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Apart from a certain group of Hanbalites who view visiting (ziyarat) the tombs of prophets and saints merely as a means of admonition, the notion of ziyarat plays a more or less prominent role in other Sunni sects. The ziyarat of the rawdat (garden) of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) has been considered as one of the best ways for drawing nearer to God. There are a large number of Sunni books on the rites of visiting the tombs of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his wives and companions as well as those of his family (ahl al-bayt). In Imami Shi`ism the ziyarat of the tombs of imams and religious personalities is held in high regard. There exist a number of rites with regard to pilgrimage to the shrines of saints, some of which have been mentioned in fiqhi sources and others which reflect public respect. 

In spite of the fact that the differences among various Islamic sects regarding the issue of ziyarat may be interpreted in terms of differences in their fiqhi standpoints, throughout the history of Islam, Muslims in all parts of the Islamic world have displayed an undying veneration for religious personalities, and religious shrines can be found scattered in all Islamic countries, from the easternmost parts of the Asian continent to the heart of Africa. In addition to the shrines of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the infallible Shi`ite imams, these religious sites include the tombs of previous prophets, a group of the Companions and Successors, a large number of the descendents of imams, as well as Sufi masters and religious scholars. There are other sites that are not intended as tomb shrines, but as locations of religious significance, such as Qadamgah near Niyshabur, Iran, which houses the footprint of Imam al-Rida (PBUH), and the Cellar of Samarra’. 

In Imami Shi`ism, there exist a number of ziyarat namahs (prayer books), to be recited individually or in groups, whose contents encompass religious and ethical teachings, such as the ziyarats of Friday and `Ashura which contain lessons about standing up to oppression, as well as other Islamic insights.

* source: Gorji , Abolghasem "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 ,pp.411

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