Although you may think that after the Iraqi-Iran war of the 80s there would be some hatred towards the Iranians and there indeed maybe but I believe that money has conquered that thing since you see that most of the shrines in Iraq are being renovated, expanded, remodeled, reconstructed or just being maintained with Iranian money. You can’t deny that influence of the Iranians is everywhere in Iraq.
My mornings use to start with going to the shrine of Imam Ali (A.S.) praying there and then come back since we always had a heavy schedule for the day. The first day after arriving in Najaf, the whole group went to the Shrine Imam Ali and prayed there and held a congregation to remember his greatness. You see he was killed by one of his enemies while praying in one of the mosques (Masjid Kufa) and brought to his current burial site to be laid to rest. After the congregation, the whole group for the first time paid our respects inside the shrine where as usual we had to ask for permission to enter his house. People were there crying and praying. It was really very incredible that the things you read in the books, I was witnessing first hand in front of me. I seemed to very blessed to be there which makes it really hard to leave once you have to for your home since you feel that is the place which is also like a home to you. We had a heavy schedule ahead of us while our stay in Najaf.
Anyway one of days we went to see Grand Ayatollah As-Sistani, the same religious figure whom the Americans courted during the initial stages of the Iraqi war since he has great influence over the majority of the Iraqi Shiites. I don’t know if it was his office or his house but it was small sandwiched between other old houses near the holy shrine.To reach him, you have to go through at least five check points in a space of one thousand feet. His security is very tight. His office has no chair or sofa or table to boost and you have sit on the floor, when he came in, he just sat in front of us and started replying to some of the questions people in our group had about certain religious matters. He was very humble enough to give detailed answers to each of the questions. Since our appointment time with him was only for one hour, we had to rush since other people/group was in line to meet him too. Before going out of his house/office, he offered every guest or person in our group a small ring as a token of gift. Meeting him was so much amazing since here you see a person who is one of the most powerful figures in not only Iraq but also of the Shiite Muslims world and he is so humble in his living and dress that you start to think about how other public figures live to the extreme in large houses and palaces and still can’t sleep well at night thinking about how would they survive the next day in a democracy or dictatorship.