Askariya Shrine

This article is about the Iraqi mosque. For the medieval Egyptian capital, please see Al-Askar.
Al ‘Askarī Mosque

Shrine of the 10th and 11th Twelver Shī‘ah Imāms:
‘Alī an-Naqī and Hasan al-‘Askarī

Basic information
Location Iraq Sāmarrā, Iraq
Geographic coordinates 34°11′56″N 43°52′24″E / 34.19878°N 43.87338°E / 34.19878; 43.87338Coordinates: 34°11′56″N 43°52′24″E / 34.19878°N 43.87338°E / 34.19878; 43.87338

Affiliation Shia (Twelver)
Completed 944

Al ‘Askarī Mosque or the ‘Askariyya Mosque/Shrine (Arabic: مرقد الامامين علي الهادي والحسن العسكريMarqad al-Imāmayn ‘Alī l-Hādī wa l-Ħassan al-‘Askarī) is a Shī‘ah Muslim holy site located in the Iraqi city of Sāmarrā 125 km (78 mi) from Baghdad. It is one of the most important Shī‘ah mosques in the world, built in 944.[1] Its dome was destroyed in a bombing by extremists in February 2006 and its two remaining minarets were destroyed in another bombing in June 2007, causing widespread anger amongst Shī‘ah Muslims. The remaining clock tower was also destroyed in July 2007.[2] The remains of the 10th and 11th Shī‘ah Imāms, ‘Alī al-Hādī ("an-Naqī") and his son Hasan al-‘Askarī, known as: al-‘Askariyyain ("the two ‘Askarīs"), rest at the shrine.[3] Also buried within the Mosque are: Hakimah Khātūn, sister of ‘Alī al-Hādī; and Narjis Khātūn, the mother of Muħammad al-Mahdī.[4] Adjacent to this shrine is another mosque, built over the location where the Twelfth or "Hidden" Imām, Muħammad al-Mahdī first entered the Minor Occultation.

The ‘Askariyya Shrine is also known as the "Tomb or Mausoleum of the Two Imāms", "the Tomb of Imāms ‘Alī al-Hādī and Hasan al-‘Askarī" and "al-Hadhratu l-‘Askariyya".

Time magazine reported at the time of the 2006 bombing that:
al-Askari [is] one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest sites, exceeded in veneration only by the shrines of Najaf and Karbala. Even Samarra's Sunnis hold al-Askari in high esteem. The expression 'to swear by the shrine' is routinely used by both communities".[5]

History

The Imāms ‘Alī al-Hādī ("an-Naqī") and Hassan al-‘Askarī lived under house arrest in the part of Samarra that had been Caliph al-Mu'tasim's military camp (‘Askaru l-Mu‘tasim). As a result, they are known as the ‘Askariyyain "Dwellers in the Camp". They died and were buried in their house on Abī Ahmad Street near the mosque built by Mu‘tasim.[4] A later tradition attributes their deaths to poison.

Nasir ad-Din Shah Qajar undertook the latest remodelling of the shrine in 1868, with the golden dome added in 1905. Covered in 72,000 gold pieces and surrounded by walls of light blue tiles, the dome was a dominant feature of the Samarra skyline. It was approximately 20 m (66 ft) in diameter by 68 m (223 ft) high.

Bombings

2006 attack

On 22 February 2006, at 6:55 am local time (0355 UTC) explosions occurred at the mosque, effectively destroying its golden dome and severely damaging the mosque. Several men belonging to Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups affiliated with Al-Qaida, one wearing a military uniform, had earlier entered the mosque, tied up the guards there and set explosives, resulting in the blast. Two bombs were set off[6][7] by five[8] to seven[9] men dressed as personnel of the Iraqi Special forces[10] who entered the shrine during the morning.[11]

2007 attack

At around 8 am on 13 June 2007, operatives belonging to al-Qaeda destroyed the two remaining 36 m (118 ft)-high golden minarets flanking the dome's ruins. No fatalities were reported. Iraqi police have reported hearing "two nearly simultaneous explosions coming from inside the mosque compound at around 8 am"[12] A report from state run Iraqiya Television stated that "local officials said that two mortar rounds were fired at the two minarets."[12]

Reopening

In late 2007, the Iraqi government conducted a contract with a Turkish company to rebuild the mosque. The Iraqi government later cancelled the contract due to delays by the Turkish company.[13] Furthermore, As of April 2009, the golden dome and the minarets have been restored and the shrine reopened to visitors.[13]

See also

References

Further reading


  • Abstract (characteristic of Smithsonian feature articles): "In 2006, sectarian violence engulfed Iraq after terrorists destroyed the Mosque of the Golden Dome, built on a site sacred to Shiites for 1,100 years. Today, Sunnis and Shiites are working together to restore the shrine and the war-torn city."
  • ICOMOS Heritage at Risk 2006/2007: Iraq, Askariya Shrine

External links

  • Ernst Herzfeld Papers, Records of Samarra Expeditions, Shiite Shrine Complex Collections Search Center, S.I.R.I.S., Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • Ernst Herzfeld Papers, Series 7: Records of Samarra Expeditions, 1906–1945 Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • Images of the destruction: before and after
  • BBC picture gallery
  • BBC video
  • NYT picture gallery
  • Disappointment in Samarra


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