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'Imran b. Shahin Mosque (Najaf)

'Imran b. Shahin Mosque

ʿImrān b. Shāhīn Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Najaf, located on the northern side of the court of Imam Ali's shrine. The mosque is located in the corridor leading al-Tusi gate (the northern outer door) of the shrine. It was built in fourth/tenth century by 'Imran b. Shahin. There are different views as to whether the place was intended to be as a mosque from the outset or it was built as a portico and was then used as a mosque. The grave of al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi is located in this mosque.

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History

The construction of the mosque dates back to the fourth/tenth century. It was built by 'Imran b. Shahin, the ruler of southern Iraq at the time. 'Imran was a rioter against the government of 'Adud al-Dawla al-Daylami who was defeated. Thus, he vowed that if the king forgave him, he would build two porticos in Najaf and Karbala. Thus, the portico he built in Najaf was located on the northern side of the shrine, and since the shrine was much smaller at the time, it was located outside the shrine. During the reign of Shah Abbas I, the court of the shrine was expanded, and part of the mosque was annexed to the shrine. In 1368/1949, the Iraqi government of the time, demolished another part of the mosque to construct a street, and thus, only part of the mosque survived.

Architecture

The current area of 'Imran Mosque is about 215 square meters. The building has four vaults across from, and besides, each other, extending from the mosque's floor to its ceiling. Moreover, there is a small dome with twelve lightwells over the mosque's roof. Beneath each of the four vaults is a chamber-like space.

The project of reconstruction of 'Imran b. Shahin Mosque began in early Dhu l-Qa'da, 1428/November 2007. In this project, the main structures of the mosque were solidified with formworks and iron beams on its walls and the ceiling.

Views about the Mosque

The inner side of the mosque

Shaykh Ja'far Al Mahbuba says about the 'Imran Mosque that the building was not intended to be as a mosque at first; instead, it was intended to be as a portico of the shrine. Thus, it counts as a portico of the Shrine of Imam Ali (a), and there is no doubt that it is permissible to bury people there. According to Al Mahbuba, after its separation from the Shrine of Imam Ali (a), the building was officially recognized as a mosque, and signs of mosque date back to this event. He also believes that it is highly improbable that the present building with its Quranic inscriptions were built by 'Imran b. Shahin himself.

In his book, Masajid wa ma'alim, Sayyid 'Abd al-Muttalib proposes a different account from that of Al Mahbuba. He maintains that there is no evidence that 'Imran b. Shahin's construction was demolished, since there is no reference to an overall deconstruction and reconstruction of his building. As to the Quranic inscriptions on the building, he believes that they may have well been added during repairs of the building, and only walls and the ceiling which indicate the age of the building have remained.

In his book, Mashhad al-Imam 'Ali, Su'ad Mahir says that an examination of the building of the mosque and its similarity to the way the iwans of the court of the shrine are built as well as its external walls with respect to their materials and the brinks and the mouth of the vaults reveals that the structures of the mosque were built at the same time as the iwans of the shrine. Thus, it was transformed into a mosque in tenth/sixteenth century during the Safavid era.

There are other accounts of 'Imran b. Shahin's life, the history of the construction of the mosque, and how it underwent changes.

People Buried in the Mosque

Today the mosque is located on the northern side of the court of Imam 'Ali's shrine. Thus, it counts as part of the shrine. It is a place of the burial of scholars such as al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi, Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Muqaddas, and al-Shaykh Muhammad Baqir al-Qummi.

References