The rise of the Shahi-Zinda necropolis is connected with Kusam ibn Abbas, the Prophet’s cousin who had a strong resemblance with him. There has survived a quotation (habit), over a carved door of Shahi-Zinda: “Said the Prophet..: Al-Kusam  ibn al-Abbas, more than others resembles me in face and character”. Kusam ibn Abbas took part in the first Arab campaigns to Maverannahr. According to a legend, Kusam was mortally wounded at the Samarkand walls and hid underground where he continues to live. That gave the name for the necropolis – Shahi-Zinda – “alive king”. It is likely that the cult of “eternally living king” – the patron saint of Samarkand, has a more ancient pre-Islamic origin, subsumed about a thousand years ago under the worshiping of Kusam ibn Abbas. By the 10th-11th centuries Kusam was considered a martyr and gained the status of an Islamic saint. In the 12th-15th centuries there was constructed a complex of mausoleums and mosques along the path leading to his supposed grave.

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© Marakanda Expedition, 2017 .