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PEOPLE/ RELIGIOUS PLACES
The population of the Republic of Iraq in July 2000 was 22,675,617. The vast majority of Iraq are Arabs. The second largest community are the Kurds. They make up a substantial minority, numbering up to 20 percent of the population, and the rest of the Iraqi population includes communities of Turkmen and Assyrians. Arabic is the official language, although Kurdish is officially recognized in Kurdish regions, and Assyrian and Armenian languages are also spoken.
The Kurds, who inhabit the area north and northwest of Mosul share a similar cultural heritage with the Arab population of Iraq. They have a distinctive history, however, and speak Kurdish, a language of the western Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. They have tried to assert their national identity and have demanded cultural and political autonomy, but the government has put down their protests with brutal force.
majority of Iraqis live in urban areas, including Baghdad, the capital and by
far the largest city. In recent years many rural people have moved to the larger
urban centers, straining the government's ability to provide social services
and causing unemployment, particularly among men 20 to 25 years old.
Islam is the major religion, and Iraqi Muslims are 97% which more than 50% are Shiites. The clear majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims. The Sunnis are situated in central Iraq and Shiites in the south. Islam plays a major role in the lives of most Iraqis. They visit the mosque on Friday for the weekly reading of the Qur'an and prayers, and they observe religious holidays. There are other religious groups in Iraq, where Christians of various sects make up about 3%. Small, but important in the understanding of history of religions, are the Yazidis with about 100,000 members, and Mandeans with about 20,000 adherents. There are also about 2,500 Jews living in Baghdad.
"-What is raining? Blood
-Who? The eyes -How? Day and night
Karbala is situated on the bank of the river Euphrates, at 50 km southeast of
Baghdad. This city is known for being the holy place where Imam Hussein (grandson
of the Prophet SAS) and his army, including his brothers, sisters, sons and
daughters fought for Islam. A large army which had been mobilised by the Umayyad
regime besieged the Prophet's beloved grandson and his family, numbering less
than a hundred and put them under pressure to pay allegiance to the Caliph of
the time and submit to his authority. The Prophet's family resisted and a severe
battle took place in which they were all killed by the Umayyad troops in 681.
The battle at Karbala is now remembered during the ten first days of the month
of Muharram, and many Shiites go on pilgrimage to Karbala.
The city is built around the twin Shrines of Al-Hussain and that of Al-'Abass. Since their martyrdom the city has had a long line of tragedies, the last of which was its ransacking after the 1991 uprising. The Holy Prophet Mohammed (SAS) said, "Husain is from me and I am from Husain. May God love whoever loves Husain."
Around 160 kilometers South of Baghdad is the holy city of Al-Najaf. It is one of the famous and holiest cities in Iraq. Najaf in arabic means a high land where water cannot be reached. It's a city situated on high plateau over a sandy ground looking down from northern and eastern sides on wide scope camp of domes and tombs called valley of the peace.
In the ancient history of Iraq , Najaf was recognized as an extensive large city in Iraq with a large number of population, nice buildings and good markets where many of princes used to enjoy their summer time. Although Najaf was far away from Euphrates, they built streams and canals to bring water to the city.
In the middle of the city there is a tremendous and most remarkable tomb for Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib. The splendid golden domed structure, decorated by fantastic colored mosaic, houses great quantities of priceless objects, gifts of potentates and sultans.There are many treasures, full of rare jewels, silky carpets and ornaments provided by some famous kings of India and Persia.
Last but not least, Najaf is also known for being an Islamic center for scientific,
literary and theological studies for the whole Islamic world and mainly for
the Shiites, therefore Najaf is attractive for a large number of people, poets,
authors and other visitors from China/India, Lebanon, Pakistan and Iran which
is estimated annually over half a million.
In 836 the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu'tasim shifted the Capital of the Islamic world from the 74 year old Baghdad to the newly built Sammara. Some 56 years later Baghdad resumed its role as Capital. During this short period Sammara flourished and the tales surrounding it have passed into legend. Indeed, the Grand Mosque of Sammara, built under Caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 852, was at that time the largest mosque in the world and has the tallest minaret, Al-Malwiya (The Spiral) with 52 meter high. It is said that the Caliph used to ride up the minaret on horseback! To this day remenants of that great past can be seen along the eastern bank of the Tigris, just south of the modern Sammara.
Two of the twelve Imams, Ali Al-Hadi (827-868) and his son Hassan Al-'Askari (846-873), are entombed under this graceful golden dome.The Tenth Holy Imam Ali AI-Hadi the son of the Imam Mohammad AI-Jawad died of poisoning and was buried in Samarra by his son the Eleventh Imam Hassan Al-Askari where his shrine stands today. Both are decendents of Imam Ali.
Health standards in Iraq are low because of poor sanitary conditions and many endemic diseases. In 2001 the average life expectancy at birth was 74 years. The infant mortality rate was estimated at 60 per 1,000 live births in 2001. Most of the medical facilities are controlled by the central government.
Education in Iraq is free. Six years of primary education are compulsory, but many children do not attend school because the facilities are not available and they must work to help support their families. More students attended vocational or teacher-training institutions. Instruction is in the Arabic language, although Kurdish is used in primary schools in some northern districts. Iraq has eight universities, four in Baghdad and one each in Al Basrah, Irbil, Mosul, and Tikrit. The University of Baghdad, founded in 1957, had campuses in Basra and Mosul that became separate universities in 1964 and 1967, respectively. The country also has about 20 technical institutes.