ziyara(h) (Arabic: زِيَارَة ziyārah, "visit") or ziyarat (Persian: زیارت, ziyārat, "pilgrimage"; Turkish: ziyaret, "visit") is a form of pilgrimage to sites associated with the Islamic prophet Muhammad, his family members and descendants (including the Shī'ī Imāms), his companions and other venerated figures in Islam such as the prophets, Sufi auliya, and Islamic scholars.[1][2] Sites of pilgrimage include mosques, maqams, battlefields, mountains, and caves.

Ziyārat can also refer to a form of supplication made by the Shia, in which they send salutations and greetings to Muhammad and his family.[3][4]


Ziyarat comes from Arabic: زَار, romanizedzār "to visit". In Islam it refers to pious visitation, pilgrimage to a holy place, tomb or shrine.[5] Iranian and South Asian Muslims use the word ziyarat for both the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca as well as for pilgrimages to other sites such as visiting a holy place.[5] In Indonesia the term is ziarah for visiting holy places or graves.

Different Muslim-majority countries, speaking many different languages, use different words for these sites where ziyarat is performed:[5]



Sunnis praying at the grave of Talhah Bin Ubaydallah in Basra, Iraq

More than any other tomb in the Islamic world, the shrine of Muhammad is considered a source of blessings for the visitor.[6] A hadith of Muhammad states that, "He who visits my grave will be entitled to my intercession" and in a different version "I will intercede for those who have visited me or my tomb."[6][7][8] Visiting Muhammad's tomb after the pilgrimage is recommended according to the majority of Sunni legal scholars.[6]

The early scholars of the salaf, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d. 241 AH), Ishaq Ibn Rahwayh (d. 238 SH), Abdullah ibn Mubarak (d. 189 AH) and Imam Shafi'i (d. 204 AH) all permitted the practice of Ziyarah to Muhammad's tomb.[6]

According to the Hanbali scholar Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali al-Barbahari (d. 275 AH), it is also obligatory to send salutations (salam) upon Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab after having sent salutations upon Muhammad.[9][10]

The hadith scholar Qadi Ayyad (d. 544 AH) stated that visiting Muhammad was "a sunna of the Muslims on which there was consensus, and a good and desirable deed."[11]

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 852 AH) explicitly stated that travelling to visit the tomb of Muhammad was "one of the best of actions and the noblest of pious deeds with which one draws near to God, and its legitimacy is a matter of consensus."[11]

Similarly, Ibn Qudamah (d. 620 AH) considered Ziyarat of Muhammad to be recommended and also seeking intercession directly from Muhammad at his grave.[12][13] Other historic scholars who recommended Ziyarah include Imam al-Ghazali (d. 505 AH), Imam Nawawi (d. 676 AH) and Muhammad al-Munawi (d. 1031 AH).[11] The tombs of other Muslim religious figures are also respected. The son of Ahmad ibn Hanbal named Abdullah, one of the primary jurists of Sunnism, reportedly stated that he would prefer to be buried near the shrine of a saintly person than his own father.[6]


See also: Ibn Taymiyyah, Salafi movement, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and Wahhabism

Ibn Taymiyyah condemned all forms of seeking intercession from the dead,[14] and said that all ahadith encouraging visitation to Muhammad's tomb are fabricated (mawdu‘).[15]

This view of Ibn Taymiyyah was rejected by mainstream Sunni scholars, both during his life and after his death. The Shafi'i hadith master Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani stated that "This is one of the ugliest positions that has been reported of Ibn Taymiyya".[11] The Hanafi hadith scholar Ali al-Qari stated that, "Amongst the Hanbalis, Ibn Taymiyya has gone to an extreme by prohibiting travelling to visit the Prophet – may God bless him and grant him peace"[11] Qastallani stated that "The Shaykh Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya has abominable and odd statements on this issue to the effect that travelling to visit the Prophet is prohibited and is not a pious deed."[11]


Carrying corpses to the Holy Shrines in Persia, the 19th century

There are reasons why Shī‘ah partake in Ziyarah which do not involve the worship of the people buried within the tombs. Ayatollah Borujerdi and Ayatollah Khomeini have both said:

It is haram (forbidden) to prostrate to anyone except God. If the act of prostration in front of the shrines of the Infallible Imams ('a.s.) is a form of thanksgiving to God, there is no objection, otherwise, it is haram.

— Ayatollah Borujerdi.[16]

The Shī‘ah do however perform Ziyarah, believing that the entombed figures bear great status in the eyes of God, and seek to have their prayers answered through these people (a form of Tawassul) – Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Musawi writes:

They (the holy figures) are being requested to supplicate to God, to deliver the person in need from his affliction, since the supplication of these saintly figures is accepted by Allah.

— Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Musawi.[17]

In this regard, Ibn Shu’ba al-Harrani also narrates a hadīth from the tenth Imām of the Twelver Shī‘as:

God has some areas in which he likes to be supplicated, and the prayer of the supplicator is accepted (in those areas); the sanctuary of Husayn (a.s.) is one of these.

— Ibn Shu’ba al-Harrani.[18]

The Ziyarah of the Imāms is also done by the Shī‘ah, not only as a means of greeting and saluting their masters who lived long before they were born, but also as a means of seeking nearness to God and more of His blessings (barakah). The Shī‘ah do not consider the hadith collected by al-Bukhari to be authentic,[19] and argue that if things such as Ziyarah and Tawassul were innovations and shirk, Muhammad himself would have prohibited people as a precaution, from visiting graves, or seeking blessings through kissing the sacred black stone at the Ka‘bah.[20][better source needed] It is a popular Shi'i belief that to be buried near the burial place of the Imams is beneficial. In Shi'i sacred texts it is stated that the time between death and resurrection (barzakh) should be spent near the Imams.[21]

See also


  1. ^ "Ziyarah". Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Archived from the original on August 7, 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  2. ^ "Popular Religion". Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Archived from the original on April 15, 2010. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  3. ^ "List of Supplication Ziyarats". Duas.org. Retrieved 2014-02-23.
  4. ^ Nakash, Yitzhak (1995). "The Visitation of the Shrines of the Imams and the Shi'i Mujtahids in the Early Twentieth Century". Studia Islamica (81). Brill: 153–164. doi:10.2307/1596023. JSTOR 1596023.
  5. ^ a b c Gibb, H. A. R.; Kramers, J. H.; Lévi-Provençal, E.; Schacht, J.; Lewis, B.; Pellat, Ch., eds. (1960). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume I: W–Z. Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 524, 533–39. ISBN 90-04-08114-3.
  6. ^ a b c d e Diem, Werner; Schöller, Marco (2004). The Living and the Dead in Islam: Indices. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 7–8, 23, 46, 55. ISBN 978-3447050838.
  7. ^ Bayhaqi. Sunan. Vol. V. p. 245.
  8. ^ Iyyad, Qadi. Shifa. Vol. II. p. 71.
  9. ^ Zargar, Cameron (2014). The Hanbali and Wahhabi Schools of Thought As Observed Through the Case of Ziyārah. The Ohio State University. p. 26.
  10. ^ al-Barbahārī, Sharḥ al-Sunnah, p. 108
  11. ^ a b c d e f Rapoport, Yossef; Ahmed, Shahab (2010). Ibn Taymiyya and His Times. Oxford University Press. pp. 290–94. ISBN 978-0195478341.
  12. ^ Zargar, Cameron (2014). The Hanbali and Wahhabi Schools of Thought As Observed Through the Case of Ziyārah. The Ohio State University. pp. 28–29.
  13. ^ Ibn Qudāmah, Abū Muḥammad, Al-Mughnī, (Beirut: Bayt al-Afkār al-Dawliyyah, 2004), p. 795.
  14. '^ Ondrej, Beranek; Tupek, Pavel (July 2009). Naghmeh, Sohrabi (ed.). From Visiting Graves to Their Destruction: The Question of Ziyara through the Eyes of Salafis (PDF). Crown Paper (Crown Center for Middle East Studies/Brandeis University). Brandeis University. Crown Center for Middle East Studies. p. 14. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 August 2018. Ibn Taymiyya strongly rejects all kinds of mediation, intercession, and seeking help through the dead. He says that in the visitation of the dead is memento mori (i'tibar, ibra).
  15. '^ Ondrej, Beranek; Tupek, Pavel (July 2009). Naghmeh, Sohrabi (ed.). From Visiting Graves to Their Destruction: The Question of Ziyara through the Eyes of Salafis (PDF). Crown Paper (Crown Center for Middle East Studies/Brandeis University). Brandeis University. Crown Center for Middle East Studies. p. 15. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 August 2018. Ibn Taymiyya criticizes hadiths encouraging visitation of the Prophet's grave, pronouncing them all forgeries (mawdu) and lies (kidhb). According to him, most famous are "He who performs the pilgrimage and does not visit me, has shunned me" and "Who visited my grave must ask me for intercession." Ibn Taymiyya notes that although some of these hadiths are part of Daraqutni's collection, they are not included in the main hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, and Nasa'i, nor are they part of the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal. He observes that with regard to visiting the Prophet's grave, ulama rely only upon hadiths according to which the Prophet must be greeted (al-salam wa al-salat alayhi). 56 As for the contents of hadiths encouraging visitation, they contradict the principle of tawhid al-uluhiya.
  16. ^ Ayatollah Borujerdi, Tawdih al-Masa'il, p. 172 ; Imam Khumayni, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 1, p. 150; Risalah-ye Novin, vol. 1, p. 148.
  17. ^ Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Musawi, Risalah dar Kitab wa Sunnat, Majmu'ah Maqalat, Kitab Nida'-e Wahdat, Tehran, Chehel-Sutun Publishers, p. 259.
  18. ^ Ibn Shu’ba al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-'Uqul, p. 510.
  19. ^ Moojan Moman, Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p. 174 ; Ahmad Abdullah Salamah, Shia & Sunni Perspective on Islam, p. 52.
  20. ^ Risalatan Bayn al-Shaykhayn, p. 17.
    Tawassul – Seeking a Way unto Allah al-islam.org
  21. ^ Takim, Liyakatali N. (2006). The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma and Religious Authority in Shi'ite Islam. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-7914-6737-4.

Further reading