History of the Shrines
History of the Shrine of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (pbuh)
The visit of Prophet Abraham and Isaac and Abraham's prediction and desire to buy 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 will follow a road that approaches the town by a winding course through this vast cemetery. The Prophet Abraham had come to this place along with Isaac; there had been many earthquakes in the vicinity, but while Abraham remained there, there were no tremors. On the night, however, when Abraham and Isaac went to a different village, and sure enough Najaf was visited with another earthquake. When they returned, the people were most eager for them to make Najaf their permanent dwelling-place. Abraham agreed to do so on condition that they would sell him the valley behind the village for cultivation. Isaac protested and said that this land was neither fit for farming nor grazing, but Abraham insisted and assured him that the 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 be able also to intercede for many others. 1
The valley that Abraham wanted to buy is called the Valley of Peace (Wadiu's-Salaam), and it is related on the authority of the fourth Imam, that Ali once said that this ValIey 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. 2 "As there is nothing hidden in this world from my eyes," Ali went on to say, "I see all the believers seated - here in groups and talking with one another."
How Najaf was given its name is explained in the tradition. At first there was a mountain there, and when one of the sons of Noah refused to enter the Ark, he said that he would sit on this mountain until he would see where the water would 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 was 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." 3
And so as per the prediction of Abraham, Imam Ali was buried here.
Ali is absent today from our midst only physically. His soul even to this day is the greatest spiritual resort everyone who seeks the help of God through his medium. Thousands and thousands of people call out to him in their difficulties, and the word "Ya Ali Madad", automatically comes to them. A famous prayer known as "NADEY ALI" (Call Ali) is recited wherever abound the lovers of Ali.
"The Mausoleum itself of Hazrat Ali 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 further 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."
Countless number of people from all over the world flock to his tomb day after day to pay their respects and to offer salutations and to pray to Allah seeking his intercession. And those who cannot afford to go there personally, are constantly praying to Allah to help them to visit the shrine of their Maula Ali, and when somebody goes on a pilgrimage to Najaf, they request him to offer salutations on their behalf, and to pray to God - for some particular favour - and to seek Imam Ali's intercession.
The deer hunting incident of Harun al-Rashid "During the reigns of the Umayyad Caliphs his blessed resting-place could not be disclosed, and so it was also under the Abbasids until the reign of Harun al-Rashid. But in the year 175 A.H. (791 A.D.), Harun happened to go hunting in these parts, and the deer he was chasing took refuge on a small piece of raised ground. However much he asked his hunting dogs to capture the quarry, they refused to go near this spot. He urged his horse to this place, and the horse too refused to budge; and on this, awe took possession of the Caliph's heart, and he immediately started to make inquiries of the people of the neighbourhood, and they acquainted him with the fact that this was the grave of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Holy Prophet. Harun ordered a tomb to be erected over the grave, and people soon began to settle down in its vicinity." 4
History of the Cemetery of Jannat al-Baqi where Imam Hasan
bin Ali (2nd Imam), Imam Ali bin al-Husayn (4th Imam),
Imam Muhammad bin Ali (5th Imam) & Imam Ja'far
bin Muhammad (6th Imam) (pbut) are buried
On 8th Shawwal, Wednesday, in the year 1345 AH (April 21, 1925), mausoleums in Jannatul al-Baqi (Madina) were demolished by King Ibn Saud.
In the same year (1925), he also demolished the tombs of holy personages at Jannat al-Mualla (Makkah) where the Holy Prophet (s)'s mother, wife, grandfather and other ancestors are buried.
Destruction of sacred sites in Hijaz by the Saudi Wahhabis continues even today. According to some scholars what is happening in Hijaz is actually a conspiracy plotted by the Jews against Islam, under the guise of Tawheed. The idea is to eradicate the Islamic legacy and heritage and to systematically remove all its vestiges so that in the days to come, Muslims will have no affiliation with their religious history.
The Origins of al-Baqi
Literally "al-Baqi" means a tree garden. It is also known as "Jannat al-Baqi" due to its sanctity, since in it are buried many of our Prophet's relatives and companions.
The first companion buried in al-Baqi was Uthman b. Madhoon who died on the 3rd of Sha'ban in the 3rd year of Hijrah. The Prophet (s) ordered certain trees to be felled, and in its midst, he buried his dear companion, placing two stones over the grave.
On the following years, the Prophet's son Ibrahim, who died in infancy and over whom the Prophet (s) wept bitterly, was also buried there. The people of Madina then began to use that site for the burial of their own dead, because the Prophet (s) used to greet those who were buried in al-Baqi by saying, "Peace be upon you, O abode of the faithful! God willing, we should soon join you. O' Allah, forgive the fellows of al-Baqi".
The site of the burial ground at al-Baqi was gradually extended. Nearly seven thousand companions of the Holy Prophet (s) were buried there, not to mention those of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s) . Imam Hasan b. Ali (a.s) , Imam Ali b. al-Husayn (a.s) , Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s) , and Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s) were all buried there.
Among other relatives of the Prophet (s) who were buried at al-Baqi are: his aunts Safiya and Aatika, and his aunt Fatima bint al-Asad, the mother of Imam Ali (a.s) . The third caliph Uthman was buried outside al-Baqi, but with later extensions, his grave was included in the area. In later years, great Muslim scholars like Malik bin Anas and many others, were buried there too. Thus, did al-Baqi become a well-known place of great historic significance to all Muslims.
Al-Baqi as viewed by historians
Umar bin Jubair describes al-Baqi as he saw it during his travel to Madina, saying "Al-Baqi is situated to the east of Madina. You enter it through the gate known as the gate of al-Baqi. As you enter, the first grave you see on your left is that of Safiya, the Prophet's aunt, and further still is the grave of Malik bin Anas, the Imam of Madina. On his grave is raised a small dome. In front of it is the grave of Ibrahim son of our Prophet (s) with a white dome over it, and next to it on the right is the grave of Abdul-Rahman son of Umar bin al-Khattab, popularly known as Abu Shahma, whose father had kept punishing him till death overtook him. Facing it are the graves of Aqeel bin Abi Talib and Abdullah bin Ja'far al-Tayyar. There, facing those graves is a small shrine containing the graves of the Prophet's wives, following by a shrine of Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib.
The grave of Hasan bin Ali (a.s) , situated near the gate to it's right hand, has an elevated dome over it. His head lies at the feet of Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib, and both graves are raised high above the ground, their walls are panelled with yellow plates and studded with beautiful star-shaped nails. This is how the grave of Ibrahim, son of the Prophet (s) has also been adorned. Behind the shrine of Abbas there is the house attributed to Fatima, daughter of our Prophet (s), known as "Bayt al-Ahzaan" (the house of grief) because it is the house she used to frequent in order to mourn the death of her father, the chosen one, peace be upon him. At the farthest end of al-Baqi is the grave of the caliph Uthman, with a small dome over it, and there, next to it, is the grave of Fatima bint Asad, mother of Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s) "
After a century and a half, the famous traveller Ibn Batuta came to describe al-Baqi in a way which does not in any way differ from the description given by Ibn Jubair. He adds saying, "At al-Baqi are the graves of numerous Muhajirin and Ansar and many companions of the Prophet (s), except that most of their names are unknown."
Thus, over the centuries, al-Baqi remained a sacred site with renovations being carried out as and when needed till the Wahhabis rose to power in the early nineteenth century. The latter desecrated the tombs and demonstrated disrespect to the martyrs and the companions of the Prophet (s) buried there. Muslims who disagreed with them were branded as "infidels" and were subsequently killed.