The Esa and Musa shrine in the Kurdistan Region
The Barzinja religious, historical, and archaeological site was first built 800 years ago. Locally known as the shrine of Sheikh Esa and Musa, it is located in the Barzinja district 100 kilometers north of Sulaimani city.
Thousands of tourists, locals and foreigners alike, visit the shrine each year.
“The shrine has history, and it has a story to tell,” said Kazim Al-Ubedi, a tourist from Baghdad. “Sheikh Musa and Sheikh Esa were both highly spiritual people. Once, they camped in the Barzinja area to rest during their long journey. In their dream, the Prophet Mohammed asked them to stay in the area and build a mosque. And that is what they did.”
There is also a black stone in the Barzinja shrine. After examining it several times, lab results showed that it was brought from Saudi Arabia.
“This shrine is holy for several reasons,” explained Sayed Mohammed Mihyadeen, a local from the Barzinja district. “Firstly, so many spiritual people have been buried in the shrine, such as Sheikh Musa, Sheikh Esa, Sheikh Ghareeb, Sayed Hassan, Sheikh Jaf, and many others. Secondly, there is the black stone originating from Saudi Arabia. And thirdly, this place is the source of all Sayyids in all Kurdistan. The roots of Barzinji Sayyids go back to this place.”
Barzinja district was severely devastated by the previous Iraqi regime when Saddam Hussein’s forces destroyed more than 4,000 villages in Kurdistan. The shrine was also affected. However, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) later restored and renovated it in 2000.
“Besides religion and history, this is an important archaeological site too,” said Nazaneen Kareem, a local archaeologist. “It is old, and it has very old tombs, and some of the wooden materials are still intact even though it was built 800 years ago.”