Saturday, February 19, 2005
In honor of Ashura, here is a picture of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, one of the possible resting places for the head of the martyred Imam Husayn. (The other is in Cairo.) According to tradition, the head was brought to Damascus and presented to Caliph Yazid I, and was later placed in this mosque built under al-Walid I a few decades later. The photo shows the central open area - the hall with the shrine of Husayn is off to one side. Technically pictures were allowed there, but after stepping inside I felt like my even being there was highly inappropriate. The room was packed with Shi'ite pilgrims experiencing passionate mourning while kissing the chamber that held the head. You can read more about the mosque in the second and third to the last paragraphs here - it also claims the head of John the Baptist.