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Najaf

Najaf (al-Najaf in the Arabic language) is a city in Iraq, about 160 km south of Baghdad, located at 31.99N 44.33E. The estimated population for 2003 was 585,600 people. It is the capital of An Najaf Province.

Najaf is a great center of pilgrimage from throughout the Islamic world. Most important is the shrine of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, housed in a grand structure with a gilded dome and many precious objects in the walls. Nearby is the Wadi-us-Salaam (Valley of Peace), the world's second largest cemetery, containing the tombs of several other prophets including Ibrahim and Ishaq. Many of the devout from other lands aspire to be buried here.

At the end of the Gulf War in 1991 there was a large uprising here against the regime of Saddam Hussain, which was put down by the Iraqi military with considerable brutality and damage to the city.

The clerical authorities of the Shiite enclave of Saddam City in Baghdad, which took autonomy in April 2003 after the fall of Baghdad, claimed to be taking their orders from senior Shiite clerics in Najaf.



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