Sunday, 18 August 2019

Tourist Attractions of Kufa and Najaf

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Kufa is the first Islamic city which was built in 17 AH under the order of the second Caliph and by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, commander of Muslim army in Iraq. Kufa had a great importance in ancient times. Kufa was located in the north of Hijaz and in the vicinity of Hira. Besides, the city had extensive fields and palm groves which were valuable sources of food for people. The importance of this city emerged when Imam Ali (a.s.) left Medina to Kufa for Aj Jamal Battle and it became one of the most important centers of scientific and political movements of Islam. However, Kufa is not as important as before and it is only considered as a county of Najaf city. Due to its geographical situation, Kufa has a mild climate.

Great Mosque of Kufa (Masjid al-Kūfa)

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The Great Mosque of Kufa is one of the oldest and most important shrines in Kufa. It is believed that the first founder of the mosque was Hazrat Adam (a.s) and it was then rebuilt by Hazrat Nooh (a.s). It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:”The Great Mosque of Kufa is very blessed and it has been chosen by God for his inmates and he will intercede for its prayer on the Day of Resurrection.” Also, Imam Ali (a.s) said that “If people knew that how blessing the Great Mosque of Kufa is, they would surely force themselves to reach to the place from all around the world, even by dragging themselves on the snow and ice. As Karbala is a piece of heaven, the Great Mosque of Kufa is also one of the gardens of heaven. Anyone who enters the mosque, he will be blessed because Hazrat Nooh (a.s) established his house there and asked God for his forgiveness.” According to Islamic traditions and narrations, the center of Imam Mahdi’s government will be the Great Mosque of Kufa.


Imam Ali’s House


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This house originally belonged to Imam Ali’s sister, Umm Hani. When Imam Ali (a.s) migrated to Kufa, he decided to live there. It is located in the south-west corner of Kufa Great Mosque and in the vicinity of the mosque. There are several small and humble rooms in the house that each of them belonged to one of Imam Ali’s offspring. The place where Imam Ali’ body was washed after his death (the full ablution or Ghusl before funeral ceremony) can be seen in this house.


Maytham At Tammar mausoleum


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Maytham was the son of Yahya from Nahrawan, a region located between Iraq and Iran. Some historians consider him to be Iranian and from the tribe of Fars. He used to sell dates in Kufa and on this account he was known as Maytham-e-Tammār. When he was young, he was a slave belonging to a woman of Banu Assad, but later Imam Ali purchased him and set him free in the way of Allah. However, he became Imam Ali’s faithful companion. Maytham was hanged and martyred by Ibn Ziad. He was buried near the Great Mosque of Kufa. His name is engraved on his sacred grave as a companion of Imam Ali (a.s).


Al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi Mausoleum


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Al-Mukhtar ibn Abi Ubayd al-Thaqafi was from Thaqafi tribe and one of the Ahlul Bayt’s supporters. It is narrated that while in prison, Mukhtar met Maytham At Tammar and he told him that he would be set free and rise up one day to avenge the death of Hussein ibn Ali (a.s) by killing Ibn Ziad and trampling his face with his feet. When he was surrounded by the enemy with his 6000 followers in his palace, he announced that: “I will not surrender; I will fight, either I will win or I will be killed.” Eventually he was killed by Mus`ab ibn al-Zubayr. The exact location of Al-Mukhtar’s grave was unknown for a long time. Afterwards, Allama Abdul-Hussein Tehrani ordered to excavate the area known as Al-Mukhtar’s grave. Finally the remnants of his grave were discovered. An engraved plaque was also found there which said: “This is the grave of Al-Mukhtar ibn Abi Ubayd Allah al-Thaqafi.” With the efforts made by Allama Tehrani, a building was established on the site of the discovered grave which is now the mausoleum of Al-Mukhtar.


Tourist attractions of Karbala


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Karbala is located about 75 kilometers northwest of Najaf and 80 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. The nearest major city of Iraq to Karbala is Hillah, the capital of Babylon Province which is located 35 kilometers east of Karbala. A branch of Euphrates River named Husseinyeh Stream flows into the city, causing the development of the city and increasing the number of palm groves in the northern part of it. To the west of Karbala and northwest of this river is the Lake Milh (lake of salt), also known as Lake Razazah. Different names have been mentioned for Karbala in the historical documents such as: Ninawa (Nineveh), Al Ghaddiriyyah, Al ttaff, Al Karbat, Al Ha’ir, Aqr-e-Babil, Navavis, Al-Rrazah and etc. Karbala was a desert region until 61 AH, but after the event of Ashura (Battle of Karbala) the city is considered sacred by all Shia Muslims. It is home to the Imam Hussein Shrine. Karbala is famous as the site of the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali (Imam Hussein), and commemorations are held by millions of Shias annually to remember it. Karbala is amongst the holiest cities for Shia Muslims.


Holy Shrine of Imam Hussein (AS)


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Imam Hussein Shrine is located in central part of Karbala. The Shrine has an area of 59 m / 75 m with ten doors. The most famous door is called Bab al-Qiblah located in the south of shrine. Inside the shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s.) are the holy tombs of his two sons Hazrat Ali Akbar (a.s.) and 6-month-old Hazrat Ali Asghar (a.s.). That’s why the shrine is hexagonal in shape. The martyrs of Karbala and Habib ibn-e-Mazahir, Imam Hussein’s trusted friend, are also buried in this place. Inside the shrine, there are a number of pious’ graves located near the martyrs’ graves. The graves of some of Shia’s kings such as Qajar kings and Amir Kabir are also located in the northern porch. It is assumed that the first one who erected a tent upon the grave of Imam Hussein was Bani Assad (after the departure of Ahl al Bait) and then Al-Mukhtar. Although the shrine was destroyed several times by Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates and other anti-Shia governments, it was rebuilt by the efforts of Shia Muslims.


Holy Shrine of Hazrat Abul Fazlil Abbas (AS)


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Hazrat Abbas Shrine is located in central part of Karbala, 250 meters east of Imam Hussein Shrine. There are 9 doors in the shrine which the first one is called Bab al-Qiblah and the rest are named after the names of other Shia’s Imams. The history of the current shrine dates back to 1246 AH. In respect to Hazrat Abbas (a.s), those who made efforts to build and rebuild Imam Hussein Shrine through the history also reconstructed Holy Shrine of Hazrat Abbas. Adud al-Dawla Buya, Shah Tahmasp Safavi, Nader Shah Afshar and Muhammad Shah Qajar are among those who were mentioned above. The shrine contains 4 porches located in the north, south, east and west of the courtyard and a golden dome which is not gold-covered completely and a part of it is remained tiled. A number of religious figures such as Allama Kashmiri, Sayed Muhammad Zanjani, Allama Sibawayh and others were also buried inside the Holy Shrine of Hazrat Abbas (a.s).


Zainab Tekari


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Zainab Tekari is located at the right side of Imam Hussein Shrine. It was a relatively small hill from where Hazrat Zainab saw the Battle of Karbala and the events of Ashura in Qatl Gaah. There is a blue-tiled dome above this Tekari. In comparison with Zainab Tekari, the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussein is located in a lower altitude, 300 meters away from it. Zainab Tekari overlooks the Holy Shrine. The last reconstruction of Zainab Tekari dates back to 1298 AH. It was changed from a small room to a small mosque. There are some paintings of Ta`zieh style installed inside the Tekari representing the events of Ashura and the role of this Tekari at that time.


Khaima Gaah


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Khaima Gaah is the camping site where Imam Hussein and his companions erected and fixed their camps in the ground of Karbala. It is located in the south of shrine’s courtyard and 250 meter away from it. Hazrat Abbas’ tent was the first one in the entrance of Khaima Gaah, as he guarded all of the tents. A dome was set at the site of Imam Hussein tent. There is a historic stone inside Imam Hussein tent and a well of inedible salt water in the south of the tent. It is narrated that the water of this well was used for partial and full ablution (Wudu and Ghusl) on the previous night of Ashura Event. Imam Sajjad’s tent was located at the left side of Imam Hussein’s tent with a mihrab inside it. Qasem ibn Al-Hassan’s tent which was used for praying was located a little far from there.


Al-Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi Shrine


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Al-Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi was one of Imam Hussein’s companions in the Battle of Karbala. He was from a famous clan and tribal elders in Kufa. He was the commander of Yazid I’s regiment, who had obstructed Hussain ibn Ali’s way near Kufa under the command of Ibn Ziad. It is narrated that when he left Dar-al Imarah (the governor’s residency) to intercept Imam Hussein’s way, he heard a croon which said: “O Hurr! You are given the glad tidings of paradise”. First, he prevented Imam Hussein’s convoy to leave Karbala and forced them to stop. On the morning of Ashura Event, when he discovered that the battle with Hussein ibn Ali was serious, left Umar ibn sa`ad camp, making an excuse of giving water to his horse, and joined Imam Hussein. He expressed his regret to Imam Hussein and asked him to let him fight along with them. Hurr was the first one who went into the field against the enemy and charged bravely and was killed while blaming Umar ibn Sa`ad brigades. After the event of Ashura, he was buried near Imam Hussein’s grave by Bani Tamim. This place is now his mausoleum and it is located in Navavis region.


Kaf Al-Abbas


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Kaf Al Abbas is a place where the right hand of Hazrat Abul Fazl (a.s) was cut during the fight. It is located at the entry of Bab Al-Qiblah Street.


Beyn Al-Haramain


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Beyn Al- Haramain is the distance between the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussein (a.s) and his gracious brother, Hazrat Abul Fazl (a.s). It is exactly equal to the distance between the hills of al-Safa and al-Marwa..