March 23, 2016

The Shrine of Khaula

Khaula's shrine
Since I was in Baalbeck, I stopped at Khaula's shrine, which is a distinctly Iranian looking mosque overlooking the Roman ruines. Before anyone gets all upset and accuses me of prejudice, it does look exactly, both inside and outside, as many of the mosques I have visited in Iran. However, I do not find it similar to the ones I have seen in Syria or Egypt, hence my statement. Besides, this books states the same. Now that we’ve got that clarified, it probably makes sense as it is a project funded by Hezbollah and/or Iran.  

Some 20 years ago, this mosque wasn’t there; instead it was just a simple tomb. However, it has since then been turned into an elaborate shrine, and is quite popular with mainly shia muslims, because it is the tomb, supposedly, of Khaula, the youngest daughter of Hussein, one of Mohammad’s grandsons.
Hussain got killed in Kerbala, Iraq, together with his brother Hassan, and his entire entourage. The members of his family that did not get killed outright, were then taken to Damascus. Khaula, then 2 years old, did not survive that trip, and died while passing through Baalbeck.

Baalbeck is not on the way from Baghdad to Damascus, but some sources explain that the captives were being paraded around the region before, or after,  arriving to Damascus. Whatever the case, the child did not live long. The grave was then forgotten, until some 300 years ago, when  an orchard owner came forward, explaining that it was revealed to him in a dream that she was buried on his land. It has been a place of pilgrimage since then.

Iranian mosques are more colorful then local mosques, and if you are around the neighborhood, I advice you to visit it. Admission is for free, and they provide you with whatever is needed in order to enter the shrine. Praying near Khaula seems to work miracles, according to some.  It is very similar to stories coming out of Europe, where, many hundreds of years after the fact, people claim that some holy person has been buried. Just think of Santiago de Compostella, where hundreds of thousands of people walk to every year, because James, one of the apostles, is supposedly, buried there. And just like Khaula, James seems to cure all kinds of ills.   
Direction of prayer (see arrow on left): the qibla 
Khaula is not the only famous one to be buried here in Lebanon. It is said by some that Seth, son of Adam, is also interred in this region. Religion is a colorful thing. Whatever the case is, it is a place of pilgrimage, and the shrine is colorful indeed.
Prayer mats in all sizes

1 comment:

Nomad said...

Hello Sietske,

Just one correction about Imam Hussain's brother, Imam Hassan. His brother was not with him in Karbala, since he was already martyred years before through poison. It was Kassem son of Imam Hassan that was with him in Karbala. Thank you for your time.