Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery

The Wadi al-Salam cemetery — The world's largest cemetery, which in Arabic means the Valley of Peace, has a special place in the hearts of the Shiites, as it surrounds the Mausoleum of their first imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. This Iraqi cemetery is near the city of Al-Najaf, south of Bagdad. Millions of graves of various shapes lie on an area of ​​6.01 km2 Previously, 80-120 people were buried in the cemetery, but after the militants of the Islamic state captured a third of the country, the number of burials increased to 150-200 people. Land is becoming scarce, the cost of a standard plot of 25 square meters for family burial has grown a lot and reaches 5 million Iraqi dinars ($ 4100), which is almost double the amount paid for the same plot before the escalation of violence.

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world


The Wadi al-Salam cemetery — The world's largest cemetery

About ten million people are buried in Wadi al-Salaam. Shiites from all over Iraq and from Iran come to Wadi al-Salaam to visit the graves of relatives. Selfies in the mausoleum of Imam al-Mahdi - one of the attractions of the cemetery. Grave boy in Wadi al-Salaam. The cemetery area is constantly growing - now it exceeds 600 hectares. The funeral. According to tradition, the body is washed and wrapped in a white shroud, funeral prayers are read in the tomb of Imam Ali, the deceased is surrounded three times around the mausoleum. The war in Iraq is constantly killing lives - hundreds of people are buried daily in the cemetery.
 
Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

The queue for holy water from a source in the mausoleum of Imam Mahdi. Wadi al-Salam cemetery is included in the preliminary list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Prayer in the mausoleum of Imam Mahdi. They say that the Mahdi - the “hidden imam” - appears every Thursday during prayer at sunset at the local mosque. A resting grave digger relaxes with the help of a "shisha" - a hookah. In 2003, during the American invasion of Iraq, up to 250 people were buried daily in the cemetery. The ruined dome of the funeral catacomb. In 2004, fights were fought in the cemetery: American soldiers drove out the militants who had entrenched themselves in the graves from here.

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world
The queue for holy water from a source in the mausoleum of Imam Mahdi. Wadi al-Salam cemetery is included in the preliminary list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world

Wadi al-Salam Iraqi cemetery - the largest in the world
All photographs by Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters Source

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