A short drive south of Babylon and 90 mi/145 km south of Baghdad, the town of Najaf, along with Karbala, is one of the most sacred Shiite Muslim towns in the world.
It is most famous for the Imam Ali Shrine. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the tomb, but may visit the exterior courtyard. The mosque has a gilded dome and minarets and is a place where pilgrims offer gifts.
The Grand Mosque of Kufa (6 mi/10 km east of the Imam Ali Shrine) also has a golden dome and four minarets. Kufa is a stronghold of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr and colorful political souvenirs such as posters, flags, T-shirts and militia caps are sold at a street market outside the mosque.
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