What is Ziyārah?

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Ziyārah is a devotional act central to Islamic faith, signifying a visit to religious leaders or their resting places. It embodies the expression of deep affection and reverence, while offering an avenue for spiritual enrichment. This practice, strongly endorsed throughout Islamic history, has seen devout Muslims engage in it consistently.

Particularly in Shīʿa tradition, the act of ziyārah holds considerable significance, especially when directed towards the Prophet(p) and the Imāms(a). A myriad of spiritual benefits and rewards are associated with these visits, making them a defining characteristic of Shīʿa culture.

The essence of ziyārah in Shīʿa belief is forming a bond with the infallible Imām(a) and acknowledging his wilāyah1. This practice is intricately tied to love for the Ahlul Bayt(a), the expression of Tawallī2 and Tabarrī3. The act of visiting the Infallible stands as a testament to their loyalty and commitment to upholding the rights of wilāyah over their followers. After all, the Prophet(p) and Imāms(a) maintain their wilāyah even posthumously, a belief strongly upheld in the Shīʿa perspective.

A tangible manifestation of an Imām's wilāyah is his influence over the hearts and souls of the people. This wilāyah and Imāmate are often affirmed in the texts recited during ziyārah. For instance, the texts for the Imāms' ziyārah state, "I attest that you see my place and hear my word and answer my salutation." This belief maintains that the soul of the Imām, with divine permission, becomes aware of his visitor, infusing the meeting with profound love and spirituality. This spiritual connection significantly resonates in Shīʿa prose and poetry.

The act of ziyārah and the revered shrines of the Ahlul Bayt(a) have played influential roles in Shīʿa history. Their reverence stands as one of the most distinctive cultural symbols of the Shīʿa community.


  1. Wilāyah refers to the divine authority and spiritual leadership granted by Allah to Prophet Muḥammad(p) and subsequently the Imāms(a), denoting their role as religious guides and guardians of the faith.

  2. Tawallī is the practice of expressing love and loyalty towards the Prophet(p) and the Imāms(a), recognising their spiritual and religious authority (wilāyah).

  3. Tabarrī refers to the practice of disassociating oneself from those who oppose, persecute, or hold animosity towards the Prophet(p) and the Imāms(a).