Al-Askari Shrine

This article is about the Iraqi mosque. For the medieval Egyptian capital, see Al-Askar.
Al ‘Askarī Shrine

Shrine of the 10th and 11th Twelver Shī‘ah Imāms:
Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-‘Askarī. Picture taken before the 2006 bombing.
Basic information
Location Iraq Sāmarrā, Iraq
Geographic coordinates 34°11′56″N 43°52′24″E / 34.19878°N 43.87338°E / 34.19878; 43.87338Coordinates: 34°11′56″N 43°52′24″E / 34.19878°N 43.87338°E / 34.19878; 43.87338
Affiliation Shia (Twelver)
Completed 944

Al ‘Askarī Shrine or the ‘Askariyya Shrine (Arabic: مرقد الامامين علي الهادي والحسن العسكري, translit. aas Marqad al-Imāmayn ‘Alī l-Hādī wa l-Ħassan al-‘Askarī) is a Shī‘ah Muslim holy site in the Iraqi city of Sāmarrā 125 km (78 mi) from Baghdad. It is one of the most important Shī‘ah Shrines in the world, built in 944.[1] Adjacent to the shrine is a mosque, which is called Al-Askari Mosque. The dome of the Shrine was destroyed in a bombing by extremists in February 2006 and its two remaining minarets were destroyed in another bombing in June 2007, causing widespread anger amongst Shī‘ah Muslims. The remaining clock tower was also destroyed in July 2007.[2] The dome and minarets were repaired and the mosque reopened in April 2009.[3]

The remains of the 10th and 11th Shī‘ah Imāms, ‘Alī al-Hādī ("an-Naqī") and his son Hasan al-‘Askarī, known as: al-‘Askariyyain ("the two ‘Askarīs"), rest at the shrine.[4] Also buried within the Mosque are: Hakimah Khātūn, sister of ‘Alī al-Hādī; and Narjis Khātūn, the mother of Muħammad al-Mahdī.[5] Adjacent to this shrine is another mosque, built over the location where the Twelfth or "Hidden" Imām, Muħammad al-Mahdī first entered the Minor Occultation.

The ‘Askariyya Shrine is also known as the "Tomb or Mausoleum of the Two Imāms", "the Tomb of Imāms ‘Alī al-Hādī and Hasan al-‘Askarī" and "al-Hadhratu l-‘Askariyya".

Time magazine reported at the time of the 2006 bombing that:

al-Askari [is] one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest sites, exceeded in veneration only by the shrines of Najaf and Karbala. Even Samarra's Sunnis hold al-Askari in high esteem. The expression 'to swear by the shrine' is routinely used by both communities".[6]


The Al-Askari Mosque in 1916.

The Imāms ‘Alī al-Hādī ("an-Naqī") and Hassan al-‘Askarī lived under house arrest in the part of Samarra that had been Caliph al-Mu'tasim's military camp (‘Askaru l-Mu‘tasim). As a result, they are known as the ‘Askariyyain "Dwellers in the Camp". They died and were buried in their house on Abī Ahmad Street near the mosque built by Mu‘tasim.[5] A later tradition attributes their deaths to poison.

Nasir ad-Din Shah Qajar undertook the latest remodelling of the shrine in 1868, with the golden dome added in 1905. Covered in 72,000 gold pieces and surrounded by walls of light blue tiles, the dome was a dominant feature of the Samarra skyline. It was approximately 20 m (66 ft) in diameter by 68 m (223 ft) high.


2006 attack

The Mosque in 2006 after the first bombing
Repairs to the al-Askari Mosque, October 2013

On 22 February 2006, at 6:55 am local time (0355 UTC) explosions occurred at the mosque, effectively destroying its golden dome and severely damaging the mosque. Several men belonging to Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups affiliated with Al-Qaida, one wearing a military uniform, had earlier entered the mosque, tied up the guards there and set explosives, resulting in the blast. Two bombs were set off[7][8] by five[9] to seven[10] men dressed as personnel of the Iraqi Special Forces[11] who entered the shrine during the morning.[12]

2007 attack

At around 8 am on 13 June 2007, operatives belonging to al-Qaeda in Iraq destroyed the two remaining 36 m (118 ft)-high golden minarets flanking the dome's ruins. No fatalities were reported. Iraqi police have reported hearing "two nearly simultaneous explosions coming from inside the mosque compound at around 8 am"[13] A report from state run Iraqiya Television stated that "local officials said that two mortar rounds were fired at the two minarets."[13]


In late 2007, the Iraqi government conducted a contract with a Turkish company to rebuild the mosque. The Iraqi government later cancelled the contract due to delays by the Turkish company.[3] As of April 2009, the golden dome and the minarets have been restored and the shrine reopened to visitors.[3]

See also


  1. Knight, Sam (22 February 2006). "Al-Askariya shrine: 'Not just a major cathedral'". The Times. London. Retrieved 23 February 2006.
  2. "Iraqi blast damages Shia shrine". BBC News. 22 February 2006.
  3. 1 2 3 "Iraqis rebuild al-Askari mosque".
  4. "History of the Shrine of Imam Ali al-Naqi & Imam Hasan Al-Askari, Peace Be Upon Them". Archived from the original on 23 February 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2006.
  5. 1 2 Shrine of Imām al-Hādī and Imām al-‘Askarī (ArchNet Digital Library)
  6. "An Eye For an Eye", Time, February 26, 2006.
  7. "Explosion destroys Shiite shrine golden dome". Ireland On-Line. Retrieved 23 February 2006.
  8. "Bombers strike Shia mausoleum in Iraq". IBN Live. Retrieved 23 February 2006.
  9. Knickmeyer, Ellen (23 February 2006). "Bombing Shatters Mosque In Iraq". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 February 2006.
  10. "Blast destroys golden dome of Iraq's shrine". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 6 March 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2006.
  11. Knight, Sam (22 February 2006). "Bombing of Shia shrine sparks wave of retaliation". The Times. London. Retrieved 23 February 2006.
  12. "Iraqi shrine bombing spurs wave of sectarian reprisals". CBC News. 22 February 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2006.
  13. 1 2 Graham Bowley (13 June 2007). "Minarets on Shiite Shrine in Iraq Destroyed in Attack". New York Times.

Further reading

External links

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