The Short History of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (A.S)
Dar-ul-Imarah (Royal Residence) or the garden of Hamid-Ibn-Qahtabeye Taii was a fortress in the village of Sanabad.It dates back to the era before the Islam religion. It had been placed at the fork road of Sanabad, Neishaboor, Sarakhs, Toos, and Radkan.In fact, this fortress has been a place for the frontier guards to take position and establish the security of these roads and regions .After the demise of Haroon, he was buried in this place. Due to this historical event, the Dar-ul-Imarah was known as the Mausoleum of Harooniyyeh.
Mamoon-the Abbasid caliph -, due to the failure of his dishonest policies on appointing Imam Reza (A.S) as his successor for cooling down the conditions and suppressing the rebellions , decided to martyr Imam Reza(A.S).So, he poisoned the holy Imam (A.S),in Toos.
Mamoon, after fulfilling his plot, deceitfully participated in the funeral ceremony, and mourned over the martyrdom of Imam Reza (A.S).In order to acquit himself of the crime, he ordered to bury Imam Reza (A.S) in the mausoleum of Harooniyyeh, adjacent to the grave of his father.
The original inner building of Dar-ul-Imarah has been in fact a temple used by the Zoroastrians to worship. This building was demolished by the order of Mamoon, and then it was reconstructed according to the special architecture of Khorasan.Four plain and short walls, covered with a low-slope dome, were constructed around the building. Afterwards, the name of the mausoleum (Harooniyyeh) was changed and known as the Mashhad-ur-Reza, due to the Holy Imam (A.S).
The first and oldest grave stone, installed over the Holy Tomb of Imam Reza (A.S), is a marble one, and is now preserved in the Central Museum of Astan Quds Razavi.This sacred stone is 40cm in long, 30cm in width and 6cm in diameter. In addition to the 55th holy Verse of the Ma'idah Surah (one of the chapters of the glorious Quran), and stating some invocations upon the Holy Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.W), and his respected descendants (A.S), the Holy Phrase of Allah o-Akbar"(God is the greatest), has been engraved on the adytum shape or design in the middle of the stone. Then a sentence has been added to the Holy Phrase of Allah-o-Akbar", representing the related history of the stone dates going back to the early years of the sixth century of Hijrah.This expression is as follows:" This is the Holy Mausoleum of Imam Reza (A.S).Do invoke Allah -the Exalted-and Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.W) and His Holy Households (A.S) when visiting here. And do not be among the ignorant.Sha'aban.516 (A.H)."
In the course of time, the mentioned grave-stone was covered with a cubic chest.Then; the mentioned chest was also changed into a burial chamber, known as the Holy Zarih (burial chamber), and installed over the Holy Tomb. It seems that paying homage to the Holy Imam (A.S) and also ever-increasing the number of pilgrims and their needs and inclinations to supplicate and implore for Imam's help which is apparently fulfilled through touching His burial chamber ,are two main reasons for constructing Zarih(burial chamber) and installing it over the Holy Tomb of Imam Reza(A.S).
The exact date of installing chest (Sandouq) over the Holy Tomb of Imam Reza (A.S) is not known, but some historians believe that the first chest (Sandouq) was installed over the Holy Tomb at the time of burying the Holy body of Imam Reza (A.S) in this place .But this date is also in doubt. It is certain that the first chest(Sandouq),installed over the Holy Tomb, dates back to 500A.H , and three chests(Sandouq) were made and installed over the Holy Tomb up to this time .
The first chest (Sandouq) was a wooden and silver-coated one. This chest (Sandouq) was constructed by Anooshiravane Zoroastrian Esfahani.
Ibn-Batutah, one of the most distinguished tourists in the world of Islam, had a trip to the region of Toos and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine.
The following is a description of the Holy Shrine and the mentioned chest (Sandouq), given by him in his travel account.
:A wooden and silver-coated chest(Sandouq) has been installed over the Holy Tomb of Imam Reza(A.S).Its lanterns and a part of its entrance have been made of silver.Also,a curtain made of gold threads , can be observed over the mentioned door. The domed pavilion has been covered with various types of carpets."
This description proves that the Holy Shrine has been the focus of attention , and people ,from all around the country , have been coming to this holy place to make a pilgrimage to Imam Reza(A.S).These pilgrims ,also have been endeavoring to construct and flourish the Holy Shrine ,as much as they can do.
The second chest (Sandouq) was constructed in 1022 A.H by the order of Shah Abbas the king of the Safavid dynasty-.According to his order, the first chest (Sandouq) was removed, and the second one, which was a wooden chest (Sandouq) and coated with a thick layer of gold, was installed over the Holy Tomb. This chest (Sandouq) enjoyed some inscriptions carved by Ali Reza Abbasi-the most distinguished calligraphist during the era of the Safavid dynasty-.
The following is one of the inscriptions carved on the back side of the mentioned chest (Sandouq).
: With the highest regards, Abbas-al-Husseini-al-Moosavi-al-Safavi, (1022 A.H)."
The mentioned chest (Sandouq) had been decayed and eroded over the years. So, it was removed in 10011 A.H.Its golden-coated layers were taken off, and then transferred to the Treasury of Astan Quds Razavi.Also, its gilt inscriptions were transferred to the Museum of Astan Quds Razavi.
The third chest (Sandouq) had been made of polished green marble .This chest (Sandouq) was constructed and installed over the Holy Tomb by the late Hajj Hussein Zanjani-ye-Hajjar Bashi (one of the voluntary servants of Astan Quds Razavi).
The marbles applied in this chest, had been polished in such a way that the light easily passed through it so that objects behind could be seen clearly. Due to this reason, a light had been placed inside the chest (Sandouq) to improve the Holy Burial Chamber's spirituality and magnificence.
It is worth mentioning that the Holy tomb (the old one) was removed and transferred to the Museum of Astan Quds Razavi, during the recent project of making and installing the fifth Burial Chamber(Holy Zarih). The newly-constructed Holy Tomb is a solid marble which has been covered and shaped with the utmost and elegant style.
The window, installed in the Dar-ul- Ejabah portico, has been placed parallel to the Holy Burial Chamber, in a distance of about 15 m.
The design of the previous Holy Zarih (burial chamber) was an Indian design, but the present one enjoys an Islamic Iranian design, which is a unique art in the world.
The new gravestone installed over the Holy Tomb of Imam Reza (A.S), is a solid green marble, which has been carved and shaped with the utmost polished and elegant style.
Some of the Holy Verses of the Holy Quran, including: Tathir (Purification), Obey Allah the Exalted - and his holy prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.W), and also the Holy Tradition of Theghelain, and the date of the birthday and martyrdom of Imam Reza (A.S), have been inscribed on the Holy Tomb.
The area of the courtyards in the Holy Shrine, has been increased from 19000sq.m to 71000sq.m after ending the projects of constructing three courtyards including: Quds courtyard, Jumhuri-e-Islami courtyard, and Razavi Grand courtyard, after the glorious victory of the Islamic Revolution. Some of the other courtyards are also in the process of constructing. In the case of accomplishing these projects, the area of the courtyards would be increased to about 107764sq.m.
In the near future, there would be constructed two other courtyards- Ghadir and Kowthar- in the Holy Shrine, at the two sides of the Razavi Grand Courtyard.
The new Holy Zarih (burial chamber) of Imam Reza (A.S) weighs 12 tons.
Due to the heaviness of the pieces of the Holy Burial Chamber, It took 20 hours to transfer and carry them to the Holy Shrine from the workroom.
The present Holy Zarih (burial chamber) is the fifth burial chamber installed on the Holy Tomb of Imam Reza (A.S). It is worth mentioning that the first one was a wooden burial chamber, and the second and third burial chambers had been made of steel. Also, the fourth burial chamber had been studded with gold and silver.
The project of constructing and installing the Holy Zarih (burial chamber) was completed after about 55 days efforts, round -the clock.
There are 14 orifices around the Holy Burial Chamber. These orifices led to a large orifice. The Holy Name of Allah the Exalted- has been inscribed on the summit of this large orifice.
The second Holy Zarih (burial chamber), installed on the Holy Tomb of Imam Reza (A.S), was an endowment one. According to its endowment deed, it should be installed permanently on the Holy Tomb of Imam Reza (A.S). Due to this reason, the mentioned burial chamber was transferred to the downstair, about 2/5m below the surface, and installed on the Holy Tomb. In fact, there are two burial chambers over the Holy Tomb of Imam Reza (A.S).