This unique collection of scholarly essays (with eight pages of illustrations) examines the historical and social development of one of Iraq's most important cities, a center of religious learning and devotion for the Shi'i community for centuries. Leading Iraqi and international scholars illuminate Najaf's global spiritual and educational prominence and its modern role as a hub of economic and political activity.
The fifteen essays in this volume cover topics such as Najaf's architecture and urban design, as well as the preservation of its built environment; the impact of social movements and revolutions on the city; pilgrimage and religious authority in Najaf; and the city's libraries and intellectual development.
Bringing together a diverse range of scholarseach drawing from different historiographical and epistemological traditionsthis book fills a serious knowledge gap about this important spiritual site for Shi'is. It is the only edited academic volume available on the subject, in either in English or Arabic.
Dr. Sabrina Mervin is a specialist of contemporary Shi'ism and a researcher at the Centre d'études interdisciplinaires des faits religieux (CEIFR), Paris.
Prof. Robert Gleave is a specialist of Islamic thought and religious authority in Shi'i Islam, and a professor of Arabic Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter University.
Dr. Géraldine Chatelard is a specialist of contemporary Iraq and Jordan and Associate Researcher at the Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo). She is also the coordinator of the UNESCO project "Preserving Najaf's Cultural Heritage and Enhancing Its International Visibility."
Part I A Sacred City
1. The Three Cities: Hira, Kufa and Najaf
2. The Architecture of Imam ‘Ali’s Shrine
3. Burials in Najaf and the Development of Wadi al-Salam Cemetery
4. Pilgrimage, Urban Charm and Sacred Topography in the Noble City
Part 2 Knowledge, Culture and Religious Authority
5. Najaf: Learned Authority and Scholarly Pre-eminence
6. A Millennium in Najaf: The Hawza of Sheikh al-Tusi
7. Writing the History of the Religious Authority in Najaf: The Marja‘iyya as Apparatus
8. Najaf as an Intellectual Centre
9. The Manuscripts and Libraries of Najaf in Historical Perspective
10. Preservation, Cataloguing and Maintenance of the Library Collections
11. The Historiography of Najaf: A Study in Encyclopaedic Writing
Part 3 Contemporary Developments
12. Najaf as a Historical Centre of Power and Finance: 1500–1920
13. The Importance, Potential and Causes of Collapse of the Najaf Revolt of 1918
14. Communism in Najaf: The Rise and Fall of a Secular Movement, 1918–63
15. Modern Najaf: A Palimpsest of Signs