History of the Shrine of Imam Musa Kazim (as)

Anyone approaching Baghdad from the north or the west will be impressed by the sight of the four golden minarets at Kadhmayn, the Shrine of the Two Imams, Imam Musa al-Kadhim(A.S.) and Imam Muhammad Taqi al-Jawad(A.S.). They are respectively the Seventh and the Ninth of the Twelve Imams, at whose tombs we are accustomed to seek healing and to invoke their intercession for the forgiveness of our sins and the fulfilment of our needs.

The present building dates back only to the beginning of the sixteenth century and has been kept in excellent repair. This building represents the restoration of Shah lsmail I Safavi (1502 - 24), though when the Turkish Sultan, Suleman the Great, captured Baghdad and remained there for four months in 1534, he visited this sacred place, and is said to have contributed to the further ornamentation of the Shrine at Kadhmayn.
The tiles for the double cupola, however, were provided in 1796 by Shah Agha Muhammad Khan, who was the first of the Persian Qajar dynasty. In 1870, Nasr-al-Din Shah had these golden tiles repaired on one of the domes and on the minarets. It is interesting that the dates of all these alterations are clearly indicated by inscriptions.

If we bear in mind that the Two Imams who are buried here were martyred in the beginning of the eighth century, it will be evident that there are seven hundred years of the history of their tomb to account for, previous to the comparatively modern restoration of Shah Ismail I. The Imams lived in the early days of Baghdad, while the walls of Mansur's round city on the western side of the Tigris were still standing.
There were cemeteries to the north-west that went by various names - that at the Syrian Gate, that of the Abbasids, and that of the Straw Gate.

The Two Imams were buried immediately to the west of this latter cemetery, but by the time Yakubi wrote, the whole northern district was designated in a general way as the cemetery of the Kuraish.
Both of these Imams were poisoned at the instigation of the reigning Caliphs, but it is significant that in the case of Imam Muhammad Taqi, the funeral service was read by a representative of the royal family, which undoubtedly distinguised the Imam as an important person, at whose grave some sort of a mausoleum would be built.

But as to the importance attached in the early times to the visit to this tomb, the only information available is on the authority of traditions that have been attributed to the Eighth and Tenth Imams. These traditions are answers they are said to have given when they were asked by their followers concerning the merit of pilgrimage to Kadhmayn.

It is related that the Imam Ali Reza (A.S.), whose life in Baghdad was during the caliphate of Haroon al-Rashid, told his Shia followers to say their prayers of salutation to his father, the Imam Musa al-Kadhim, "Outside the walls of the Shrine, or in the nearby mosques," if the Sunni authority and prejudice in Baghdad was too great for them to do so at the tomb itself. From this we infer that a building of some sort was recognised at that early date as marking the tomb of the Imam Musa and that it was surrounded by a wall.
Further statements are said to have been made a few years later by the Imam Ali Naqi (A.S.), whose period in the Imamat began during the later part of the Caliphate of Mu'tasim, and who enjoyed greater indulgence that was shown to the Shias until the period of reaction against them and the Mu'tazalites under the Caliph Mutawakkil. The following particular instructions for visiting this Shrine have been given by Majlisi.