"This introductory book does not assume any prior knowledge of Islam, Shi'ism, Iraq or Najaf, and it deals with some issues that have not been of great interest to Iraqi scholars, such as urbanism and architecture. The book also addresses some unfounded assumptions and negative images related to our topics of discussion, some of which may have reached the lay reader through newspapers or websites of questionable reliability. It follows then that this book has a twofold mission to lay a common foundation for understanding the basic historical and religious concepts about the city and culture of Najaf and to present in a clear and straightforward manner the singularity, beauty and charisma of the city.
Methodologically, the book adopts a multidisciplinary approach, which addresses its complex case study from the viewpoints of history, demography, architectural history, anthropology and of course photography. It begins by introducing Najaf's topography, history and urban character, before proceeding to expand on its religious architecture, the rites and rituals of its visitation, its penchant for the pursuit of knowledge, and the rites and rituals of burial at the Wadi al-Salam cemetery."