Shia Muslims mark Imam Reza's martyrdom anniversary with social distancing

Shia Muslims mark Imam Reza's martyrdom anniversary with social distancing

Every year on Imam Reza's martyrdom anniversary, his holy shrine gets jampacked with pilgrims, who attend his shrine to mark one of the major occasions on the Islamic calendar, the martyrdom anniversary of the eighth Shia Imam.

This year, however, there هs a marked difference. Due to the coronavirus, mass processions have been called off and only the residents of the northeastern city of Mashhad, which is home to Imam Reza's shrine, are allowed to attend the holy site to pay tribute to the sacred figure.

Imam Reza was martyred in the year 818 A.D. According to historical accounts, he was invited by Abbassid caliph Ma’moun from Medina to modern-day Iranian city of Mashhad to hold the position of crown prince of the Islamic territory.

During his tenure, Imam Reza exposed the corruption entrenched in the Abassid dynasty, and that led to the tragic fate of his poisoning by Ma'mun.

Iranians refer to Imam Reza as the guarantor of the deer. The title is rooted in a story about a deer trapped by a haunter. The deer was guaranteed by Imam Reza that she would go and breastfeed her fawns and then return.

The magnificent shrine of the eighth Shia Imam beside the mass mourning ceremonies are a true testament to the long-standing love Iranians have for Imam Reza.

This year, the coronavirus canceled most of the mourning processions, but Muslims say his love continues to resonate in their hearts.

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