The shrines of Shia Islam – not worship but remembrance says cleric

SHAFAQNA - Hujjat al-Islam Mohammad-Amin Pouramini, a professor in the Islamic Seminary of Qom city, Iran, stated that the belittling of the term “hَarَam” (shrine) by Wahhabi networks when referring to Mashhad’s Holy Shrine of Imam al-Ridha is an attempt to taint and discredit Shiite Islam. 

He noted that the Wahhabi school of thought often condemn Shi’a Muslims for making pilgrimages and giving respect to graves, shrines and holy places, saying that this practice amounts to bid’ah (innovation) and shirk (polytheism) because they erroneously assume that the pilgrims are worshipping the holy personalities buried there.

These extremist beliefs have been dealt with and criticized by many scholars from the Shi’a and Sunni sects, he said.

His Eminence explained that the word “Shrine” is originally means “a place of respect” or a “hidden or private place.”

He added that the term “Shrine” is also used in reference to the shrines in places such as Makkah and Madinah, which are referred to as the Two Holy Mosques. Those who wants to enter it must wear the special ihram clothes and avoid certain actions when entering these holy places.

Hujjat al-Islam Pouramini said some sites have an “inherent dignity,” for example, the Ka’bah, which is the qiblah of Muslims, and because of it, the city of Mecca has great sanctity. In other places, certain noble people were buried there and their burial places become places of respect.

“For example, the Holy Prophet Muhammad is buried in Madinah and his burial place is given respect by all Muslims. The Holy Shrines are also respected by due to the fact that they are the burial places of the Infallible Imams,” he explained.

His Eminence explained that there are different levels of holiness in respect to the various shrines and holy places, saying: “For example, one unit of prayer in the ‘Sacred Mosque’ in Makkah is equivalent to 100,000 units of regular prayer, one unit in the ‘Prophet’s Mosque’ in Madinah is equivalent to 10,000 units of regular prayer and one unit of prayer in the Mosque of Kufah is equivalent to 1,000 units of regular prayer.”

He explained that the cities of Mashhad and Qom are considered holy cities by Shi’a Muslims because they are places of sanctity for Imam Ali al-Ridha and Lady Fatimah al-Ma’sumah but they have also been disrespected throughout history by deviant groups, such as the Salafi and Wahhabi sects.

Hujjat al-Islam Pouramini pointed out that many of our Sunni brethren who have not been influenced by Wahhabi thinking have made pilgrimage the holy shrines of the Holy Imams and cited examples of this from several Sunni books.

He added that ibn Khuzaymah, a great Hanbali scholar, the same school of thought that Wahhabism arose from, stated that he had made pilgrimage the Holy Shrine of Imam ar-Ridha numerous times, and there was no problem that he faced which was not solved by a pilgrimage to his shrine.

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