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For other uses, see .

"Sacred site" redirects here. For natural places with sacred or spiritual significance, see .

A shrine (: scrinium "case or chest for books or papers"; : escrin "box or case") is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific , , , , , , or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are or . Shrines often contain , , or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated. A shrine at which are made is called an .

Shrines are found in many of the world's religions, including , , , , , , and as well as in secular and non-religious settings such as a war memorial. Shrines can be found in various settings, such as , , , , or in the home, although are also found in some cultures.

A shrine may become a focus of a .


Types of shrines[]

Temple shrines[]

Many shrines are located within buildings and in the temples designed specifically for worship, such as a in , or a in Hinduism. A shrine here is usually the centre of attention in the building, and is given a place of prominence. In such cases, adherents of the faith assemble within the building in order to venerate the deity at the shrine. In classical temple architecture, the shrine may be synonymous with the .

Household shrines[]

Historically, in , and , and also in modern faiths, such as , a shrine can commonly be found within the home or shop. This shrine is usually a small structure or a setup of pictures and figurines dedicated to a deity that is part of the official religion, to or to a localised .

Small household shrines are very common among the and people from and Asia, whether Hindu, Buddhist or Christian. Usually a small lamp and small offerings are kept daily by the shrine. Buddhist household shrines must be on a shelf above the head; Chinese shrines must stand directly on the floor.

Yard shrines[]

Small outdoor yard shrines are found at the bottom of many peoples gardens, following various religions, including historically, . Many consist of a statue of or a , on a pedestal or in an alcove, while others may be elaborate booths without ceilings, some include paintings, statuary, and architectural elements, such as walls, roofs, glass doors and ironwork fences, etc.

In the United States, some Christians have small yard shrines; some of these resemble side altars, since they are composed of a statue placed in a niche or ; this type is colloquially referred to as a .

Religious shrines[]

Shrine of Qubrat Hamran, South Arabia, dating from the 15th or 16th century.

Shrines are found in many religions. As distinguished from a , a shrine usually houses a particular or , which is the object of or . A shrine may also be constructed to set apart a site which is thought to be particularly holy, as opposed to being placed for the convenience of worshippers. Shrines therefore attract the practice of .


Shrines are found in many, though not all, forms of . , the largest denomination of Christianity, has many shrines, as do and .

In the Code of , canons 1230 and 1231 read: "The term shrine means a church or other sacred place which, with the approval of the local , is by reason of special frequented by the faithful as . For a , the approval of the is necessary. For it to be described as international, the approval of the is required."

Another use of the term "shrine" in colloquial Catholic terminology is a niche or alcove in most – especially larger – churches used by parishioners when praying privately in the church. They were also called , since they could look like small or . Shrines were always centered on some image of Christ or a saint – for instance, a statue, painting, mural or mosaic, and may have had a behind them (without a built in).

However, would not be celebrated at them; they were simply used to aid or give a visual focus for prayers. Side altars, where Mass could actually be celebrated, were used in a similar way to shrines by parishioners. Side altars were specifically dedicated to , as well as other saints.

A could also be viewed as a shrine, as the definition of a shrine is any holy or sacred place.


Main articles: , , and

In Islam, there are three holy cities containing shrines revered by all Muslims. The holiest site is , part of the Al-Haram Mosque in the city of . The second holiest site is (The Prophet's Mosque) in . The tomb of the Prophet, alongside the tombs of and (the first two caliphs of Islam, respectively), are contained in the mosque under the . The third holiest site is the (Temple Mount).

Sunni Islam[]

Main article:

More than any other tomb in the Islamic world, the shrine of is considered a source of blessings for the visitor. Among attributed to Muhammad include one stated as: "He who visits my grave will be entitled to my intercession." Visiting Muhammad's tomb after the pilgrimage is considered by the majority of legal scholars to be recommended.

The early scholars of the , (d. 241 AH), (d. 238 SH), (d. 189 AH) and (d. 204 AH) all permitted the practice of to the Prophet's tomb.

The hadith scholar (d. 554 AH) stated that visiting the Prophet was "a sunna of the Muslims on which there was consensus, and a good and desirable deed."

(d. 852 AH) explicitly stated that travelling to visit the tomb of the Prophet was "one of the best of actions and the noblest of pious deeds with which one draws near to God, and its legitimacy is a matter of consensus."

Similarly, (d. 620 AH) considered Ziyarat of the Prophet to be recommended and also seeking intercession directly from the Prophet at his grave.

The tombs of other Muslim religious figures are also respected. The son of , one of the primary jurists of Sunnism, reportedly stated that he would prefer to be buried near the shrine of a saintly person than his own father.


Main article:

have several tomb shrines dedicated to various religious figures important in their history, and several elaborate shrines are dedicated to Shia religious figures, most notably in (such as in the cities of , , and ) and in (such as in the cities of and ). Specific examples include the , and . Other Shia shrines are located in ("the Noble Shrine") in , and in , . The in houses the tombs of , the leader of , , and a few other related people.


In popular Sufism, one common practice is to to the tombs of saints, renowned scholars, and righteous people. This is a particularly common practice in South Asia, where famous tombs include of saints such as in , Tajikistan; , near , China; in ; in , Pakistan; in Pakistan; in , India; in , India; and in , Bangladesh. Likewise, in , Morocco, a popular destination for pious visitation is the .The area around in Mali also has many historic sufi shrines which were destroyed by Islamist in recent years. Many of these have since been rebuilt. A saint's tomb is a site of great veneration where blessings or continue to reach the deceased holy person and are deemed (by some) to benefit visiting devotees and pilgrims. In order to show reverence to Sufi saints, kings and nobles provided large donations or to preserve the tombs and renovate them architecturally. Over time, these donation, rituals, annual commemorations formed into an elaborate system of accepted norms. These forms of Sufi practise created an aura of spiritual and religious traditions around prescribed dates. Many orthodox or Islamic purists denounce these visiting grave rituals, especially the expectation of receiving blessings from the venerated saints. Nevertheless, these rituals have survived generations and seem adamant to remain.

Opposition to tomb shrines[]

Many modern Islamic reformers oppose the building (and sometimes the ) tomb shrines, viewing it as a deviation from true Islam. This includes followers of the and movements, which believe that shrines over graves encourage / () and that there is a risk of worshipping other than (the dead).

The founder of the Wahhabi movement, derived the prohibition to build mosques over graves from a attributed to the in which he said "May Allah curse the Jews and Christians who make the graves of their prophets into places of worship; do not imitate them." Additionally, he commanded leveling of the graves (taswiyat al-qubur), which the scholar supported.

The Wahhabi movement was heavily influenced by the works of the medieval theologian who was considered by them to be the "ultimate authority on a great number of issues". One of these issues was the position on the visitation of the Prophet's tomb. According to Ibn Taymiyyah all the ahadith encouraging the visitation of the Prophet's tomb are fabricated (mawdu‘), are not contained in the or , and violate al-uluhiya.

This view of Ibn Taymiyyah was rejected by mainstream Sunni scholars both during his life and after his death. The hadith master stated that "This is one of the ugliest positions that has been reported of Ibn Taymiyya". The hadith scholar stated that, "Amongst the Hanbalis, Ibn Taymiyya has gone to an extreme by prohibiting travelling to visit the Prophet – may God bless him and grant him peace" stated that "The Shaykh Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya has abominable and odd statements on this issue to the effect that travelling to visit the Prophet is prohibited and is not a pious deed."


The two most well-known shrines serve as the resting places for the respective remains of the two central figures of the Bahá'í Faith, the and . They are the focal points of a :

Other sites have been designated as Bahá'í Shrines, the most notable being the home of and in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Buddhist shrine just outside

In , a shrine refers to a place where veneration is focused on the or one of the . Monks, nuns and laypeople all give offerings to these revered figures at these shrines and also in front of them.

Typically, Buddhist shrines contain a statue of either the Buddha, or (in the and forms of Buddhism), one of the various bodhisattvas. They also commonly contain candles, along with offerings such as flowers, purified water, food, and incense. Many shrines also contain sacred relics, such as the alleged held at a shrine in .

Site-specific shrines in Buddhism, particularly those that contain relics of deceased buddhas and revered monks, are often known as the .

Germanic paganism[]

In , types of shrines were employed, but terms for the shrines show some level of ambiguity:

  • , which may have originally exclusively referred to "holy places", whereas its Old English cognate hearg could mean "" and/or "temple, idol"
  • (Old Norse) or wēohs (Old English), referring to either a types of shrines or sacred enclosures. The term appears in poetry and in place names in (with the exception of ), often in connection with a or a geographic feature. The name of the Norse god , refers to the practice.


In , a shrine is a place where gods or goddesses are worshipped. Shrines are typically located inside a of various forms. Most Hindu families have a household shrine as well. For example, according to memoirs of Stephen Huyler of his visits to some Hindu homes, a part of home was dedicated to the household shrine. Here, image of a deity was placed and offered prayers, instead of visits to a temple. Among Tamil Hindu homes, according to Pintchman, a shrine in Kitchen is more common. If the family is wealthy, it may locate the household shrine in a separate room.


A Taoist shrine.

The line between a and a shrine in is not fully defined; shrines are usually smaller versions of larger Taoist temples or small places in a where a emblem is placed among peaceful settings to encourage meditation and study of Taoist texts and principles. Taoists place less emphasis on formalized attendance but include ritualized worship than other ; formal temples and structures of worship came about in Taoism mostly in order to prevent losing adherents to .[]

Frequent features of Taoist shrines include the same features as full temples, often including any or all of the following features : , running water or fountains, small burning or candles (with or without ), and copies of Taoist texts such as the , or other texts by , or other Taoist sages.[]



This section is empty. You can help by . (August 2018)

Secular shrines[]

In the United States and some other countries, may be called "historic shrines." Notable shrines of this type include:

  • in , U.S.
  • in , U.S.
  • in , U.S.
  • , a in , Australia
  • , a in , Australia
  • in , Russia
  • in , Korea

also serve as shrines into which single or multiple individuals are inducted on the basis of their influence upon regions, cultures or disciplines. or full-body statues are often erected and placed alongside each other in commemoration.

By extension the term shrine has come to mean any place dedicated completely to a particular person or subject such as the in .

See also[]


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  3. 2015-10-19 at the .. British Museum
  4. Patricia Chang (February 23, 2007). . Downtown Express. 19 (41). 
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  6. 2009-03-27 at the .. catholichomeandgarden.com
  7. . Sacred Destinations
  8. David Tyson (1997). . . 1
  9. . ourladyswarriors.org
  10. . www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 2018-08-12. The Grand Mosque of Mecca in western Saudi Arabia. Along with the Prophet Muhammad 's Mosque in Medina, it is one of the two holiest shrines in Islam, its spiritual center, and the focus of the hajj pilgrimage. A place of worship even before the time of Muhammad, the mosque is organized around the Kaaba, a pre-Islamic “House of God” founded by Abraham and Ishmael, toward which all Muslim prayer is directed. The present layout of the Grand Mosque evolved from a series of enlargements during the Umayyad and Abbasid periods, Ottoman refinements, and recent Saudi additions. 
  11. . Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  12. . Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  13. . www.olemiss.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  14. . Inside Islam. 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2018-08-13. The most distinct aspect of the mosque is a green dome called the Dome of the Prophet and marks the location of the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb. Abu Bakr and Umar, the first and second caliphs, are buried near the Prophet. 
  15. . Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  16. . www.olemiss.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  17. . jsr.shanti.virginia.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  18. ^ Diem, Werner; Schöller, Marco (2004-01-01). . Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 46.  . 
  19. Bayhaqi. Sunan. V. p. 245. 
  20. Iyyad, Qadi. Shifa. II. p. 71. 
  21. Diem, Werner; Schöller, Marco (2004-01-01). . Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 55.  . 
  22. Diem, Werner; Schöller, Marco (2004-01-01). . Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 23.  . 
  23. Rapoport, Yossef; Ahmed, Shahab (2010-01-01). . Oxford University Press. p. 290/291.  . 
  24. Rapoport, Yossef; Ahmed, Shahab (2010-01-01). . Oxford University Press. p. 291.  . 
  25. Zargar, Cameron (2014). The Hanbali and Wahhabi Schools of Thought As Observed Through the Case of Ziyārah. The Ohio State University. pp. 28–29. 
  26. Ibn Qudāmah, Abū Muḥammad, Al-Mughnī, (Beirut: Bayt al-Afkār al-Dawliyyah, 2004), p 795.
  27. Diem, Werner; Schöller, Marco (2004-01-01). . Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 7–8.  . 
  28. . The Independent. Retrieved 2018-08-12. The Arbaeen has provided many modern-day Shia martyrs, murdered by Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda and Isis, but its purpose is to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the revered Shia leader, killed in the battle for Kerbala in AD680. The long ritual walk to his golden-domed shrine in that city – some walkers spend 10 or 12 days on the road from Basra or Kirkuk, others two or three days from Najaf – comes on the 40th day of the mourning period as religious fervour reaches its peak among the faithful. 
  29. . www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 2018-08-12. One of Iraq's two holiest cities (Karbala is the other one). Reputedly founded by the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid in 791. A Shii religious center located south of Baghdad and six miles west of Kufa. Site of Ali ibn Abi Talib's (the first Shii imam) tomb. Kufa retained its importance as the locus of Shii activities until the fifteenth century, when Najaf replaced it. Hospices, schools, libraries, and Sufi convents were built around the shrine. Late nineteenth-century Qom replaced Najaf as the center of Shii learning; this was reversed with the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini (d. 1989) and Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (d. 1980). 
  30. Abid, S. K. . citeseerx.ist.psu.edu. from the original on 12 August 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  31. Carnelos, Marco (18 July 2018). . Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2018-08-12. Every year, during the annual Shia pilgrimages to the Holy Shrines in Najaf, Karbala and Samarra, millions of Iranians, in numbers two or three times higher than the entire traditional Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, cross the Iraqi border; they are spontaneously fed and housed by the poorest Iraqi Shia families free of any charge. 
  32. . www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 2018-08-12. Leading center of Shii theological seminaries and site of Hazrat-i Masumah, which is the second most important Shii shrine in Iran. Burial site of numerous shahs of the Safavid and Qajar dynasties and many religious scholars. Major center of political activity in 1963 , 1975 , and 1977 – 79 . The shrine and the Borujerdi mosque are important places for leading communal prayers and sermons. The shrine has been an economic and state institution, the focus of endowments and commercial rents dedicated to its upkeep, and a symbolic site whose opening and closing each day are accompanied by state-appointed guards extolling the sovereignty of the reigning government under God. Qom's madrasas in particular were a major center of resistance to the Pahlavi monarchy. When Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile, he went immediately to Qom, which remains a key seat of the ulama's educational and political organizations. 
  33. . findit.library.yale.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  34. . www.unesco.org. Retrieved 2018-08-13. On Wednesday, 22 February 2006, unidentified assailants bombed the Al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest Shia'a sites in Iraq, containing the shrines of Ali Al-Hadi and Hassan Al-Askari, two of the most important Shia'a Imams, and the mausoleum of Mohammad Al Mehdi, known as the "hidden Imam", and hosting millions of pilgrims annualy. 
  35. . www.cemml.colostate.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  36. . www.cemml.colostate.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  37. France-Presse, Agence (2016-06-11). . the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  38. . USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  39. . The Indian Express. 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  40. . . 2009-03-22. from the original on 12 August 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  41. Annemarie Schimmel (1975). . Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 238.  . 
  42. Métalsi, Mohamed (2003). Fès: La ville essentielle. Paris: ACR Édition Internationale. pp. 192–194.  
  43. . BBC News
  44. . UN News Service Section. 20 July 2015. 
  45. . thestar.com.my
  46. Jafri, S.Z.H. and Reifeld, H., 2006. The Islamic path: sufism, society, and politics in India. Rainbow Publishers.
  47. The Islamic Path: Sufism, Politics, and Society in India (2006)
  48. The Islamic Path: Sufism, Politics, and Society in India. (2006)
  49. Jafri, S.Z.H. and Reifeld, H., 2006. The Islamic path: sufism, society, and politics in India. Rainbow Publishers.
  50. The Islamic Path: Sufism, Politics, and Society in India (2006)
  51. . www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 2018-08-10. Many modern Islamic reformers criticize visits to shrines as mere superstition and a deviation from true Islam. 
  52. . The Independent. from the original on 8 August 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-10. In the eyes of Wahabis, historical sites and shrines encourage "shirq" – the sin of idolatry or polytheism – and should be destroyed. When the al-Saud tribes swept through Mecca in the 1920s, the first thing they did was lay waste to cemeteries holding many of Islam's important figures. They have been destroying the country's heritage ever since. Of the three sites the Saudis have allowed the UN to designate World Heritage Sites, none are related to Islam. 
  53. . Time. from the original on 8 August 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-10. Wahhabism, the prevailing Saudi strain of Islam, frowns on visits to shrines, tombs or religio-historical sites, on grounds that they might lead to Islam’s gravest sin: worshipping anyone other than God. 
  54. . The Independent. from the original on 8 August 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-10. In most of the Muslim world, shrines have been built. Visits to graves are also commonplace. But Wahabism views such practices with disdain. The religious police go to enormous lengths to discourage people from praying at or visiting places closely connected to the time of the Prophet while powerful clerics work behind the scenes to promote the destruction of historic sites. 
  55. ^ Ondrej, Beranek; Tupek, Pavel (July 2009). Naghmeh, Sohrabi, ed. (PDF). Crown Paper (Crown Center for Middle East Studies/Brandeis University). Brandeis University. Crown Center for Middle East Studies. p. 16. (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2018. Ibn Taymiyya argues that the prohibition against treating graves as places of prayer is not based only on the impurity of such places;58 the true reason lies in concern over the temptation of worshiping the dead (khawf al-fitna bi alqabr). This was the opinion of Imam al-Shafi‘i and other salaf, who commanded leveling these graves (taswiyat al-qubur) and effacing what might arouse the temptation (ta‘fiyat ma yatafattan bihi minha). 
  56. Ondrej, Beranek; Tupek, Pavel (July 2009). Naghmeh, Sohrabi, ed. (PDF). Crown Paper (Crown Center for Middle East Studies/Brandeis University). Brandeis University. Crown Center for Middle East Studies. p. 19. (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2018. Relying mainly on hadiths and the Qur’an, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s most famous work, The Book of God’s Unicity (Kitab al-tawhid), describes a variety of shirk practices, such as occultism, the cult of the righteous (salih), intercession, oaths calling on other than God himself, sacrifices or invocational prayers to other than God, and asking other than Him for help. Important things about graves are remarked on in a chapter entitled “About the Condemnation of One Who Worships Allah at the Grave of a Righteous Man, and What if He Worships [the Dead] Himself.”72 Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab starts by quoting a hadith: “Umm Salama told the messenger of Allah about a church she had seen in Abyssinia in which there were pictures. The Prophet said: ‘Those people, when a righteous member of their community or a pious slave dies, they build a mosque over his grave and paint images thereon; they are for God wicked people.’ They combine two kinds of fitna: the fitna of graves and the fitna of images.” He then continues with another hadith: “When the messenger of Allah was close to death, he . . . said: ‘May Allah curse the Jews and Christians who make the graves of their prophets into places of worship; do not imitate them.’” From this hadith Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab derives the prohibition of building places of worship over graves, because that would mean glorification of their inhabitants, which would amount to an act of worship to other than Allah. 
  57. Zargar, Cameron (2014). The Hanbali and Wahhabi Schools of Thought As Observed Through the Case of Ziyārah. The Ohio State University. p. 3. 
  58. Ondrej, Beranek; Tupek, Pavel (July 2009). Naghmeh, Sohrabi, ed. (PDF). Crown Paper (Crown Center for Middle East Studies/Brandeis University). Brandeis University. Crown Center for Middle East Studies. p. 15. (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2018. Ibn Taymiyya criticizes hadiths encouraging visitation of the Prophet’s grave, pronouncing them all forgeries (mawdu‘) and lies (kidhb). According to him, most famous are ”He who performs the pilgrimage and does not visit me, has shunned me” and “Who visited my grave must ask me for intercession.” Ibn Taymiyya notes that although some of these hadiths are part of Daraqutni’s collection, they are not included in the main hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, and Nasa’i, nor are they part of the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal. He observes that with regard to visiting the Prophet’s grave, ulama rely only upon hadiths according to which the Prophet must be greeted (al-salam wa al-salat alayhi).56 As for the contents of hadiths encouraging visitation, they contradict the principle of tawhid al-uluhiya
  59. Rapoport, Yossef; Ahmed, Shahab (2010-01-01). . Oxford University Press. p. 290.  . 
  60. Rapoport, Yossef; Ahmed, Shahab (2010-01-01). . Oxford University Press. p. 292.  . 
  61. Rapoport, Yossef; Ahmed, Shahab (2010-01-01). . Oxford University Press. p. 293.  . 
  62. Bahá'í World Centre (2007). . Bahá'í World Centre. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  63. Bahá'í World Centre (2007). . Bahá'í World Centre. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  64. Bahá'í Community of Canada (2014). . Bahá'í Community of Canada. Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  65. . buddhamind.info
  66. (2007), translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology, p. 156. .  
  67. (2007), translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology, page 335. .  . and Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend, page 173. .  
  68. Huyler, Stephen P. (Author); Moore, Thomas (Forward (1999). . New Haven ,USA: Yale Univ. Press. pp. 42, 71–72,89.  . 
  69. Pintchman, Tracy (2007). . New York: Oxford University Press. p. 96.  . 
  70. . Artsopolis Network. Archived from on January 1, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 

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