Wadi Al-Salaam: The Largest Cemetery in The World

May 15, 2013 10 comments

Wadi us-Salaam, which literally means the Valley of Peace, is an Islamic cemetery located in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq. The cemetery covers an area of 1485.5 acres and contains millions of bodies, making it one of the strongest contender for the title of the largest graveyard on earth. Najaf itself is one of Iraq's biggest cities, with a population of nearly 600,000. But the adjoining city of the dead holds the remains of millions, stretching for up to 10km along the valley. Wadi Al-Salam cemetery is also the only cemetery in the world where the process of burial is still continuing to day since more than 1,400 years.

The graveyard holds importance in Shiite belief as it has been said that the souls of all faithful men and women shall be moved there, no matter where their bodies have been buried. Many prophets, kings, princes and Sultans lie in this cemetery including that of Prophet Hud, Prophet Saleh, and Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, as well as the remains of the prince of faithfuls, Ali Ibn Abi Talib.


Wadi Al-Salam cemetery contains graves built with baked bricks and plaster and it rises at different levels. Among the tombstones are the room-size family crypts built by the wealthy, often topped by domes. There are also underground burial vaults that can be get down by ladder. Graves from the 1930s and 1940s have their own style, soaring up 10 feet with rounded tops so that people would see them over their neighbors.

During the Iraq war in 2003, heavily-armed fighters of the Iraqi militia frequently used the cemetery to hide and ambush approaching enemy units. The Americans cannot get into the area, because it's full of winding lanes and underground mausoleums. The local gunmen who knew their way around would hit and then run and hide inside the many tombs.

When the rebels took refuge in the narrow spaces among the crowded tombs the Iraqi army ruthlessly bulldozed its way through the graves of its fellow soldiers. To this day, piles of wrecked cages from the graves remain stacked on the roadsides.

The violence that has overwhelmed Iraq since 2003 has lead to a massive expansion of the graveyard, swelling it by 40 percent to about three square miles. The cemetery has grown every year since 2004, first with the clashes against American forces, then the sectarian wars of 2006-2007 when Shiites and Sunnis were killing each other at a murderous rate, and finally in the 2008 battles with the Iraqi army. In recent years, though, its growth has slowed.





Sources: UNESCO, BBC, Gorillasguides, Theshiapedia


  1. The prophet Hud is buried in Wadi Hadramawt, Yemen. I visited him there. See the following documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef3iPBQHcHw
    And according to the documentary the Prophet Saleh is buried in West Hadramawt, Yemen.

  2. One more thing is that Islam Didn't support to make Burial ground with making Marble plates or name boards above the graveyard...this and all coming from rest of the Semitic religions...

    1. Where is your sources?

    2. agree
      “`Ali b. Abi Talib asked me, “Shall I not send you to do what the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) sent me to do?—That you leave no figure except that you erase it, nor an elevated grave except that you level it.”

      Imam Muslim also narrated via Jabir that he said, “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) forbade the plastering of graves, sitting on them, or building over them.”

      Imam Nawawi explained this hadith in his commentary on Sahih Muslim:
      “As for building upon [a grave], then if (a) [the earth on which the grave is built] belongs to the one who builds over it, [building over it] it is offensive, whereas if (b) it is in a public graveyard, then it is unlawful. Imam Shafi`i and the early scholars of his school have explicitly said this. Shafi`i said in his book, al-Umm, “I have seen the scholars of Mecca command the demolition of [graves] that are built over. Such demolition is supported by the hadith, “… nor an elevated grave except that you level it …””


    3. If he didn't give the links to the source then it doesn't mean that you can say things like that about the first 3 khalifa's.

  3. Please give comments based on sources only you infidel.

  4. Islam is one. And syiah isn't Islam

  5. i like this very good place for me...

  6. it's a great place, please ignore the other sick comments

  7. Remove hatred from the hearts because it will not benefit us in our grave
    How ironic are these comments regarding a cemetery


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