By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Majority of the religions on earth are emotionally, spiritually and physically attached to a specific destination or a geographic region that is directly associated with their belief. This association can be linked to the origin of that belief, historical grievances, residence of a holy figure or his/her burial and a socio-religious importance that has been accumulated through time. Shia Muslim are among the religious sects and groups within Islam and even other religion, which has the highest numbers of holy sites, cities and towns. The holy sites and cities of Shia Muslims are divided into two categories. First category are the sites and places that are shared with rest of the Muslim sects and second category are the sites that are sacred and glorified by Shia Muslims exclusively. A combined list of these sites and cities is as following:
- Mecca: (Arabian Peninsula) Birth Place of Islam & Prophet Mohammad, Ka’aba and many other historical holy sites
- Medina: (Arabian Peninsula) The burial place of Prophet Mohammad and his daughter lady Fatima Al-Zahra (Unknown) and first capital of the Islamic nation. In addition, this city holds extra importance for Shia Muslims, as four of their Imams are buried in historic cemetery of Al-Baqe’e. (Imam Al-Hassan, Imam Al-Sajjad, Imam Al-Baqir, Imam Al-Sadiq).
- Najaf: (Iraq) The burial place of Imam Ali and his capital city, when he became the Caliph. In addition two of the holiest mosques for Shia Muslims (Al-Kufa Mosque & Al-Sahla Mosque) are located in the town of Kufa (outskirts of Najaf) as well. According to Shia traditions, Prophet Noah, Hud and Saleh are buried in this city as well.
- Karbala: (Iraq) the location of one the bloodiest battles in the history (Battle of Karbala). This place is the burial position of Shia Muslims third Imam, Imam Al-Hussein and his household along with his companions, who were slaughtered by the army of Yazid.
- Kathemiya: (Iraq) this city is now considered as one of the neighborhoods of Baghdad, and its importance is derived from the Al-Kathemain Shrine, which is the burial place of Imam Al-Kadhem and Imam Al-Jawad (7th Imam & 9th Imam of Shia Muslims).
- Samara: (Iraq) this city is located north of Baghdad, which is the burial place of Imam Ali Al-Hadi and Imam Hassan Al-Askari (10th Imam & 11th Imam of Shia Muslims). In addition, this city is the birth place of Shia Islam’s 12th Imam, who is currently in occultation and he is expected to come back and spread justice and equality in the world.
- Mash’had: (Iran) this city is located in North East province of Khorasan, which is the burial place of Imam Ali Al-Redha (8th Imam of Shia Muslims).
- Qom: (Iran) this city is 130 Km south of the Iranian capital Tehran, and it is the burial place of Imam Ali Al-Redha’s sister, Lady Fatema Al-Ma’asuma. In addition, this city has gained extra importance due to its religious seminaries and some of the most important scholars of Shia Islam were from this specific city.
- Damascus: (Syria) this city is the burial place of Imam Ali’s older daughter and sister of Imam Al-Hassan and Imam Al-Hussein. Her name is Sayeda (Lady) Zainab. She is buried in a village outside of Damascus, which is currently named after her, and it has become a tourist attraction for thousands of Shia Muslims from around the world.
These sites and cities are considered very sacred and holy to Shia Muslims and any attempt to harm these places is considered as an official war against Shia Islam, as Shia Muslims are very sensitive about these places and their importance to them. However, some of these places have been attacked and demolished in the course of history by different groups and sides, which is considered as a black page in the history of Shia Islam. A detailed history and importance factors of each city will be published in series for this sites and cities.
To Be Continued.