- Wadi-al-Salaam which is also referred to as the “Valley of Peace” or “Peace Valley” is an ancient cemetery which has the largest graveyard in the world(the biggest Islamic burial place).
- Millions of people have been buried in this cemetery ranging from famous Prophets and other faithfuls in that region. We will have a look at some of the key facts and things to know about the Valley of Peace.
Facts and details about the Valley of Peace
- The “Peace Valley” in Najaf, a Western part of Central Iraq is known as the world’s largest cemetery.
- In Arabic, this cemetery is called Wadi-al-Salaam, which when translated to English means “Valley of Peace”.
- The valley of peace has the Mausoleum of their first Imam, Ali Bin Abi Talib, a cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad at its centre.
- It is situated in the holy city for Shia Muslims, which is to the south of Baghdad, Iraq.
An aerial view of Wadi-al-Salaam(Peace Valley)
- The cemetery covers a wide area of about 1485.5 acres.
- The burial there has been happening now for over 14000 years.
- It is said that the cemetery holds more than 5 million bodies.
- During the Iraq War(2003-2011), a total of 200 to 250 bodies were buried in the cemetery on a daily basis.
A boy in the peace valley digs a grave for burial
- It is estimated that approximately 50,000 new bodies are buried in the cemetery per year.
- The number of buried bodies gives a rough idea that most Irani and Iraqi Shiites would probably have a relative buried in the peace valley.
- This cemetery, instead of being thought of as haunted, is considered to be a place of pilgrimage.
- Every year ‘Shiites’ from all over the globe travel to visit this cemetery and believe that after their visit, their desires will be fulfilled.
- The motive of pilgrimage to this cemetery is mainly the visitation of the prominent leaders of Shia.
- Many Shia Muslims in Iraq as well as over the world request for their burial in this cemetery.
- The other astonishing fact about this place is its burial. The cemetery has numerous crypts. Each crypt or the catacomb can hold upto 50 bodies.
- After the Iraq War, when the place of burial began to become scarce, the price of the same plot started to double up. A 25 square metre plot cost approximately 5 million Iraqi dinars which were equivalent to almost 4100 dollars.
- Apart from the catacombs, the peace valley also has graves of different shapes and sizes that covers 10 square kilometres.
- The graves of few are engraved with Quranic calligraphy, tombs are above the ground that shows the wealth of the buried within.
A woman washing the grave of her relative in the Peace Valley
- The Shia history of this place holds the story that the peace of land was a “part of heaven” that increases the demand of the people to be buried here.
- Basic Shia Traditions
- Per the Shia tradition, it is believed that Abraham bought land in the Peace Valley which was said to be part of heaven according to Ali.
- Shia believed that Ali was capable of lessening the suffering of the deceased when their soul passes from this worldly life and if they are buried there, they will be raised on judgement day alongside their spiritual leader.
- Certain rituals required to be carried out before a burial includes: the dead body be washed and wrapped up in the cemetery.
- funeral prayers done in the Imam Ali shrine, the deceased is then carried round the shrine three times and lastly, recitation of Quranic verses at the cemetery.
- Due to this belief, it resulted in the increased demand of people that were buried in the Valley of Peace.