John the Prophet

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Yaḥyā (son of Zachariah the Prophet)) is a Prophet of Islam also known as the Biblical figure John the Baptist. He is believed by Muslims to be a witness to the word of God, and a righteous prophet who would herald the coming of Jesus. His shrine located at the Umayyad Mosque, Damascus. The veneration of Yahya prevailed amongst some Muslim groups who were partly influenced by Byzantine Christian practices. This veneration, according to Muslim scholar Birūni, included a feast commemorating Yahya's beheading on the 29th of the Hebrew month of#### Av. A shrine existing through to modern times is the oratory of Yahya, located in the congregational mosque of Damascus. Some early reports mention that Umayyad caliph Walid I unearthed the head of Yahya and placed it in a pillar in Damascus, which had an architectural capital shaped like a basket of palm leaves. Other sources, such as the Iraqi scholar al-Harawī, mention that the head had been transferred to the city of Aleppo by Mu'izz al-Daula Thimal bin Salih of the Mirdasid dynasty in 1043. Historians Zayd b. al-Hasan al-Kindī and Ibn al-Adīm note that the head was then stored in the upper oratory of the Aleppo citadel within a basin made of marble. The head was later evacuated to the Aleppo congregational mosque due to invading Mongol forces who had burned down the Aleppo citadel and upper oratory. There, according to Ibn Shaddad, it was buried west of the pulpit, with another oratory built for it. It thus became another spot of veneration for Yahya, and a place where some Syrians believed extra blessings existed.

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