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The Shrine of Ali in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif (lit. "Tomb of the Exalted"), Afghanistan, one of the reputed burial places of Ali, cousin and son-in law of Muhammad.
The Mashhad of Sayyida Ruqayya, a patron saint of Cairo.
Darbar-e-Jilani duthro Sharif
The shrine of Pir Hadi Hassan Bux Shah Jilani, Duthro Sharif, Pakistan

A mazār (Arabic: مَزَار), also transliterated as mazaar, also known as marqad (مَرْقَد) or in the Maghreb as ḍarīḥ (ضَرِيْح), is a mausoleum or shrine in some places of the world, typically that of a saint or notable religious leader. Medieval Arabic texts may also use the words mašhad (مَشْهَد) or maqām to denote the same concept.[1]


Specific types of shrines

Regional terms for equivalent structures

Related terms


Urs of Islamic Naqshbandi saints of Allo Mahar is celebrated on 23 March every year

Practices vary considerably in different countries. Syncretism is not unusual, where pre-Islamic practices and beliefs persist among Muslim communities.[15] Despite Muhammad's wishes and Allah's command[citation needed], a cult of saints developed within some Muslim communities at an early date, following deeply ingrained pre-Islamic practices in the Middle East. Mashhads, or sanctuaries, were established by certain people for figures mentioned from the Quran, such as Muhammad, Jesus, the prophets, and other main figures of the Jewish and Christian Bible, great rulers, military leaders and clerics.[16]


The followers of Wahhabism consider that no person can mediate between man and God.[17] They consider that Muslims who believe that saints and their shrines have holy properties are polytheists and heretics. In 1802, Wahhabi forces partially destroyed the shrine of Imam Husayn.[18][19] In 1925, the commander and later-king of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, destroyed the manmade structures in Jannat al-Baqīʿ in Medina, the burial place of four of the Shia imams and of Muhammad's daughter.[18][20] The cemetery still exists, albeit in a much simpler form, and is used to bury the dead.


Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra before the 2006 bombing.

There is no specific architectural type for mazārs, which vary greatly in size and elaboration. However, they all follow the conventional design of the turba, or tomb, and generally have a dome over a rectangular base.[16]

Notable examples

In Iraq

The Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala, Iraq draws Shia pilgrims from Iraq, Iran and elsewhere.

The Sardāb of Caliph al-Mahdi (r. 775–785) is preserved in Samarra, Iraq under a golden dome that was presented by Naser al-Din Shah Qajar and that was completed by Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar in 1905.[21] The tomb lies within the Al-Askari Mosque, one of the most important of Shia shrines. The mosque was badly damaged in a February 2006 bombing, presumably the work of Sunni militants.[22]

In Iran

As of 2007, the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Iran attracted 12 million visitors annually, second only to Mecca as a destination for Muslim pilgrims. This shrine is known for its healing powers.

The shrine of Princess Shahrbanu, just south of Tehran, is open only to women. Shahrbanu was the daughter of Yazdegerd III, the last Sassanid ruler of Persia. She married Imam Hussein ibn Ali and was mother of the fourth Shia imam, Ali ibn al-Husayn, so has come to symbolize the early and close connection between Shiism and Iran. The shrine is popular with women seeking solace or assistance.[23]

In Syria

The Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, the shrine of Zaynab bint Ali in Damascus, has been restored with the help of contributions from Shias from India, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere.[24] The shrine is one of the most important Shia sites in Syria, and draws many pilgrims from Iraq, Lebanon and Iran. In September 2008 a car bomb was detonated outside the shrine, killing 17.[25]

Mashhad al-Husayn in Aleppo, restored and with steel-frame roof added.

In Aleppo, the Mashhad al-Husayn from the Ayyubid period is the most important of Syrian medieval buildings.[26] The shrine of al-Husayn was built on a place indicated to a shepherd by a holy man who appeared to him in a dream, and was built by members of the local Shia community.[27] The present building is a reconstruction: the original suffered severe damage in 1918 from a huge explosion, and for forty years lay in ruins.[26] The original restoration largely succeeded in restoring the mashhad to its former appearance. Later additions included covering the courtyard with a steel frame canopy and adding a brightly decorated "shrine", which have given the monument a very different character from the original.[27]

In Egypt

In Egypt, many mashhads devoted to religious figures were built in Fatimid Cairo, mostly straightforward square structures with a dome. A few of the mausoleums at Aswan were more complex and included side rooms.[28] Most of the Fatimid mausoleums have either been destroyed or have been greatly altered through later renovations. The Mashad al-Juyushi, also called Mashad Badr al-Jamali, is an exception. This building has a prayer hall covered with cross-vaults, with a dome resting on squinches over the area in front of the mihrab. It has a courtyard with a tall square minaret. It is not clear whom the mashhad commemorates.[29]

Two other important mashhads from the Fatimid era in Cairo are those of Sayyida Ruqayya and of Yayha al-Shabib, in the Fustat cemetery. Sayyida Ruqayya, a descendant of Ali, never visited Egypt, but the mashhad was built to commemorate her. It is similar to al-Juyushi, but with a larger, fluted dome and with an elegantly decorated mihrab.[30]

In Pakistan

Some shrines draw both Sunni and Shia pilgrims. One example is the shrine of Abdol-Ghazi Sahab in Karachi, said to be a relative of Ja'far al-Sadiq, the sixth imam. He had fled from the Abbasids in Baghdad to Sindh, where he was given refuge by a Hindu prince.[31] The Shias venerate him as a member of the family of imams, while the Sunni simply see him as a person of great sanctity.

Another example is the Lahore shrine of Bibi Pak Daman, thought to be the place of burial of one of Ali's daughters and four other women of Muhammad's family.[31] The famous Sufi saint of the Sunni branch of Islam, Sayyid Ali Hujwiri (died 1071), once meditated for forty days in this shrine.[32]

In Uzbekistan

Mausoleum of Sheihantaur in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Imogiri Mausoleum complex of the sultans of Java, Indonesia

In Kyrgyzstan

In Afghanistan

In China

In Egypt

In Sudan

In Pakistan

In India

In Bangladesh

Shrine of Shah Jalal in Sylhet, Bangladesh

In Indonesia

In Singapore

See also



  1. ^ The city of Mashhad in Iran takes its name from the sense of mashhad meaning "place of martyrdom". It is the place where the eighth Imam Ali Al-Ridha was martyred.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Sandouby 2008, p. 14.
  2. ^ Team, Almaany. "تعريف و شرح و معنى زيارة بالعربي في معاجم اللغة العربية معجم المعاني الجامع، المعجم الوسيط ،اللغة العربية المعاصرة ،الرائد ،لسان العرب ،القاموس المحيط - معجم عربي عربي صفحة 1". Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  3. ^ a b c Sandouby 2008, p. 16.
  4. ^ a b "Meaning of mazar in English". Rekhta Dictionary. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  5. ^ a b "मज़ार - Meaning in English". Shabdkosh. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  6. ^ a b "About". Cape Mazaar Society. Retrieved 25 February 2023.
  7. ^ Team, Almaany. "تعريف و شرح و معنى ضرح بالعربي في معاجم اللغة العربية معجم المعاني الجامع، المعجم الوسيط ،اللغة العربية المعاصرة ،الرائد ،لسان العرب ،القاموس المحيط - معجم عربي عربي صفحة 1". Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  8. ^ Halm 2007, p. 26.
  9. ^ Sandouby 2008, p. 17.
  10. ^ a b Sandouby 2008, p. 15.
  11. ^ Moshe Sharon (1998). Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae (CIAP), Volume Two: B-C. Brill Academic Publishing. p. 172. ISBN 9789004110830. Archived from the original on 2 February 2023. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  12. ^ Guérin, 1880, p. 488
  13. ^ Robert S. Kramer; Richard A. Lobban Jr.; Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban (2013). Historical Dictionary of the Sudan. Historical Dictionaries of Africa (4 ed.). Lanham, Maryland, USA: Scarecrow Press, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield. p. 361. ISBN 978-0-8108-6180-0. Archived from the original on 2 February 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2015. QUBBA. The Arabic name for the tomb of a holy man... A qubba is usually erected over the grave of a holy man identified variously as wali (saint), faki, or shaykh since, according to folk Islam, this is where his baraka [blessings] is believed to be strongest...
  14. ^ "Kramat". Robben Island Museum. 27 July 2003. Archived from the original on 9 September 2005. Retrieved 25 February 2023.
  15. ^ Burman 2002, p. 9.
  16. ^ a b Houtsma 1993, p. 425.
  17. ^ Trimingham, J. Spencer (1998-07-16). The Sufi Orders in Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 105. ISBN 9780198028239. Archived from the original on 2023-02-02. Retrieved 2021-06-30.
  18. ^ a b Nasr 2007, p. 97.
  19. ^ "Sahih Muslim 969a, 969b - The Book of Prayer - Funerals - كتاب الجنائز - - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)". Archived from the original on 2021-04-11. Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  20. ^ Danforth, Loring M. (2016-03-29). Crossing the Kingdom: Portraits of Saudi Arabia. Univ of California Press. p. 163. ISBN 9780520290280. Archived from the original on 2022-04-07. Retrieved 2021-06-30.
  21. ^ Houtsma 1993, p. 488.
  22. ^ Rabasa et al. 2006, p. 51.
  23. ^ Nasr 2007, p. 63.
  24. ^ Nasr 2007, p. 56.
  25. ^ Syrian car bomb attack kills 17.
  26. ^ a b Tabbaa 1997, p. 110.
  27. ^ a b Tabbaa 1997, p. 111.
  28. ^ Kuiper 2009, p. 164.
  29. ^ Petersen 2002, p. 45.
  30. ^ Petersen 2002, p. 45-46.
  31. ^ a b Nasr 2007, p. 58.
  32. ^ Nasr 2007, p. 59.
  33. ^ Tye, Timothy (2006). "Keramat Iskandar Syah". Singapore Travel Tips. Archived from the original on 2019-05-18. Retrieved 2020-09-28.