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For ‘Servant of Imam Reza’, it all started in Mashhad shrine and ended there

By Mehdi Moosvi

“A servant of Imam Reza (AS) has been martyred,” announced an official at the shrine of the 8th Shiite Imam in the holy city of Mashhad on Monday morning, leaving pilgrims in profound shock and grief.

“Ayatollah Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, the servant of Imam Reza (AS), who became the eighth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran three years ago on the birth anniversary of Imam Reza (AS), has been martyred on the eve of the same anniversary,” the official told the grieving pilgrims.

Born in Mashhad in 1960, President Raeisi often spoke passionately about his spiritual connection to Imam Reza (AS) and the holy shrine, proudly calling himself the “servant of the Imam (AS).”

It is fitting that he returned to his Lord on the eve of Imam Reza’s (AS) birth anniversary, to whom he dedicated his life and his life’s accomplishments.

Following the tragic news of his martyrdom, videos of him inside the holy shrine, cleaning the tombstone of Imam Reza (AS) and crying profusely in the blessed company of the 8th Imam, went viral on social media.

Before rising to international prominence as the judiciary chief and later president of Iran, Raeisi served as the custodian of the Imam Reza (AS) shrine from 2016 to 2019.

He was only the second person to hold this important post since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, succeeding Ayatollah Abbas Vaez Tabasi, who led the Astan Quds Razavi from 1979 until his death in 2016.

Following Tabasi’s death, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Revolution, appointed Raeisi as custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, overseeing one of the world’s largest religious centers.

Raeisi’s impressive academic background and administrative skills made him the natural choice to succeed Tabasi.

Ayatollah Khamenei clearly outlined Raeisi’s duties in his appointment order, emphasizing the importance of serving pilgrims at the holy shrine, especially the impoverished, and assisting those in need in the surrounding areas — a mission Raeisi fulfilled with utmost dedication and commitment.

During his tenure, Raeisi accomplished unprecedented tasks at the shrine, including building a hospital under the aegis of the holy shrine, opening new businesses for organizational self-reliance, and ensuring an easy stay for both local and foreign pilgrims.

He redefined the philosophy of service at the shrine, introducing breakfast to the meal offerings, raising the number of daily meals served to 170,000, according to former deputy of Astan Quds, Seyyed Khalil Manbati.

“Ayatollah Raeisi was a true servant of the holy shrine of Razavi,” Manbati said in a heartfelt tribute to the president.

According to those who worked with him, Raeisi never took any remuneration from the holy shrine. Before leaving Astan Quds Razavi for his judiciary appointment, he paid for all his expenses, including meals, at the shrine.

He was also dedicated to his academic pursuits. Known as the “Martyr of Service,” Raeisi, who completed his seminary education in Qom under top scholars, held jurisprudence classes in Mashhad. He taught Islamic, judicial, and economic jurisprudence at seminaries and universities, including Imam Sadiq University and Shahid Beheshti University.

As head of the Iranian judiciary, Raeisi launched a vigorous fight against institutional corruption, which earned him widespread praise and adulation.

“Our honorable Raeisi worked tirelessly,” said the Leader of the Islamic Revolution on Monday. “Throughout his various responsibilities, he was dedicated to serving the people, the country, and Islam without break.”

Ayatollah Ahmad Marvi, the current head of the Imam Reza (AS) shrine, also paid glowing tributes to the martyred president and expressed condolences to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution over the loss.

“Martyr Ayatollah Raeisi spent his life tirelessly serving the people and the Islamic Republic. He was a perfect embodiment of the followers of Ahlul-bayt, a fervent lover of Imam Reza (AS), and a kind comrade for the Leader,” Marvi said.

He added that Raeisi’s martyrdom on the eve of Imam Reza’s (AS) birth anniversary was a fitting reward for his years of tireless service to Islam and Muslims.

On Thursday evening, four days after President Raeisi and his companions, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, died in a tragic helicopter crash in northwestern Iran, Raeisi was laid to rest inside Imam Reza’s (AS) magnificent shrine.

At least four million people from Khorasan Razavi and other provinces filled the streets leading to the holy shrine in Mashhad on Thursday to bid an emotional farewell to the beloved president.

The lover of Imam Reza (AS) was reunited with his beloved, this time forever. Someone who had no off day at work finally rested.

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