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The Holy City of Najaf (Iraq)

1 - DEFINITION OF THE CITY: Najaf is one of the sacred cities of Iraq, the Door of the Greatest Prophet's Knowledge (may the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him and his pure progeny), the capital of his jurisprudence, sciences of the pure Progeny. It is also a burial ground of son of Ka'aba, the Martyr of Mihrab, Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (peace be upon him), it is also a source of (marjaiyyah) authority and (taqlid) imitation, a cradle of scientific and literary movements, mother of sciences, piety, poetry, and (jihad) holy war.
2 - THE LOCATION OF THE CITY: Najaf is located on the edge of western plateau of Iraq, at southwest of Baghdad the capital city of Iraq, with 160 km far from the capital. It is rised upon sea level with almost 70 meters, and is situated on the longitude of 19 degree and 44 minutes, as well as on the latitude of 31 degree and 59 minutes. This city is boarded from north and northwest by Karbalaa city (which is 80 km far from the city), and from the south and west by low sea of Najaf, and Abi Sukhair (which is 18 km far from the city) and from the east by Kufah city (which is 10 km far from the city).
3 - FOUNDING : Indeed, nowadays Najaf is the same Najaf Al-Kufah (differing from Najaf Al-Hairah). It is also Arabian town as well as a summer resort in ancient time for Al-Manaazirah (kings of Al-Hairah). They do spread the Christian monasteries in the city before the Islamic conquer, but the city changed and became a big city, its range was expanded and its inhabitants became crowded, this is because of existence of Imam Ali's holy shrine (peace be upon him) which gave the city a mark of holiness and respect. The city then became a center of religious leadership along with a resort of scientific figures. Najaf is an Arabian name, which has been derived from (Al-Manjuf), its plural is Najaaf (means a place where water can not overtop), because it is a high land similar to a hill which it use to block or prevent water to things close to it. Also the word Najaf is refer to a hill. Najaf was given various names which some of them came in tradition of Ahlulbait (peace be upon them), some of those names were circulated by them, such as: Baanqiya, Al-Judi, Ar-Rabwah, Zahrul Kufah, Al-Gharbi, Al-Lisaan, At-Tur. Of them are common use like Najaf, Al-Ghar'yi, and Mashhad. It was reported that Najaf was a great mountain which son of Noah said about said: (I will betake myself for refuge to a mountain that shall protect me from the water) but the mountain was broke into piece and became sand by the Will of Allah. The name of that sea was (Niy) and later on became (Niy jaf) then changed to Najaf, because of fluentness of pronunciation.
4 - THE EXPANSION AND CONSTRUCTION: In year 170 A.H. after appearance of Commander of Faithful Imam Ali's holy shrine (peace be upon him), Najaf became a city with a big number of buildings, as the constructional work of the city continued gradually until it became a well developed city. Constructional work of Najaf is divided into 3 stages:
FIRST: Construction stage of Ad-du Dulah Al-Buwaihi which extended from year 338 A.H. until 9th century of Hijri, and he represents a prosperity vigor of Najaf whereas he built a first fence surrounded the city, then Abu Muhammed bun Sahlaan Alwazir Al-Buwaihi built the second fence in year 400 A.H.
SECOND: This stage which occurred between 9th century A.H. until the middle of 13th century A.H. In this period the buildings of the city became old and its brilliance disappeared, due to the war between Turks and Persians.
THIRD: This is the last stage which began from the middle of the 13th century A.H. when splendour and promotion returned to the city. Mean while many constructional, cultural, and service changes occurred after the district became subsidiary to the Kar'bala province.
- Between year 550 A.H.- 656 A.H. Abbasids Caliph An-Naasir Li Deenillah, paid a great attention to the city. The construction work included repairing of Imam Ali's holy shrine (peace be upon him).
Sadrul A'zam Nizamu Dawlah Muhammed Husain Al-Alaf (vazier of Fat'h Ali Shah Al-Qajari)commanded that the biggest and strongest fence should be built around the city after several attacks occurred on the sanctuaries by Wahhabis from Najd. This incident took place in year 1227 A.H. / 1810 A.D.
- At the end of 7th and 8th centuries A.H., and during the time of Al-Ilkhaniyah and Al-Jala'iriyah kings in Iraq, Najaf observed a big constructional progress and became crowded for the inhabitants, as a scientific schools were also constructed.
The domestic Company founded a railway in year 1325 A.H. which connected the city with the Kufah.
- In year (1325 A.H. / 1908 A.D.) A Railway was set up by a national company which connects between Najaf and Kufah.
- In year 1348 A.H. / 1929 A.D. Najaf connected to the Kufah by water pipes, as pumps were also installed to push water to it. While before the city was depending on canal wells and small rivers to take its water from Furat River which is far from the city.
- In year 1350 A.H. / 1931 A.D. during the period of the successor Sayyid Jafar Hamandi, the regional government opened five doors in the city fence and planned for a wide square in the southern part of the city, then the merchants and inhabitants of the city began to build palaces, houses, coffeehouses, gardens, and shops.
- The city Emirs established various schools, gardens, and parks, and a wide hospital. This new district was called (Al-Ghaziyah ) which was derived from the name of the king Ghazi.
- Railway was taken away in year 1948 A.H. when it be came easy for the cars to be carrying people between Najaf and Kufah as the road is made between them.
5 - THE FEATURES : Najaf is a wide city situated on a high hill and a spacious sandy land, surrounded from northeast with a wide area of tombs and domes. Some of these tombs and domes are ruined and some are still firmed. This great graveyard is called Wadi Salam. Also, the graveyard overtops the dry sea of Najaf at west, and one who comes from a far distance can observe the holy shrine of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) situated in the central part of the city, whose dome appeared more luminous when the sun shines to its golden pieces.
The city area reaches to 1338 kilometers square. Its streets are straight and wide, buildings are very high, markets are planned and spacious particularly the big market of the city which starts from the eastern fence of the city and ends to the courtyard of Imam Ali's holy shrine (peace be upon him).
THE OLD DISTRICTS OF THE CITY:
- Al-Ala'a district: It is situated at southeast corner of holy courtyard, and it is now known as Al-Mishraq district.
- Al-Imaarah district: This district is situated at the northern part of Al-Ala'a district and at the northeast corner of the courtyard. It is the biggest district among the old Najaf.
- Al-Huwaish district: It is also situated at the western part of Al-Imaarah district and it overtops on the northwest corner of the courtyard.
- Al-Buraq district: It is situated at the southern part of Al-Huwaish district, and is among the newest district of Najaf city.
The new and modern residential districts of the city are: Al-Emir district, Al-Ghadeer district, As-Sa'ad district, Al-Hananah district, Al-Jadidah district, Al-Iskan district, Al-Ulama'a district, and Al-Muthna district.
THE STREETS OF THE CITY: The streets of the city are as follows: Al-Medina street, Ar-Rasul street (May the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him and his pure progeny), Imam Zainul Abidin street (peace be upon him), Imam As-Sadiq street (peace be upon him), Al-Kufah street, As-Sur street, Al-Khuranq street, As-Sadeer street, At-Tusi street, Abi Sukhair street.
THE TOMBS OF THE CITY AND(maqaamat)SITES:
- Tomb of Imam Ali bun Abi Talib Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him).
- Tomb of God's Prophet Hood and tomb of God's Prophet Saleh (peace be upon both of them).
- Site (maqaam) of Imam Zainul Abidin (peace be upon him).
- Site (maqaam) of Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his glad advent).
- Site (maqaam) of Mohammed bun Al-Hanafiya.
- Site (maqaam) of Ruqayyah Imam Hasan Al-Mujtaba's daughter (peace be upon him).
There are many tombs in Kufah, of them are: - Tomb of Muslim bun Aqil (peace be upon him), tomb of Hani bun urwah (May God be pleased with him), tomb of Maitham At-Tammar (May God be pleased with him), and tomb of Al-Mukhtar bun Abi Ubaidah Ath-Thaqafi.
THE MOSQUES OF NAJAF CITY: - Al-Hananah mosque, Imran bun Shaheen's mosque, Al-Khazra mosque, Ar-Ra'as mosque, Ash-Shaikh At-Tusi's mosque (locates where his grave is), Ash-Shaikh Jafar Ash-Shushtari's mosque, As-Saagha mosque, Al-Haidari's mosque, Al-Murad mosque, Aal Kashif Al-Ghitaa's mosque, Ash-Shaikh Sahib Al-Jawahir mosque, Al-Haj Mirza Husain Al-Khalili's mosque, Safatu Safa mosque, Shaikh Mashkur's mosque, Shaikh Murtadha's mosque, Al-Hindi mosque, Shaikh At-Turaihi's mosque, Aal Al-Mashhadi's mosque, Ali Rafish's mosque, Al-Haj Husain Al-Bihbahani's mosque, Shaikh Aaqa Ridha Al-Hamidani's mosque, and Al-Allamah Hasan Ash-Shirazi's mosque.
THE SCHOOLS OF THE CITY : Al-Miqdad As-Siwari's school or (As-Salimiyah school), Shaikh Mulla Abdullah's school (author of Al-Hashiyah fi Al-Mantiq), Al-Mirza Hasan Ash-Shirazi's school, As-Sadr Al-Aazam's school, Al-Burujirdi's school, Al-Qawam school, Al-Jawharji's school, Al-Irwani's school, Mohammed Amin Al-Qazwini's school, Darul Ilm school (for Sayyid Al-Khuee (may his spirit be sanctified) and was destroyed in year 1991 A.D.), Al-Hindi school, Ash-Sharbiyani's school, Abdul Aziz Al-Baqdadi's school, Amirul Mu'aminin (peace be upon him) school, Al-Haj Husain Al-Khalili As-Suqra's school, Al-Aakhund Al-Kubra's school, Al-Aakhund Al-Wusta's school, Al-Aakhund As-Sughra's school, Sayyid Mohammed Kazim Al-Yazdi's school, Al-Bukhari's school, Darul Hikmah school, Jamiatul Najaf Ad-Diniyah school, Al-Bad'kubaee's school.
THE LIBRARIES OF THE CITY: The library of Al-Haidariyah, the library of Al-Ilmin in At-Tusi's university, the library of Ash-Shushtariyah Husainiya, the library of Al-Qawam school, the library of both schools of Al-Khalili Al-Kubra and Sughra, the library of Shaikh Jafar Al-Kabir, the library of Shaikh Fakhrul Din At-Taraihi, the library of Ar-Rabitatul Ilmiyah, the library of Abdul Aziz Al-Baghdadi, the library of Muntada An-Nashr which has been moved to the jurisprudence college which locates at Kufah street, the Public Library, the library of Al-Burujirdi, the library of university of Najaf, the library of Shaikh Mohammed Baqir Al-Isfahani, the library of Al-Aakhund, the library of Ar-Rahim, the library of Bahrul Ulum, Sayyid Al-Hakim's library, the library of Amirul Mu'minin (Commander of Faithful) (peace be upon him), the library of Al-Ya'aqubi, the library of An-Nuri, the library of Al-Balaaqhi, the library of Al-Khutaba'a, the library of Al-Malali (which is related to Aal Al-Millah), the library of Shaikh Aaqa Buzurg At-Tehrani, and many other libraries in Najaf city.
6 - FROM THE HISTORY MEMORY:
- Khalid bun Al-Walid arrived in Najaf city in year 12 A.H. after conquering Al-Yamamah. He also intended to conquer Al-Hairah but the inhabitants seeked refuge from him in White Palace, and already the Al-Buyab incident has occurred there.
- Sabur Zul Aktaf dug a trench around the city in the western part of Najaf for fearing from Arabs. This trench is still clear between Al-Hairah and Karbala and it is known as (Bakri Sa'adah).
- In year 14 A.H. Najaf was a battle field which Moslems and Persians do exchange encounter between them. Thus, the first poll-tax in Islam was taken from Persians in Banqia area. Banqia is one of the names of this area.
- Al-Khabab bun Al-Arat was the first person to be buried in Najaf in year 37 A.H. and Imam Ali (peace be upon him) prayed on his dead body and asked blessing for him.
- Imam Ali ( peace be upon ) achieved martyrdom in year 40 A.H. / 661 A.D. affected by wounds in Al-Kufah mosque by the stroke and cursed Abdul Rahman bun Muljam Al-Muradi. Then he was entombed in Najaf by two Imams Al-Hasan and Al-Husain and also his family (peace be upon all of them) in accordance to his testament.
The first water flowed after Islam in Najaf in year 250 A.H.. Then Sulaiman bun A'ayun brought it at a famous place name (As-Saniq) after destroying occurred in the city and its gardens. This forced some of its inhabitants to migrate to Qum, and others to Wasit. This ruin is called ( Kharaab Kufah( means Deterioration of Kufah ).
In fourth century of Hijri, the event of Al-Fasiq (means the Sinner) Marrat bun Qais one of the Khawarij occurred, when he intended to exhume Imam Ali's tomb (peace be upon him). Likewise a destroying event of Najaf fence and running away of the inhabitants from the city.
- In year 448 A.H. / 1056 A.D. Najaf became a Center for Religious Studies during the period of Al-Buwaihi, and was strengthened when Shaikh Abu Jafar At-Tusi immigrated to the city after he was oppressed in Baghdad and his books were burnt. Then it became a center for Seminary students coming from all part of the word.
Al-Musha'asha'ee incident occurred in year 508 A.H. . who was a ruler of Al-Jazaer (in the south part of Iraq) and Al-Basrah. He killed Najaf inhabitants and captured others, he also destroyed two holy shrines of Najaf and Karbala.
In year 1032 A.H. Rome besieged Najaf during the time of As-Sultan Salim Al-Uthmani.
In year 1109 A.H. Al-Furat river overflowed and resulted in sinking of Najaf and its suburbs, then some of the leaders dominated on it and plundered whatever was in the city.
Various diseases spreaded in the city during 10th and 11th centuries A.H.. As a result, many inhabitants of the city perished and its constructional movement was stopped.
In year 1228 A.H. / 1813 A.D. and in the period of Shaikh Jafar Al-Kabir, the author of (Kashful Ghita'a), some incidents took place which led to the appearance of war leaders close to the religious government, then Najaf warriors were divided into two groups known as Az-Zakrat and Ash-Shamrat.
In years 1216, 1221 and 1225 A.H. Najaf faced different attacks by the Wahhabis which culminated in killing of its residents, demolition and plundering of the holy shrine of Imam Ali (peace be upon him).
Najaf revolted against Ottoman Turks in year 1333 A.H. / 1915 A.D., and deported them from the city in order never to return.
British entered Najaf city in year 1335 A.H. /1917 A.D., but the city rouse against them and deported them in year 1336 A.H. / 1918 A.D..
IMPORTANT PERSONALITIES: Najaf is the land of Prophets, Righteous men and scholars. Of the prophets who lived in this city are Adam, Noah, and Saleh (peace be upon all of them).
The other important personalities of the city are as follow: 1 - Khabab bun Al-Arat (died in year 37 A.H.).
2 Sahl bun Hanif (died in year 38 A.H.).
3 Kharim bun Al-Akhram (died in year 41 A.H.).
4 - Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari (died in year 42 A.H.).
5 - Al-Ash'ath bun Qais (died in year 42 A.H.).
6 Al-Maghirah bun Shu'bah (died in year 50 A.H.).
7 Samrah bun Junadah (died in year 59 A.H.).
8 Hani bun Ur'wah (died in year 61 A.H.).
9 Maitham At-Tammar (died in year 61 A.H.).
10 Abdullah bun Yaqtar (died in year 61 A.H.).
11 Zaid bun Al-Arqam (died in year 68 A.H.).
12 Udai bun Hatam At-Taee (died in year 68 A.H.).
13 Jabir bun Samrah (died in year 74 A.H.).
14 Kumail bun Ziyad (died in year 82 A.H.).
15 Abdullah bun Awfa (died in year 81 A.H.).
16 Shaikh At-Tusi (died in year 460 A.H.).
17 Sayyid Radhiyu Din Ali bun Tawus (died in year 664 A.H.).
18 Jamalul Din bun Tawus (died in year 673 A.H.).
19 Al-Allamah Al-Hilli (died in year 726 A.H.).
20 Al-Muqaddas Al-Ardabili (died in year 990 A.H.).
21 Shaikh Fakhrul Din At-Turaihi (died in year 1087 A.H.).
22 Shaikh Ahmed Al-Jazairi (died in year 1151 A.H.).
23 Sayyid Mohammed Mahdi Bahrul Ulum (died in year 1212 A.H.).
24 Sayyid Abdullah bun Shabar (died in year 1242 A.H.).
25 Shaikh Ahmed An-Naraqi (died in year 1245 A.H.).
26 Shaikh Murtadha Al-Ansari (died in year 1281 A.H.).
27 Shaikh Razi bun Shaikh Mohammed An-Najafi (died in year 1290 A.H.).
28 Sayyid Mahdi Al-Qazwini (died in year 1300 A.H.).
29 Sayyid Mohammed Hasan Ash-Shirazi (died in year 1312 A.H.).
30 Al-Haj Husain Al-Khalili (died in year 1326 A.H.).
31 Sayyid Mohammed Saeed Al-Habubi (died in year 1333 A.H.).
32 Al-Allamah Sayyid Ali Ad-Damad (died in year 1336 A.H.).
33 Sayyid Mohammed Ridha Al-Astar Abadi (died in year 1346 A.H.).
34 Al-Allamah Mohammed Jawad Al-Balaaghi (died in year 1354 A.H.).
35 Shaikh An-Naeeni (died in year 1355 A.H.).
36 - Shaikh Dhiya'u deen Al-Iraqi (died in year 1361 A.H.).
37 - Sayyid Abul Hasan Al-Isfahani (died in year 1365 A.H. ).
38 Sayyid Mohammed Kazim Al-Yazdi (died in year 1370 A.H.).
39 Shaikh Mohammed Husain bun Shaikh Ali Kashif Al-Ghita'a (died in year 1373 A.H.).
40 Sayyid Muhsin Al-Hakim (died in year 1375 A.H.).
41 Sayyid Abul Qasim Al-Khuee (died in year 1413 A.H.).
42 Sayyid Abdul A'alaa As-Sabzawari (died in year 1414 A.H.).
7 THE REFERENCES:
1 Mawsuatul Najaf Al-Ashraf / Ta'lif Jafar Ad-Dajili / Tab'atul Ula, sanat 1993 A.D. Beirut.
1 Encyclopedia of the Holy Najaf / Authored by Jafar Ad-Dajili / First Edition / Year 1993 A.D Beirut.
2 Thawratun Najaf / Ta'lif Hasan Al-Asadi /Tab'atul ula / Sanat 1975 A.D. Baghdad.
2 Najaf Revolution / Authored by Hasan Al-Asadi / First Edition / Year 1975 A.D. Baghdad.
3 Madhi Najaf Wa Haadhiriha, Mujalladul Ula / Tab'atul Ula / Sanat 1986 A.D.
3 Najaf at Past and Present, Volume One / First Edition / Year 1986 A.D. .
4 Mawsuatul Atabat Al-Muqaddasah / Qismun Najaf / Mujalladul ula / Tab'atul thani / Sanat 1987 A.D. Beirut.
4 Encyclopedia of Holy Shrines / Najaf Section / Volume One / 7th Edition / Year 1987 A.D. Beirut.

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