Afghanistan's 'miracle' cemetery

Hundreds visit the site to pray for a better life or for recovery from an illness.


    The graveyard on the edge of Kandahar is popularly referred to as the 'Arab cemetery' and has become a pilgrimage site for many

    At a small cemetery in Kandahar city, 480km south of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, two young children approach a gravesite.

    They immediately head to the bowls of salt placed next to a mass grave. They pick up some grains of salt, place them in a bag and leave.


    Kandahar's 'miracle' cemetery

    They say they were sent by their parents to bring some of the salt home in the belief that it will help cure their young son.
    According to local beliefs, the only hope for those who are sick and disabled is to eat this salt.
    Nematullah, a resident of Kandahar who was praying nearby told us that after placing the salt on his leg wound, he got better.

    "No doctor was able to help me. And I am not the only one. I saw a man who couldn't walk but after spending a few days here and eating the salt … he is now able to walk and work."
    Pilgrimage site

    This graveyard on the edge of Kandahar is popularly referred to as the 'Arab cemetery' and has become a pilgrimage site for many.

    Some 97 Arab and foreign fighters along with their family members are buried here following the fiercest battles fought during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

    The fighters had fought alongside the Taliban and are thought to be members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network but for the people here these men are martyrs
    Ali Ahmed, another resident of Kandahar told Al Jazeera: "These Arabs came here to fight non-Muslims. They came for Jihad even before the Taliban took power. We believe in them and those who come to pay their respects here believe in the Taliban."

    Afghans from all provinces and many Pakistanis visit the gravesite
    Al Jazeera were at the gravesite for about two hours and we saw over a hundred people come to pray.
    All of them believe these dead fighters have special powers. Afghans come from all provinces across the country and many Pakistanis come from border areas. It is not just to get cured but to pay tribute to a previous era.
    That is what Sher Mohammed - who has religiously been coming here for six years - told us.

    "These Taliban are true Muslims and the Arab fighters who came from Saudi Arabia to fight against the Americans are also true Muslims. They used to live among us … they were good people. Whoever is killed by an American bullet or bomb is a martyr," Sher Mohammed said.


    Everyone here has a different story to tell. They come to pray for a better life or for recovery from an illness. They all speak of miracles.
    A few women who refused to give us their names told us the dead fighters have the ability to heal because they are martyrs. Some people who were blind can now see, they say, and women who were unable to give birth are now bearing children.
    Some may question the truth to the tales told here but for these people there is no doubt
    It has been more than six years since the Taliban and foreign fighters were driven from here. But it seems time has done little to bury the past.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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