Al-Kadhimiya Mosque is a shrine located in the northern neighbourhood of Kadhimiya district in Baghdad on the west bank of river Tigris. It contains the tombs of the seventh Shia’i Imam Musa Al-Kadhim and the ninth Shia’i Imam Muhammad al-Jawad. Also buried within this mosque are the famous historical scholars, Shaikh Mufid and Shaikh Nasir ad-Dīn aṭ-Ṭusi. After I visited Abu Hanifa mosque a few days ago, many of my friends and colleagues said that I should also visit Al-Kadhimiya mosque and I visited the mosque yesterday with two of my friends, Ali and Zaid.
Due to its special geographical location, Kadhimiya has been considered important and its history is thought to date back before Jesus Christ. This place was then known as Shoneezi, an Arab name meaning the Black Grain.
When the Abbasid Caliph Abu Jaafar Al-Mansour started the construction of the Round City of Baghdad in 762 CE, this area was made into a cemetery for his family and it was called “Quraish Cemetery”, and sometimes referred to as “Hashim Clan Cemetery”. The first man buried in that cemetery was Jaafar, son of Al-Mansoor, the Caliph, in circa 767 CE. Then burials continued in the cemetery.
Imam Musa al-Kadhim was said to be a gentle and tolerant man. He was called al-Kadhim (the one who controls his anger) because he was kind, forgiving and generous toward the people who treated him in a bad manner or were unfriendly towards him.
Musa al-Kadhim was born during the conflict between the Abbasids and Umayyads and was four years old when As-Saffah, the first Abbasid Caliph, took the throne. After the death of al-Kadhim’s father, Ja’far al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam the majority of Shiites followed Musa al-Kadhim, while another group followed Isma’il, al-Sadiq’s older son. Musa al-Kadhim was imprisoned multiple times during his lifetime.
In 799 CE, Imam Musa Al-Kadhim was poisoned to death by Al-Sindi bin Shahik, under orders from Haroon Al-Rashid, the Abbassid caliph. He was then buried in the Quraish Cemetery and his tomb is located at the same place, known afterward as Kadhimiya. Imam Mohammed Al-Jawad, the grandson of Imam Musa Al-Kadhim was buried next to his grandfather in 835 CE. The area began to be increasingly inhabited, following the burial of the two Imams. Driven by their strong faith in these two Imams, people began to reside around the tombs, for providing protection, administration, and lodging for the coming visitors. The shrine was burnt down during the Mongol seize of Baghdad in 1258 CE. The present building dates back to 1515 CE when it was reconstructed.
The monumental entrance is dominated by two gilded and glowing domes on circular drums and four impressive minarets all coated with gold. A further four small minarets are also gold painted. The gate to the shrine is also plated with gold. The galleries and cloisters are decorated with ceramic tiles with geometric and foliage engravings and Kufic verses. In addition, there are magnificent decorations made from mirrors and precious metals like gold and silver.
There is a heavy security bundobust in this neighbourhood since there have been several bomb attacks in the past. There was a large number of pilgrims here. Mobile phones and cameras are not allowed inside the shrine and therefore I couldn’t take any photograph of the mosque and mausoleum from inside. I took the photographs from outside the shrine complex.
The shrine has today become one of the Islamic architectural wonders, and the mosque is always crowded, thronged with pilgrims from all over the Islamic world. Opposite the mosque is the bustling gold market of Baghdad.