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Mashhad(mäsh-häd`), city (1991 pop. 1,759,155), capital of Razavi Khorasan prov., NE Iran. It is an industrial and trade center and a transportation hub. Manufactures include carpets, textiles, and processed foods. Mashhad is a religious center visited annually by large numbers of Muslim pilgrims. Formerly known as Sanabadh, it is the site of the shrine of the Imam Ali Riza, a Shiite holy person. Imam Riza died (819) in the city after visiting the grave of Caliph Harun ar-RashidHarun ar-Rashid
[Arab.,=Aaron the Upright], c.764–809, 5th and most famous Abbasid caliph (786–809). He succeeded his brother Musa al-Hadi, fourth caliph, a year after the death of his father, Mahdi, the third caliph.
..... Click the link for more information. , who had died there 10 years before; he was buried next to Harun, and the shrine was built over both graves. The city was attacked by the Oghuz Turks (12th cent.) and by the Mongols (13th cent.), but recovered by the 14th cent., when it came to be known as Mashhad [Arab.,="place of martyrdom" or "shrine"]. It prospered under the SafavidsSafavid
, Iranian dynasty (1499–1736), that established Shiite Islam in Iran as an official state religion. The Safavid state provided both the territorial and societal foundations of modern Iran.
..... Click the link for more information. , who were devout Shiite Muslims; Shah Abbas IAbbas I
(Abbas the Great) , 1557–1629, shah of Persia (1587–1628), of the Safavid dynasty. In 1597 he ended the raids of the Uzbeks, and subsequently (1603–23) he conquered extensive territories from the Turks.
..... Click the link for more information. embellished Mashhad with elaborate buildings. It reached its greatest glory in the 18th cent., when Nadir ShahNadir Shah
or Nader Shah
, 1688–1747, shah of Iran (1736–47), sometimes considered the last of the great Asian conquerors. He was a member of the Afshar tribe.
..... Click the link for more information. made Mashhad the capital of Persia. The city took on strategic importance in the late 19th cent. because of its proximity to the Russian and Afghan borders. The bombing of the sanctuary of the Imam Riza by the Russians in 1912 caused widespread resentment in the Shiite Muslim world. In 1996 the city became the terminus of a new railroad linking Iran with Turkmenistan and the rest of Central Asia. Near Mashhad are the remains of the former city of Tus, birthplace of the poet FirdausiFirdausi
, c.940–1020, principal Persian poet, author of the Shah Namah [the book of kings], the great Persian epic. His original name was Abul Kasim Mansur; he is thought to have been born of a yeoman family of Khorasan.
..... Click the link for more information. and the philosopher al-GhazaliGhazali, al-
, 1058–1111, Islamic theologian, philosopher, and mystic. He was born at Tus in Khorasan, of Persian origin. He is considered the greatest theologian in Islam.
..... Click the link for more information. . Mashhad itself is the seat of a university (founded 1947). The city is also known as Meshed.
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a city in NE Iran: an important holy city of Shi'ite Muslims; carpet manufacturing. Pop.: 2 147 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005