In Islam, Ziyārah or Ziyarat (Arabic: زيارة "visit") is a form of pilgrimage to sites associated with Muhammad, his family members and descendants (including the Shī‘ī Imāms), his companions and other venerated figures in Islam such as the prophets, Sufi Saints and Islamic scholars. Sites of pilgrimage include mosques, graves, battlefields, mountains, and caves.
Ziyārat can also refer to a form of supplication made by the Shia, in which they send salutations and greetings to Muhammad and his family.
Different Muslim-majority countries, speaking many different languages, use different words for these sites where ziyarat is performed.
Etymology and usage
Sufi places of worship and retreat may be built near the graves of famous Sufi Saints; they are often called khanqahs or tekkes. Ziyarat" comes from Arabic: زور "to visit". Iranian and south-Asian Muslims use the word ziyarat for both the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca as well as for pilgrimages to other sites such as visiting a holy place. In Indonesia the term is ziarah for visiting holy places or graves.
Views on Ziyarat
Majority of Sunni scholars declare that the purpose of visiting the graves, cemeteries and tombs is only to remind people of death, and the dead that are buried there while supplications are made only to Allah. They point out to the Sunni historical sources proving that ziyarat is allowed and was always practiced:
It was narrated from Katheer ibn Zayd al-Madani that al-Muttalib said:
Al-Daraqutni reported in his Sunan (2/278) with an isnaad from Haatib that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
The purpose of visiting a grave is to gain divine knowledge and to pray for the person in the grave.
There are many reasons for which the Shī‘ah partake in the performance of Ziyarah, none of which include the worship of the people buried within the tombs - Ayatullah Borujerdi and Ayatullah Khomeini have both said
The Shī‘ah do however perform Ziyarah, believing that the entombed figures bear great status in the eyes of God, and seek to have their prayers answered through these people (a form of Tawassul) - Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Musawi writes
In this regard, Ibn Shu’ba al-Harrani also narrates a hadīth from the tenth Imām of the Twelver Shī‘as
The Ziyarah of the Imāms is also done by the Shī‘ah, not only as a means of greeting and saluting their masters who lived long before they were born, but also as a means of seeking nearness to God and more of His blessings (barakah).
The Shī‘ah do not consider the hadith collected by al-Bukhari to be authentic, and argue that if things such as Ziyarah and Tawassul were innovations and shirk, Muhammad himself would have prohibited people as a precaution, from visiting graves, or seeking blessings through kissing the sacred black stone at the Ka‘bah. Some Sunni scholars such as Ibn Taymiyyah, have also rejected the notion that such things are innovations (bid‘ah).
It is popular Shi'i belief that to be buried near the burial place of the Imams is beneficial. In Shi'i sacred texts it is stated that the time between death and resurrection (barzakh, purgatory) should be spent near the Imams.