to connect to the Gorgan railhead and the port of Bandar Torkaman on the Caspian Sea to the west. Passenger rail services are provided by the national company R.A.J.A. and all trains are operated by R.A.I., Rah-Ahan Iran, the national railway company.
The major shopping precincts are:
Colleges and universities
Major sport teams
Mashhad as capital of Persia and Independent Khorasan
Famous people from Mashhad