Iran's Holiest Shrine Opens to Virtual Pilgrims

Visiting Iran's holiest Shi'ite Muslim Shrine is now just one click away thanks to a new Internet service for those who cannot visit in person.

Shi'ite Muslims all over the world can make a virtual pilgrimage to the tomb of Imam Reza in the northeastern city of Mashhad by connecting to

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"It is for those impatient Shi'ites who want to feel permanently connected to the eighth Imam," the supervisor of the shrine wrote on the site.

Shi'ite Muslims believe Imam Reza was the eighth successor to the prophet Mohammad who was allegedly poisoned in 817 while traveling through Mashhad, then a tiny village.

Mashhad has since grown into Iran's second biggest city, pulling in much of its income from about two million pilgrims who visit the shrine each year.

Some of Iran's most senior clerics already have Web sites, posting religious edicts on the Web.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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