Imam Reza shrine
Imam Reza Holy Shrine, the glory of Islamic World, located in the heart of Mashhad, Iran serves as the nation’s spiritual capital of Iran. Imam Reza shrine complex, also known as the Haram, is the second largest city in Iran today with 3 million inhabitants which owes much of its significance to the Imam Reza shrine which has been built and rebuilt numerous times over the course of history.
Mashhad is the burial site of Ali Ibn Musa al-Ridha, the eighth imam in the Twelver Shi’a tradition and is better known to Persian speakers as “Imam Reza”. Born in 765 AD in Medina, Imam Reza traveled to and spent the later years of his life in Khorasan, a historical region that spans what is today northeastern Iran, Western Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.
Shi’a sources agree that in 818 AD, Harun al-Rashid’s son and successor Al-Mammon martyred Imam Reza with poisoned grapes in the city of Tus. Imam Reza’s resting place became known as “Mashhad” or “Mashhad al-Ridha”, meaning “the place of martyrdom”, making Imam Reza the only Shi’a imam to be martyred and buried inside Iran’s modern borders.
Imam Reza Haram, the most religiously sacred place in Iran, is the largest mosque in the world by dimension and the second largest mosque by capacity. The complex also contains the Goharshad Mosque, the Central Library Complex, the Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, the Islamic Research Foundation, offices, a hospital, 4 seminaries, museums, a cemetery, a dining hall for pilgrims, 9 courtyards (Sahn), 26 porches (Riwaq), and several vast prayer halls and other buildings.
As the most beautiful religious complex in the world, Imam Reza Shrine attracts more than 25 million visitors annually. The holy burial chamber is connected to a network of 26 porches (Riwaq), covering an area of 5638 square meters. Riwaqs are the roofed buildings with different heights and designs built around the holy burial chamber during various phases of one thousand and two hundred years long history of the holy shrine.
After the 26 Riwaqs, there are 9 courtyards (Sahns) and 4 sanctuaries (Bast) around the holy shrine which occupy a total area of 331578 square meters.
Sahns (courtyards) are the magnificent buildings within the holy shrine where the pilgrims perform religious services like congregational prayers, anniversary ceremonies of martyrdoms and birthdays of Imams. The couryards are very magnificent and known as the living crafts of their designers and architects.
The nine Sahns (courtyards) are as follows:
The 4 Basts (the sanctuaries) are as follows:
Naqqar Khana is a term for a drum house or orchestra pit during ceremonies. The name literally means drum (Naqqar/Naubat)-house (khana). Beating drums in Naqqar Khana was customary in the past upon the occurrence of an important event or the attendance of royal members in royal courts. In 1455 A.D Baisonqor, Shahrokh Mirza’s son, the Timurid Sultan, came to Mashhad from Heart. At that time drums were beaten to announce his presence in the holy shrine. His son was seriously sick and was rejected by all physicians at the time and he was visiting Imam Reza in hope for a miracle.
Baisonqor was miraculously healed in the holy shrine and the drums were beaten once again. Since then, this action is performed every day before sunrise and sunset (except at mourning times). The drums are also beaten when any sick pilgrim gets miraculously healed at the holy shrine.
There is a Saqqa Khaneh (a public place for drinking water) in the middle of Qods Yard (sahn), which was inaugurated in 1990. This Saqqa Khaneh was built in the shape of Masjid al-aqsa, the first Qeblah of Muslims situated in Jerusalem.
In Shiism, the concept of Saqqa Khaneh is more significant than merely serving water. This way the Shiite try to honor and commemorate the tragic event of Karbala and martyrdom of Imam Hussein and that of his loyal companions who were martyred after remaining thirsty for 3 complete days.