Iranian pilgrims pray as they gather outside the Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas shrines in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad, September 11, 2016. Alaa Al-Marjani / Reuters
Jack Watling, The Atlantic: The Shia Power Brokers of the New Iraq
As the embattled country wages war on ISIS in the north, its future may be decided by clerics in the south.
KARBALA, Iraq—The inner sanctum of the Imam Hussein Shrine shines day and night, illuminated by jeweled chandeliers. Their light is reflected in the mirrored domes of the roof, and gleams across the gold-framed marble walls. At the center of the shrine, a stream of pilgrims presses against the gilded grating that surrounds the sarcophagus of Hussein, grandson of the prophet Muhammad. In 680 AD, Imam Hussein was killed in the Battle of Karbala fighting the forces of the Umayyad caliph, his death cementing Sunni political dominance across the Islamic world. The battle was the point of no return in the schism between Sunni and Shia Islam, becoming the basis for the Shiites’ distinct rituals and identity, at the center of which is Hussein’s sacrifice.
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WNU Editor: The Iraqi government has failed the Iraqi people .... and in this vacuum comes the clerics. Will these clerics do a better job .... at the moment .... that is something that many Shiite Iraqis are now hoping for.