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In Shia Islam, ziyarat is the act of visiting or making pilgrimage to the tombs Imams (pbuh). The burial places of Imams "are focal points of baraka (blessing and grace) where communications between humans and the divine are believed to be especially effective" (EI 722). The most important shrines for the Shia are the shrine of Prophet Muhammad (a.s.) in Medina and those of the Imams (pbuh):  Ali ibn abi talib in Najaf (Iraq), Hossain ibn Ali in Karbala, the Kazimayn (the seventh and ninth Imams Musa al-Kazim and Muhammad al-Taqi) in a north Baghdad suburb, Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari (the10th and 11th Imams) in Samarra (Iraq), al-Rida (or Reza, the eighth Imam) in Mashhad (Iran), and the holy shrine of his sister, Fatima Masoume (God's blessings to her) in Qom (Iran); the shrine of Sayyida  Zaynab (God's blessings to her), the daughter of Imam Ali and the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is also an important ziyarat sites for the Shia Muslims.

Synonyms: pilgrimage
Ziarat e Ashoora

Ziarat e Ashoora refers to a religious text recited as part of the ritual commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s.) and his companions and also as a means of approximation specially on the day of Ashoora or any other day. In Shia culture, Muslims are urged to frequently read this supplicatory text, significantly because in it the reader expresses his/her love and devotion to the Exalted Allah, Prophet (pbuh), and Ahl al-bayt (a.s.) and also his/her dissociation with their enemies and the oppressors.

Zeinab bint Ali

Zeinab bint Ali (626 AD-682 AD) was Imam Ali’s (1st Shia Imam) daughter and Imam Hussain’s (3rd Shia Imam) sister. She is known as the first-hand narrator of Ashoora Tragedy (Imam Hussain’s Martyrdom) and for her courageous justice-seeking speech in the presence of the Caliph Yazid (who had killed her brother) exposing his atrocious crimes.

Synonyms: Zeinab,Zeinab bint Ali
Wudu (Ablution)

"Wudu involves a partial cleansing starting with an expression of intention, followed by washing of the face, hands up to the elbows, head, and feet. It may also involve washing the ears and nostrils and rinsing the mouth. This method is believed to purify the body after urination and defecation, touching the genitals, sleep, and other activities… In the absence of water, Islamic law allows for the performance of 'dry ablution' with sand or a similar substance. Only the hands and face are cleansed if this is the case. Failure to perform the proper ablution prohibits a person from performing prayer, entering a mosque, touching the Quran, or visiting the Kaaba in Mecca" (EI 6-7).


The Arabic term wilaya, means guardianship, authority, succession, and friendship. As key concepts in Shia belief, wilaya and wali (the person holding the position of wilaya), have special spiritual, political, and social significance. The Holy Quran elaborates the essential place wilaya maintains in the life of every Muslim: "Your wali (the infallible-protector) can be only Allah; and His messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay the zakah, while bowing down in prayer" (5: 55). In the eyes of the Shia Muslims, after Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), wilaya exclusively resides in Imams, emphasizing that Muhammad designated as his successor his son-and-law and cousin Ali ibn abi talib when he announced at the oasis of Ghadir Khumm: 'For whomever I am the authority (mawla), Ali is his authority' (EI 707). It is also to be noted that during the occultation of the last Imam of Shia (Imam Mahdi a.s.), the responsibility of providing the Muslim community with religious leadership and guidance would be carried by the jurists (mujtahids). The French philosopher and orientalist, Henry Corbin (1903-1978), presents wilaya as the cornerstone of Shia Islam and in many of his works has discussed this principle.

Synonyms: wilaya
Voluntary night prayer

"Voluntary night prayer" is different from the obligatory five prayers that any Muslim must perform each day. Although a Muslim is not punished for neglecting to perform voluntary prayers, there are numerous Koranic verses and also traditions by the Prophet and the Imams (PBUT) attesting to the excellence and worth of voluntary prayers, especially the voluntary night prayer; some of them are as follows: "And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, 'Peace!';Those who spend the night in adoration of their Lord prostrate and standing" (Al-Furqan [The Differentiator]: 63-64); "O thou folded in garments! Stand (to prayer) by night, but not all night, half of it, or a little less, Or a little more; and recite the Qur'an in slow, measured rhythmic tones. Soon shall We send down to thee a weighty Message. Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (framing) the Word (of Prayer and Praise)" (Al-Muzzammil [Enfolded]: 1-6).

The Throne Verse

Ayatul Kursi or "Throne Verse" (Q 2: 255), thematically known as the most exalted verse of the Holy Quran. It is highly recommended to be recited frequently.

Synonyms: Ayatul Kursi
The Satisfaction of Allah

A religious expression frequently used by Muslims meaning that the believer in God (mu'men) lovingly embraces whatever coming from God to him/her and is grateful towards it. Such a spiritual state is among the most supreme of states in Islam. It is to be noted that the status of ridha (satisfaction with the Divine Providence) does not at all contradict justice- and truth-seeking attempts.

The Re-appearance of Imam Mahdi (a. s.)

Imam Mahdi (a.s) is the "twelfth Imam of the Shia, who is deemed to be still living, but in a state of occultation (ghayba), until the time when God commands him to come forth and—according to clear promises given in the Holy Quran (in the following verses: Surahs al-Nur, XXIV: 54; al-Tawba, IX: 33; al-Fath, XLVII: 28; al-Saff, LXI: 9) and the most authentic hadiths—he will establish the authority of Islam throughout the entire world" (DSI 114). Imam Mahdi (a.s), "who is also known as the ruler of the time (sahib al-zaman), the one who will restore justice (qa'im), and the awaited one (al-muntazar), will fill the earth with justice after it has been filled with injustice and tyranny" (EIMW 421).

The Holy Quran

An Abrahamic sacred book, all of which has been revealed to Muhammad (pbuh) by God. According to bibliographic documentations, not a single word of it has changed through the centuries. Quran invites the followers of all religions to unite under the same word and fight against the arrogance.

Synonyms: Quran,Holy Quran,The Holy Quran
Tawassul supplication

It is one of the famous Shia prayers which is common to be recited every week. In this prayer, Shias seek each of the Fourteen Infallibles’ intercession (or shafaa) in fulfilling their requests from God.

Tawassul (Resorting to intermediaries)

Tawassul literary means "resort to intermediaries;" the concept "principally [refers to] the practice of petitionary prayer, addressed to God through a holy personage such as a Prophet or a saint" (DSI 226).

Synonyms: Tawassul

The burial place and holy shrine of the Prophet (pbuh), Imams (a.s.), and the righteous.


Literally, the word Shia means follower. However, in the Muslim world it is used specifically to refer to a group of Muslims holding that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) after his death, through divine order, has designated Ali ibn Abi Talib as the Imam and Wali of the Muslim community. The Shias believe that, through divine order again, after Imam Ali his progeny would continue the Imamate up to Imam Mahdi (a.s.) (the 12th Imam), who is in a state of occultation and with his return the reign of universal justice will start. Although in some theological and jurisprudential issues there are some difference between the Shias and their Sunni brothers, on the whole there is complete agreement on the principals of Islam. Today, the Shia population is mainly located in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Kashmeer, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc. It is important to note that, except in Iran where they constitute the majority, the Shias in most of the said countries, live under both state and foreign pressures and limitations.

Sham e Qariban

Shame ghariban ("the night of the strangers") refers to the night following the day of Ashoora in which the bereaved members and companions of the Holy Prophet's grandson, Imam Hussain (a.s.), fatigued and hungry started their journey towards the City of Sham.

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