Great Mosque of Herat
|Jama Masjid of Herat|
|Architect(s)||Jalal al-Din Firuzshah|
|Groundbreaking||1404 (807 AH)|
|Completed||1446 (850 AH)|
|Materials||Lapis lazuli, Brick, Stone|
The Jama Masjid of Herat (مسجد جمعه هرات), also known as the Masjid-i Jami' of Herat, and the Great Mosque of Herat is a mosque in the city of Herat, in the Herat Province of north-western Afghanistan. It was built by Ghurids, the famous Sultan Ghayas-ud-Din Ghori, who laid its foundation in 1200 AD, and later extended by several rulers as Herat changed rulers down the centuries from the Timurids, to the Safavids, to the Mughals and the Uzbeks, all of whom supported the mosque. Though many of the glazed tiles have been replaced during subsequent periods, the Great Mosque in Herat was given its present form during the closing years of the fifteenth century.
Apart from numerous small neighborhood mosques for daily prayer, most communities in the Islamic world have a larger mosque, a congregational mosque for Friday services with a sermon. The Jama Masjid was not always the largest mosque in Herat; a much larger complex the Mosque and Madressa of Gawharshad, also built by the Timurids, was located in the northern part of the city. However, those architectural monuments were dynamited by officers of the British Indian Army in 1885, to prevent its use as a fortress if a Russian army tried to invade India.
The Masjid-i Jami of Herat, the city's first congregational mosque, was built on the site of two smaller Zorastrian fire temples that were destroyed by earthquake and fire. A mosque was begun by the Ghurid ruler Ghiyas ad-Din Ghori in 1200 (597 AH), and, after his death, the building was continued by his brother and successor Muhammad of Ghor. This is confirmed both by an inscription on the eastern Ghurid portal uncovered in 1964 during a restoration, and by the sixteenth century Timurid historian Khwandamir in his Khulasat al-Akhbar.
In 13421, Genghis Khan conquered the province, and along with much of Herat, the small building fell into ruin. It wasn't until after 1245, under Shams al-Din Kart that any rebuilding programs were undertaken, and construction on the mosque was not started until 1306. However a devastating earthquake in 1364 left the building almost completely destroyed, although some attempt was made to rebuild it. After 1397, the Timurid rulers redirected Herat's growth towards the northern part of the city. This suburbanization and the building of a new congregational mosque in Gawhar Shad's Musalla marked the end of the Masjid-i Jami's patronage by a monarchy. Replacement of the small ruined mosque was done by construction of an entirely new building with surrounding gardens, which was completed by Jalal al-Din Firuzshah, one of the most prominent emirs under Shah Rukh (1405–1444). The decorations alone took over five years to complete, as the emir brought in workers from all over the empire. The mosque was later given a final renovation under the Mughal Empire, when Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan) was fighting for control of the region against the Uzbek tribes.
19th and 20th Centuries
Little of the medieval Mosque remains, after the Anglo-Afghan wars much of the mosque was left destroyed. A program launched in 1945 rebuilt walls and rooms, expanded the northeastern section of the mosque from a length of approximately 101 meters to 121 meters and replaced expensive materials from all over the medieval Timurid and Mughal Empires with locally available cheap materials. Overall, the mosque's multiple reconstructions and restoration programs have left little to authenticate as original. However the inscribed Ghorid portal remains, south of the existing main entrance to the mosque.
In 2012, some fifty Afghan traders promised funds for the renovation of the mosque.
The Great Mosque is laid out in the traditional rectangular iwan pattern, with three walls and a huge central courtyard. Some of the original decoration remains in the center section, but much has been replaced.
- "Great Mosque of Herat". Archnet.org. 19 August 2005. Archived from the original on 3 October 2012.
- Jamal, Nadia Eboo (2002). Surviving the Mongols: Nizārī Quhistānī and the Continuity of Ismaili Tradition in Persia. London: Tauris. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-86064-876-2.
- "City of Herat". World Heritage Centre, UNESCO.
- "Historical Herat Mosque Built over Ancient Zoroastrian Temples Being Renovated". The Gazette of Central Asia (Satrapia). 16 November 2012.
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