On 24 April I visited the Imam Reza shrine in Mashad with Reza our guide. Reza is a devout Muslim and the shrine is the holiest in Iran.
Like Thomas a Becket, Imam Reza appears to have been murdered by a wicked king.
The actual building around the shrine is very beautiful and apparently dates from 1100 AD. The shrine is continuously being expanded and the vast courtyard was full of people praying, men on one side, women on the other.
Friendly but firm crowd control measures were in place to move the crowd past the tomb. There were people in western dress, people in Arab dress, Iraqui people and we even met a man from the garage in Tehran. Although it was off-peak (Tuesday) there were probably 100,000 people there, men and women in equal numbers.
The atmosphere was one of veneration, it was like watching pilgrims kiss the ground as they walk into the square at Compostela.
Our hotel had several pilgrims and a sign in reception read: “We are friends in all around the world”.
Sign in the Hotel