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Najaf

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Najaf

    One of Iraq's two holiest cities (Karbala is the other one). Reputedly founded by the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid in 791 . A Shii religious center located south of Baghdad and six miles west of Kufa. Site of Ali ibn Abi Talib 's (the first Shii imam) tomb. Kufa retained its importance as the locus of Shii activities until the fifteenth century, when Najaf replaced it. Hospices, schools, libraries, and Sufi convents were built around the shrine. Late nineteenth-century Qom replaced Najaf as the center of Shii learning; this was reversed with the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini (d. 1989 ) and Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (d. 1980 ).

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