Tuesday, July 14, 2009

karbala and najaf

Gunshots and coffins


Iraq’s holiest cities include Karbala and Najaf, as both have shrines of grave importance to Muslims (grave importance--pun intended. Kidding! So tacky, sorry!). Though it may be argued that the shrines are more important to Shias, Iraqis of all sects have traditionally visited the shrines for over a thousand years. The Prophet Mohammed’s family is buried at the shrines. My grandmother is also buried in Najaf, the home of Iraq’s most famous graveyard. The graves look like an ocean without an end, and house impoverished locals. A couple of graveyard residents have mental catalogs of the dead for visitors. “Hassan and Gulistan Mandilawi,” we asked an elderly man. “Yes, it’s been a while since you have visited.” He walked us to the site. The graveyard had clear remnants of gunshots, as graves were used as barracks by either side

We passed by hundreds of thousands of graves, some damaged by time and others by bullets, to arrive to two mud and masonry graves, side-by-side in eternal liss. Bibi and Jidu. Allah yerhamhum (may God bless their souls).

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