Photos: Shiite Iraqis visit their dead in world’s largest graveyard on Eid
On the first day of the Eid of al-Adha, Iraqi Shiite Muslims have visited Wadi al-Salam graveyard in the city of Najaf, the largest in the world that is said to contain about 5 million graves.
It is a tradition followed by many Muslims around the world, Shiites and Sunnis alike, to visit the graves of their loved ones after they say their Eid prayers.
They clean the gravestones, read prayers, and ask God to forgive the sins of their loved ones.
Sunni Muslims are celebrating Eid from Friday, as do some Shiite followers associated with Muqtada al-Sadr.
Other Shiites in Iraq will celebrate the holiday on Saturday, per religious guidelines set by Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani.
Many of the graves are decorated with the flags of Iraq and armed Shiite groups currently fighting ISIS.
Iraqi forces and Shiite paramilitary forces have lost thousands in the war against ISIS according to unofficial estimates. Some are buried in the holy city of Najaf.
The Iraqi government and Shiites forces have not released data regarding their losses in the last three years of battles with the extremist group.
Wadi al-Salam or Valley of Peace is considered a holy place for Shiites as it is close to the shrine of Ali Bin Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of Islam’s prophet Mohammed. Many Shiite Muslims want to be buried in the cemetery.
Photos: AFP/Haidar Hamdani