Many communities have treated their deceased members with veneration since the beginning of human consciousness. As a result, a large number of cemeteries and archaeological sites are still in use today. Which active cemetery is home to the greatest number of interments? We are going to find the world’s largest cemetery—there are more than 6 million tombs!
Which cemetery is the biggest in the world?
The Wadi al-Salam in Najaf, Iraq, is the largest graveyard in the world. At this location, more than 6 million people are buried, and burials have been happening continuously for more than 1400 years. Wadi al-Salam is on the tentative list for UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, and this rich history could lead to its inclusion.
During the height of the Iraq War in the early 21st century, Wadi al-Salam was the site of up to 250 daily burials. In the 2017 ISIS conflict, up to 350 people were laid to rest each day. Less than 100 persons are buried every day in the modern era.
The English name for this cemetery is Wadi al-Salam, or Valley of Peace, and it occupies almost 13% of the entire City of Najaf. Its total land area is 2.34 square miles. Mausoleums are surrounded by a hive of tombstones, and beneath the cemetery are vaults and catacombs.
The majority of the tombs are made of brick and plaster, and they vary widely in size. Nearly all of the deceased in Wadi al-Salam were identified as Muslims throughout their lives, and some of the crypts on the property hold up to 50 bodies.
Which Well-Known Individuals Are Interred at the World’s Biggest Cemetery in Wadi Al-Salam?
Though it’s not a requirement, Wadi al-Salam is home to the graves of numerous well-known Muslims. In reality, there is little to no class discrimination in the cemetery as the impoverished are interred alongside the wealthy. This cemetery holds the tombs of notable scientists, prophets, clergy, politicians, sultans, monarchs, princes, and others.
Some of the Ancient Burials at Wadi al-Salam
Hud, an old prophet whose name appears in the Qur’an, is buried near Wadi al-Salam. Among the affluent Ad people, who worshipped both self-made idols and Allah, Hud was a prophet.
Since idolatry is forbidden in Islam, the Prophet Hud attempted to persuade them to worship Allah alone, but he was scorned and turned away. Allah then sent a storm that destroyed Ad.
After attempting to preach for the same reasons that Ad was killed, the next prophet, Saleh, was sent to the Thamud tribe and saw their annihilation. In Wadi al-Salam, he is buried as well.
Some of the Modern Burials at Wadi al-Salam
Amina Haydar al-Sadr and her brother Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr are buried in Wadi al-Salam. Amina was an educator, an activist, and a supporter of women’s rights. Together with her brother, a philosopher, they had founded a movement against Saddam Hussein.
In 1980, they were apprehended and subjected to torture. Amina al-Sadr was hanged, and her brother was burnt to death after having a nail driven through his skull.
Amina and Baqir were buried at Wadi al-Salam thanks to the efforts of Muhammad Sadeq al-Sadr. After his passing, Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr was buried in a mausoleum at the cemetery.
In 1999, Sadeq and his two boys were shot and died in Najaf. This occurred as a result of his and his family’s deaths as a result of defying Saddam Hussein. Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr demonstrated that the Shi’ites would triumph against intimidation by delivering his final sermon while wearing a death shroud, even though he knew he would shortly be executed.
Wadi Al-Salam: The Largest Cemetery Is a Religious Site
For Muslims, Wadi al-Salam is a sacred place of cultural significance. Because of its proximity to the Imam Ali Mosque, it is significant as an Islamic burial site. Many people think that by being buried at this cemetery, they would be among the people who are risen from the grave on the Day of Judgement.
Additionally, there is legend that claims Abraham formerly owned land that is now a part of Wadi al-Salam. There are also rumours that Noah and the Prophet Adam—the first man to leave Paradise—are buried in the same cemetery. The legitimacy of Abraham’s property purchase and the interment of these historical prophets, however, are disputed.
This site is regarded as a premier burial ground by Shi’ite Muslims who reside in Iraq and other Muslim nations like Iran. Because of this, Wadi al-Salam is home to at least one relative for the majority of Shi’ites in Iran and Iraq.
The congested cemetery is being expanded by the municipal government through the purchase of additional property. Due to the overpopulation, people are attempting to obtain burial for their loved ones without official permission, which has resulted in unlawful burials and grave site destruction.
Where in Iraq is Najaf?
Najaf is located in the centre of Iraq, some 100 miles south of Baghdad, the country’s capital. Approximately 750 thousand individuals reside in Najaf. This indicates that the number of deceased people in the city greatly exceeds that of the living.
Because of the city’s significance to religion, it is frequently referred to as Najaf al-Ashraf, or Dignified Najaf. In honour of Ali ibn Abi Talib, who Shi’ite Muslims believe to be Mohammed’s first successor, Najaf was established in 791 CE. He was the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law as well. The memorial monument built in honour of Ali ibn Abi Talib became the centre of the city.
According to archaeological findings, Najaf once possessed the biggest Christian cemetery in the area. Its size was little less than two and a quarter miles. There is evidence of civilization as early as 100 BCE, and pottery with crosses and Hebrew characters from as early as 600 CE demonstrates the historical coexistence of several religions in the same region.
Other Things to Do in Najaf, Iraq
Regarding Iraq, the United States has issued a Level 4 travel advisory, meaning that Americans are strongly advised not to travel there at all. That does not imply, however, that there aren’t any attractions in Najaf that can be reached by tourists in the future. Millions of religious tourists visit the US each year from other cities with cultures distinct from our own.
Iraq’s Najaf is now a sacred city for Muslims. Because Ali ibn Abi Talib’s grave is located there at the Imam Ali Mosque, it is highly esteemed. Because of this, the Imam Ali Mosque is the most popular tourist destination in Najaf and has great significance as a place of pilgrimage. In all of Islam, it is also the third-most significant pilgrimage place.
You can have a tour of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb’s residence. Even after numerous renovations, it manages to capture the simplicity of the Imam’s period. The majority of pilgrims who walk to Najaf attempt to visit this location.
The Great Mosque of Kufa is another significant religious location nearby. Even though it has undergone numerous reconstructions, it has endured since the seventh century. It remains one of the world’s oldest mosques in spite of this.
Located beside the Euphrates River in the city of Kufa lies the Great Mosque of Kufa. It is a part of the Najaf metropolitan region and is connected to it. Here, according to Shi’ites, is where Noah erected the Ark and where Ali ibn Abi Talib suffered his final wounds.