Cheap Flights To Al Najaf
Al Najaf is one of the holiest cities in Iraq and is where the tomb of Ali is located. Ali was the Shiites' first Imam but his reign was brief as he was assassinated in 661 in a mosque at Kufa approximately 6 miles from Al Najaf. Back then, the city was no more than a village but it became a city in 791 and today is an important shrine and place of pilgrimage. As well as Ali's tomb, the city also has one of the largest cemeteries in the world. This is called the Wadi-us-Salaam, which means the Valley of Peace and is the burial site of prominent Shiite prophets.
Although the city's religious importance faded somewhat during the rule of Saddam Hussein, since his demise, going on a pilgrimage to the city has become immensely popular again and pilgrims bring in money to the area. Today, the city is a great centre of religious learning and hosts between 30,000 and 40,000 religious students. Al Najaf is richer and safer than many cities in Iraq, but around 40% of its citizens still live in poverty. However, most visitors will find the city to be a peaceful place and a visit is a profound religious experience.
Things To Do
With a beautiful mosque, holy shrine and famous cemetery, Al Najaf is steeped in history and religion, welcoming visitors from different parts of the world.
Visit Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib Shrine
This holy shrine is where Ali is buried -- the first Imam of the Shia Muslims. Much respected, his shrine is well decorated and there's a peaceful atmosphere in this revered place.
Pay respects at Wadi Al-Salaam Cemetery
Close to the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali, this cemetery is one the world's oldest and largest and is roughly 1,000 years old. It's the burial place of scholars, pious people and ordinary citizens of the Shia world.
Admire the Great Mosque of Kufa
To the east of the city stands the Great Mosque of Kufa, where Imam Ali spent some of his life. It was damaged by fire and rebuilt in 1086, standing today as one of the world's wonders.
Calendar Of Events
In this deeply religious country, many of the festivals in Al Najaf celebrate dates in the religious calendar but there's also an interesting cultural festival to explore.
Ashura Religious Festival. In October, the city celebrates the Ashura Religious Festival and various events take place in the city such as a reenactment of the Battle of Karbala and religious parades.
Muḥarram. As the first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram takes place after Ramadan and dates vary from year to year. On the 10th day, Shia Muslims go on colourful parades through the city streets.
Assafeer Cultural Festival. This festival is attended by religious, cultural and political figures as well as poets, journalists and academics. It takes place at the al-Kufa Sacred Mosque and the Maytham al-Tammar shrine in the city.