The visit of Prophet Abraham and Isaac and Abraham's prediction and desire to
buy the Valley of Peace.
Those who have visited Najaf will remember vividly that to the north and east of
the town there are acres of graves and myriads of domes of various colours and
at various stages of disrepair. Whoever goes to Najaf will follow a road that
approaches the town by a winding course through this vast cemetery. The Prophet
Abraham had come to this place along with Isaac; there had been many earthquakes
in the vicinity, but while Abraham remained there, there were no tremors.
On the night, however, when Abraham and Isaac went to a different village, and
sure enough Najaf was visited with another earthquake. When they returned, the
people were most eager for them to make Najaf their permanent dwelling-place.
Abraham agreed to do so on condition that they would sell him the valley behind
the village for cultivation. Isaac protested and said that this land was neither
fit for farming nor grazing but Abraham insisted and assured him that the time
would come when there would be a tomb there with a shrine, at which seventy
thousand people would gain absolutely undisputed entrance to Paradise, and be
able also to intercede for many others.
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 fourth 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. "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."
And so as per the prediction of Abraham, Imam Ali was buried here.
Ali is absent today from our midst only physically. His soul even to this day is
the greatest spiritual resort everyone who seeks the help of God through his
medium. Thousands and thousands of people call out to him in their difficulties,
and the word "Ya Ali Madad", automatically comes to them. A famous prayer known
as "NADEY ALI" (Call Ali) is recited wherever abound the lovers of Ali.
"The Mausoleum itself of Hadat Ali at Najaf, is breathtaking. There is one large
central dome which stands out of a square-shaped ornate structure at the two
sides of which are two minarets. The predominant colour of'the exterior is gold,
bright shining gold and the entire exterior of the mausoleum is inlaid with a
mosaic pattern of light powder blue, white marble, gold again with an occasional
splash of Middle East rust."
So says D. F. Karaka after his visit to Najaf, and further adds, "I have sat and
wondered at the marbled splendour of our Taj Mahal, the tomb which Shah Jahan
built for his Empress Mumtaz Mahal, but despite its beauty, the Taj appears
insipid in comparison with this splash of colour at Najaf. The tomb surpassed
anything I have seen in gorgeous splendour. All the great kings of the world put
together could not have a tomb as magnificent as this, for this is the tribute
which kings and peasants have built together to enshrine the mortal remains of
the great Ali."
Countless number of people from all over the world flock to his tomb day after
day to pay their respects and to offer salutations and to pray to Allah seeking
his intercession. And those who cannot afford to go there personally, are
constantly praying to Allah to help them to visit the shrine of their Maula Ali,
and when somebody goes on a pilgrimage to Najaf, they request him to offer
salutations on their behalf, and to pray to God - for some particular favour -
and to seek Imam Ali's intercession.
The deer hunting incident of Harun al-Rashid
"During the reigns of the Umayyad Caliphs his blessed resting-place could not be
disclosed, and so it was also under the Abbasids until the reign of Harun
al-Rashid. But in the year 175 A.H. (791 A.D.), Harun happened to go hunting in
these parts, and the deer he was chasing took refuge on a small piece of raised
ground. However much he asked his hunting dogs to capture the quarry, they
refused to go near this spot.
He urged his horse to this place, and the horse too refused to budge; and on
this, awe took possession of the Caliph's heart, and he immediately started to
make inquiries of the people of the neighbourhood, and they acquainted him with
the fact that this was the grave of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, the cousin and
son-in-law of the Holy Prophet. Harun ordered a tomb to be erected over the
grave, and people soon began to settle down in its vicinity."
1. Majlisi op. cit. page 108.
2. Mailisi op. cit. Page 111.
3. Majlisi op. cit. page 111.
4. The Shrine of Ali at Najaf from "The shi'ite Religion" by Dwight M.