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Wadi Al-Salam Cemetery in Najaf

Date of Submission: 24/01/2011
Criteria: (iii)(v)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Iraq to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Al-Najaf region, Al-Najaf province
Coordinates: N32 00 00 E44 18 59
Ref.: 5578

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Wadi Al-Salam Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the world; it includes the remains of millions of Muslims and dozens of scientists, guardians, and dutifuls. As well as the remains of the prince of faithfuls, Ali Ibn Abi Talib and graves of prophets of God, Salh and Hod. The cemetery extended from the center of the city to the far north-west and forms 13% from the area of the city, and it measures 917 hectares. Wadi Al-Salam cemetery considers the spirit of the city because it is visited by millions of Muslims of various parts of the world. The date of burial in the cemetery back to ancient times before the middle ages, and it includes number of prophets, and dutifuls graves. Also were buried in it the kings of Al-Hira and it's leaders from Al-Sassani Era (637-226) and were buried in the cemetery companions, kings, Sultans, princes of the state of Hamdania, Fatimia, Al-Buwayhyia, Saffawayia, Qajar,and Jalairiyah. Wadi Al-Salam cemetery had included several kinds of burial, which were lower graves, and high graves (towers).There was a way of burial inside special rooms allocated to each family. As well as the way of burial inside valuts, were rooms carved underground and the way of getting down to it was by ladder, which included remains of quite number of the deads.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The universal value in this cemetery lies in being one of the oldest graves of Muslims as the area makes it one of the largest cemeteries in the world as well as the presence of the shrine of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib. Also there were graves for many prophets, kings, princes and Sultans. Wadi Al-Salam cemetery is the only cemetery in the world which is so far, the process of burial is still continuing to day since more than 1400 years.

(iii): Cemetery stands as a witness to a unique or at last an exceptional example of a cultural tradition.

(v): Cemetery forms a prominent traditional method of land use.

(vi): Cemetery is an associated with events or living traditional and beliefs.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The cemetery is an authentic site did not extend a hand of modernity and change, though plagued by the evidence that there are customs and traditions tide to deal with the cemetery and made it a place with a particular sanctity cannot by pass it or use in a way effects in its authenticity and the integrity of the site is guaranteed with religious beliefs practiced by Muslims, and which require respect for the sanctity of the grave and surrounding it with holiness, especially as there is a special law protecting the site, General Endowment Act, No.64 of 1966, as amended. And law No.40, of 1999.

Comparison with other similar properties

Usually, graves of guardians and dutifuls were consider the center for the emergence of religious cities and a place frequented by people for the visit and blessing. Mainly be a center to bury the dead as was the case in Wadi Al-Salam cemetery in Najaf. After the burial of the prince of believers, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (660-40), it is the second cemetery established in Islam after the cemetery of Baqi in Medina which included the graves of Muslims in that period, including the companions of the prophet Mohammed, But Wadi Al-Salam cemetery contains graves built with baked bricks and plaster and it rises at different levels. While the graves of the cemetery of Baqi are low and are not built with any material and there are in the Muslims world today graves belonging to the dead Muslims just like the tomb of the cemetery in Egypt only those that cemetery on the capacity did not arise because buried one of the companions or guardians. As happened in the cemetery of Wadi Al-Salam as well as the tomb of the cemetery in Egypt used by poor people to live and exercise their daily lives, while we find Wadi Al-Salam cemetery even in the darkest circumstances of Iraq and unstable conditions of economic and social developments has not taken a place to live at all. Wadi Al-Salam cemetery have instances, but smaller in area and less well known as the cemetery of Karbala, and there are cemeteries which specific events showing them such as the cemetery of Al-Ghrabaa (strangers) in Damascus, which has set up for the burial of Muslims who emigrated from Iraq for political reason and their families were unable to transfer their remains to the Wadi Al-Salam cemetery in Najaf, which the process of burial in it still continue and daily since more than 1400 years. Where, as we find in other cemeteries that the burial was suspended or repeal as a result of depletion of the area allocated to it or urbanization, such as (Area) cemetery in Baghdad and Samarra cemetery. For that reason Wadi Al-Salam cemetery considers to be the oldest and biggest cemetery in the world, as well as the features of lasting and continuity.