Visiting the Imam

Mashhad Travel Blog

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Mashhad Bazaar. Carnival in black.

Back to the Imam now, he was martyred centuries ago and his remains are kept in a cage just like the John the Baptist’s (Prophet Yahya, pbuh) at the Damascus’ Ummayad mosque.  And as with dear John, pilgrims go up to kiss the latticed cage and pay their respects. 


The city is busy during the day and an absolute frenzy at night … around my hotel it’s “Carnival in Black” with thousands of women draped in black chadors jostling to get their shopping done in busy and colourfully-lit alleyways … or on their way to the shrine. 


I visited the Mosque complex housing the Shrine a couple of times … I wandered freely into many courtyards that the guidebook said was off-limits to Muslims.  My rule was that if there are signs in English and other people have their shoes on, then it is OK for me to enter.  So with that I drew my line at the indoor “shrine proper”.  The mourning for the martyr here is supposed to be “disturbing” according to the book but I wasn’t disturbed … perhaps should come back on a mourning-day (the opposite of a Catholic feast day I guess). 


Some stats (ignoring the Muslim countries) … about 1000 Brits visited the Shrine last year, nearly 500 US citizens (Yes, they do travel), 75 Ozzies, 6 Malaysians, 4 Singaporeans and 1 Kiwi.


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Mashhad Bazaar.  Carnival in black.
Mashhad Bazaar. Carnival in black.
photo by: alexchan