THE HOLY SHRINE
From early ages of humankind, people used to show various forms of adulation to their honorable and unique personalities. One of these forms was the sanctification of their tombs by constructing handsome buildings that are, in most cases, taken as places of worship. The holy Quran, narrating the story of the seven sleepers of Ephesus, has referred to this phenomenon:
"We caused their story to become public so that people would know that God's promise was true and that there is no doubt about the coming of the Day of Judgment. They started to argue with each other about the matter (Resurrection) and some of them said, "Let us establish a building at the youths' sleeping place. Their Lord knew best their intentions about them. The majority prevailed in their suggestion of the establishment of a mosque in that place."
Such buildings have been ceaselessly visited by people for seeking blessings, showing respect, and practicing definite ceremonies and rituals of worship there.
The question of visiting the tombs of the prophets, their successors, and saints has been an uninterrupted tradition quoted from Prophet Mohammad's words, deeds, and confirmations. Nevertheless, some heretical doctrines claiming belongingness to Islam have arisen problematic matters regarding this point. As if they are the only Muslims believing in the legality of visiting the tombs, the Shia have been accused of believing that it is permissible to visit the shrines of the Prophets, Imams and saints, building them, to seek blessings through them, to pray and make supplications around them. All the other Islamic schools of jurisprudence have shared the Shia in such beliefs.
Not only is the holy shrine of Abbas visited by the Shia, but also Muslims from other Islamic sects have had a pilgrim to that shrine ceaselessly.
The Immaculate Imams of the Ahl-ul-Bayt
confirmed the pilgrimage to the holy shrines of the prophets, Imams, and saints and referred to definite rules of conduct to be followed there. They also dedicated definite statements of supplication and greetings to such shrines.
As a matter of fact, the question of constructing shrines on the tombs of certain individual is not an ordinary issue originated from personal views or tendencies. Indeed, it is a divine will having many dimensions.
First of all, God the Exalted has promised His sincere servants to commemorate their names and mentioning in this world as well as the world to come. One of the signs of their eternity in this world stands for the presence of handsome buildings on their tombs to remind of their situations, ways of life, and piety to the Creator.
As they played the roles of examples during their lives, the pious individuals' shrines keep in people's minds these examples that should be followed for winning happiness in this life and the life to come.
The holy shrines, too, have become the shelters of those who are inflicted with worldly disasters and those who seek refuge of God. Under the domes of such shrines all supplications to God are responded, all screams of the repentant are heard, and all cries of seekers of succor are answered.
These holy shrines, finally, have very frequently been the source of many re-establishments of relations with the Lord, many revolutions against individual and shared wrong and injustice, and many returns to God.ALQAMI RIVERBURIAL PLACE OF THE TWO HANDS
Historians have confirmed that Imam Hosein used to carry the bodies of his soldiers who were killed in the field of fighting to a special tent prepared for this purpose. For instance, historians have confirmed that Hurr bin Yazid, when was killed, was carried to the tent of the martyrs, and Imam Hosein ordered some young men of his household to carry the body of his son; Ali, to that tent, and he himself carried the body of Qasim; his nephew to the same tent.
It is also related that Imam Baqir said:
"Hosein used to put the bodies of the martyrs in one place and used to comment: These martyrs are just like the killed prophets and sons of prophets."
Treasure of Martyrs-where Imam's followers have been buried
Nevertheless, Imam Hosein left the body of his brother Abbas in the place where he had fell-on the bank of theAlqamiRiver near the dam.
Some historians have mentioned that Imam Hosein could not carry the body of Abbas becauseit was wounded so heavily
that all the organs were separated from each other.
Others have mentioned that Abbas, in his last spark of life, begged his brother to leave him in his place because he was shy to meet Sukaina, daughter of Imam Hosein, whom he had promised to bring water for.
However, it is now very clear that Imam Hosein left the body of his brother in that place foran excellent secret
that can be understood only by the well-mannered ones. Anyhow, the Imam was not unable to carry the body of his brother.
Days have uncovered that secret when Abbas had that handsome shrine to which thousands of people pilgrimage ceaselessly. Hence, the place where that holy body had fell, has become one of the most considerable areas on this earth. People have sought nearness to God, supplicated to Him to solve their most complicated problems and ordeals, offered to Him the most acceptable rituals of worship, and seen the most miraculous charismata under the golden, shining dome of that holy shrine that contained the holy body of al-Abbas; Abbas bin Ali, the righteous servant of God.
People therefore have recognized the actual standing of Abbas in the sight of God and, in turn, recognized the scope of respect that they should bear to this personality who has played the role of the connecting link between people and their Lord.
God the Exalted has willed to grant Abbas an idiosyncratic rank in this world as well as the world to come.
Just like the Immaculate Imams, Abbas has had a special shrine pilgrimed by the Imams who passed by that area. Imam Ja'far Sadiq visited the tomb of Abbas and recited a special Ziyara, different, in statements, from the Ziyaras recited before the tombs of the other martyrs. In the same manner, the shrine of Abbas has had its special ceremonies and rites of Ziyara.
The traditions of Ahl-ul-Bayt have guided us to the location, as well as the ceremonies and rites to be practiced at that holy shrine of al-Abbas.
Ibn Qawlawayh, in his book titled Kamil uz-Ziyara, page 256, narrates, with an authentic series of narrators, that Abu Hamza Thomali related the following saying to Imam Sadiq:
"If you intend to visit (the tomb of) Abbas ibn Ali, which is on the bank of the Euphrates opposite to al-Haair, you should stop at the gate of the shed and say: Salaam of Allah and Salaam of His angels… etc."
Mejlisi, in his book titled Mezar ul-Bihar, records another Ziyara for al-Abbas, as related to the narration of Sheikh Mufid and Ibn Mash'hadi, defining the same location that is defined by Imam Sadiq in the previous narration.
Similar narrations are recorded in Allama an-Nouri's Tahiyyat uz-Zaair and related to Sheikh al-Mufid, ash-Shahid, and Sayyid Ibn Tawous.
The following statement of Sheikh Mufid identifies the location of the tomb of Abbas that is decided by the saying of Imam Ja'far Sadiq:
"Except Abbas ibn Ali who was buried in a place on the dam in the way of Ghadhiriyya, all the members of Imam al-Hossein 's family, peace be upon them, were buried in a hole located beyond the legs of Imam al-Hossein . The tomb of Abbas is clear and known… etc."
All scholars and investigators have followed this definition of the location. They all have decided that the tomb of Abbas bin Ali is opposite to the holy Haair near the shore of the River Euphrates.
Alqami River was a stream branching from the Euphrates. It was passing by and irrigating the lands ofKarbala. It was the only river in that area.
Neither geographists nor have historians referred to the location and history of this river. Moreover, Imam Sadiq did not refer to this name as he mentioned the location of the martyrdom of Abbas. However, this name was mentioned in many narratives recorded in authentic, trustworthy reference books.
Turaihi, in his book titled Muntakhab, page 91, writes down a narration in which there is a reference to theAlqamiRiver.
A narration recorded in Medinat ul-Ma'aajiz, page 263 Chapter 127, includes a reference to theAlqamiRiver.
Ibn Shahrashub, in his book titled Manaaqib; 2/190, records the narration of Mutawakkil's orders of digging the tomb of Imam Hosein. In this narration, he refers to the Alqami River.
In Mezar ul-Bihar page 161, a narration of a special Ziyara to the tomb of Abbas is recorded. This narration begins with:
"If you intend to visit Karbala, you should first reside at the shore of theAlqami River, undress yourself, wash…etc."
This narration is quoted from the famous books of Ziyara compiled by Sheikh Mufid and Mash'hadi.
All these narrations prove that the name ofAlqami
was known for everybody for many decades. Nevertheless, the reason beyond this name is not known. Some mentioned that a man from the tribe of Alqama dug that river.
In his book titled Zeenat ul-Majalis and written in AH 1004, Sayyid Majduddin Mohammad Majdi records that the vizier Saeed bin Alqami gave his orders of ruining that river after he had heard the saying of Imam Sadiq addressing to the river:
"How is it that you are still flowing after my grandfather was prevented from drinking from you?"
As the Alqami River was ruined, the gardens of Kufa were damaged, because they were irrigated from its water.BURIAL PLACE OF THE HEAD
Various reports have been narrated about the places where the heads of the martyrs of Karbala were buried.
Historians have, almost unanimously, agreed that Omar bin Sa'd gave the orders of beheading
the bodies of the warriors of Imam Hosein's army. They were seventy-eight heads carried by the tribes and individuals of Yazid's army. These heads were taken to Kufa. Afterwards, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, sent these heads with the caravan of the captives to Syria.
After a long series of events the stars of which were Imam Zayn ul-Abidin and his aunt Zaynab daughter of Imam Ali in Damascus, Yazid anticipated revolution of people against him. He therefore had to allow the Imam and the captives to go home and responded to all of their demands. They demanded Yazid to give them the head of Imam Hosein so as to attach it to the body in Karbala.
Historians, though most of them did not refer to the other heads, have mentioned that Yazid gave all the heads to Imam Zayn ul-Abidin who attached them to the bodieson the twentieth of Safar
. The head of Abbas was one of these.
This report seems to be the most acceptable if we take in consideration the events and motives that obliged Yazid to respond to the demands of Imam Zayn ul-Abidin who would surely ask for all the heads so as to attach them to the bodies.
Nevertheless, there are other narrations: In his A'yaan ush-Shi'a; 4/290, Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin records:
"In AH 1321, I saw a place in the cemetery known as 'Maqbarat Bab us-Sagheer' in Damascus on whose door there was a rock with the script: This is the burial place of the heads of Abbas bin Ali, Ali Akbar bin Hosein, and Habib bin Muzhahir… A few years later, that burial place was destroyed. When it was reconstructed, that rock was taken away and a tomb was built inside that burial place. On that tomb the names of many individuals whom were martyred in Karbala with Imam Hosein were engraved. In fact, that tomb contained only the three aforementioned heads…etc."
Had Sayyid Amin skimmed through the book of Habib Siyar, he would have believed that these three heads were not buried in that cemetery in Damascus. Anyhow, those who wrote the names of these three heroes ofKarbala on that rock in the cemetery had other intentions. Finally, it is not unlikely that these three heads were crucified, not buried, at that place.
The burial places of Abbas’s right hand and left hand
In Karbala there are two sacred areas believed to be the burial places of the two hands of Abbas. Uninterruptedly, these two sanctuaries have been visited and respected by the generations who believed their being the burial places of the two hands that were cut during the encounter between Abbas and his enemies.
The sanctuary of the right hand lies to the north east of Karbala on the borders of district known as'Gate ofBaghdad'
and the district known as 'Bab ul-Khan', near the eastern gate of the holy shrine. On the window found on the wall of that sanctuary, two poetic verses in Persian are carved. Nobody, however, knows the poet, date of construction, the designer of the window, or the carver of these two poetic verses.
The sanctuary of the left hand lies in the Minor Market near the small gate of the holy shrine to the south east. This market is called 'Bab Abbas Sagheer.' On the wall of that sanctuary poetic verses composed by Sheikh Mohammad Sarraaj are carved.
Indeed, the shrine of Abu'l-Fadl Abbas bin Ali is one of the houses about which Almighty God said:
"…the houses that Allah has declared to be highly respected and His Name be mentioned therein in glory in the morning and evening. (24:36)"
The construction of the holy shrine, altogether with the dome, of Abbas who is on the top in the list of the martyrs and righteous servants of God is another factor helping the discovery of the secret of his having an independent tomb away from the tomb of the other martyrs.
During his visit to the tomb of Abbas, Imam Sadiq referred to the praiseworthy personality of this hero who possessed alone such a lofty rank because of which all martyrs will wish if they have its like.
On that account, it has become very important to pay a great attention to the construction of the holy shrine of this unique, righteous servant of God.
God, the Exalted, gave the holy mission of constructing this shrine to some individuals who won eternal reputation in this world and will be rewarded abundantly in the life to come, each according to his intention.
Many kings, princes, scholars, and celebrities succeeded each other in constructing this holy shrine, which, day by day, has become in increasing splendor and beauty. Today, it is very gorgeous for its attractive, golden dome that challenges the heavens in elevation and dares the stars in brilliance, its impregnable sanctuary that is as great as throne, its porticoes that are covered by flasks, its yard that is the field of sanctity, and its handsome, golden lobby that is similar to the edifices of Paradise.
Historians have mentioned thatIranian Shah Tahmasp
, in AH 1032, decorated the dome of the holy shrine with tile, built a window on the box that contained the tomb, arranged the porticoes and the yard, built the lobby that lies in front of the first gate of the sanctuary, and sent precious carpets made in Iran.
In AH 1115, Nadir Shah
sent many gifts to the holy shrine and decorated some of the buildings there with flasks. In AH 1117, the vizier of Nadir Shah pilgrimed the holy shrine of Imam Hosein, remade the box of the tomb, reconstructed the portico, and presented a chandelier for lighting the holy precinct.
In AH 1216, the Wahhabis invadedKarbala and robbed all the precious lusters and chandeliers that were in the holy shrines of Imam Hosein and Abbas.Fat'h Ali Shah
gifted new lusters, chandeliers, and precious pieces of decoration to the holy shrines in Karbala. He also reconstructed the dome on the holy shrine of Abbas with tile, gilded the dome of the holy shrine of Imam Hosein, and made other constructions.
Hajji Mirza Abd-ul-Karim Muqaddas Urumi, in his book titled Taqat Raihan, records that Hajji Shukrullah Badal Beg Afshari gilded the big hall facing the holy precinct of Abbas and spent all his fortune on this work, carrying out the constructions of Sheikh Zayn ul-Abidin Mazindarani who died in AH 1309. He also recorded his name on the western side on the wall of the hall on the golden plates. This golden script is still present.
In the same book it is recorded that Nasir ud-Dawla gilded the minaret of the holy shrine of Abbas.
Sayyid Hasan, the writer of Fadak and other books, has mentioned that the golden small hall facing the first gate of the holy shrine was established by the king of Lakanhu Mohammad Shah the Indian. The wooden shed was established according to the instruction of Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid Khan. Mohammed Sadiq Isfahani reconstructed the dome with tile. He also purchased the houses attached to the yard of the holy shrine and increased that yard. He increased the area from the direction of the kiblah to a greater extent. He was buried in a room at the Gate of the Kiblah. He also constructed the yard with tile.
In AH 1355, Sayyid Mortaza, the custodian of the holy shrine, rebuilt the silver gate lying in the golden hall facing the room of the tomb. On the shutters of that gate he wrote the poem of Sheikh Mohammad Ali Ya'qoubi.
The custody of the holy shrine of Abbas has been taken by honorable individuals who spared no efforts in managing, servicing, and constructing this holy shrine.