Essential Architecture-  Iraq

Al Askari Mosque






latest remodelling of the shrine in 1868, with the golden dome added in 1905




Covered in 72,000 gold pieces and surrounded by walls of light blue tiles.


  Above- al-Askari mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest sites of Shi'ite Islam, whose devastation in a bomb attack in 2006 unleashed a wave of sectarian violence that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war.

Samarra' is home to al-Askari Mosque, the Maqam Ghaybat and the Great Mosque of Samarra'.
al-Askari Mosque

The al-Askari Mosque, also known as the Golden Mosque, serves as a mausoleum to 10th and 11th Imams, Imam Ali al-Naqi and Imam Hasan al-Askari. The golden dome on one shrine was presented by Nasr al-Din Shah and completed under Muzaffar al-Din Shah in the year 1905 A.D. Beneath the golden dome are four graves, those of Imam Ali al-Naqi (10th Imam) and his son, Imam Hasan al-Askari (11th Imam). The other two are of Hakimah Khatoon, the sister of Imam Ali al-Naqi who has related at length the circumstances of the birth of Imam al-Mahdi and the fourth grave is of Nargis Khatoon, the mother of Imam al-Mahdi, peace be upon him.

Feb. 22, 2006 al-Askari Mosque Bombing

The bombing of the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra began at 7 a.m. on February 22, 2006 when insurgents dressed as Iraqi police officers entered the shrine and captured five guards. The attackers then placed two bombs inside the dome and detonated them, collapsing most of the dome and heavily damaging an adjoining wall.

The attack left the shrine's famous golden dome in ruins. The shrine has enormous significance for Shiites, and its destruction in the midst of growing sectarian violence ignited a nationwide outpouring of rage and panic that sharply underscored Iraq's religous divide. Following the attack, thousands of demonstrators gathered near the shrine, waving Iraqi flags and calling for justice.

There have been no claims of responsibility, though Sunni extremist groups are suspected. A government statement reported that "several suspects" had been detained. This attack and the violent retrbution that followed it seemed to push Iraq closer to civil war. President Talabani was quotes as saying that "we are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq's unity. We should all stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war."

Iraq's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, appealed for calm and called for a week of mourning. The appeal came amid widespread Shiite demonstrations and reports of reprisal violence around Iraq.

Jun. 13, 2007 al-Askari Mosque Bombing

As the Iraqi government closed in on signing a contract to have the golden dome of the al-Askari Mosque rebuilt, it suffered a second attack. Bombing that occured early Wednesday morning destroyed the two minarets of the revered shrine, prompting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to request a coalition rapid reaction force to support Iraqi army and police units enforcing a curfew on vehicle traffic and large gatherings in and around the capital, Baghdad.

Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, appealed for calm, but media reports indicated that several Sunni and Shiite mosques had already been attacked, albeit with minimal damage, since the al-Askari attack. At least one Sunni mosque was reportedly levelled later in the week following the attack on the al-Askari Mosque as retaliation. However, violence did not escalate to levels seen following the February 2006 bombing that destroyed the golden dome.

The bombings appeared to be the work of al-Qaeda, perpetrators of the February 2006 bombing of the mosque. The attack has been seen as an attempt by al-Qaeda to incite secretarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq.

According to reports by the American military command in Iraq, the bombings took place around 9am on Wednesday and none of the bombers were seen in the vacinity. This indicated the possibility that the attack was an inside job. Security forces guarding the site were detained at the scene as it was thought that they could have assisted or even directly participated in the attack.


The Imams ‘Ali al-Hadi ("an-Naqi") and Hassan al-‘Askari lived under house arrest in the part of Samarra that had been Caliph al-Mu'tasim's military camp (‘Askaru l-Mu‘tasim). As a result, they are known as the ‘Askariyyain "Dwellers in the Camp". They died and were buried in their house on Abi Ahmad Street near the mosque built by Mu‘tasim. A later tradition attributes their deaths to poison.

Nasir ad-Din Shah Qajar undertook the latest remodelling of the shrine in 1868, with the golden dome added in 1905. Covered in 72,000 gold pieces and surrounded by walls of light blue tiles, the dome was a dominant feature of the Samarra skyline. It was approximately 20 m (66 ft) in diameter by 68 m (223 ft) high.

Al ‘Askari Mosque or the ‘Askariyya Mosque/Shrine (Arabic: Marqad al-Imamayn ‘Ali l-Hadi wa l-Hassan al-‘Askari) is a Shi‘ah Muslim holy site located in the Iraqi city of Samarra 125 km (78 mi) from Baghdad. It is one of the most important Shi‘ah mosques in the world, built in 944.[1] Its dome was destroyed in a bombing by Sunni extremists in February 2006 and its two remaining minarets were destroyed in another bombing in June 2007, causing widespread anger amongst Shi‘ah Muslims. The remaining clock tower was also destroyed in July 2007.

The remains of the 10th and 11th Shi‘ah Imams, ‘Ali al-Hadi ("an-Naqi") and his son Hasan al-‘Askari, known as: al-‘Askariyyain ("the two ‘Askaris"), rest at the shrine.[2] Also buried within the Mosque are: Hakimah Khatun, sister of ‘Ali al-Hadi; and Narjis Khatun, the mother of Muhammad al-Mahdi. Adjacent to this shrine is another mosque, built over the location where the Twelfth or "Hidden" Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi first entered the Minor Occultation.

The ‘Askariyya Shrine is also known as the "Tomb or Mausoleum of the Two Imams", "the Tomb of Imams ‘Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-‘Askari" and "al-Hadhratu l-‘Askariyya".

Time magazine reported at the time of the 2006 bombing that:

al-Askari [is] one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest sites, exceeded in veneration only by the shrines of Najaf and Karbala. Even Samarra's Sunnis hold al-Askari in high esteem. The expression 'to swear by the shrine' is routinely used by both communities".