Thousands of Muslims have thronged the holy shrine of Imam Reza in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad to mark the occasion.
This is the spiritual capital of Iran.
The holy shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad has attracted thousands of pilgrims to celebrate the birthday of the eighth Imam of Shia Islam.
Imam Reza was born on the 11th of the lunar month of Zul-Qa’ada in 766 AD in the Saudi city of Medina.
He is one of the descendants of Prophet Mohammad.
Every year, millions of Shia Muslims visit his magnificently decorated shrine in Mashhad to pay homage to him.
Twelver Shias believe in twelve Imams or religious leaders, all of whom share the same bloodline that goes back to the prophet of Islam, Mohammad.
Muslims believe without the Imams, Islam, as introduced by the Prophet, could have gone astray.
Imam Reza holds a special position among Iranians, since he spent his last years in Iran.
According to historical accounts, the Imam was invited by Abbasid caliph Ma’moun from Medina to Mashhad to hold the position of crown prince of the Islamic territory.
During his tenure, Imam Reza exposed the corruption entrenched in the Abassid dynasty.
And that led to his tragic fate, when Ma’moun forced him to drink poisoned grapes.
Iranians regard Imam Reza as bliss, a bountiful source of spirituality which never ceases to pacify the pilgrims of his shrine.
And this they say is the secret to the unwavering love Shia Muslims still have for their eighth Imam centuries after his time.