Delhi Jame Mosque A Symbol of the Finest Mughal Architecture -Ahmad Ullah
It has been hundreds of years since the Mughal’s sun set in the heart of India. The once-mighty Mughals are no longer alive in India. The huge empires of the world-famous emperors Babar, Humayun, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb and Akbar have vanished in the evolution of time. However, despite the loss of the emperor, empire and power, the impression of the Mughals has not completely lost from India. The fame of the Mughals in every province of present-day India has survived for ages. The famous Red Fort, Delhi Jame Mosque, Humayun’s Tomb, Fatehpur Mosque and hundreds of other architectural styles have been proudly representing the glory of the lost Mughal Empire. Due to its history and remarkable architectural style, these installations attract tourists from all over the world.
If you take the name of the most important of these structures built in Delhi, the name of Delhi Jame Mosque will come first. It is one of the most important mosques not only in the Indian subcontinent but in the whole world. Masjid-i-Jahan Numa, better known as Delhi Jame Mosque, is located in the Old Delhi part of the Indian capital. The word Masjid-i-Jahan Numa means ‘the mosque that reflects the world’.The Delhi Jame Mosque has stood as a symbol of the Indian Muslims for centuries.
Apart from its religious significance, it is also one of the major attractions of Delhi tourism. It won’t happen that You will go to Delhi and miss visiting the Jame Mosque. The majestic mosque stands in the heart of densely populated Delhi, opposite the Red Fort next to Chandni Chowk. It is good to know that this red fort, a symbol of Indian sovereignty, was also built under the direction of Emperor Shah Jahan. The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, was built on the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb in imitation of the architectural style of the Delhi Jame Mosque.
Construction of the Mosque
Construction of the Delhi Jame Mosque began in 1844 at the behest of Emperor Shah Jahan in the then city of Shahjahanabad (now Old Delhi). The mosque was built after working day and night with the help of about 5,000 artisans. You will be surprised to know that it took 12 long years to build this mosque. Shahjahan’s Prime Minister Sadullah Khan was in charge of supervising the construction work. Wages were low in medieval India. Even then, the emperor had to spend a large sum of money on building this mosque.
This historic mosque was inaugurated on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr on July 23, 1857, by performing Eid prayers. For the inauguration ceremony, Emperor Shah Jahan invited a famous imam from the distant Uzbek city of Bukhara who graced the ceremony. The first Imam of the Mosque was Imam Abdul Gafoor. Later, his descendants of Abdul Gafoor were appointed as the Imam of the mosque. The current Imam of the mosque, Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, is also his descendant.
The architectural style of the Jama Masjid in Delhi was unique among the hundreds of structures built during the Mughal period. Like the Red Fort, the residence of Emperor Shah Jahan, the mosque was built of red sandstone and white marble. Built with a wonderful blend of Jain, Indian and Islamic architecture, this mosque seems to be the bearer of many cultures. The mosque area is about 261 feet long and 90 feet wide. Three aesthetic entrances have been built to enter the mosque. The structure of this mosque is visible from a long distance due to its construction on high ground. It has three marble domes, four towers and two minarets. About 25,000 people can perform prayers at the mosque’s wide prayer space. There is a special arrangement for Muslim women to offer prayers in the mosque premises.
The eastern entrance to the mosque is marked as the royal gate because Emperor Shah Jahan used to enter the mosque through this door. The mosque has two minarets with five floors and balconies. The average height of the minarets is about 130 feet. To get to the top of the minaret, you have to climb 130 steps. When you climb the minarets, you can enjoy the whole of Delhi at a glance. The floors of the mosque are made of black and white marble. The interior walls of the mosque are decorated with calligraphy, floral designs, Persian inscriptions, and traditional Muslim designs. Inside the mosque are preserved a red hair of Mubarak, a beard commemorating the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), footprints on marble stones and the Holy Qur’an inscribed on deerskin.
Jame Masjid in the history
The Jame Mosque is a witness to many important chapters of history from the Mughal period to the present. A madrasa was attached to the mosque before the ‘1857 Army Mutiny’. After the revolt, the British government confiscated the Jame Mosque. British troops were then deployed there. Sadly, the madrasa was then destroyed. The British government planned to demolish the mosque, but it was not carried out due to the protests of the Muslim community.
The repair and renovation work of the mosque started in the last century as the various structures of the Mughal period became dirty and eroded in the course of time. In 1947, the Nizam of Hyderabad was asked for a grant of about Rs. 75,000 for the renovation of one-fourth of the mosque. Later, the Nizam provided financial assistance of Rs 3 lakh for the renovation of the entire mosque.
In the grip of a terrorist attack
Just as the Delhi Jame Mosque has a glorious history, its walls also have the black claws of terrorists. In 2008, there were two horrific bomb attacks on the premises of the Delhi Jame Mosque. April 14 of that year was the first Friday after Eid Miladunnabi. That is why more than 1,000 worshipers came to the mosque that day to perform the Friday prayers. The first bomb exploded at the mosque premises at 5:28 pm. 6 minutes later, when the bomb exploded again, panic spread among the worshipers. Thirteen worshipers were injured in the incident. However, the structure of the mosque was not damaged.
In 2010, the Jame Mosque was attacked again. On September 19, two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a tourist bus. Two Taiwanese nationals were injured in the incident. However, even after these incidents, the importance of the Delhi Jame Mosque has not diminished. This mosque is still revered as a major tourist attraction.
Tourism in the mosque area
It has become one of the major tourist destinations in Delhi. Tourists who come to Delhi certainly visit this mosque at least once. Non-Muslims also flock here to witness the remarkable architecture. There are also small arrangements like picnics at specific places. The south minaret of the mosque is open to tourists on a fee basis. The mosque is illuminated in the evening after the Maghrib prayers. Many people come to the mosque to see this illumination.
Apart from the mosque, tourists also visit several installations within 2 km of its vicinity. Chandni Chowk Bazar, Lal Kella, Fatehpur Mosque, Gauri Shankar Mandir, Stephen’s Church, Gurudwara Shishganj Saheb and many other famous places are there visited by tourists. The famous India Gate is located just 6 km from the mosque.
The Delhi Jame Mosque is a very important religious site for Muslims not only in India but all over the world. Emperor Shah Jahan’s vision was to build this mosque as the heart of Muslims around the world. Worshipers from all over India still travel to Delhi to perform the two Eid congregations at the Jami Masjid premises. Its unique history and architecture have made it important to all, regardless of religion. The name of this mosque will be written in gold letters in the pages of history as a unique creation of Emperor Shah Jahan till eternity.