The Sacred Side or Al-Nāḥīya al-Muqaddasa (Arabic: الناحیَة المُقَدَّسَة) is a secret word used by the Shi'a since the first half of the 3rd/ninth century until the end of the Minor Occultation (329/941). It refers to al-'Askariyyayn (Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a)) and Imam al-Mahdi (a) or to Special Deputies. In many letters by the three Imams (a), the word, "al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa", is used to refer to the Imam. Two ziyarah texts of Imam al-Husayn (a) are referred to as ziyarah al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa.
"Al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa" means "The Sacred Side". The term was used by the Shi'a since the first half of the 3rd/ninth century, during the imamate of Imam al-Hadi (a) until the end of the Minor Occultation (329/941), because of tough political and social circumstances of the Shi'a and restrictions placed by Abbasid Caliphs on social communications of Imams. When they cited the sayings of or talked about Imam al-Hadi (a), Imam al-'Askari (a) or Imam al-Mahdi (a), the Shi'a used the term "al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa", instead of the Imam's (a) name. Thus, the use of this term to refer to Imam al-Mahdi (a) or his Special Deputies is believed to be out of taqiyya (precautionary dissimulation).
The term was used during the Minor Occultation as a title for Imam al-Mahdi (a). 'Ali b. 'Isa al-Irbili takes "al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa" to be a secret word used by the Shi'a to refer to Imam al-Mahdi (a).
The term, "al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa", was used by people who wrote letters to, and received replies (tawqi') from Imam al-Hadi (a), Imam al-'Askari (a) or Imam al-Mahdi (a). Some letters are cited in Shiite hadith collections written to or received from "al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa". Al-'Allama al-Majlisi compiled a book under Tawqi'at al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa (letters of The Sacred Side) in which letters from Imam al-Mahdi (a) to the Shi'a are collected.
- Main article: Ziyarah al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa
There are two ziyarah texts of Imam al-Husayn (a) narrated from Imam al-Mahdi (a), known as "Ziyarah al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa". One of which is referred to as the well-known Ziyarah al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa, and the other is known as the lesser known Ziyarah al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa. The well-known ziyarah was transmitted by one of the Special Deputies and is cited in a number of sources, including al-Mazar by al-Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Mazar al-kabir by Ibn al-Mashhadi, and Bihar al-anwar. The lesser known Ziyarah al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa is also known as Ziyarah al-Shuhada' (ziyarah of the martyrs) because Imam al-Husayn's (a) martyred companions are mentioned therein. It is cited in Bihar al-anwar and Iqbal al-a'mal.
- Dihkhudā, Lughatnāma, Under the word ناحیه.
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- Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 52, p. 92; Ṭūsī, Miṣbāḥ al-mutuhajjid, vol. 2, p. 803; Ṭabrisī, al-Iḥtijāj, vol. 2, p. 492-495.
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