An Najaf, Iraq

Reading Time: 5 minutes

An Najaf, Iraq

Region: An Najaf

Geographic Coordinates: 32.000000, 44.330000
Temperature Range: 5.0°C to 45.0°C (41°F to 113°F)
Climate: Hot and dry summers, mild winters, and occasional rainfall throughout the year in An Najaf, Iraq.
Population: 724700
Language: Arabic

An Najaf is a city located in central Iraq, About 160 kilometers south of Baghdad. It is considered one of the holiest cities in the country and is home to several important religious sites for Shia Muslims. The city has a population of over one million people and serves as an important center for trade, Education, And politics. One of the most significant religious sites in An Najaf is the Imam Ali Mosque. This mosque houses the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, Who was a cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad.

Ali was also the fourth caliph to rule over the Islamic empire after Muhammad’s death. The mosque attracts millions of pilgrims from around the world each year who come to pay their respects to this revered figure. Another important site in An Najaf is Wadi Al-Salam Cemetery which translates to Valley of Peace. This cemetery is believed to be one of the largest graveyards globally and contains tombs dating back centuries. Many Shia Muslims believe that being buried here brings them closer to God.

The city also has several educational institutions with Al-Mustafa International University being one such institution that offers courses on Islamic studies for students from all over Iraq as well as other countries around Asia and Africa. In addition to its religious significance, An Najaf has played an essential role in shaping Iraq’s political landscape. During Saddam Hussein’s regime, Many opposition groups were based here due to its proximity with Iran where many exiled dissidents lived at that time. Today, An Najaf remains a vibrant metropolis with bustling markets selling everything from spices and textiles to electronics and household goods.

Visitors can explore local bazaars like Souq al-Shuhada or take a stroll along Abu Hanifa Street which boasts numerous shops selling traditional Iraqi handicrafts like pottery or carpets. Overall, An Najaf offers visitors an insight into Iraq’s rich history while providing them with a chance to immerse themselves in the country’s cultural and religious traditions. It is a city that is steeped in tradition yet still manages to embrace modernity.

Important Landmarks

  1. Imam Ali Mosque
  2. Wadi-us-Salaam Cemetery
  3. Al-Maida Square
  4. Al-Haidariya Shrine and Mosque
  5. Qasr al-Shuhada Museum
  6. Maqam-e-Imam Musa Kazim (AS)
  7. An Najaf International Airport
  8. The Grand Ayatollah Sistani’s Office
  9. Al-Kufa Grand Mosque
  10. Tomb of Prophet Hud

Primary Industries

  1. Agriculture: An Najaf is situated in a rich agricultural area and cultivates crops like wheat, barley, dates, and fruits.
  2. Trade: The city has a thriving market district where vendors sell textiles, spices, jewelry, and souvenirs.
  3. Construction: Due to ongoing development projects in the city and surrounding regions, there is a high demand for construction services.
  4. Tourism: An Najaf attracts millions of pilgrims every year who come to visit the Imam Ali Mosque and other religious sites.
  5. Education: An Najaf has numerous universities and educational institutions that attract students from all over Iraq and beyond.
  6. Healthcare: The city has multiple hospitals and medical centers that serve not only local residents but also patients from other parts of Iraq.
  7. Manufacturing: There are some small-scale manufacturing operations in An Najaf producing items such as textiles and food products.
  8. Services: Like any major city, various service industries operate in An Najaf comprising banking services, telecommunications providers etc., catering to both its inhabitants & visitors’ needs alike

Noteable History

  1. Battle of Karbala (680 AD) – The Battle of Karbala is one of the most significant historical events associated with An Najaf. It was fought between the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph, and Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. The battle resulted in the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his companions.
  2. Al-Mutawakkil Mosque – The Al-Mutawakkil Mosque is a famous landmark in An Najaf. It was built by Caliph al-Mutawakkil in 849 AD and is considered one of the oldest mosques in Iraq.
  3. Ali ibn Abi Talib – Ali ibn Abi Talib was a cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad and is revered by Shia Muslims as their first imam. He lived in An Najaf for many years before he was assassinated there in 661 AD.
  4. Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim – Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim was a prominent Shia scholar who lived in An Najaf during the early 20th century. He played an important role in shaping modern Shia theology and jurisprudence.
  5. Saddam Hussein’s regime – During Saddam Hussein’s regime, An Najaf became a center for opposition to his rule among Shia Muslims. In 1991, Iraqi forces attacked the city during an uprising led by Shia rebels but were eventually driven out by rebel fighters.
  6. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani – Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is one of Iraq’s most influential religious leaders and has been based in An Najaf since 1952 when he moved there to study under other scholars at Hawza Ilmiya school.
  7. Shrine of Imam Ali- The Shrine Of Imam Ali located within city limits that houses tomb OfAli Ibn Abi Talib is considered one of Islam’s holiest sites, visited by millions of Shia Muslims every year.

Museums and Things To See

  1. The Imam Ali Shrine is a significant destination for Shia Muslim pilgrims, as it holds the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad.
  2. Located in Najaf, the Wadi Al-Salam Cemetery is one of the world’s largest cemeteries and holds great cultural importance.
  3. The Al-Mansur Mosque is a historic mosque that was built during the Abbasid era and named after Caliph al-Mansur.
  4. Visitors to The House of Mirrors can enjoy intricate glass mosaics created by Iraqi artist Sabah Naim at this art center and museum.
  5. The Najaf Museum showcases artifacts from Iraq’s rich history, including prehistoric times, Babylonian period, Islamic era and more.
  6. Al-Hindiya Barrage Dam serves as an important source for irrigation water for agriculture in central Iraq. It is located on Euphrates River near An Najaf.
  7. Qal’at Sherqat Fortress dates back to Parthian period (247 BC – 224 AD) and is an ancient fortress located about 20 km north-east of An Najaf.
  8. Built in 682 AD by Muslim ibn Aqeel where he was martyred during his visit to Kufa while seeking support for his cousin Husayn ibn Ali’s uprising against Yazid I, The Great Mosque Of Kufa has historical significance within Islam.
  9. The Mausoleum Of Mukhtar al-Thaqafi honors Mukhtar al-Thaqafi who led an uprising against Umayyad caliphs after Karbala massacre.
  10. The Mausoleum Of Hazrat Abbas pays tribute to Hazrat Abbas who played a key role in Battle Of Karbala’ as he was half-brother of Imam Hussain.

Cultural Events

  1. Arbaeen pilgrimage: This is the largest annual religious gathering in Najaf, where millions of Shia Muslims travel to the city to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
  2. Ashura: Another significant religious event in Najaf, where Shia Muslims mourn and remember the death of Imam Hussain.
  3. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha: These two Islamic festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm in Najaf, with families gathering for feasts and prayers.
  4. Karbala Martyrdom Anniversary: This is a commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his followers at Karbala in 680 AD.
  5. Iraqi National Day: Celebrated on October 3rd, this day marks Iraq’s independence from British colonial rule in 1932.
  6. Baghdad International Book Fair: Although not specifically held in Najaf, this cultural event attracts visitors from all over Iraq including those from Najaf who come to buy books and attend literary events.
  7. Al-Mada’in Cultural Festival: Held annually in nearby Al-Mada’in city (also known as Ctesiphon), this festival features traditional music performances, art exhibitions, and poetry readings that showcase Iraqi culture and heritage.


Traditional Iraqi Dishes

  1. Masgouf – a grilled fish dish
  2. Kebabs – grilled meat skewers
  3. Tashreeb – a soup made with lamb, bread and vegetables
  4. Dolma – stuffed vegetables

Popular Restaurants in An Najaf, Iraq

  1. Al-Masgouf Al-Iraqi Restaurant
  2. Abu Ali Restaurant
  3. Al-Bayt Al-Shami Restaurant
  4. Dar Al-Salam Restaurant

Parks and Recreation

  1. Al-Hakim Park
  2. Al-Salam Park
  3. Al-Zahraa Park
  4. Al-Nasr Recreational Complex
  5. Al-Mirbad Recreational Complex
  6. Al-Abbas Holy Shrine Gardens and Parks
  7. Najaf Sports City Stadium and Complex
  8. Swimming pools at local hotels
  9. Local gyms and fitness centers
  10. Hiking in the nearby mountains such as Mount Sinjar or Mount Abu Ghurayb


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