Discover Ibn Babawayh cemetery in southern Tehran

October 20, 2021 - 17:20

TEHRAN – Ibn Babawayh is a vast historical cemetery located in Rey, southern Tehran, in which many Iranian figures have been laid to rest.

It is named after Ibn Babawayh who was an Islamic theologian and the author of one of the “Four Books” that are the basic authorities for the doctrine of Twelver Shi’ism.

Also called Sheikh Saduq, Ibn Babawayh, whose full name is given as Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Husayn ibn Musa al-Qummi, was born in c. 923 CE, Khorasan, northeast Iran, and he died in Ray in 991.

Originally built during the reign of Samanids (819-999), the cemetery has been ruined many times, and for various reasons, such as the Mongol invasion (1219-1221 CE), several civil wars, and also natural disasters.

There is an interesting story behind the construction of the current cemetery which occurred during the Qajar era. Once, as Haj Mohammad Baqer Khansari writes in Rozat al-Janat, heavy rain destroyed and made a hole in the old cemetery.

Discover Ibn Babawayh cemetery in southern Tehran

Workers went to repair the destruction, but they found an intact corpse and an inscription in the cellar of the mausoleum. Based on the inscription, the mausoleum was built 800 years ago. By the way, the news of finding an intact corpse in the mausoleum of Sheikh Saduq reached the court and the king sent an envoy to the site to confirm the truth of the story.

His current tomb consists of a groin stone vault with eight pillars decorated with beige and blue tiles and is the site of pilgrimage for the Muslims.

In addition, the atmospheric cemetery built around the tomb of Sheikh Saduq is one of the most revered graveyards in the ancient town of Rey.

Wandering around the cemetery, you come across the graves of famous Iranian figures like Gholam-Reza Takhti, the popular Olympic gold medalist wrestler, Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda, the well-known linguist, poet, and scholar, Hossein Behzad, the eminent miniaturist, Jalal Al-e Ahmad, the contemporary writer, and many others. There used to be many private family mausoleums featuring beautiful historical buildings in Ibn Babawayh, many of which are destroyed now due to urban development projects.   

Rey was one of the capital cities of the Parthian empire (3rd century BC–3rd century CE) and it was captured by the Muslim Arabs in 641 CE. During the reign of the Muslim caliph al-Mahdi in the 8th century, the city grew in importance until it was rivaled in western Asia only by Damascus and Baghdad.

According to Britannica, Islamic writers described it as a city of extraordinary beauty, built largely of fired brick and brilliantly ornamented with blue faience (glazed earthenware). It continued to be an important city and was briefly a capital under the rule of the Seljuqs, but in the 12th century, it was weakened by the fierce quarrels of rival religious sects. In 1220 the city was almost destroyed by the Mongols, and its inhabitants were massacred. Most of the survivors of the massacre moved to nearby Tehran, and the deserted remnants of Rey soon fell into complete ruin.


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