Reportage

The Hussaini Holy Shrine: The Sacred Shrine and its Institutions

225-226

 

The Hussaini Holy Shrine or the Shrine of Imam Hussain (PBUH) lies in the center of the City of Karbala. Historical documents report that the first to show interest in the honoured shrine were Bani Assad who assisted Imam Sajjad (PBUH) to bury the chaste body of Imam Hussain (PBUH). They made for the grave a special and rigid construction with signs. When Mukhtar ibn Abu `Ubayd ath-Thaqafi became the rule of Kufa in 65 A.H., he made a construction over the holy spot. The erected a ceiling above the grave and built a mosque around it. Two entrance gates were made for the mosque – one towards the south and the other towards the east. Historical records say that constructions took place continuously under the rule of Ma’moun, al muntasser – who showed special care for the shrine -, al Da’i al Sagheer, Adududawlah Bowaihi and others who succeeded them. Constructions and expansions of more buildings never ceased besides maintaining and repairing the old ones from that time to our very day.

The current construction consists of a wide courtyard of an area of 15000 m2. In its middle, lies the holy shrine which is of an area of 3850 m2 that encloses the sacred tomb. The tomb is surrounded by hallways (Riwaq) of an area of 600 m2 preceded by a portico.

The Hussaini Shrine is topped with a tremendous dome with an elevation of 37 meters. The dome is fully covered from top to bottom with gold. Above the dome is a two-meter-pole of pure gold too. Two glorious minarets also covered with gold border the dome. The number of golden plates that cover it is 8024.

Historical Chronology of the Hussaini Shrine

Talking about the history of constructing the Holy Hussaini Shrine (Rawda) is a solemn narration that tackles a long history that extends over 14 centuries. Historians mention that building the Hussaini Rawda started since the time the chaste bodies were buried by members of Bani Assad Tribe.

First Century A.H.: 

Imam Sajjad – the son of Imam Hussain (PBUH) – is the first to mark the grave of his father. He was assisted by Bani Assad who used to dwell in Ghadiriyyah. The burial took place on the 13th of Holy Muharram of year 61 A.H. – meaning three days after the Battle of Karbala. Evidences indicate that the holy grave was first a little bit elevated and raised from the ground level. Later on, Bani Assad built a mosque and a ceiling above the grave. They marked the holy grave with special and rigid sign (rocks or palm branches). Historical resources talk about a mosque which was built over the holy shrine between 61 A.H. and 63 A.H. Indian explorer Mohammad Hindi says that the holy grave was enclosed by a wooden enclosure in 64 AH.

In Rabi I 65 A.H., the Penitents (Tawwaboon) circumambulated the grave before they headed towards “Ain Warde”. Some four thousand men circumambulated the grave, and they overnumbered the crowd gathering around the Black Stone trying to kiss it for blessing.

In 66 A.H., when Mukhtar ibn Abu Obaidah Thaqafi took hold of Kufa, he erected a dome over the shrine. Mohammad bin Ibrahim bin Malik al Ashtar undertook building the dome from plaster and tiles. He also constructed houses around the shrine which had two gates: an eastern gate that led to the water hole where Abu Al Fadl Al Abbass was martyred and later buried, and a southern gate which is the main entrance until our very day. It was also said that the two gates were an eastern gate and a western gate.

Second Century A.H.:

Researchers believe that the dome which was built under Mukhtar al Thaqafi was still erect when Imam Sadeq visited the Shrine of his grandfather Imam Hussain (PBUH) around 132 A.H. Safwan Al Jammal – the camel driver – quotes Imam Sadeq (PBUH) as saying:

“When you intend to visit the grave of Al Hussain (PBUH) in Karbala, stand outside the dome and take a look at the grave. Then enter the Rawda and stand by its sides close to the head; then exit from the gate near the feet of Ali bin Al Hussain (PBUH), then head towards the martyrs, and then walk until you reach the grave of Abi Al Fadl Al Abbass, stand by the Saqifa Gate and greet him. In another narration by Safwan quoting Imam Sadeq (PBUH): “…When you reach The Boundary Gate (Babul al Ha’r), stand and say your greetings…. Then move to the Dome Gate (Babul Qibba) and stand close to the head…”

It is clear from the narrations that at the time of Imam Sadeq (PBUH), the Holy Shrine had a dome, a ceiling, a gate or more. It is also concluded from his speech (PBUH): “… When you reach The Boundary Gate…) that the Hussaini Rawda had a surrounding area with a boundary wall and gates as well. Imam Sadeq (PBUH) referred to the area surrounding the Rawdah as al Ha’r which we refer to today as the courtyard (Sahen).

It is worth mentioning that the Ha’r did not exist at the time of Imam Baqer (PBUH) who was martyred in 114 A.H. It was first mentioned by Imam Sadeq (PBUH) in 19 places. This indicates that the boundary wall was constructed by the end of the first quarter or the unset of the second quarter of the Second Century A.H. Ibn Idriss Al Hilli says in his book (Al Sara’r): “Al Ha’r stands for the area of the courtyard and the mosque that is surrounded by the boundary wall.” Some modern researchers deduced from the two narrations of Imam Sadeq (PBUH) (See: Sheikh Tussi, Misbah al Mujtahed 731-732) that the area of the Holy Ha’r is 25 by 25 cubits.

Resources assert that there was a plum tree (Sidra) in the time of the Ummayad rule.  People used to rest under its shadow and mark the grave of Imam Hussain (PBUH), thus the gate positioned to the northwest of the Sahen later on came to be known as (Babul Sidra).

During the reign of Mutawakil – it was also said during the reign of Harun (Known as ar-Rashid) – the plum tree that stood there was cut off. What was narrated by Sheikh Tussi in his book (al Amali) to this effect is mentioned repetitively in sources: “… Yahya bin Maghira al Razi said: I was at Jurair bin Abdul Hamid, when a man from the people of Iraq came. Jurair asked him about the news of people; he said: I left there while Rashid was destroying the grave of Al Hussain. He also ordered to cut off the Sidra Tree. Then Jurair raised his hands and said: Allah is Great! We have a tradition from the Prophet of Allah (PBUH and his Household) in which he says: May Allah curse him who cuts off the Sidra, and he says it thrice. We did not understand the meaning of this tradition before now.”

In addition to changing the landmarks there, the goal from cutting the Sidra Tree was to hide the site of the grave of Hussain (PBUH); but to our day in Karbala, there is a street known as Sidra Street! The construction comprising the boundary wall surrounding the domed Rawda lasted all through the reign of the Umayyads who did not dare to damage it though they set cross points (for monitoring and searching) to prevent people from visiting the shrine. With the dwindling of the Ummayad state by the end of its reign, the barrier of fear was broken and waves of people came to visit the holy shrine.

Following 132 A.H., and particularly under the reign of the founder of the Abbasids State Abu Abbass Saffah, the way was opened for visiting the grave of Al Hussain (PBUH), and reconstructing the grave was initiated. There is a possibility that the ceiling above the graves of the martyrs would have been built in that year.

However, Al Mansour Al Abbassi (reigned between 136 – 158 A.H.) wreaked his wrath on the Alawites and their monuments and attacked the holy shrine. He demolished the ceiling in 146 A.H., but it was reconstructed after his death in 158 A.H.

In 187 A.H., Haroun Al Abbassi warned the servants in the Holy Shrine, and he was about to assault them. In 139 A.H., he tightened the grip on the visitors of the shrine and cut down the Sidra Tree which marked the grave. He devastated the site of the tomb – as said before – and demolished the buildings that surrounded these holy shrines, and he planted the site. All of that was done via his ruler over Kufa Musa bin Issa bin Mussa.

The Holy Shrine witnessed two other reconstruction operations between 193 A.H. and 198 A.H. following the war that broke between al Amin and l Ma’mun whose policy required respecting the emotions of the loyalists to Ahlulbeit (PBUT). So a high dome was erected above the shrine, and people again inhabited the area, and houses were built around the shrine.

Third Century A.H.:

It is known among researchers and historians that Karbala in the third Century A.H. had many cottages and houses which were built by Muslims who come to visit the shrine of Imam Hussain (PBUH) besides the houses of those who reside in that area. It seems that the Shrine of Imam Hussain (PBUH) was not subject to destruction and demolition under the reign of Al Mu’tassem Al Abbassi and Al Wathiq Al Abbassi. Likewise, the followers of Ahlulbeit (PBUT) were not persecuted. That is due to the political disorder that prevailed at that time and the preoccupation of the Abbasids in their internal conflicts. In 232 A.H., Al Mutawakil al Abbassi came to power. He had strong apathy towards Ali Bin Abi Taleb (PBUH). Some sources say that the Sidra Tree was cut down under his reign. He went too far in tightening the grip on the visitors of the Master of Martyrs (PBUH), and he demolished the Holy Shrine four times.

  • The first time: was in 232 A.H. when he dispatched Omar bin Faraj to destroy what was constructed under the reign of Ma’mun Abbassi; he further ordered demolishing the grave of Al Hussain (PBUH) and ploughing it. Still the believers rebuilt the holy shrine despite persecution and torture.
  • The second time: was in 236 A.H. when he again demolished the holy shrine and the surrounding buildings and ordered the land to be ploughed and planted. He further demolished the surrounding houses and buildings. Then he called aloud: We will put in al Mutbaq Jail whoever we find at the grave of Al Hussain after three days from now. He ordered a Jewish man called Ibrahim Dizajj to execute the demolition mission.
  • The third time: was in 237 A.H. when Al Mutawakil knew that the people of Iraq congregate in Ninawa (another name for Karbala) to visit the grave of Imam Hussain (PBUH), and a great number of people come to visit. So he dispatched several of his commanders to demolish the grave of Imam Hussain (PBUH) and prevent people from visiting him. As such, they did what they were ordered to do. Sheikh Tussi says in his book (Al Amali): “So the people of Iraq revolted and said: “Should we all be killed, those who remain among us will not refrain from visiting his grave and they always had the inspirations and evidences that promoted them to continue visiting the grave.

In 240 A.H., Mohammad bin Hussain al Ashnani (a senior scholar from Kufa who was put to jail for some time by al Mutawakil) visited the grave of Imam Hussain (PBUH) secretly. He started detecting the place of the grave, and he had many difficulties in finding it because the entire area was ploughed and water moved under it. Thus landmarks were again erected in several places around the grave. Despite the repetitive demolitions, the rapid reconstruction of the grave that would follow show the strength of the conviction of the Muslim public opinion which refused since then but to immortalize Al Hussain Al Shaheed (PBUH) and to rebuild his grave and sanctify his soil.

  • The fourth time: was in 247 A.H., when it was also reported to Al Mutawakil that people from Iraq and Kufa are heading towards Karbala to visit the Shrine of Imam Hussain (PBUH), and he knew that a lot of them were going and they had a large market too – what indicates that a vigorous construction activity was taking place, and people were residing in Karbala. So he dispatched a commander on head of a large army, and he ordered someone to call acquittance of everyone who would visit Al Hussain. He ploughed the land and persecuted members of Abu Talib family and their followers. The oppression of al Mutawakil spread far and wide, and the news of his demolishing the grave of the grandson of the Prophet (PBUH and his Household) spread among people. Muslims felt very much pain. They wrote insulting phrases against him on walls, and poets satirized him. Among these poets were Dubul Khuzai and Ibn Rumi. Moreover, Al Mutawakil seized the endowments of al Ha’r and looted the treasury of al Hussain (PBUH) and distributed them on his soldiers. Such tyranny persisted until he was murdered in his bed in 247 A.H.

When power came to Al Muntasir – the son of al Mutawikl who helped the Turks to kill his father – Reverend Ashinani went to Karbala along with a group of member of Bani Talib and Shia followers. They returned to the holy grave its old aspects and set up an iron pillar near it, to serve as a landmark for the pilgrims. The surrounding area revived, and many people came to reside around it on top of them was Sayyed Ibrahim bin Mohammad bin Imam Kathem (PBUH) who is better known as al Mujab (the answered one) because upon his arrival at the Rawda he said: Peace be upon you, O Grandfather, and he heard an answer from within the grave.

In 273 A.H., the Ashnani building was collapsed and a large number of visitors died because of the overcrowding visitors in the Rawda as that coincided with Arafah Day or Eid Al Adha. It was also said that Muwaffaq al Abbassi the grandson of al Mutawakil was behind that. By that time, Mohammad bin Zaid al Hassani visited the shrine and ordered building a towering dome over it as well as building two Iwans (small rooms) and a boundary wall surrounding the courtyard and houses for the visitors and the residents. The area was fully constructed by 280 A.H.

The Fourth Century A.H.:

Tackling the events related to the Holy Hussaini Shrine that took place in the fourth Century A.H. is quite lengthy. That is because the Bowaihis (322 -447 A.H.) did not spare any effort to revive the Hussaini rites and build the Holy Shrine. Their architectural remnants and other works in holy cities in Iraq and Iran are still standing until our very day. However, the most prominent events during this century took place in 352 A.H. and 369 A.H. In 352 A.H., Mu’z ad Dawlah Bowaihi held lamentation sessions for al Hussain (PBUH) in Baghdad on Ashura Day. Perhaps that was the first official council held by a state until that time, though Hussaini lamentation sessions were known and prominent as well. They were inherited among popular circles since the martyrdom of Imam Hussain in 61 A.H. all over the Islamic areas, even if with various degrees in terms of size and openness, pursuant to the political and security conditions Muslims and the followers of Ahlulbeit in particular were subject to.

In 367 A.H., Adud ad Dawlah al Bowaihi made his visit to the Holy Shrine an annual custom. Then in 369 A.H., he ordered rebuilding the dome and the Rawda. He built hallways around the grave and entailed some territories to be invested to fund lighting both holy shrines (that of al Hussain and of al Abbass – PBUT). He worked hard to conduct water to the residents, and he erected high boundary walls around the city. He firmly insisted on undergoing a vast development and construction activity and flourished the area with buildings and markets there. He further built the primary Adudi School, and next to it he built Ras al Hussain (PBUH) Mosque. Consequently, the number of residents neighbouring the Holy Shrine multiplied.

In later ages:

The following events are in chronological order, stating instances that widely involved ruining and destroying of the Holy Shrine:

In 412 A.H., Al Hassan bin Mufdil bin Sahlan (one of the Bowaihi ministers) undertook renewing the Hussaini shrine. Explorer Ibn Batouta talked about this prosperity in his trip to Karbala in 727 A.H., highlighting that it lasted under the reign of al Mustarshid billah al Abbassi in 526 A.H. Under his rule, terrorism struck the Shia anew, and al Mustarshid seized the riches and treasury of the Hussaini Shrine and spent them on his army.

In 767 A.H., Sultan Oweiss bin al Hassan al Alikhani al Jala’li (of the Mogul Dynasty who embraced Islam) showed much interest in reconstructing the Hussaini Shrine. His renovation ended up in the current building except for the attachments and the improvements that were made in later ages.

He was preceded in 703 A.H. in showing interest in the Hussaini Shrine and other sacred sites by Olgaito Mohammad Khoda Bandeh who visited Holy Najjaf and embraced Islam on the hands of Allamah Hilli Al Hassan bin Youssef  bin Muttahhar.

All princes and kings of the following reigning dynasties in Iran and Iraq showed interest in developing and constructing the Holy Shrine. They competed to maintain and develop the shrine in a way that matches the steady increase in the number of visitors arriving in Holy Karbala. This was the general situation until the end of the sixties of the past century with the arrival of the Baath Party to power in Iraq. Then a black era gloomed overshadowed; the grip was tightened again on believers and on marking Hussaini rights. That was accompanied with a retreat and relative inactivity in the development of the Hussaini Shrine (as compared with the period extending from 1967 until 2003 AD).

On May 1st 1801 (18 Zul Hijjah 1216 A.H.), the city of Karbala and the Holy Shrine was subject to a military attack by one of the Arab states which made use of the departure of most of the people of Karbala to Holy Najjaf to visit the shrine of Amir al Mu’mineen Ali bin Abi Taleb (PBUH) on al Ghadeer Day.

In 1991, following the “Shabaniah Intifada” against the dictator Saddam Hussain, his son-in-law Hussain Kamel attacked the Holy Shrine with tank missiles destroying the dome and vast parts of the Holy Shrine.

With the toppling of the regime of Saddam, both religious authorities in Iran and Iraq acted zealously to remodel the Hussaini Shrine and sponsored developing it through construction projects such as expanding the Holy Shrine which now can comprise five times the previous number of visitors. Imam Hussain (PBUH) Religious School was built, the Zeinabi Tal (Hill) was expanded, and the books and scripts library was renewed. Moreover, tens of technical projects were initiated such as erecting ceilings between the two shrines, security rails, protective screens, and water fountains besides other projects that contribute to facilitate marking the sacred Hussaini rituals.

Nowadays and since the religious authority in Holy Najjaf assumed the responsibility of the affairs of the Holy Shrines and establishing the Holy Shrines Board in the city of Holy Najjaf, the Hussaini Shrine is witnessing a broad campaign to boost the services in both Holy Shrines.

Parts of the Rawda

The Holy Tomb (Dhareeh)

The sacred tomb which encloses the chaste body of Imam Abi Abdullah Al Hussain (PBUH) and both his sons Ali Al Akbar and Ali Al Asghar lies under an enclosure made of very fine and expensive wood ornamented with ivory. It is surrounded by another enclosure made of glass. The shrine is surrounded with a vast Rawda tiled with Italian marble. Its walls are also tiled up to two meters with marble, while the rest of the walls and ceilings are decorated with mirrors that form geometric styles creating a marvellous architectural masterpiece.

The Mass Grave of the Martyrs

It is near the grave of Imam Hussain to its east. It is the resting place of the bodies of all the chaste martyrs who were martyred with Imam Hussain during al Taff Battle along his Household and companions. They were buried in a mass grave which was the sign of their tombs. They are rest in the same soil of the grave of Imam Hussain (PBUH). Their shrine has two windows: the first overlooks the interior of the shrine and above which their names are written, and the second overlooks the southern Riwaq (hallway) to the right of al Qibla Gate.

The Hallways (Riwaq)

The Hussaini Shrine is surrounded by four hallways called (Riwaq) from the four sides. The ground of these hallways is tiled with snow-white marble. The centers of their walls are decorated with large and small mirrors. The height of each hallway is 12 meters, and every hallway has its own name:

  • The Western Hallway: It is called the Hallway of Sayyed Ibrahim al Mujab after the tomb of Sayyed Ibrahim bin Mohammad al Aabed bin Imam Mussa al Kathem (PBUH). He is known as al Mujab (The Answered) for the abovementioned famous incident. He visited Karbala in 247 A.H. and lived there and spent his life preaching about Karbala until his death, and he was buried in that place. Visitors pass by his tomb and visit him.
  • The Southern Hallway: It is called the Hallway of Habib bin Muzaher al Asadi after the tomb of the holy man Habib bin Muzaher. He was one of the brave commanders who lived in Kufa. He accompanied Amir al Mumineen Ali bin Abi Taleb (PBUH) in all his battles. Later, he fought on the side of Imam Hussain (PBUH) on Taff Day in 61 A.H. when was 75 years old.
  • The Eastern Hallway: It is called the Hallway of jurists as it comprises the tombs of senior religious figures.
  • The Northern Hallway: It is also called the Frontal Hallway, and it has a cemetery for Qajar kings.

The Slaughter place:

It is the place were Imam Hussain (PBUH) was slaughtered. It is located to the southwest of the hallway. It is a private room with a silver door. Its ground is of snow-white marble. It has a vault topped with a silver door. The room has a window that overlooks the outer courtyard (Sahn).

The Courtyard (Sahn):

It is a vast and wide place that surrounds the Holy Shrine. Some call it the mosque (Jama’) because people gather there to perform prayers and the special visits in their specific times. From within, the courtyard is rectangular but it is hexagon similar to the shape of the holy tomb. It is encompassed by a high wall that separates the Rawda from the exterior. It is decorated with bricks and glazed tiles, and the doors are decorated with writings. Ayahs from the Holy Quran are written on top of the walls in the beautiful Kufic script on veiny bricks. There are 65 small rooms or halls (Iwan) that overlook the courtyard and surround it from all sides. In every hall, there is a room the walls of which are well-decorated with mosaic from inside and outside as well.

The Gates of the Courtyard:

The Holy Courtyard has ten gates, each of which leads to the circular street that surrounds the shrine and the branching roads. The multiplicity of gates is meant to lessen the overcrowd that occurs during Ziyara (Visit) seasons. All of these doors are made of teak wood and decorated gracefully. The ceilings are coated with glazed tiles, and the boundaries are adorned with Holy Quranic Ayahs. The gates are:

  • Al Qibla Gate (Babul Qibla): It is the most ancient gate. It is considered the main entrance to the Hussaini Rawda. It is known by this name because it is located to the direction of the Qibla.
  • Hope Gate (Babul Rajaa): It lies between Qibla Gate and Qadi al Hajjat Gate.
  • The Accomplisher of Needs Gate (Bab Qadi al Hajjat): Facing this gate is the market of (Arab) merchants. It is known by this name after Imam Mahdi (May Allah hasten his relief).
  • The Martyrs Gate (Babul Shuhada): This gate is located in the middle of the eastern side of the courtyard. From this gate, the visitor heads towards al Abbass (PBUH) Shrine. It is known by this name after the martyrs of Taff Battle.
  • Peace Gate (Baabul Salam): It is in the middle of the northern side. It is known by this name because the visitors greet the Imam (PBUH) in the direction of this gate. Facing the door is the Peace Alley.
  • The Plum Gate (Babul Sidra) :This gate is to the far northwest of the courtyard. It is known by this name after the Plum tree (Sidra) with which the visitors during the First Hijri Century used to mark the location of the grave of Imam Hussain (PBUH). Facing the gate is al Sidra Street.
  • Sultania Gate: This gate is to the west of the Holy Shrine. It is known by this name after one of the Ottoman sultans who constructed it.
  • Honor Gate (Babul Karama): This gate is located to the far northeast of the courtyard. It is next to al Shuhada Gate. It is known by this name to honour Imam Hussain (PBUH).
  • The Holy Head Gate (Babul Ras Shareef): This gate is in the middle of the western side of the holy courtyard. It is known for this name because it faces the place of the Holy Head of Imam Hussain (PBUH).
  • Zeinabiyah Gate: It is located to the southwest of the courtyard. It is called as such in honour of the Zeinabi Hill that faces it.

Taremah (Iwan al Zahab) The Golden Hall:  It overlooks the Holy Courtyard from the southern side. It has a high but unlevelled ceiling. It is high from the middle but low from both sides. The ceiling rests on pillars from exquisite marble. The hall is rectangular with a length of 36 meters and a width of 10 meters. Its walls are coated with pure gold and ornamented with dappled mosaic, while the rest of the walls are plated with glazed tiles. This hall is separated from the courtyard by a metallic rails. The visitors pass through both sides to reach the Rawda.

The Hussaini Shrine Museum

It is situated to the north of the shrine in the second floor in the Hussaini Courtyard (Sahn) near al Qibla Gate. It is one of the main important features which were inaugurated in the Holy Hussaini Shrine, and it comprises many ancient valuables and gifts which were offered by kings, princes, and the devotees of Imam Hussain (PBUH) to his shrine along time. These valuables were kept in secret treasures; some were stolen at various times, and what was left was exhibited in the museum.

As you step inside the museum, you see a long clay pillar similar to the 12 pillars present in the shrine. It is broken in the middle, and it rests on a crystal ball with a seven-centimetre-diameter with “Ya Hussain” written on it. It’s a kind of art blended with philosophy.

The museum is in fact a large hall divided into wooden sections – all of which are painted in green gradations mixed with white to stand for the life of Imam Hussain and its purity. There you find many marvellous items including potteries, seals, valuables, gates, carpets, swords, rifles, pendants, jewellery, and different ceramics besides some symbols for severed palms, the sun, and beacons – all of which made from pure gold and silver.

Intellectual and Cultural Affairs Department

Since the day on which the land of Karbala embraced the small palm trees that started shooting up high on its land while the light breeze trifles its tangling branches Karbala became an oasis. Beneath the shadows of its palm trees, every tired traveller rests and every deserted lover rests seeking reunion. Today it is a garden – the destination of everyone whose conviction leads him to visit as there he would find the serenity the heart needs and the proof the mind pursues. In this department, the newcomer relieves his heart with novel wisdoms and provides his mind with books of knowledge and evident proofs.

This department was completely rehabilitated by the onset of 1426 A.H. and provided with the most developed scientific methods and designs the reader needs so as to furnish him with the sources and references in the various religious and humanistic and practical sciences. The department had special sections with various units that have their role in the intellectual and cultural levels and on the level of providing services for the readers what is reflected positively on the cognitive and cultural general awareness of the community.

Among the main sections comprised by the Intellectual and Cultural Affairs Department, we mention:

The Hussaini Shrine Library:

It is located to the right of al Qibla Gate. The date of its establishment goes back to 1399 AH / 1979 AD. It includes several printed books and manuscripts in addition to priceless Quranic manuscripts.

It is one of the sections of the Intellectual and Cultural Affairs Department and the largest section as well among them. This section includes various activities and diverse units; they are as follows: The Borrowing Unit which seeks to provide the reader with the book he desires with different means via The Indexing Unit. This unit works at categorizing books according to the most advanced means internationally. It is called the LC world system. This helps the researcher and the reader to reach their targets quickly.

Karbala Center for Studies and Researches

The center was established in 2013 AD. It is one of the pioneer scientific institutes in the Hussaini Holy Shrine. The idea for establishing it was initiated by the Secretariat-General of the Hussaini Holy Shrine. Karbala Center for Studies and Researches seeks to undertake an effective and important role as per human and scientific studies and researches that concern the city of Holy Karbala through finding a common background for continuous contact among men of intellect, vision, and decision, besides cooperation among the various similar local, regional, and international institutions to achieve the common goals.

The activities of the scientific center target several strategic scientific projects which it seeks to achieve. That mainly includes:

  • The project of writing an encyclopaedia under the title: Cultural Karbala. The center seeks to write the history of the city of Holy Karbala from all its religious and social aspects in an encyclopaedia that observes the scientific controls characterized by precision, objectivity, and comprehensiveness and that meets the needs of our current time.
  • The project of following the stops made by Imam Hussain (PBUH) in his journey within the Iraqi borders: This is one of the pioneer projects adopted by the center since 2014 AD. until our day. This project seeks to confirm the stops Imam Hussain – the Father of the Free – (PBUH) made on his path until reaching Karbala – the venue of his immortal humanistic revolution in year 61 A.H.
  • The project of writing an encyclopaedia on the Holy Visit of Al Arbaeen: In this project, the center seeks to document Al Arbaeen visit and the course undertaken by the devotees of Imam Hussain (PBUH) to reach his shrine since the Battle of Karbala took place until our day besides documenting it in international circles among the UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage (The Memory of the World) as it is one of the rites of Muslims.
The Investigation Section:

Its mission is to investigate the written manuscripts. In fact investigation depends fully  on the existence of written manuscripts. That’s because the investigator can’t assume his investigational activity without the existence of the written manuscript even if the book was written before. Thus the existence of the manuscript is of great importance.

The Electronic Library:    

This is one of the distinguished sections in its activities and size which meets the needs of researchers and readers of various cultures and ages. It aims at programming, designing, following, and updating the website of the Intellectual and Cultural Section which represents the Library of the Holy Hussaini Shrine and informing about the contents and activities of this section. It also seeks to publish the cultural and intellectual researches and articles worldwide.

Religious Tourism Department in the Hussaini Holy Shrine

The Religious Tourism Department in the Hussaini Holy Shrine sets a weekly and monthly scheduled plan for visiting the holy shrines in Iraq for low prices and in the best modern cars with air conditioning for the comfort of the visitors. That is in addition to daily visits for all citizens who wish to make a visit whether they are Iraqis or non-Iraqis. They can check the ticket counter facing Sidra Gate.

Besides land transportation, the department contacts airways to provide airline reservations to the Islamic Republic in Iran around the clock. In fact, the plan of the tourism department is expanding to provide international airline reservations to all countries global worldwide.

Media Department in the Hussaini Holy Shrine

The Media Department is divided into several sections (the administration section, the publication section, the internet section, the external radio station, and the internal radio station). In their turn these sections are subdivided into various units….

The secretariat-general of the Hussaini Holy Shrine shows special interest in the Media Department as it has a direct impact on addressing people via publications it issues besides the external radio station that helps reaching the desired goal – which is conveying the composed meaningful word which is based on the pillars of the Ahlulbeit (PBUT) school especially that we are living in an age where obscurities and rumours have mushroomed.

Imam Hussain Holy Shrine Radio Station

The Radio station was established on Muharram 1st, 1426 AH. It started as a very simple station. It was run by one person and all its equipment were a personal computer and a simple loud speaker. Its location was ahead al Qiblah Gate in the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussain, and its area was no more than 15 m2. It used to broadcast the Ashura rituals live from the Holy Hussaini Courtyard (Sahn) and other readymade subject matter.

When the administration realized that it is a must to continue broadcasting, they launched in rehabilitating the venue on the construction level. A studio was set up in addition to some equipment. With the onset of the year of 1427 AH, and on the first of Muharram, the actual broadcasting started on daily and continuous basis. The broadcasting period starts at 10 a.m., and it ends with concluding night prayers. The cadre then consisted of 6 people. However today, with the development initiated in all administrative and technical fields and with an unlimited support from the administration of the Holy Shrine, the broadcasting scope expanded to cover four provinces: Holy Karbala, Holy Najjaf, Baghdad, and Wasset.

The Main Projects of the Holy Hussaini Shrine

The Hussaini Shrine found a need to construct several projects that add beauty to the area and provide the needs of the visitors.

  • Imam Hussain Flower Nursery: It provides all the areas and squares surrounding the two holy shrines with flowers and seasonal and perennial plants of various beautiful types and colours.
  • Al Hussain Agricultural City: This project covers the needs of the market with the agricultural products and vegetables the visitors need especially in Ziyara seasons.
  • Sayyed Shuhada Services Compound: It comprises two underground floors and four floors above the floor. It includes sanitary units, toilets, ablution units, and sanitary units for the disabled as well as a restaurant, a kitchen, a section for VIPs and a section for women halls, meeting halls, a religious school that hosts 700 students.
  • Imam Hussain Ambassador Services Compound: It comprises four floors. It consisted of a clinic equipped with the most advanced technologies and apartments for the guests of the Shrine.
  • Imam Hussain Quranic Compound: Karbala-Baghdad Road (Delivery: 85%)
  • Imam Hussain Center for Autism Patients: Karbala – Baghdad Road (Delivery: 81%)
  • Model Compound for orphanages – Al Hurr Road (Delivery:  72%)
  • Imam Hussain Center for Treating Cancerous Tremors – Al Hurr Road (Delivery: 59%)
  • The Seal of Prophets Hospital for Heart Diseases in Holy Karbala Province (Delivery: 28%).

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