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The Holy Shrine of Imam Ali ('a) in Najaf

The Holy Shrine of Imam Ali ('a) in Najaf



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Published by: api-3810515 on Oct 18, 2008
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The Holy Shrine of Imam Ali ('a) in Najaf
By Siddiqua Shahnawaz
The Mausoleum of Imam Ali ('a)
Wadi-us-Salaam (the valley of peace)
A Brief History
Historical Perspective
The Immortality of Imam Ali
How Najaf Got its Name

One of the prominent sacred cities of Iraq, Najaf is the burial ground of Son of the Ka'aba, the
Martyr of the Mihrab, Commander of the Faithful, the Door of the Greatest Prophet's Knowledge
(may the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him and his pure progeny), the beloved and highly
venerated leader, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him).

Najaf has historically been a source of marjaiyyah and taqlid, a cradle of scientific and literary
movements, birthplace of sciences and scientific discoveries, a beacon of piety, poetry and
spirituality. Many precious documents of history have existed in the innumerable libraries of Najaf.

Wadi-us-Salaam (the valley of peace)

Those who have visited Najaf will remember vividly that to the North and East of the town there
are acres of graves and myriads of domes of various colours and at various stages of disrepair.
Whoever goes to Najaf, follows a road that approaches the town by a winding course through this
vast cemetery. This is the world's second largest cemetery and several prophets have been buried
here. Muslims from all over the world consider it a great privilege to be buried in this holy place.

Historical Perspective

Prophet Ibrahim ('a) had come to this place along with Prophet Ishaq ('a). The people were most
eager for them to make Najaf their permanent dwelling-place. Ibrahim ('a) agreed to do so on
condition that they would sell him the valley behind the village for cultivation. Prophet Ishaq ('a)
protested and said that this land was neither fit for farming nor grazing, but Ibrahim ('a) insisted
and assured him that a time would come when there would be a tomb there with a shrine, at which
seventy thousand people would gain absolutely undisputed entrance to Paradise, and would also be
able to intercede for many others. And so as per the prediction of Ibraham ('a), Imam Ali ('a) was
buried here.

This is the valley that Ibrahim ('a) wanted to
buy - the Valley of Peace (Wadi-us-Salaam),
and it is related on the authority of the fourth
Imam, Imam Sajjad ('a) that Imam Ali ('a)
once said that:

"This Valley of Peace is part of Heaven and

that there is not a single one of the believers
in the world, whether he dies in the East or
West, but his soul will come to this Paradise

to rest. As there is nothing hidden in this world from my eyes," Maula Ali ('a) went on to say, "I see
all the believers seated here in groups and talking with one another."
How Najaf Got its Name

According to a tradition, there existed a mountain at that place. One of the sons of Prophet Noah ('a) refusing to enter the Ark, said that he would sit on this mountain until he could see till where the water could come. A revelation came therefore to the mountain, "Do you undertake to protect

this son of mine from punishment?" And all at once the mountain fell to pieces and the son of Noah
drowned. In place of the mountain a large river appeared, but after a few years the river dried up,
and the place was called"Nay-Jaff", meaning, "the dried river."

Located around 160 kilometres South of Baghdad, there exist many important historical sites in
and around this city. Besides the Shrine of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib ('a), which is the focus of the
city, there exist graves of other prophets of Allah - the grave of Prophet Adam ('a) and the grave of
Prophet Noah ('a).

The Mausoleum of Imam Ali ('a)

The Mausoleum itself of Imam Ali ('a) at
Najaf, is breathtaking. There is one large
central dome which stands out of a square-
shaped ornate structure at the two sides of
which are two minarets. The predominant
colour of' the exterior is gold, bright shining
gold and the entire exterior of the mausoleum
is inlaid with a mosaic pattern of light powder
blue, white marble, gold again with an
occasional splash of Middle East rust. So says
D. F. Karaka after his visit to Najaf, and adds, "I have sat and wondered at the marbled splendour

of our Taj Mahal, the tomb which Shah Jahan built for his Empress Mumtaz Mahal, but despite its
beauty, the Taj appears insipid in comparison with this splash of colour at Najaf. The tomb
surpassed anything I have seen in gorgeous splendour. All the great kings of the world put together
could not have a tomb as magnificent as this, for this is the tribute which kings and peasants have
built together to enshrine the mortal remains of the great Ali."

Imam ('a)'s shrine is located in the centre of the city. The big market of Najaf starting from the
eastern boundary, ends at the courtyard of Imam Ali ('a)'s holy shrine. From a far distance once can
sight the glorious shrine and its dome appears splendidly luminous when the sun shines on its
golden tiles.

Countless numbers of people from all over the world flock to his tomb day after day to pay their
respects, to offer salutations and to pray to Allah (swt) seeking the Imam's intercession.
The splendid golden domed structure used to house great quantities of priceless objects, gifts of
potentates and sultans.
A Brief History
After the martyrdom of Imam Ali ('a) in the year 40 A.H./661 A.D., water flowed for the first time
in Najaf in the year 250 A.H.

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