Iran, Iraq to Boost Cooperation in Reconstruction of Holy Shrines
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – In a meeting in Mashhad between the guardian of Imam Reza’s holy shrine and visiting Iraqi prime minister on Saturday, the two sides emphasized the need for closer cooperation in reconstruction of the holy shrines in Iraq.
“During the meetings I had with people in charge of the holy shrines in Iraq, I was informed about the expansion projects at those shrines and it seems as if the current step-by-step policy is appropriate, and using this opportunity is necessary,” said Ayatollah Abbas Va’ez Tabasi.
"The Shiite government which is in harmony with the Sunnis, promotes unity and fraternity and attaches great importance to national issues, should be expected to come under a lot of pressures," he added.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maleki, too, said that Iraq has earmarked US $25 million for the expansion project of Imam Ali’s holy shrine.
“In the next phase 13 pieces of land in adjacent areas of the shrine were bought from their owners,” he added.
Maleki said that during his meetings with the officials in charge of the holy shrines in Iraq, he had urged them to use the experience of the officials in charge of Imam Reza’s holy shrine in various fields.
Iraq, a Shiite majority country, is home to the shrines of six of Twelver Shiite imams. Apart from Imam Hossein's holy shrine in the city of Karbala, there are some other such shrines in Iraq.
The shrine of Imam Ali (PBUH), Shiites' first imam, is located in the holy city of Najaf, a town some 160 kilometers south of Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The city is now a great center of pilgrimage from throughout the Shiite Islamic world. It is estimated that only Mecca and Medina receive more Muslim pilgrims. As the burial site of Shiite Islam's second most important figure,the Imam Ali Mosque is considered by Shiites as the third holiest Islamic site.
Kadhmiya, now a neighborhood in Baghdad, also hosts the shrines of two other Shiite imams, namely the seventh and ninth imams Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) and his grandson Muhammad at-Taqi (PBUH).
Samarra, a city 125 kilometers north of Baghdad,is home to the al-Askari Mosque, containing the mausoleums of the Shiite 10th and 11th imams, Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) and Hasan al-Askari (PBUH), as well as the place from the twelfth imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, known as the "Hidden Imam", went into occultation.