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Meshed History, Iran

Meshed or Mashhad’s name means the place of martyrdom. From that the visitors and the observers will have an idea what this city can offer. The city of Meshed is actually the second largest city in Iran and considered as one of the holiest cities in Shia. Right now the city is known as the resting place of the Imam Reza. And in order to commemorate the presence of the Imam, a shrine was constructed in the area and the construction of the shrine has helped in the fast development of the city.

The story of the city can be traced back to 3rd century AH. This was the time when the area was still a small village and the area assumed the name Sanabad. The village of Sanabad is situated 24 kilometers from the Tus. The year 808 was a significant year for the village as this was the time when Harun al-Rashid was buried in the area. He was actually buried under the palace of the Hamid ibn Qahtabi. After a number of years, the Imam Reza was martyred by the Al-Ma’mun and the remains of the Imam was buried right beside that of Harun. The place was then renamed as the Mashad al-Rida after the said event.

Since this was the burial place of the Imam, the Shias and the Sunnis started visiting the area for a pilgrimage to the grave of the Imam. As a response to the growing number of pilgrims, a dome was built in the 9th century and many more buildings and bazaars were built around the dome. For most of its life, the area has been devastated and rebuilt many times. The world famous traveler, Ibn Batutta described the city of Mashhad in a positive note when he visited the area. The traveler reported that when he visited the area in 1333, what he saw was a large town with abundant fruit trees, mills and streams. The traveler added that he saw a great dome that was constructed elegantly, and the walls of the dome are decorated by colored tiles.

During the Shahrokh era, the city of Mashhad was considered as one of the main cities of the Timurid dynasty. Aside from the religious significance of the area, the city has a significant political role as well. The sanctuary of the Imam was bombed by the Russian forces and this didn’t seat well with the Shiite Muslim world.

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