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.
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.
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
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:
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
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
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 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
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