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neweurasia’s Pilgrimage to the “Living King”

Written by on Friday, 23 May 2014
Culture and History, Uzbekistan
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In the heart of the Shakh-i-Zinda ensemble, there is a place that is believed to be the last refuge of Kusam ibn Abbas, Prophet Muhammad’s cousin.

Initially, the tomb of Kusam ibn Abbas was the starting point of what is now the world-known Shakh-i-Zinda. Today the ensemble is one of the most popular places for tourists. It is really worth a visit to get closer to the historical monument that was built during 11-12th centuries, and consists of a mosque, mausoleum and a little prayer room.

But mainly, this is a pilgrimage site for people of Samarkand and other cities of Uzbekistan and Central Asian region.

Shakh-i-Zinda is Persian for “The Living King,” tribute to the relative of Prophet Muhammad. People of Samarkand believe that the holy spirit keeps protects them. Thus, Kusam ibn Abbas has never died.

History tells us that Kusam ibn Abbas a cousin and a close associate of Prophet Muhammad, and as a result was one of those Arabs who brought Islam to Central Asia.

At the top of the entrance to the tomb, there’s a Hadith which goes as following:

“Kusam ibn Abbas, in his nature and looks, looks like me more than any other person.”

While the saying on the entrance door says:

“The door of paradise are open to all true believers.”

neweurasia was lucky to get inside the tomb and take a picture of it. Otherwise, tourists and regular visitors are not allowed to do so.

“[The tomb] is visible from through the wooden curved shelter so that pilgrims and tourists could see it,” says Tahir, one of the workers of the Shak-i-Zinda ensemble. “This is also to make sure the tomb location is kept clean and respectful toward Sayyed Kusam ibn Abbas (SAW).”

By the way, when one of the greatest boxers (if not the greatest) Muhammed Ali visited Uzbekistan in Soviet times, Samarkand was his main purpose (see photo).

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