Jama Masjid of Herat Afghanistan


The Jama Masjid of Herat (مسجد جمعه هرات), also known as the Masjid-i Jami' of Herat, and the Great Mosque of Herat[1] is a mosque in th...

The Jama Masjid of Herat (مسجد جمعه هرات), also known as the Masjid-i Jami' of Herat, and the Great Mosque of Herat[1] 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.
Over 800 hundred years old, Herat’s Friday Mosque is Afghanistan’s finest Islamic building, and one of the greatest in Central Asia. A master class in the art of tile mosaic, its bright colours and intricate detailing are an exuberant hymn in praise of Allah. Most visitors enter the mosque via the park on its eastern side, which leads up to a huge and richly tiled façade. The entrance corridors are to either side of this, but they are frequently locked outside the main prayer hours, forcing visitors to gain access to the mosque proper via the small street entrance on its northern wall. This is actually a more atmospheric choice, as the cool dark of the entrance corridor suddenly gives way to a bright sunburst of colour as you enter the main courtyard. Don’t forget to remove your shoes at this point. The mosque is laid out in a classical plan of four iwans (barrel-vaulted halls) with arcaded walls around a central courtyard nearly 100m long. 
Two huge minarets flank the main iwan. Almost every square centre is covered in breathtaking mosaic, surrounded by blue bands of Quranic script. Only the simple whitewash of the iwans adds a note of modesty. The minarets, with their repeated bands of stylised flowers, arabesques and geometric patterns are simply dizzying. The mosque was originally laid out by the Ghorid Sultan Ghiyasuddin in 1200. Originally it would have had quite a different appearance, as the Ghorids preferred plain brick and stucco decoration. The Timurids restored the mosque in the 15th century and introduced the bright mosaic, but by the early 20th century so much of this had been lost that visitors remarked on the mosque’s dullness. The lavish tiling that now covers the mosque is the product of the mosque’s tile workshop, an ongoing restoration project since the 1940s. While many of the mosaics are based on Timurid originals, the workshop has also introduced its own designs, colours and calligraphy. This traditional-meets-modern approach has led to the creation one of the gems of contemporary Islamic abstract expressionism. The workshop is in a courtyard to the left of the main portal entrance in the garden – ask to visit it at the small office of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, just inside. 
The courtyard also contains one of the few remnants of the original Ghorid decoration, overlaid with Timurid tiling – a demonstration of the continuum of artistic styles that the mosque has witnessed. The craftsmen are normally happy to show off their work, from glazing the raw tiles to laying out the intricate mosaics. It’s normally not a problem to take photos in the mosque, but this should be avoided during prayer times. Early morning is the best time to catch the light on the tiles. Donations for the mosque’s upkeep can be placed in the ceremonial bronze cauldron in the eastern arcade. Cast in the 13th century, it would have originally been filled with sweet drinks for worshippers on religious holidays.

Jama Masjid of Herat, Afghanistan again in light of History

The Jamia Masjid of Herat is located in the North Western province of Afghanistan in the town of Herat and it is known by many names. Some people call it Great Mosque of Herat; some call it by Masjid-i-Jami of Herat. The construction of this mosque began in 1200 AD during the rule of Ghayas-ud-din Ghori, but as the time passed and the rulers changed, the mosque was expanded and the structure was updated to cope with the change in design and other facilities were added. All the upcoming rulers gave importance to this historic mosque and kept its maintenance up to date. Although many changes have been made during the succeeding periods of rulers, the present shape of the mosque was intact since 15th century. This mosque was built in place of two smaller mosques which were destroyed during the earthquake and fire. The design of the mosque was drawn up by Jalal-ud-din Firuzshah
In every town of each country there are small mosques in the residential areas of the town for people to offer daily five time prayers. In fact, the Friday congregation is mainly held in a central mosque where Friday sermons are also a part of Friday prayers. In the beginning this mosque of Herat was not the biggest mosque in town. Another mosque built by Gowharshad which was much bigger than this and situated in the northern part of the city with a Madrasa. This mosque complex was brought to ground by the British forces in order to facilitate and pave way for the Russians to capture India, if they ever desired.
The mosque is considered to be the first mosque in the town of Herat where Friday congregation was held. This construction of the mosque started in 1404 A D, which means 807 A H, and was finished in 1446 A D which fell in 850 A H.  Luckily the construction of the mosque continued even after the expiring of Ghiyas-ud-din Ghori, by his successor, who was his brother.
The mosque has been designed in a rectangular fashion with a big verandah in the middle. A few unique ornamentations are still there, but many of them have been removed and new decorations, which would certainly be inferior in quality, have been put in their place.



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Jama Masjid: Jama Masjid of Herat Afghanistan
Jama Masjid of Herat Afghanistan
Jama Masjid
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