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Mashhad

Mashhad

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Coordinates: 36°18′″N, 59°37′″E

Mashhad (also spelt Mashad, Persian: مشهد ‎ ​) is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shi'a world. It is located 850 kilometers East of Tehran, Iran (Persia), and the center of the province of Razavi Khorasan. Its population is 2,387,734 people (2006). [1]

Contents

[edit] Geography and demographics

Image:Mashhad iran.jpg
Mashhad from space, January 2003

The city is located at 36.20º latitude and 59.35 º east longitude, in the valley of the Kashaf River near Turkmenistan, between the two mountain ranges of Binalood and Hezar-masjed The city benefits from the proximity of the mountains, having very cold winters, pleasant springs, usually mild summers, and beautiful autumns.

Mashhad has a population of near to 3 million , consisting of people of Iranian descent, among others , and over 20 millions of pilgrams every year.

[edit] History and notable events

Image:Mashad masjed khiyaboon.jpg
Molla Heydar mosque, a fine example of 19th century local Iranian architecture.

The city was founded around 823 AD, and its name derives from mashhad-e-reza, "place of martyrdom". It is a reference to the death of Imam Reza, the Eighth Imam of Shi'ite Islam, who is believed by members of the Shi'ia sect to have been poisoned there upon orders of Caliph Al Ma'mun. Before his death the place was a small village by the name of Sanabad. A shrine was built there to commemorate the Imam, and gradually the town grew around it.

Among the first major buildings was a mausoleum built by Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi. Today the holy shrine and its museum hold one of the most extensive cultural and artistic treasuries of Iran, in particular manuscript books and paintings. Several important theological schools are associated with the shrine of the Eighth Imam.

The Baha'i Faith has a history of victory and religious persecutions in this city. The latest was the executions of two Baha'is in 1998[citation needed].

As a city of great religious significance, it is also a place of pilgrimage. It is said that the rich go to Mecca but the poor journey to Mashhad. Thus, even as those who complete the pilgrimage to Mecca receive the title of Haji, those who make the pilgrimage to Mashhad – and especially to the Imam Reza shrine – are known as Mashtee, a term employed also of its inhabitants. It is thought that over 20 million Muslims a year make the pilgrimage to Mashhad.

Besides its religious significance, Mashhad has played an important political role as well. It saw its greatest glory under Nadir Shah, ruler of Iran from 1736 to 1747 and great benefactor of the Imam Reza shrine, who made the city his capital.

Though primarily a Muslim city, Mashhad has harbored a number of religious minorities over the centuries. Among these were Jews, who in 1839, were forcibly converted to Islam. However, in truth they lived a double life: outwardly, they conformed to Islamic ways, but secretly they preserved a Jewish identity and Jewish traditions. <ref name="Patai">Patai, Raphael (1997). Jadid al-Islam: The Jewish "New Muslims" of Meshhed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-81-432652-8.</ref>

In 1912, the sanctuary of the Imam Reza was bombed by the Russian forces, causing widespread and persisting resentment in the Shiite Muslim world.

In recent years, the event to have had the largest impact on Mashhad was the bombing of the Imam Reza shrine on June 20, 1994, killing twenty six and wounding many more. The bombing was carried out by Mr. Mehdi Nahvi, a member of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MKO), an Iraqi-based opposition group which claimed responsibility. The MKO stated that the bombing was carried out to commemorate the anniversary of the group's founding on 20 June, 1981. However, after Saeed Emmami, a high ranking official in Iranian Intelligence, was arrested and charged with assassinating opposition figures, he also confessed that his group had links to the bombers. This event, and also many others in recent Iran's history, was never fully investigated and clarified.

Mashhad once again came under the national spotlight in 2001 during the "spider serial killer" events, in which 19 women were murdered.

In 1998 and again in 2003 Mashhad was the scene of tensions during student unrests echoing similar tensions in Tehran.

Also in 2003, according to the Quds newspaper, the supreme court of the Islamic regime of Iran sentenced four people to stoning in the city. In addition to the death sentence, all four were also sentenced to lashes and imprisonment.

In the summer of 2005 Mashhad became a focus of contention in the western media as an Islamic court enforcing Sharia law ordered two teens to be put to death on charges related to homosexual behavior, an action also criticized in some Iranian media as against regulations prohibiting the execution of minors.

On September 1, 2006 a Russian-built Tupolev passenger plane crashed upon landing in Mashhad, killing 29 people. [2]

[edit] Culture

Image:Tus shahnameh.jpg
Relief in Tus depicting popular stories of Persian mythology, from the book of Shahnameh of Ferdowsi.

Long a center of secular as well as of religious learning, Mashhad has been a center for the arts and for the sciences. The large Ferdowsi University of Mashad, named after the great Iranian poet, is located here. The Madrassa of Ayatollah Al-Khoei, originally built in the seventeenth century and recently replaced with modern facilities, is the city’s foremost traditional centre for religious learning. The Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, founded in 1984, stands at the centre of town, within the shrine complex. The prestige of traditional religious education at Mashhad attracts students, known as talaban, internationally.

Mashhad is also home to one of the oldest libraries of the Middle-East called the Central Library of Astan-e Quds Razavi with a history of over six centuries. The Astan-e Quds Razavi Museum, which is part of the Astan-e Quds Razavi Complex, is home to over 70,000 rare manuscripts from various historical eras. There are some six million historical documents in the foundation’s central library.

In 1569 (977 H), `Imad al-Din Mas`ud Shirazi, a physician at the Mashhad hospital, wrote the earliest Islamic treatise on syphilis, one influenced by European medical thought.

Kashmar rug is a type of Persian rug indigenous to this region.

[edit] Attractions

Image:Nadershahtomb.jpg
Tomb of Nadir Shah Afshar, a popular tourist attraction in Mashad.

The second largest holy city of the world, Mashhad attracts more than 12 million tourists and pilgrims every year, many of whom come to pay homage to the tomb of Imam Reza (the eighth Shi'ite Imam). It has been a magnet for travellers since medieval times, when the famous world traveller Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta visited the town.

Apart from a number of large beautiful parks and the tombs of historical celebrities in nearby Tus and Neyshabour, the tomb of Nadir Shah and Kooh Sangi park are also noteworthy sights. It is also home to the Mashhad Airbase (formerly Imam Reza airbase), jointly a military installation housing Mirage aircraft, and a civilian international airport.

Some points of interest lie outside the city: the tomb of Khajeh Morad, along the road to Tehran; the tomb of Khajeh Rabi' located 6 kilometers north of the city where there are some inscriptions by the renowned Safavid calligrapher Reza Abbasi; and the tomb of Khajeh Abasalt, a distance of 20 kilometers from Mashhad along the road to Neishabur. (The three were all disciples of Imam Reza).

Among the other sights are the tomb of the great poet Ferdowsi in Tus, 24 kilometers distance, and the summer resorts at Torghabeh, Torogh, Akhlamad, Zoshk, and Shandiz.

The Shah Public Bath, built in 1648 during the Safavid era and an outstanding example of the architecture of that period, was recently restored, and is to be turned into a museum.

[edit] Colleges and universities

[edit] Famous people from Mashad

[edit] Current events

In recent years, the event to have had the largest impact on Mashhad was the bombing of the Imam Reza shrine on June 20, 1994, killing twenty six and wounding many more. The bombing was carried out by Mr. Mehdi Nahvi, a member of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MKO), an Iraqi-based opposition group which claimed responsibility. The MKO stated that the bombing was carried out to commemorate the anniversary of the group's founding on 20 June, 1981. However, after Saeed Emmami, a high ranking official in Iranian Intelligence, was arrested and charged with assassinating opposition figures, he also confessed that his group had links to the bombers. This event, and also many others in recent Iran's history, was never fully investigated and clarified.

Mashhad once again came under the national spotlight in 2001 during the "spider serial killer" events, in which 19 women were murdered.

In 1998 and again in 2003 Mashhad was the scene of tensions during student unrests echoing similar tensions in Tehran.

Also in 2003, according to the Quds newspaper, the supreme court of the Islamic regime of Iran sentenced four people to stoning in the city. In addition to the death sentence, all four were also sentenced to lashes and imprisonment.

In the summer of 2005 Mashhad became a focus of contention in the western media as an Islamic court enforcing Sharia law ordered two teens to be put to death on charges related to homosexual behavior, an action also criticized in some Iranian media as against regulations prohibiting the execution of minors.

On September 1, 2006 a Russian-built Tupolev passenger plane crashed upon landing in Mashhad, killing 29 people. [3]

[edit] Sister cities

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

ar:مشهد az:مشهد de:Maschhad et:Mashhad es:Mashhad eo:Maŝhado fa:مشهد fr:Mashhad id:Mashhad he:משהד lv:Mešheda nl:Mashhad ja:マシュハド no:Mashhad pl:Meszhed pt:Mashhad ru:Мешхед sk:Mašhad fi:Mashhad sv:Mashhad tg:Машҳад tr:Meşhed zh:馬什哈德

Mashhad

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