Imam Reza shrine

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Shrine of Imam Reza
Imam Reza Shrine is located in Iran
Imam Reza Shrine
Imam Reza Shrine
Location in Iran
Coordinates: 36°17′13″N 59°36′56″E / 36.286834°N 59.615679°E / 36.286834; 59.615679Coordinates: 36°17′13″N 59°36′56″E / 36.286834°N 59.615679°E / 36.286834; 59.615679
Location Mashhad, Iran
Branch/tradition Shia Islam

The Imam Reza Shrine (Persian: حرم امام رضا‎) in Mashhad, Iran is a complex which contains the mausoleum of Imam Reza, the eighth Imam of Twelver Shiites. It is the largest mosque in the world by dimension and the second largest by capacity. Also contained within the complex are the Goharshad Mosque, a museum, a library, four seminaries,[1] a cemetery, the Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, a dining hall for pilgrims, vast prayer halls, and other buildings.

The complex is the center of tourism in Iran.[2][3] The shrine itself covers an area of 267,079m2 while the seven courtyards which surround it cover an area of 331,578m2 - totaling 598,657 m2 (6,443,890 sq ft).[4]

Every year the ceremony of Dust Clearing is celebrated in the Imam Reza shrine.[5]


Imam Reza shrine before development

In 818, the Alid Imam Ali al-Ridha was murdered by the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun (ruled 813–833) and was buried beside the grave of al-Ma'mun's father, Harun al-Rashid (r. 786–809). After this event, the location was called as Mashhad al-Ridha ("the place of martyrdom of al-Ridha"). Shias and Sunnis began visiting his grave on pilgrimage. By the end of the 9th century a dome was built on the grave and many buildings and bazaars sprang up around it. During more than a millennium it has been devastated and reconstructed several times.[6]

In 993 the holy shrine was ruined by Saboktakin, a Ghaznavid king. However, in 1009, his son Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni ordered the shrine to be repaired and expanded. About 1150 Sultan Sanjar, a Seljuq king, renovated the sanctuary and added new buildings after his son was miraculously healed at the shrine. Later, Sultan Muhammad Khodabande, an Ilkhanate king who converted to Shiism, renovated the holy shrine around 1310.[7] The celebrated Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta visited Mashhad in 1333 and reported that it was a large town with abundant fruit trees, streams and mills. A great dome of elegant construction surmounts the noble mausoleum, the walls being decorated with colored tiles. Opposite the tomb of the Imam is the tomb of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, which is surmounted by a platform bearing chandeliers.[2] However, the tomb of Harun al-Rashid is not considered sacred, as he was responsible for the murders of the 6th and 7th Shia Imams.

In the 15th century, during the reign of the Timurid Shahrukh Mirza, Masshad became one of the main cities of the realm. In 1418 his wife Goharshad funded the construction of an outstanding mosque beside the shrine, which is known as the Goharshad Mosque.[8]

The shrine is depicted on the reverse of the Iranian 100 rials coin, issued since 2004.[9]


Courtyards (Sahn)[edit]

The tomb of Imām Ridhā, found directly beneath the golden dome within the Mosque.
Main Gate of Imam Riza, Mashhad, Iran-1850s. Photo possibly by Luigi Pesce (Italian, 1818–1891)

The complex contains a total of Seven courtyards, which cover an area of over 331,578 m2 (3,569,080 sq ft):[10]

  • Sahn Inqilab - Revolution Courtyard
  • Sahn Azadi - Freedom Courtyard
  • Sahn Imam Khomeini
  • Sahn Gowharshad Mosque
  • Sahn Quds
  • Sahn Jumhuri Islami - Islamic Republic Courtyard
  • Sahn Jameh Razavi - The Razavi Grand Courtyard
  • Sahn Gadeer.

The courtyards also contain a total of 14 minarets,[11] and 3 fountains.[12]


Volunteers placing carpets in the Imam Ridha Mosque for the afternoon prayers
Dar ul-Hifaz, where the tomb of Ali ibn Musa Reza is directly located

From the courtyards, external hallways named after scholars lead to the inner areas of the mosque. They are referred to as Bast (Sanctuary), since they were meant to be a safeguard for the shrine areas:[13]

The Bast hallways lead towards a total of 21 internal halls (Riwaq) which surround the burial chamber of Ali al-Ridha.[14] Adjacent to the burial chamber is also a mosque dating back to the 10th century known as, Bala-e-Sar Mosque.[15]

Notable Burials[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Islamic Seminaries At The Holy Shrine". Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  2. ^ a b "Sacred Sites: Mashhad, Iran". Retrieved 2006-03-13. 
  3. ^ "Religious Tourism Potentials Rich". Iran Daily. Retrieved 2009-05-25. [dead link]
  4. ^ "The Glory of the Islamic World". Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  5. ^ "غبارروبی حرم رضوی توسط امام خامنه ای". آپارات. 
  6. ^ Zabeth (1999) pp. 12-16
  7. ^ Zabeth (1999) pp. 13-15
  8. ^ Zabeth (1999) p. 15
  9. ^ Central Bank of Iran. Banknotes & Coins: 100 Rials. – Retrieved on 24 March 2009.
  10. ^ "Sahn(Courtyards) Around the Holy Shrine". Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  11. ^ "Minarets". Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  12. ^ "Saqqah Khaneh". Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  13. ^ "The Bast (Sanctuaries) Around the Holy Shrine". Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  14. ^ "Riwaq (Porch)". Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  15. ^ "The Bala-Sar Mosque of the Holy Shrine". Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 


  • Zabeth, Hyder Reza (1999). Landmarks of Mashhad. Alhoda UK. ISBN 9644442210. 

External links[edit]