Wednesday, April 14, 2004


As I remarked in my previous post, there is a seige in Falluja. Many of you probably know that the occupation is currently positioning to do the same thing in Najaf, the holiest site in the Shiite tradition. Now clearly, this is where things get a bit dicey. I won't go into details about what this seige might mean if it goes badly. I would prefer to wait and see. However, I would like to share a bit of history. One of the things about a lot of Americans (myself included) is that I don't imagine we have a very good understanding of Islam, either religiously or historically. This may be obvious, but rather than simply point to the bare-faced reasons for our ignorance, allow me to take a moment to shed to a little light:

"The valley that Abraham wanted to buy is called the Valley of Peace (Wadiu's-Salaam), and it is related on the authority of the first Imam, that Ali once said that this ValIey of Peace is part of Heaven and that there is not a single one of the believers in the world, whether he dies in the east or west, but his soul will come to this Paradise to rest.2 "As there is nothing hidden in this world from my eyes," Ali went on to say, "I see all the believers seated - here in groups and talking with one another."

How Najaf was given its name is explained in the tradition. At first there was a mountain there, and when one of the sons of Noah refused to enter the Ark, he said that he would sit on this mountain until he would see where the water would come. A revelation came therefore to the mountain, "Do you undertake to protect this son of mine from punishment?" And all at once the mountain fell. to pieces and the son of Noah was drowned. In place of the mountain a large river appeared, but after a few years the river dried up, and the place was called Nay-Jaff, meaning, "the dried river."3

And so as per the prediction of Abraham, Imam Ali was buried here.

this is taken from a website, "History of the shrine of Imam Ali ibn muhammad"

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