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> 1 . Finally...at las...
> 2 . Cultural tourism...
> 3 . Past, present an...
> 4 . School tourism
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> 7 . Islamic tourism ...
> 8 . River tourism: ...
> 9 . Tourism peace
> 10 . Tourism & charit...
> 11 . Uncertain locati...
> 12 . Festival of musl...
> 13 . Hospitality
> 14 . Tourism safety
> 15 . Tourist infrastr...
> 16 . In the holy places
> 17 . The hadj and the...
> 18 . How to build bri...
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> 22 . Arab numerals an...
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> 25 . The ''academy of...
> 26 . The swimming hijab
> 27 . Baghdad: the cr...
> 28 . Friday is a holy...
> 29 . The role of conf...
> 30 . Local and intern...
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> 37 . Humanitarian tou...
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Issue 7 view printable version

Islamic Tourism Prospects

View World Tourism Exhibitions


Islamic Tourism Prospects

Will Iraq Become the Focus of International Tourism?

The world is grieving for Iraq - the killing and suffering, the destruction and breakdown of infrastructures, aswell as the devastation, which has befallen the countries heritage.

The media broadcast and awareness of human tragedy is sadly a phenomenon that most people have become familiar with on a daily basis. However, our present era has not witnessed such brutal and senseless looting and desecration of human treasures and antiquities, as has occurred recently in the museums of Iraq. Presidential palaces failed to escape such vandalism and caused the sadness and regret of Professor Jafar Al-Jafari (an Expert in International Touristic Affairs) who said that these palaces could have become important sites for tourism and could have potentially attracted millions of visitors to Iraq.

But at what price has the country suffered such a historical loss? International and Iraqi scientists specializing in antiquities have spent numerous years of labour and expended vast amounts of energy in painstakingly excavating the remnants from the past, as well as the pouring in of funds stretching back over at least two centuries, all of which have amounted in ruin. Shall Iraq dampen its zeal and remain in a state of defeat or rise from the ashes of destruction and evaluate and build on what the country still possesses in terms of historical sites, artifacts and religious monuments of which the country is full. Hereunder we shall list the most prominent sites, that is not to say the most important, as each subject is only wholly or partially important according to the beliefs and wishes of each individual of the global community. Iraq is the home of numerous religions, each having its own temples and antiquities, of which it is proud. In addition to the Jewish and Christian prophets and their historically important churches, there are temples of the Sabeaa, Yezidis and other sects and religions. These temples and shrines are sited throughout Iraq from the north to south.

Important historical sites

Ur: The first discovered civilized city. It dates back to the fifth millennium and is located near the present city of Nasiriya.
Babylon: The remains of this historic city can be found near the city of Hillah.
Nimrod and Ninevah: The sites of these cities lie close to Mosul in northern Iraq.
Agarguf and Tag Kisra: Located near Baghdad.

The Shrines of the Imams and pious servants of God (swt)

Shrine of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as) in Najaf
The shrines of Imam Hussein (as) and his brother Abbas (as) in Karbala
The shrines of Imam Musa Al-Kadhim (as) and Imam Muhammad Al-Jawwad (as) in the Kadhimiah district of Baghdad
The shrines of Imam Ali Al-Hadi (as), Imam Al-Askari (as) and his son Al-Mahdi (as) in Samarraa
Shrine of Abu-Hanifa Al-Numan (ra) in Baghdad
Shrine of Sheikh Abdu Al-Qadir Al- Kulayni (ra) in Baghdad
Shrine of Salman Al-Farsi (ra), the exalted companion of the Prophet (saws), near Baghdad
There are numerous other sacred places and shrines dedicated to religious sages, scholars and pious men.

Shrines of the Prophets (as)

The ancient and holy land of Iraq, whose soil was trodden by many of God's chosen men can also assert to be the birthplace of humanity. It is where the Prophet Adam (as) descended to earth, where the Ark of Noah (as) came to rest and where Abraham (as) began preaching God's message.
Subsequently Iraq is studded with the jewels of many historic shrines, such as:

The shrine of the Prophet Zu-Al-kifl (as) in the city of Hillah
The two shrines of prophets Jonah (as) and Sheth (as) in Mosul
The shrine of Prophet Azeez (as in Al-Amara

A moment to reflect on a city

The cities and the suburbs thereof, which we have mentioned so far in this article, contain individually in themselves a feast of historical and cultural heritage that would entice any visitor to the region. If for example we concentrate on the auspicious city of Najaf and the potential tourist attractions therein, we can observe that there are numerous points of interest. Some of the most important of which are:

The shrine of Imam Ali Ibn Ali Talib (as)
The library of Imam Ali (as), founded by Al-Sheikh Al-Amini (aswell as numerous other public and private libraries)
Centuries old mosques, such as the mosques of Al-Hindi and Al-Tusi, which were the centers of religious teaching
The mosques of As-Sahla and Al-Hanana, situated between Najaf and Kufa
The mosque of Kufa, which contains the sanctuary and pulpit of Imam Ali (as) aswell as that of Muslim Ibn Aquil (ra) and Hani ibn Urwa (as). It also accommodates the berth of the Ark of Noah (as).
The Emirate House
Leisure and amusement sites such as the lake of Najaf, banks of the Euphrates and the palm gardens and other scenic views, which abound on the riverbanks
The burial grounds in Najaf could provide another important place of visitation, and could be considered second in importance only to the shrine of Imam Ali (as) due to their vastness and historical importance
A poignant memorial - the recent discoveries of the horrific mass graves, created during the late murderous and tyrannical regime, can now enable the victims to be finally laid to rest - reburied at their site in the form of co-coordinated individual graves, each bearing the name, history and other available data of its occupant, so as to be a shrine and a reminder for future generations of the belief and freedom for which they were martyred.

Recommendations and Proposals

Throughout my travels in Europe, I have seen many cemeteries, which have been transformed into memorials such as the Normandy Cemetery, situated near the French beaches, which accommodates the victims who fell for the liberation of Europe from Nazism.Another example is the cemetery in the Italian capital of Rome, with its multiple basements aswell as other beautifully maintained graveyards adorned with trees and flowers. Such sites are deemed as landmarks, and are visited by thousands of tourists. Tour guides usually accompany specially arranged excursions explaining to the onlooker the history that lies behind these silent testimonies. Booklets and guides are also published to further give the visitor insightful information.

The ancient and holy land of Iraq, whose soil was trodden by many of God's chosen men can also assert to be the birthplace of humanity. It is where the Prophet Adam (as) descended to earth, where the Ark of Noah (as) came to rest and where Abraham (as) began preaching God's message.

Bearing in mind everything we have discussed so far, the following questions arise:
Will Iraq be truly blessed with freedom and democracy?
Will its borders be open to the visitors from the neighbouring countries and tourists from the world over?
Undoubtedly it is the people of this country who are firstly urged to conduct its 'Tourism Renaissance' and provide for their own benefit opportunities for foreign investment. But what are the requirements of this renaissance? I shall hereunder highlight certain points, which may perhaps help to motivate and encourage people into action:

'The Battle for Tourism' a nationwide campaign aimed at improving and cleansing all streets and cities of Iraq, thereby shaking off the dirt and dust of the past oppressive era. This will involve Iraqi people, corporations, companies, colleges, schools and shop etc all contributing into transforming the present sorry state the country is in into a shining example, for the rest of the world. We should aim to create an environment that pleases both residents and visitors. (see my book entitled "the Humanitarian Battle in Islam").

Attention must be given to every aspect of prospective tourism; this will include securing the sites of historical and cultural interest as well as preserving the countries historical treasures. The countries citizen's will be urged to donate to the national museums and libraries any works of art or books of cultural importance, which may be in their keeping. Any generous donations could facilitate the construction of necessary tourist facilities (see my book entitled " the Financial Reverences in Islam"). Thereby we will have achieved some recommendations mentioned in the Qur'an and Holy Traditions, which encourage man to struggle in opening the doors to seek subsistence, so that our nation can occupy the appropriate place among all other nations.

Iraqi exiles that are dispersed throughout the globe must act as touristic envoys for their country, in order to introduce and enlighten people from other nations as to the importance and historical/cultural fascination of Iraq.
The establishment of a tourism office dedicated to the investment and promotion of tourism in Iraq should be the project of Iraqis in major world cities.

State investments and private capital should be directed towards tourism investments by way of infrastructure and projects such as hotels, touristic modes of transport, specially designed leisure grounds for all age groups and children's play areas. Priority towards tourism investments should take precedence over other forms of investment.

Attention should be directed towards the development of the country's culture and arts. The advancement of theatres, poetical, literary and cultural gatherings as well as traditional art forms and handicrafts should be encouraged, leaving the visitor with the impression that the rebirth of the new Iraq is a symbol for the rebirth of pioneering tourism in the world.

The competent and pre-eminent elite in society as well as each member of the Iraqi people should strive to reinstate the good values, which used to distinguish the Iraqis above others. We must re-find our innate qualities of hospitality towards guests and foreigners, generosity, truthfulness in dealing, honesty and trust - which have sadly been lost as a result of the tragic circumstances the country has undergone, and which has resulted in others forming a less than favourable opinion about Iraq and the Iraqi people

The Iraqi tourism renaissance must be distinct from that of all other states, through the adherence to our Islamic and Iraqi values, which unify all its sects. We should not imitate such concepts that are found the world over but aim to make ours a unique, shining and innovative example to the rest of the world. This requires the establishment of a Tourism Chamber in each province or city, (see 6th edition of magazine, article entitled 'On the way towards a Touristic Chambers Union).

The utilization of the local Arabic and international media can acquaint others with and propagate the country's tourist attractions and further highlight the developments occurring as a result of this advancement.

Finally the reader must realise that it is 'tourism' and not 'oil', which is the world's prime form of economic exchange, and so let us pray for Iraq to be the focus of international tourism and the foremost exemplary example therein!

May God guide us towards the best of deeds.

A S Shakiry

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