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Iranians mark Eid al-Ghadir amid coronavirus pandemic

Yusef Jalali
Press TV, Mashhad

Eid al-Ghadir is one of the most important festivities on the Islamic calendar. It marks the beginning of Shia Islam, when 14 centuries ago Prophet Mohammad introduced Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb as the next caliph of Muslims and their religious leader or Imam.

It's a tradition that Shia Muslims in Iran visit the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad on the eve of the festivity.

While Eid al-Ghadir is an occasion for celebration, Muslims also view it as a chance to learn more about who Imam Ali was and why he was appointed by the Prophet as the first Imam.

Every year on the occasion, the holy shrine of Imam Reza in the city of Mashhad hosts millions of pilgrims who come to celebrate the festivity. But this year, the holy site is not as crowded as the previous years, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This is the second year in a row that Eid al-Ghadir is marked amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The disease has curtailed the ceremonies to a great extent, but organizers here have tried to keep the feast magnificent, by accommodating as many as possible, while observing health protocols.

Everything is prepared for a safe celebration, from social distancing to distribution of sanitary items to pilgrims.

Shia Muslims have 12 Imams or religious leaders; the first was Imam Ali and the last is Imam Mahdi, who is believed to be the prophesied savior of the world and is currently living in occultation.

While all Imams are equally revered among Muslims, Imam Ali holds a special position in Islam as the father of Shia Islam and the symbol of Islamic justice.

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