ABWA Official Website – Samarra, the capital of Iraq’s Saladin province, is a city located east of the Tigris River and 124 kilometers north of Baghdad. The city of Samarra neighbors from the east to Kirkuk, from the north to Nineveh province, from the west to Al-Anbar province, and from the south to Baghdad. This city is one of the Shiite pilgrimage sites in Iraq, where the shrine of two Askari Imams (a.s.) is located. Located between Tikrit and Baghdad, the city is famous for hosting the shrine of two Askari Imams (a.s.) and the birthplace of Imam Mahdi (a.s.). Samarra became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate in 221 AH.
In Shaban of 1290 AH, Mirza Shirazi, a great source of emulation of the Shiite, moved to the city of Samarra and established a seminary there. In this Shiite seminary, great ulama such as Sayed Hassan Sadr, Sayed Mohsen Amin, Mohammad Javad Belaghi, and Agha Bozorg Tehrani were active. The famous “fatwa on the tobacco ban” was issued during Mirza’s stay in Samarra.
After Mirza Shirazi passed away in Samarra in 1312 AH, the Shiites gradually left the city and moved to other Shiite cities in Iraq, especially in the south of the country, such as Karbala and Najaf. Therefore, Samarra gradually became a Sunni city. A few decades after the Ba’ath party began to rule in Iraq, there were no Shiites left in Samarra.
On the sidelines of the 7th General Assembly of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, Ali Ansarshahri, reporter of ABNA News Agency has conducted a brief interview with Sayed Fazel Razavi, an Iraqi member of the General Assembly of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, as follows:
ABNA – First of all, please introduce yourself.
Sayed Fazel Razavi – I am Sayed Fazel Razavi, an architect from Samarra, and I am engaged in commercial and business affairs. I am known as a civil and social activist, as well as a leader of the Sadat in Saladin province of Iraq.
ABNA – Please tell us about the situation of the Shiites in Samarra.
Sayed Fazel Razavi – Currently, there are no Shiites living in Samarra, because, after the ISIS attack, no Shiites stayed in the city. In 2003 and 2004, few Shiite families lived in Samarra. But insecurity and terrorist threats forced them to leave the city, or some of them were martyred, and no more Shiite families remained in the city of Samarra.
As I am the head of my tribe, both Shiite and Sunni, I returned to Samarra, one of the places where my tribe members live. My tribe lives in the cities of Najaf, Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah, Baghdad, and Samarra. Those members of my tribe who live in Samarra are Sunnis. But we have a strong bond with them and these bonds between us opened cultural horizons for us.
ABNA – Why is Samara important?
Sayed Fazel Razavi – This city is considered Al-Azhar, and it is one of the most important Sunni cities in the world. Foreign countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, interfere in the affairs of Samarra to preserve the Sunni identity of the city. Since 1850, Samarra has been home to schools of thought, and the city is a very important area for both Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq.
Mirza Shirazi, who headed the seminary of Samarra, gave Shahrieh (salary paid to the clergy) to the Sunni clergy living in the city too said, “The competition between us should be on knowledge, not enmity.” He established a good cultural situation in Samarra and served the city. At that time there was a peaceful coexistence between the Shiites and the Sunnis of Samarra. But incidents, interventions, coups, and different governments changed the situation of the city.
ABNA – Considering the history of Shiites living in Samarra, are there any traces of this presence now?
Sayed Fazel Razavi – Shiites have no presence in Samarra. The servants of the shrine of the two Askari Imams (a.s.) who brought their families to the city of Samarra live either in the area under the supervision of the shrine, or in the houses purchased by the shrine.
Our family is one of the old families in Samarra, which is a descendant of Imam Hadi (a.s.). Imam Hadi (a.s.) and Imam Hassan Askari (a.s.) were nicknamed Ibn al-Reza (son of Imam Reza), and therefore, the families attributed to these two Infallible Imams (a.s.) are also called Ibn al-Reza.
ABNA – What are the beliefs of the Sunnis of Samarra regarding AhlulBayt (a.s.)?
Sayed Fazel Razavi – Sufi sects are among the pillars of the Sunni society of Samarra, who believe in the love of the AhlulBayt (a.s.), and always start their speeches with the praise of the AhlulBayt (a.s.). Sunni Sufi sects are closer to Shiites (compared to other Sunni schools), and Takfiri terrorists have always fought them as infidels and killed their members.
ABNA – What suggestions do you have for the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly?
Sayed Fazel Razavi – Today the attacks are very fierce, and these attacks are supported by some countries. To create changes and control the virtual space, the owners of wealth are diligently working, and we, on the other hand, must be active in this environment, and rely on our young generation in this field. We must train young people who are equipped with religion and science so that they can confront the attacks. We ask our countries to pay attention to this issue. This is not a personal matter, and its realization requires the allocation of large budgets.
ABNA – Thank you very much, and I wish you success.
Sayed Fazel Razavi – God bless you. Thank you so much.