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Mosque Name: Sayyida Zaynab mosque and Shrine

Country: Syria

City: Damascus

Year of construction (AH): 81 - 182 AH

Year of construction (AD): 700- 800 CE

GPS: 33.444361 36.340834


Gibson Classification: Between

Rebuilt facing Mecca: never


The shrine of al-Sayyida Zaynab is said to be the burial place of Zaynab, the daughter of Imam Ali and Fatimah. This shrine and mosque is a pilgrimage site for Shi’a. The area where the shrine of Zaynab is located was once a village called Rawiya. Now, the area is known as al-Sayyida Zaynab town. There are several places that bear the name of Zaynab Shrine. eg: Maqam of al-Sayyida Zaynab in Egypt and Al-Baqi’ cemetery in Medina. The original shrine on this spot, however, is said to date from 62 AH (682 CE) and is accepted by many as the original location.

The original building no longer exists. The mosque orientation gives us a clue of one of its construction date, as it faces the Between qibla. This qibla direction was first used in 87 AH (706). Local lore tells us that originally there was a small structure or dome on this site. If this is true, then the next building was constructed sometime after 87 AH.

There is a reference from the 2nd century AH (8th century CE) of an existing pilgrimage site. a woman related to Alids families called Al-Sayyida Nafisa bt. al-Hasan al-Anwar, a descendant of Imam Ali ( in 193808-9 visited the pilgrimage site of Lady Zaynab (a) in Rawiya of Damascus.(Qurashī, al-Sayyida al-Ziynab, p. 298-303.)

The shrine has been reconstructed and expanded several times during history.

WIn the 1950s a pre-existing structure was demoloished and a new mosque complex was constructed around the remaining mausoleum to enclose the shrine within the mosque’s inner courtyard.

Since 2012 this shrine was attacked by mortars and suicide bombings several times and some parts of the shrine were destroyed. Following these attacks, different groups of people went to Syria to defend the shrines of the Ahl al-Bayt (Shrines of the family of Muhammad.) These groups, known as defenders of the shrine, prevented terrorist groups from attacking the shrine of al-Sayyida Zaynab.

The shrine / mosque from a satellite image

The shrine / mosque from a satellite image

The old shrine before it was destroyed in the 1950s.

The old shrine before it was destroyed in the 1950s.

The old shrine before it was destroyed in the 1950s.

The old shrine before it was destroyed in the 1950s.

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