Mahdi Khajeh-Piri, talking in Towhid Khaneh program aired under the auspices of Islamic Research Foundation of Astan Quds Razavi, explained how reverence for Imam Reza (AS) has spread in the subcontinent. He stressed that Imam Reza’s migration from Medina, moving to Neishabur and Merv, returning from Sarakhs and residing on the Tous Plain is considered one of the most influential migrations of history. “This has made a significant impact on Iran’s cultural interactions with other places due to the long stay of Imam Reza on this land”.
Pointing to the central role India played in the history of human civilization, the director of Noor International Microfilm Center in New Delhi maintained that India has emerged as a carrier for these cultural exchanges and ties because of Imam Reza’s presence in Khorasan, which led to longstanding affinity with the holy shrine.
He continued that despite being followers of various and diverse religions, Indians share the belief in the Ahl ul-Bayt. “Love of Imam Hussein is so widespread among Indians that almost all villages hold mourning ceremonies on Ashura”. The martyrdom anniversary of Imam Ali (AS) is also an official holiday in a city of 180 million residents in the country.
Drawing attention to the long history of cultural and trade ties between India and Khorasan, which goes back to the rule of Qutb Shahi dynasty in Hyderabad (1591–1687), the official noted, “In addition to Shia rules, reverence for Imam Reza has been persistent during the Sunni Timurid and Mughal empires in India since the time of Mughal emperor Babur in mid-16th century. The ruler even wrote two copies of the Holy Quran in his own handwriting – one for Mecca and another for the holy shrine of Imam Reza. The latter still exists in the shrine”.
It is noteworthy that the ties have been bilateral and AQR has already consigned ambassadors to different countries including India.
According to official statistics, there are 70 million Shias in India mostly descending from Imam Reza (AS) and his household. One of the services provided by AQR is accommodating and supporting Shia and Sunni descendents in India.