The Famous Blue Mosque of Mezr-e Sherif ~ The Shrine of Hazrat Ali (Rawza Sakhi)

Located in Mezr-e Sherif…

Mazār-e Sharīf or Mazāri Sharīf (Persian: مزارِ شریف) is the fourth largest city of Afghanistan, with population of 300,600 people (2006 estimate). It is the capital of Balkh province and is linked by roads to Kabul in the south-east, Herat to the west and Uzbekistan to the north. Mazari Sharif means “Noble Shrine,” a reference to the large, blue-tiled sanctuary and mosque in the center of the city known as the Shrine of Hazrat Ali or the Blue Mosque. It is believed by some Muslims that the site of the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, is in Mazari Sharif. Twelver Shi’as however, believe that the real grave of Ali is found within Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq, as was disclosed by the Sixth Twelver Shi’a Imam, Ja’far as-Sadiq.[1] The city is a major tourist attraction because of its fabulous Muslim and Hellenistic archeological sites. In July 2006, the discovery of new Hellenistic remains was announced.[2] The ethnic majority in the city are Tajiks.

An interesting story about a man’s travels in Mazar-e Sherif.

The Shrine of Hazrat Ali, also known as the Blue Mosque, is a mosque in Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan. It is one of the reputed burial places of Ali. It is the building which gives the city in which it is located, Mazari Sharif (meaning “Tomb of the Exalted”) its name.[1]

According to Shi’a Muslim belief, Ali was originally buried by his two sons, Hasan and Husayn in an undisclosed location, which was later made known by the great, grandson of Husayn and Sixth Shi’a Imam, Ja’far as-Sadiq – as the grave that is found within Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.[2]

A funny coincidence.  As I sit here researching the Mosque and The Shrine of Ali, my good friend Shoaib (my Terp) calls me on the phone.  I had just texted him “Eid Mubarak” as today is the beginning of Eid for Muslims.  He called to say thank you for the text and to tell me that he’d just arrived in Mazar-e Sherif.

Life is full of coincidences like that for me.  So cool.  I like it.

The story of the founding of the shrine indicates that, shortly after the murder of Ali and the burial of his body at Najaf, near Baghdad, some of Ali’s followers worried that his body would be desecrated by his enemies, and they placed his remains on a white female camel. Ali’s followers traveled with the camel for several weeks, until the camel ultimately fell to the ground exhausted. The body was then reburied where the camel fell.[1] The body was said to be redisovered there in the 12th century.

Decoration of the mosque

According to tradition, Mazari Sharif owes its existence to a dream. At the beginning of the 1100s, a local mullah had a dream in which Ali bin Abi Talib, the prophet’s cousin and son-in-law and one of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs appeared to reveal that he had been secretly buried near the city of Balkh. After investigation, the Seljuk sultan Sanjar ordered a city and shrine to be built on the spot, where it stood until its destruction by Genghis Khan. Although later rebuilt, Mazar stood in the shadow of its neighbor Balkh, until that city was abandoned in 1866 for health reasons.
Some of the artwork on the Blue Mosque. It is now the academic knowledge that the holy mazar which prior to 1100 AD was also sacred, as there is documentation of a “holy man” (with no reference to a name) being buried there, is, in fact, the eternal resting place of Zarathustra the Aryan (Iran-Afghan-Tajik) prophet who was killed in Balkh (Bactria) and was buried in that location. After the invasion of Arabs in order to protect the mausoleum, the guardians of the shrine decided to in a way erase that fact to protect the shrine similar to how the guardians of the shrine of Kurush (Cyrus) told the Arabs that the shrine is the temple of Solomon (Hazrat-e- Soleyman) to keep it from destruction. Later in saljuq’s time, probably a guardian of the shrine or someone who knew of the real story approaches the sultan as a mullah and tells the Turkish king that he dreamt about Ali being buried around Balkh and guides the sultan to the shrine, persuading the sultan to rebuild it. Therefore,Zoroaster rests in the heart of the original land of Aryans Aryanem vaije (eranvij=ایران ویچ).

The Seljuq dynasty sultan Ahmed Sanjar rebuilt the first shrine at this location. it was destroyed by Genghis Khan in the invasion around 1220. It was rebuilt in the 15th century by Husain Baiqara. [3]Most of the shrine’s decorations, however, are the result of modern restoration work. [1] One of the few remaining artifacts from the earlier shrine is a marble slab inscribed with the words, “Ali, Lion of God.”[3]

A site plan of the location made in the 1910s shows that there had earlier been a smaller walled precinct in the mosque, which were razed to create parklands later, although the portals to this precincts still remain as gateways for the shrine.[3]

Mazar-e Sharif - all blue.jpg

The core of the shrine contains Zarathustra’s tomb chamber and its ziaratkhana, which is an antechamber for prayer and worship. Tombs of varying dimensions were added for a number of Afghan political and religious leaders over the years, which has led to the development of its current irregular dimensions. These include the square domed tomb of Amir Dost Muhammad and a similar structure for Amir Sher Ali and his family. [3]

This is a beautiful Mosque and is hundreds of years old.  I have been to the Blue Mosque of Herat.  The Masjid Jam-e.  I’d love to visit Mez and take in the site up there.  I hear it’s a beautiful land.  Perhaps someday, I’ll make that journey.  Maybe I’ll talk to my friend Sher Abed and see if I can be a guest of Rashid Dostom  who is the King of the North.

Peace and Eid Mubarak!

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