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Shrines and Mosques, Baghdad

Wherever you go in Baghdad you will see domes and minarets ornamented in blue or glazed tiles, or covered with gold leaf. Many of them belong to shrines and mosques that have their stories to tell about holy men who once rendered humanity great services with their teaching, wisdom, and piety. Their tombs, enshrined under these domes and minarets, have become places of worship and study and are visited by thousands of people every month:

Kadhimain Shrine
Al-Kadhimeyya is one of the oldest towns in Iraq. Before the construction of Baghdad, Al-Kadhimeyya was known as Shoneezi, an Arab name meaning the Black Grain. When the Abbasid Caliph Abu Ja'far Al-Mansour started the construction of the Round City of Baghdad in 762 AD (145 AH), he made that area a cemetery named the Qureish cemeteries; containing the bodies of his family.

Kadhimain Shrine

Imam Musa bin Ja'far who died in 799 AD (183 AH) was buried in this cemetery. He was known as Al-Kadhim, which means the person whom can control and suppress his anger. Afterwards, his grandson, Imam Mohammad Al-Jawad who died in 834 AD (219 AH) was buried there. The two are descendants of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

Kadhimain Shrine was constructed on the site of the shrines of the two Imams in 1515 AD. It is a world famous shrine and one of the most important mosques in the Islamic world, with a huge gilded dome on a circular drum, four minarets rising above its courtyard all coated with gold, Kufic inscriptions, canopied balconies, glinting mirror mosaics, lustrously glazed tiles, and floors of marble.

Entering Kadhimain Shrine, one is overwhelmed by a feeling of majesty and amazement, as soon as he/she sees the galleries and cloisters. These galleries are decorated by ceramic tiles with their geometric engravings and Qur'anic verses.

Mosque and Mausoleum of Al-Imam Al-Aadham
Any visitor to Baghdad would certainly head towards the Mosque and Mausoleum of Al-Imam Al-Aadham, a famous and holy Islamic place of worship.

This mosque in Al-Aadhameyya was built over the shrine of Imam Abu Hanifa (Al-Nu'man bin Thabit Al-Kufi), who gave his name to the Hanafites. He was buried in Al-Khaizuran cemeteries in 767 AD (150 AH), whereupon a small township grew up around the shrine called Mahallat Abi Hanifa and the district became to be known as the district of Abu Hanifa and Al-Aadhameyya.

Three hundred years later, in 1066, the Seljuk Sharaful Mulk Abu Said Al-Khuwarazmi renovated the shrine, built a large dome over it, and built a Hanafite school nearby.

Inside the Mosque and Mausoleum of Al-Imam Al-Aadham

The building went into cycles of change, destruction and reconstruction over the centuries, and was renovated by Ottoman Sultans and Walis several times. Nowadays, its huge dome is covered with neat Golden Aluminum plates and it has a clock renown of its accuracy.

Al-Qadereyya Shrine
Another prestigious Islamic site in Baghdad, situated in Rusafa, at a quarter known as Bab Al-Sheikh AbdulQader Al-Jailani, the Sheikh of Islam and the head of the Islamic scholars.

History tells that Al-Qadereyya Shrine was originally a religious school. It was built by the Hanbali scholar and pious man Sheikh Abu Said Al-Mubarak bin Ali Al-Mukharrami (died 1119 AD - 513 AH), later improved and enlarged by his pupil Sheikh AbdulQader Al-Jailani where he lived, contemplated, and taught until his death in 1165 AD.

The mausoleum and the Mosque of Sheikh AbdulQader Al-Jailani saw various construction phases. The most important of which took place in 1534 AD (941 AH) when a huge and wonderful dome was constructed over the indoor praying section of the mosque by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. It is the biggest ever dome in Iraq to be built of bricks and gypsum, and it exists up to this date.

This shrine owns a library of 35,000 volumes, including a fine collection of Holy Qu'rans.

Mausoleum of Omar Al-Sahrawardi
This mausoleum, one of the oldest extant in Baghdad, was built in 1234 AD over the shrine of Sheikh Omar Al-Sahrawardi who was a famous mystic and theologian (died in 1225 AD). It lies in the eastern sector of Baghdad in Sheikh Omar Street, not faraway from Al-Wastani Gate. It has a square shape surmounted by a high conical dome in Seljuk style. Its facade shows fine ornamentation curved on bricks.

Sitt Zumurrud Khatun's Tomb
This is the most famous mausoleum in Baghdad. It is situated in the western sector of Baghdad not faraway from the main railway station.

Sitt Zumurrud Khatun's Tomb

Erroneously ascribed to Sitt Zubeida, wife of Caliph Harun Al-Rashid, who was actually buried in the Qureish cemeteries in Al-Kadhimeyya, it is in fact the tomb of Zumurrud Khatoun, wife of the Caliph Al-Mustadhi Bi-Amrillah, who had it constructed as a mausoleum for herself sometime before 1202 AD, during the reign of her son, the Caliph Al-Naser Li Dinillah.

The mausoleum is octagonal in shape and surmounted by a high conical-shaped dome in Seljuk style, one of the most remarkable in the city.

The Caliphs Mosque
Halfway in Caliphs Street, near Shorjah, is a new mosque with an ancient minaret that belonged to the Caliphs' Palace mosque about a thousand years ago. The latter mosque was built by Caliph Al-Muktafi Billah (902 - 908 AD), but the existing minaret was actually built much later, in 1289, on certain parts that pre-date it considerably. It is 33 meters high above ground level, with a base that has 12 sides measuring in all 20.64 meters.

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