Al-Ha'ir al-Husayni

Priority: b, Quality: b
From wikishia
Al-Ha'ir al-Husayni includes the mausoleum of Imam al-Husayn (a) and its surrounding area.

Al-Ḥāʾir al-Ḥusaynī (Arabic: اَلحائِر الحُسَینی) is a special area around the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a) in which the traveler can say his prayer in complete form instead of shortened form. The term was first used in hadiths from Imam al-Sadiq (a) about the area around Imam al-Husayn's (a) mausoleum. The shortest alleged limit of the al-Ha'ir is the area around the mausoleum with 22 meters in diameter. The building of the holy shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a) was destroyed by order of 'Abbasid caliphs several times.

Meaning and Appellation

Timeline of the Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a)
61/680 Burial of Imam al-Husayn (a) by Bani Asad
65/685 Construction of a building over the grave with a brick and plaster dome and two doors by al-Mukhtar
132/749-50 Construction of a covered building next to the shrine by Abu l-'Abbas al-Saffah
146/763-4 Demolition of the covered building by al-Mansur al-'Abbasi
158/774-5 Renovation of the shrine by al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi
171/787-8 Demolition of the shrine in the era of al-Harun al-Rashid
193/808 Renovation of the shrine by al-amin
236/850-1 Demolition of the shrine by al-Mutawakkil al-Abbasi and plowing its land
247/861-2 Renovation of the shrine by al-Muntasir al-Abbasi
273/886-7 Renovation of the shrine by Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Zayd, the leader of the Tabaristan uprising
280/893-4 Construction of a dome over the grave by al-Da'i 'Alawi al-Gunbadi
367/977-8 Construction of a dome, four porticoes and a darih made of ivory by Adud al-Dawla al-Daylami
397/1006-7 Construction of a mosque connected to the shrine by Imran b. Shahin
407/1016-17 The fire in the shrine and the reconstruction of the shrine by al-Hassan b. Sahl al-Wazir
479/1086-7 Renovation of the wall around the shrine by Malik Shah Siljuq
620/1223-4 Construction of the darih by al-Nasir li-Din Allah
767/1365-6 Construction of the inner dome and courtyard by Sultan Uways Jalayiri
786/1384-5 Development of the courtyard and the construction of two gold minarets by Sultan Ahmad Uways
914/1508-9 Gilding the margins of Imam al-Husayn's (a) darih by Isma'il I
920/1514-5 Construction of a box made of teak wood for the darih of Imam al-Husayn (a) by Shah Isma'il Safawi
932/1525-6 Donation of a gorgeous netted, silver darih to Imam al-Husayn's (a) shrine by Shah Isma'il II
983/1575-6 Reconstruction of the dome by 'Ali Pasha known as Wandzadah
1032/1622-3 Construction of a copper darih and tiling of the dome by 'Abbas I
1048/1638-9 Plastering the dome from the outside by order of Sultan Murad IV (Ottoman)
1155/1742-3 Decoration of the existing buildings by Nadir Shah Afshar
1211/1796-7 Gilding of the dome by the order of Aqa Muhammad Khan Qajar
1216/1801-2 Destruction of the darih and porches after the Wahhabis attack on Karbala
1227/1812-3 Reconstruction of the shrine and replacement of the dome's gold by order of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar
1232/1816-7 Construction of the silver darih and gilding of the portico by order of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar
1250/1834-5 Renovation of the dome and court ordered by Fath-Ali Shah Qajar
1273/1856-7 Reconstruction of the dome and part of its gilding by Nasir al-Din Shah
1418/1997-8 Demolition of part of the gilding of the dome following the uprising of the Iraqi people by order of Saddam
1428/2007 Roofing of the courtyard with a new style

The word "al-ha'ir" (Arabic: الحائِر) literally means a wanderer. It also refers to a pit with a flat center and high surroundings such that if some water accumulates there, it will have no way out. The word "al-Ha'ir" also refers to Karbala.[1] People related to this area are called "al-Ha'iri".[2]

There are different views about why the place is called "al-Ha'ir", including the view that after al-Mutawakkil al-'Abbasi (232/846-7 ; 247/861-2) ordered his agents to destroy Imam al-Husayn's (a) mausoleum and submerge it with water, the water stood still near the grave and did not flow there; thus it came to be called "al-Ha'ir".[3] Some people rejected the appellation, since according to hadiths from Imam al-Sadiq (a), the place was called so before the period of al-Mutawakkil.[4] The second view is that early in the 2nd/8th century, a wall was built around Imam al-Husayn's (a) grave, and it seems that the construction of the wall, presumably in the Umayyad period, was aimed at facilitating the inspection of the visitors. A third view takes the word "al-Ha'ir" as a code for Karbala or Imam al-Husayn's (a) shrine against Umayyad strict rules.[5]

The word "al-ha'ir" was first used in a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a) concerning the virtues and manners of visiting Imam al-Husayn (a).[6] It was used to refer to the area around the mausoleum.[7] The word was gradually used more frequently by Shiites to refer to the mausoleum and its surrounding area.[8]

Jurisprudential Rulings

A specific jurisprudential ruling applies to this area in the case of a traveler's prayers. The ruling is that it is permissible and even supererogatory for a traveler to say their prayers completely if they stay in these places for shorter than 10 days. This is the most advocated fatwa of Shiite scholars of fiqh, though it is still permissible for such a traveler to say shortened prayers. The same ruling also applies to the sanctuary of Mecca, that of the Holy Prophet's (s) mosque and the Mosque of Kufa.[9] The ruling does not apply to the case of fasting (and fasting is still not permissible for the traveler).

In hadiths that are the sources of this ruling, the area in which a traveler can say his or her prayers completely is called "haram" (sanctuary), al-Ha'ir and "near the mausoleum". [10]


The confines of the area called "al-Ha'ir al-Husayni" are specified in different ways in different hadiths, including with criteria such as parasang and cubit.[11] To reconcile these apparently conflicting hadiths, some scholars maintain that all the areas mentioned in these hadiths should be respected, though they enjoy different degrees of respectability; the closer the relevant area is to the mausoleum, the more respectable it is.[12] The shortest distances mentioned in hadiths for the confines of the shrine are 20 and 25 cubits from the mausoleum. Accordingly, the approximate diameter of the al-Ha'ir will be 22 meters; this reveals the area of the shrine at the time of Imam al-Sadiq (a),[13] on the one hand, and conforms with the view of those who take the al-Ha'ir to include only the martyrdom zone of Imam al-Husayn (a) and the mosque, on the other hand. Some faqihs have appealed to parasang distances mentioned in some hadiths to generalize the ruling to the whole city of Karbala,[14] but most of the faqihs take the ruling to apply only to a more limited area.[15] However, there is a dispute among them as to the exact confines of the al-Ha'ir, including:


The construction of buildings over the mausoleum of Imam al-Husayn (a) dates back to the first years after his martyrdom. There are accounts of a box and a ceiling as well as a small building over the mausoleum until 65/684-5. Still, it seems that al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi (killed in 67/686-7) constructed the first building over the mausoleum after his triumph in his uprising for the vengeance of Imam al-Husayn (a) in 66/685. This brick construction had two gates and one dome.[20] The mausoleums of other martyrs of Karbala were located outside of this construction.[21] Some hadiths from Imam al-Sadiq (a) concerning the manners of visiting Imam al-Husayn's (a) mausoleum imply that the building was still there until his time.[22]

In later periods, people or governments frequently reconstructed the shrine and the al-Ha'ir, including the construction of courtyards and new porches or expanding the existing ones, building mosques, building boxes over the grave, or building darihs, reconstructing the wall around the shrine, changing the stones of the floor, repairing or gilding the dome, decorating the minarets, the walls and the porches with gold or tiles or mirrors, donating carpets and lighting devices, and constructing water tanks.[23]

Visiting Imam al-Husayn (a)

Imam al-Husayn's (a) shrine is highly respected by Shiites. Shiite Imams (a) always encouraged Shiites to visit the shrine by mentioning the virtues and the position of al-Ha'ir al-Husayni. There are many hadiths in which the divine rewards of visiting the shrine and its manners are elaborated.

Approaches of the Governments

Different governments took different approaches to the construction or destruction of the al-Ha'ir; for example, in the Umayyad period, though they were very strict concerning the visitors of the shrine,[24] they never destroyed it,[25] but some Abbasid caliphs, including Harun al-Rashid and al-Mutawakkil al-'Abbasi, repeatedly destroyed the shrine. To destroy all traces of the mausoleum and prevent people from visiting the place, al-Mutawakkil ordered that the land be plowed and submerged with water.[26] On the contrary, during the periods of Al Buyah, Jalayiris, Safavids and Qajars, the al-Ha'ir was extensively developed, reconstructed and decorated.[27]

In recent years, the most significant destruction of the shrine took place in 1216/1801-2 by the Wahhabi attacks to Karbala. In this attack, many people were killed and the shrine was remarkably destroyed and its property was stolen.[28] Muhammad Samawi (d. 1371/1951-2) wrote a poem to depict these destruction in his Majali l-lutf bi-'ard al-taff.

Moreover, in 1991, Saddam Hussein asked general Qays Hamza 'Abud to attack all visitors of the shrines of Imam al-Husayn (a) and Abu l-Fadl al-'Abbas (a) and to execute all people who were arrested by security forces. Hussein Kamil, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, attacked the two shrines with a tank belonging to the special guard of the president and shot the dome of Imam al-Husayn's (a) shrine. He then informed Saddam of his attack and was praised by Saddam.

Residence of Shiites

The emphasis made by Shiite Imams (a) to respect the al-Ha'ir, on the one hand, and the relative freedom for the visit of the shrine during the period of al-Muntasir al-'Abbasi (247/861-2 ; 248/862-3), on the other hand, led some 'Alawis to live near the shrine. The first of these was Ibrahim al-Mujab, the son of Muhammad 'Abid and the grandson of Imam al-Kazim (a). Ibrahim's mausoleum is located on the western porch of the shrine.[29] His son, Muhammad al-Ha'iri, was the head of Al Fa'iz sadat in Karbala, some of whom were the trusteeships of the shrine.[30]


  1. Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʿArab, under the word «حیر».
  2. Kilīddār, Tārikh Karbalāʾ, p. 26.
  3. Shahīd al-Awwal, Dhikrā l-Shiʿa, vol. 4, p. 291.
  4. Ṭihrānī, Shifāʾ al-ṣudūr, p. 294.
  5. Mudarris Bustānābādī, Shahr-i Ḥusayn yā jilwagāh-i ʿishq, p. 174-175.
  6. Ibn Qūlawayh, Kāmil al-zīyarāt, p. 254-255, 358-362.
  7. Karbāsī, Tārīkh al-marāqid al-Ḥusayn, vol. 1, p. 259.
  8. Kilīddār, Tārikh Karbalāʾ, p. 71-72.
  9. Shahīd al-Thānī, al-Rawḍa al-bahīyya, vol. 1, p. 787-788; Ṭabāṭabāyī al-Yazdī, al-ʿUrwa al-wuthqā, vol. 2, p. 164.
  10. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 8, p. 524, 527-528, 530-532.
  11. Ibn Qūlawayh, Kāmil al-zīyarāt, p. 456-458.
  12. Ṭūsī, Tahdhīb al-aḥkam, vol. 6, p. 81-82.
  13. Kilīddār, Tārikh Karbalāʾ, p. 51, 52, 58, 60.
  14. Ibn Saʿīd, al-Jāmiʿ li-l-Sharāʾiʿ, p. 93; Narāqī, Mustanad al-Shīʿa fī aḥkām al-sharīʿa, vol. 8, p. 313-317.
  15. Narāqī, Mustanad al-Shīʿa fī aḥkām al-sharīʿa, vol. 8, p. 313-317; Baḥrānī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-nāḍira, vol. 11, p. 462.
  16. Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 126; Ḥillī, al-Sarāʾir, vol. 1, p. 342.
  17. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 86, p. 89-90.
  18. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 86, p. 89; Khomeini, Taḥrīr al-wasīla, vol. 1, p. 233.
  19. Ṭabāṭabāyī al-Yazdī, al-ʿUrwa al-wuthqā, vol. 2, p. 164-165; Narāqī, Mustanad al-Shīʿa fī aḥkām al-sharīʿa, vol. 8, p. 419-420, 425-426.
  20. Karbāsī, Tārīkh al-marāqid al-Ḥusayn, vol. 1, p. 245-250.
  21. Ibn Qūlawayh, Kāmil al-zīyarāt, p. 420.
  22. Karbāsī, Tārīkh al-marāqid al-Ḥusayn, vol. 1, p. 255-259.
  23. Ṭuʿma, Tārīkh marqad al-Ḥusayn wa l-ʿAbbās, p. 87-93.
  24. Ibn Qūlawayh, Kāmil al-zīyarāt, p. 203-206, 242-245.
  25. Ṭuʿma, Tārīkh marqad al-Ḥusayn wa l-ʿAbbās, p. 73.
  26. Ṭūsī, al-Amālī, p. 325-329.
  27. Kilīddār, Tārikh Karbalāʾ, p. 171-173.
  28. Longrigg, Four centuries of modern Iraq, p. 217.
  29. Ṭuʿma, Tārīkh marqad al-Ḥusayn wa l-ʿAbbās, p. 147-148.
  30. Ibn ʿInaba, ʿUmdat al-ṭālib, p. 263-266.


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