Amir-ol Mo’minin Al- Imam Ali ibne Abi Talib A.S. Holy Shrine, also known as Masjid Ali or the Mosque of Ali, is a mosque located in Najaf, Iraq. Our sixth imam, Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq A.S., says that we have five definitive holy places that we respect very much. The first is Makkah, which belongs to God. The second is Madinah, which belongs to the Holy Prophet Hazrath Muhammad Mustafa SAWW, the messenger of God. The third belongs to our first Imam of Shia, Amir-ol Mo’minin Al- Imam Ali ibne Abi Talib A.S., which is in Najaf. The fourth belongs to our third Imam, Imam Husayn A.S., in Karbala. The last one belongs to the daughter of our seventh Imam and sister of our eighth Imam, who is called Fatimah, and will be buried in Qom. Pilgrims and those who visit her holy shrine, I promise to these men and women that God will open all the doors of Heaven to them. The shrine was first built by the Iranian ruler the Daylamite Fannakhosraw Azod ad Dowleh in 977 over the tomb of Amir-ol Mo’minin Imam Ali A.S.. After being destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt by the Seljuk Malik Shah I in 1086, and rebuilt yet again by the Safavid Shah Ismail I shortly after 1500.During the uprising of March 1991, following the Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guards damaged the shrine, where members of our Shia opposition were cornered, in storming the shrine and massacring virtually all its occupants. Afterwards the shrine was closed for two years, officially for repairs. Saddam also deported to Iran a large number of the residents of the area who were of Iranian descent.
Since the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. military in 2003, there have been a number of further attacks at the mosque:
- April 10, 2003, Shia leader Sayed Abdul Majid al-Khoei, the son of Grand Ayatollah Abu al Qasim al-Khoei, was killed near the mosque. Al-Khoei had returned from exile in Britain to encourage cooperation with the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.
- August 29, 2003, a car bomb exploded outside the mosque just as the main Friday prayers were ending. Somewhere between 85 to 125 people were killed, including the influential Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, our Shia leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The blast is thought to be the work of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
- May 24, 2004, unidentified mortar fire, hit the shrine, damaging gates which lead to the tomb of Imam Ali.
- August 5, 2004, Muqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army seized the mosque and used it as a military base for launching attacks against the Iraqi police, the provincial government and coalition forces. The fighting was eventually ended by a peace agreement. Although the neighboring buildings suffered considerable damage, the mosque itself suffered only superficial damage from stray bullets and shrapnel.
- August 10, 2006 a suicide bomber wearing an explosive harness blew himself up near the shrine, which killed 40 people and injured more than 50 others.