SHAFAQNA- By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
In Kufah is the tomb of Imam ‘Ali (‘a), which is situated at the back of the city by the side of the white hills. This region is called Ghari and Najaf. It was too dry to support vegetation. After the appearance of Imam ‘Ali’s tomb in this area, the people of Kufah used to bury their dead people there. The modern city of Najaf was established around the tomb of Imam ‘Ali (‘a) and then became the central city of the Najaf Governorate. The city of Kufah became a district attached to it.
The method and merits of visiting the tomb of Imam ‘Ali (‘a) have been cited within the chapter on the virtues of this holy place.
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi has reported on the authority of Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Fadhl, the nephew of Dawud al-Raqqi, that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said: On the days of Noah’s flood, four regions cried to Almighty Allah: the Much-Frequented House, which Almighty Allah thus raised, Ghari, Karbala’, and Tus.1
In his book, entitled Fadhl al-Kufah, Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Hasan al-’Alawi reports, through a chain of authority connected to ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Alqamah Abu’l-Janub, that Imam ‘Ali (‘a) purchased the area between the Khawarnaq Palace and Hirah in Kufah, (or the area between Najaf and Hirah, according to another narration), with forty thousand Dirhams and called some people to witness the contract. “Why have you, Commander of the Faithful (‘a), purchased this land at such a high price while it is barren?” they asked.
He answered: I have heard the Messenger of Allah (S) saying, “Kufan! Kufan! The first of it shall be returned to the last of it (because of complete destruction to which this city will be exposed). From this region, seventy thousand individuals shall be resurrected and allowed to enter Paradise without settling an account with them.” I, therefore, would like these people to be resurrected from my property.2
Badr ibn Khalil al-Asadi has reported on the authority of a man from Sham that Imam ‘Ali (‘a) said: The first region (of the earth) on which Almighty Allah was worshipped is behind Kufah. That was when Almighty Allah ordered the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam (‘a); so, they did at the place behind Kufah.3
Habbah al-’Arani has reported that he once accompanied Imam ‘Ali (‘a) to Kufah. There, the Imam (‘a) stopped at Wadi al-Salam as if he were talking to some people. Following him, I stood with him for so long that I felt worn out. I then sat for a long time until I grew weary. So, I stood up again until I felt tired and had to sit down again. Again, I sat down for so long that I felt weary. The third time, I stood up, gathered my garment, and said, “O Commander of the Faithful (‘a), I feel pity for you because you have been standing for such a long time. Would you like to rest for a while?” I then put the garment on the ground so that he could sit on it.
The Imam (‘a) then said to me, “O Habbah, this has been no more than a discourse with a faithful believer—a kind of pleasure.”
“O Commander of the Faithful (‘a),” I said, “Are they communicating?”
The Imam (‘a) answered, “Yes, they are. If you were now allowed to see the unseen, you would see them in meetings speaking to one another.”
“Are they bodies or spirits?” I asked.
The Imam (‘a) answered: They are spirits. There is no faithful believer that dies in any region on this earth except that his soul is allowed to join Wadi al-Salam, which is also an area in the Garden of Eden.4
Safwan al-Jammal has reported that he once accompanied Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) on a journey from Madinah to Hirah. When they passed over Hirah, the Imam (‘a) asked Safwan to lead the riding-animals to the road that led to Ghari. When they reached that place, the Imam (‘a) took out a thin rope made of coir which he had carried with him and then moved many steps away from the road towards the west. He then stretched that rope and stopped at its other end. He then tapped the ground with his hands and took a handful of dust that he smelt for a long time. He then walked towards the place where Imam ‘Ali’s tomb lay. On the tomb, he spread the dust with his blessed hand, took a handful of it, smelt it, and sobbed so heavily that I thought he had passed away. When he recovered consciousness, he said, “This is, by Allah, the burial place of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a).”
The Imam (‘a) then drew a sketch.
I asked him, “O son of Allah’s Messenger (‘a), what had made the rightful members of Muhammad’s Household (‘a) refrain from showing this burial place to the people?”
The Imam (‘a) answered, “They feared lest the descendants of Marwan and the Khawarij would damage this place.”
Safwan then asked the Imam (‘a) how to visit the tomb of Imam ‘Ali (‘a), and the Imam (‘a) instructed: To visit his tomb, you should bathe yourself, put on two new or clean and ceremonially pure garments, and use a perfume, although it is acceptable without this. When you are about to leave your house, you may say, “I am leaving my house, seeking Allah’s bounty… etc.”5
Sahlah (or Suhayl) Mosque is one of the holy places of Kufah. Many traditions report the merits of this mosque, such as Imam al-Sadiq’s saying: Any aggrieved person who visits al-Sahlah Mosque, performs the Maghrib and ‘Isha’ Prayers thereat, and supplicates, Almighty Allah will most certainly have his grief relieved by Him.6
Other traditions hold that Sahlah Mosque is the place where the prophets and righteous persons offered prayers since the time of Prophet Abraham (S) and even before that.
Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn Aban that he, accompanied by others, visited Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) who asked if any one of them had something to tell about Zayd ibn ‘Ali, the Imam’s uncle. One the attendants thus related, “I do. One night, we gathered at the house of Mu’awiyah ibn Ishaq al-Ansari who called us to visit Sahlah Mosque and to offer a prayer thereat. However, something happened to Zayd and prevented him from going there.”
Commenting on this event, the Imam (‘a) said: By Allah (I swear), if he had sought Almighty Allah’s protection in the name of that place, he would certainly have been given protection for a whole year at least. Do you not know that the Sahlah Mosque is the place where Prophet Idris (‘a) lived and used to sew. From this place too, Prophet Abraham (S) lead the Giants towards Yemen. Likewise, from this place, Prophet David (‘a) moved to confront Goliath. In this place, there is a green rock on which the picture of each prophet was carved and from beneath this rock, the clay of every prophet (from which they were created) was taken. The Rider also resided at this place… i.e. al-Khidhr (‘a).7
Salih ibn Abi’l-Aswad has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: Sahlah Mosque is the house where our Master (i.e. Imam al-Mahdi (‘a)) shall reside along with his family members.8
1. – ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 97:231, H. 22.
2. – ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 97:231, H. 21.
3. – ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 97:232, H. 25.
4. – ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 97:234, H. 26.
5. – ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 97:235, H. 1.
6. – ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 97:441, H. 20.
7. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:533, H. 3.
8. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:533, H. 4.