The term Shia usually refers to Jafaryia or Twelvers. Shia and Sunni are the most important sects of Islam. The origin of Shia sect dates back to the death of prophet PBUH. In the modern times there are around 120 million Shia Muslims around the world.
The term Twelvers refers to the number of Imams they recognized after the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. The most distinguished belief of Shia Islam is the belief in Imamate. The idea of Imamate implies that whoever will get succeeded to the higher rank of Prophet’s successor should be more than just a leader and should possess spiritual traits and must be a sinless soul. He must be competent enough to understand the complications of the unrevealed mysteries in the Islamic shariah and can interpret them properly. On the ground of massive differences, majority of the Shia Imams faced a hard time during the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties. Sunnis around the world also have highest regard for the twelve imams.
To commemorate the religious personalities associated with Prophet PBUH, his family, companions, Imams and their closed ones, Muslims practice Ziyarat to their holy sites. They offer praise and make prayers at these places there in the hope of getting close to Allah Almighty through developing close ties with these holy figures.
Iraq has a historic legacy of Muslim history. According to the official figures, around 70 to 75 percent of the Muslim community in Iraq is affiliated with Shia beliefs. The city of Karbala is the most prominent place in the Shia Islam as well as for other sects due to the historic battle of Karbala between Hazrat Husain ibn Ali and Yazeed. It was fought on the place of the modern city on 10 October 680 AD. Similarly Najaf is the site of buried place of Hazrat Ali who is the first righteous Imam. These two cities host millions of Muslims every year to visit these holy sites. Here is the list of few Ziyarats in Iraq.
Shrine of Imam Husain, Karbala
Karbala is the shrine of Imam Husain, The grandson of Prophet PBUH. Besides the most sacred tomb of Imam Husain, Karbala is visited by followers for two very important Shia mosques, Al Abbass Mosque and Imam Husain Mosque. There are also the tombs of martyrs of Karbala battle along with Ali al-Akbar ibn Husain and Ali al-Asghar ibn Husain. Shia Zairs spend around forty days mourning period here. This Ziyarat is given a very high place in the hearts of Muslims. During the month of Muharram Muslim across the world comes to visit the Ziyarat to commemorate the Shahadah of Imam Husaain (A.H). Though several rulers have cruelly attempted to ban the Ziyarat of this place but no one really achieved that as even today flood of pilgrims flow there, year upon year.
Ali ibn Abi Talib’s tomb in Najaf
This place is one of the most prestigious pilgrimage sites for Muslims. It is also the site for famous Imam Ali mosque.
The Iraqi officials have repeatedly maintained their commitment with providing best facilities to the pilgrims of the Imam Ali shrine. In particular the deputy Secretariat-General of the Imam Ali holy shrine reinforced his commitment in the following words, “It is the time for rehabilitating what has been neglected before, and this is the time we would offer the best services possible for the Pilgrims”.
The Beautiful Golden Dome of the Ziyarat is beautiful piece of art. According to the recent developments, two striking domes have been built to cover the sacrosanct mausoleum of Imam Ali (PBUH). Internal convex for the dome is shaped which is decorated with montage tiles. This dome is around 24m above the ground whereas the external dome is around 18 m high and in round shape. Interior diameter of the dome is 14m and that of external dome is 17 meter. The unique shape of the dome is one of the most striking attractions of the Holy shrine besides its spiritual value. This glorious dome is one of the salient proofs of glory of Islamic architect. Moreover the Golden minarets of the shrine are another highlight of the location which you can not miss to watch. The golden minarets are placed on the both sides of the courtyard. Height of each minaret is 29 meter from the surface and is in round shape.
On Jan 23, 2013, the new Ziyarat was built at the Holy shrine of Imam Ali. According to the officials a group of Iranian artisans were assigned to dismantle the old Ziyarat and build this new one which went on launching in 2013. Moreover the newly build window cage for the tomb of Imam Ali was also installed back in Dec 2012.this newly installed window cage is approximately four tons heavier than the previous one and a sure sight to see. The beautification process of the tombs which started back in 2013 has seen many ups till now. The entire process of adornment had cost around fifteen million dollars and has incorporated all the international standard of services. The process took around a year to be completed.
Kadhimiya, Al Kadhimiya Mosque
Al Kadhimiya mosque in Kadhimiya, Baghdad is another holy site. Resting here is Imam Musa al-Kazim along with his grandson also the ninth Imam Muhammad at-Taqi. Shia followers pay a yearly pilgrimage at this holy site in Rajab.
One of the most interesting parts of the mosque is beautiful architect. Intricate tile mosaics are the sight to look for. However time has affected the very beauty of this place which called for the need of a massive rehabilitation and maintenance system. Surrendering to the needs, government has started a repairing process to reinstate the beauty of the holy shrine and to facilitate the pilgrims. The repairing process of the courtyard was divided into three categories which ended at the end of 2007 and start of 2008. During the process damaged wall and structures were shred off and replaced by modern ones. Moreover the maintenance responsibility of the place was carried out by the official and installed the highly modern electronic systems in the wiring etc and also the latest cooling systems and water filtration system in the mosque was introduced in 2008. Beautiful marbles has transformed the place into a modernize piece of architecture. Moreover, to facilitate the pilgrims new rooms for refreshment purposes are accommodated.
Tomb of Hazrat Abbas (A.S)
Hazrat Abbas didn’t fell restrained to go to any length to help his brother, Imam Hussain AS. Therefore Allah SWT granted him one of the highest rank of martyres. Thousands of Zairs visits his tomb to fulfill their Hajah and beseech with the intercession of Hazrat Abbas, it is believed by the Zahirs that the prayer will be granted. Within the tomb of Hazrat Abbas, there is a river flowing inside known as Al Qama.
Great Mosque of Kufa is another holy site to visit in Iraq. This is the place where Imam Ali performed Salah. This mosque contains the tombs of Muslim ibn Aqeel, Khadijah bint Ali, Hani ibn Urwa, and Al-Mukhtar. The place is visited by Zahirs for the Mashid al Hannaanah where remains of Hazrat Husain ibn Ali are entombed which were brutally ripped off during the battle of Karbala. Moreover Zairs pay a special visit to the residing place of Imam Ali in Kufa. Tomb of Meesam Tammar and Kumayl ibn Ziyad are visited by millions of Zairs every year to pay homage to the faithful companion of Hazrat Ali. The glorious walls of the mosque known as Fatemi Kalam are a majestic sight. The white marble floor and golden edged pillars adds to the beauty of the place. Zaireen go to this place to boost their spirituality. This place has also been recently renovated.
Musayyib is famous for Awlad Muslim mosque having the tombs of sons of Muslim ibn Aqeel. Muslim pays homage at their Ziyarat to appreciate their sacrifice to uphold Islam.
Samara was once the capital of Iraq situated on the bank of River Tigris. Today Samarra is famous for its Ziyarats. The Al-Askari Mosque in Samarra embodies the tombs of tenth Imam, Ali al-Hadi and eleventh Imam, Hasan al-Askari. Grave of the sister of the tenth Imam, Bibi Halima Khatoon Binte Hazrat Imam Ali Naqi (A.S) , Bibi Nargis Khatoon, mother of the hidden Imam, Imam Mahdi (A.S) is there. Samarra is also the place of Makame Ghaibat of 12th Imam. The place where shrine is built today has it foundation of the house of eleventh Imam. Entrance of the place is made from courtyard.