‘Golden Mosque’ falls
During the early years of what would become a golden age of relative tolerance and cultural flowering as the Muslim world extended from Spain in the west to India in the east, construction on a shrine was begun.
Following the deaths in the late 9th century of the tenth and eleventh imams, the Shrine of Imams Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari often referred to as the ‘Golden Mosque’, was begun in 944 A.D. The neighboring Shrine of Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi, the twelfth (and hidden) imam, with its tiled dome, was built soon after.
Like many great buildings such as Santa Maria del Fiore, the Cathedral of Florence, the ‘Golden Mosque’ went without its signature dome until 1905. On February 22, 2006, this dome was destroyed during extended sectarian fighting between Sunnis, Shi’ites, and ethnic Kurds following the removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2003. In retaliation during the following days, other religious sites were damaged, worsening a situation that already appeared a precursor to civil war.
Judging from the fact that the shrine has been rebuilt and renovated several times - in 1053, 1209, and 1868 - the golden dome of the two imams will hopefully rise again.