Bohra Mosque: City’s new religious landmark
The Hitavada, 01 Feb 2017
Splendour is rarely bought with money. It is created with veritable vision. It stems from certain consciousness of grace and greatness.
Stand outside the newly created Bohra Mosque and you realise what all this means. No doubt, the Bohra community has invested some money in this brand new creation, but the muted splendour that the mosque reveals has not come from all that money. It has come from a collective devotion of a community that is determined to make the new mosque ready for the arrival of its religious head Syedna Aali Qadar Mufaddal Saifuddin Saheb who is slated to arrive here in the next four days.
The new mosque, standing on the western edge of the Sadar ridge is, stands testimony to the massive effort of the community to create a place of worship that would be at once both, full of splendour and full of awareness that it must communicate Allah’s message in the most simple manner: Oh my dear followers who have faith in me, bend down, bow to the earth, and pray to me; I shall listen to your prayers.
Arabic words to this effect written in Kufi font inscribed on top of the niche in the mosque’s western wall from where the priest delivers his message from Allah attract attention - with their golden brilliance and simple elegance.
The niche, with its edges lined with delicate marble carvings, acts as a focal point of the Fathemi architecture that highlights the Islamic devotional tradition with such authenticity.
The main hall, the actual mosque, that can host more than five hundred devotees at a time, has one hundred names of Allah inscribed in golden letters along the lower rim of the gallery on the first of the two floors that overlook the prayer hall. The height of this structure over the main prayer hall is a grand forty feet. On these two floors above the prayer hall would stand women devotees at the time of prayer. On all the four walls of the mosque are inscribed words ‘Ya Husain’, the martyr of Karbala, in Arabic, in circular frames.
What the visitor notices first is the meticulousness with which each detail has been approached while constructing the grand mosque that is being readied for the very first visit of Dai (head), Syedna Aali Qadar Mufaddal Saifuddin, the 73-year-old religious head who presides over a global empire of his followers numbering in countless lakhs.
The Bohra community, known for its matchless devotion to its Dai, famous for its generally high levels of education and cultural finesse, well accepted in the larger society due to its successful commerce, is also loved by other communities for its amiable ways of collectivism.
In Nagpur, it already has two mosques, one at Itwari and the other at Shanti Nagar. This one at Sadar is the third place of worship which has been constructed with a fine mix of great elegance and almost shocking simplicity.
A flight of 20 stairs leads to the eastern foyer which takes one into sehan, the first hall that can house a few hundred devotees at a time. Next to it is the main mosque that will be used for the first time when Syedna Aali Qadar Mufaddal Saifuddin Saheb arrives for a visit to the city and would stay for a little over 10 days.
To make the stay of His Holiness and his family comfortable, the devotees have constructed a residence. Whenever Syedna Saheb comes to the city, he and his family would occupy these quarters for whatever length of stay.
What none can miss noticing is the meticulousness and finesse with which the entire edifice has been raised, in tune with traditional style, known popularly as Fathemi architecture, after the name of the daughter of Prophet Mohammed.
Once inside the structure, the visitor never misses the coolness and calmness that pervade the place. No matter his own religious faith, the first psychological traction the visitor feels is the desire to linger there for a little more time, a mark of spiritual impact of architecture on human mind.
Without doubt, the new Bohra Mosque is slated to be a great landmark of the city of Nagpur. Even as the new mosque’s muted splendour attracts attention, it also reminds the devotees and others that Allah’s message is the treasure of the whole mankind, no matter the religious compartments that might define multiple faiths.