Ziarat Imam Reza (a.s.)


This site has been compiled for Muslims who want to make a ziarat (pilgrimage) to the holy shrines in Iran & also enjoy the cultural delights and scenery that Iran has to offer. Non-Muslims may also find the general travel information to be of use.

About to leave on ziarat...and just discovered this site?

If you are short of time - make sure you get the information from the Downloads section.

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External Link List

Pulpit in the Gauhar Shad Mosque

from Sykes (1915)

Dua Kumayl

Takes place on Thursday evenings in the courtyard of the Gawhar Shad mosque. This is in the open-air, so go appropriately dressed, it can get chilly.

Information to take with you from your home country

I would recommend checking these out before leaving your home country, especially the second link, which has lots of useful background information and practical instructions as well.

The foreign pilgrims office in the shrine complex has a copy of the Almanac, in case you forget it.

The downloads section of this website has pdf files that you can print and take with you. These have instructions in English, ziarats in Arabic and also transliterations of the ziarats.

Checklist before leaving your hotel for the shrine

Before you visit the shrine, make sure you have the following with you:

1. The ziarat almanac (which has the instructions for how to perform the ziarat. The link for this is in the box below.

2. If you need them, mp3 copies of the ziarat, other duas and surahs from the Qu'ran. These can be found in the download sections of this site.

3. Detailed instructions about performing the ziarat are here. There are various important rules to be aware of, so do make sure you read that link.

Introduction to the Shrine

This is found on the reverse of the shrine map

Welfare Facilities for Pilgrims 

Imam Reza Hospital: southern side of Bast Sheikh Hur Ameli.

Consignment Offices: can be used for storing valuables and are located in Enqalab, Azadi and Jumhuri Islami courtyards.

Missing Persons: these offices are in the Enqalab and Jumhuri Islami courts. Identities of missing people are announced from loudspeakers in these offices


On this page you'll find links to what a zawwar needs to do on a ziarat, maps showing the different locations in the shrine complex and instructions on how to do the ziarat (on the left, half way down the page). There are also instructions for getting the 'holy food' (below). 

For background information about the Eighth Imam (a.s.) read thisSome information about how to perform the ziarat is given here. But there is more comprehensive (and easier to print-out) information in the Downloads section of this site.

An historical background to the shrine is given here. And an account given by a British traveller from the early 20th century is given here.

On the right are further links to pages on this site which describe the different buildings and features of the Shrine complex.


This copy of the Qu'ran is held at the Astan-e-Quds Library and is attributed to Imam Ali ibn Ali Talib (a.s.).

The Shrine Complex

The tomb shrine is a part of a large complex of buildings, called the Astan-Qods-Razavi (sacred shrine complex of Riza), standing in the center of Mashhad. The shrine is administered by an organisation known as 'Astan Quds Razavi'.

The precinct contains two other mosques—one has the tomb of Gauhar Shad—a dozen meeting halls, technological institutions, a guest house, libraries, museums, and other religious buildings. The complex is surrounded by a ring road called the Haram-é Motahhar-é Imam Riza. Ref: Davidson, Linda Kay (2002). Pilgrimage: From the Ganges to Graceland. [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. 

The holy city of Mashhad attracts more than 20 million pilgrims every year and at certain times of the year their number exceeds that of local residents.

Over the past 24 years the precincts of the shrine have been extended more than four times and now occupy 60 hectares. more

Holy Food

As a zawwar you have an invite to be a guest of the Imam (a.s.) for lunch.

You need to make arrangements for the ‘Holy Food’ as soon as possible after your arrival in Mashhad. This is basically a meal from the Imam (a.s.) for guests. There are two ways of getting it. The first (free) is to queue at around 7am at the international pilgrims’ office with your passport. It takes about an hour and you get one ticket per passport. If there is more than one person in your party, you have to take a passport for each person. 

If you are staying at the Attrak Hotel the easiest way to the pilgrims’ office is to bear left when you enter the Great Razavi Courtyard. Enter the Bast-e-Sheikh Bahaii. When you do this you will have the entrances to the Quds courtyard and Gowharshad courtyard on your right. If you walk down on the left will be the entrance towards the Jomohuri Islami Courtyard, you pass through a covered area (pentagon shaped?) and the Pilgrims’ office is on your left. There are different desks based on language.

A second method, if you want to make a donation to the Shrine is to go to the Naudharat (donation) office in Nawab Safavi St. The going rate is that they will give you one ticket per US$50 donation. To get to this office you need to exit the shrine complex at the Nawab Safavi St. exit and then go left. The Naudharat office has a large visible sign. When you want to get back to the Shrine complex you will have to go through security again. I find that any foreign currency other than US$ seems to throw them, in terms of value. There are other Naudharat offices in the complex, but as far as I know, they do not issue meal tickets.

The complex map on the left shows 'Holy Food' in the wrong location. But this is the map being used up until Spring 2008.

Remember where the Nawab Safavi St exit is. The actual place where you eat the meal is just opposite (Bast-e-Sheikh-eAmeli) I think.

So if you make a donation of a few hundred dollars you could be eating the Holy Food for your entire stay. The mealtimes are from about 11am onwards till about mid-afternoon. But as I understand it, after zohar/asr prayers it gets very busy.

On my last trip I got more tickets than I could use and gave them to the ladies who gather outside the building serving the food. 

The Shrine

The oldest parts of the tomb are said to date from the 12th century, but there have been numerous restorations since. The tombstone dates from the time of Shah Abbas, the solid gold chandelier was a gift from Shah Rokh (1418) The shrine is under a golden dome, rebuilt under Shah Tahmasp in 1675. The information below is taken from the publication, 'Landmarks of Mashhad', written by Dr. Hyder Reza Zabeth and published in 2002. The publisher is the Islamic Research Foundation (Astan Quds Razavi).

The Zarih (Zarih-i-Mutahhar)

The grand dome and the Zarih were first built in the 5th century hijrah, during the Ghaznavid and Seljuk dynasties.

From the beginning of the 16th century A.D. to the present day there have been five Zarihs placed around the grave of Imam Reza (a.s.). The present zarih dates from 2001, it took eight years to construct and is made of iron and wood. It is covered with sliver and gold plates. The Zarih has 14 arched structures and above these are inscriptions of Surah Yasin and Surah Ad-Dahr. The exterior of the Zarih is studded with the names of Allah and is inlaid with gold and silver.

The floral patterns inlaid on the Zarih are based on the numbers 5 & 8, where the number 5 represents the members of the Prophet's (s.a.w.) immaculate household. The number 8 represents Imam Reza (a.s.). The interior of the zarih has been inlaid with the names of Allah.

Around the zarih on the upper part are the names of the 14 Masoomeen (Infallibles), written in thulth script on serrated golden sheets. Given the numbers of people who visit the Shrine, the frame is being weakened and a new zarih is presently under construction.

The walls around the zarih are covered in marble upto 20 centimetres, with the next 92 centimetres with Sultan Sanjari tiles. Quranic verses and the sayings of the Masoomeen have been carved onto these tiles. Around the walls are inscriptions by Ali Reza Abbasi, a famous calligraphist of the Safavid period, of the Surah Jumah.

On the walls around the Zarih are 104 antiques presented to the shrine. They are exhibited in 8 cases.

The sacred grave has a single new epitaph stone, made of marble, the previous epitaph stone was made up of eleven pieces.

All information provided in good faith, please check as appropriate before you travel (c) 2009