Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque: Delhi’s Historic Monument Where Silence Reigns Supreme

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The mosque near iconic Qutb Minar remains unused for prayers amidst escalating tensions over its architectural heritage.

Mohammad Alamullah | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – In the bustling heart of Delhi lies a silent witness to centuries of history – the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. Revered as North India’s first mosque, its ancient walls echo tales of conquests and cultural fusion. However, behind its tranquil facade lies a simmering controversy, with Hindu extremist groups clamouring for its demolition.

Nestled adjacent to the iconic Qutb Minar, the mosque’s dilapidated state belies its former grandeur. Visitors, mostly tourists, traverse its hallowed grounds, oblivious to the echoes of the prayers that once reverberated within its walls. Despite its historical significance, the mosque has not hosted congregational prayers for years, shrouding its solemn halls in eerie silence.

Qaiser Khan, a retired guide from the Department of Archaeology, lamented the neglect of this architectural marvel. “This mosque has been in desolation for years, bereft of worshippers and left to crumble under the weight of time,” he remarked, his voice tinged with nostalgia for a bygone era.

Historical accounts trace the mosque’s origins to the reign of Qutbuddin Aibak, the founder of the Ghulam dynasty, who commissioned its construction in 1193. Over the centuries, the mosque underwent several phases of expansion, its sprawling courtyards and intricate carvings bearing testimony to a rich tapestry of cultural influences.

However, amidst its historical splendour lies a contentious debate over its architectural provenance. Hindu extremist groups allege that the mosque stands on the ruins of ancient temples, calling for its demolition to reclaim what they perceive as sacred ground. A petition filed in court last year seeking its demolition underscores the polarising nature of the issue.

Qaiser Khan rebuffs such claims, asserting, “There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that the mosque was built upon the ruins of temples. The presence of Hindu architectural elements alongside Islamic motifs is symbolic of cultural assimilation, not religious conquest.”

Maulana Ata-ul-Haq Qasmi, an authority on Delhi’s historical mosques, sheds light on the mosque’s evolution over the centuries. “From the patronage of Qutbuddin Aibak to the architectural embellishments during Altamish’s reign, the mosque has evolved, reflecting the ebb and flow of dynastic power,” he explains, his scholarly demeanor underscoring the mosque’s significance as a testament to India’s diverse cultural heritage.

Despite its historical significance, the mosque’s fate hangs precariously in the balance, caught between competing narratives of history and identity. The inscription outside boldly proclaims its name, “Masjid Quwwat-ul-Islam,” yet within its hallowed precincts, silence reigns supreme, punctuated only by the footsteps of curious onlookers.

Amid this contentious debate, one thing remains unchanged – the steady stream of tourists flocking to witness the architectural marvel. Their presence, though a boon for local tourism, serves as a poignant reminder of the mosque’s untapped potential as a site of spiritual reverence and historical introspection.

For now, the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque stands as a silent sentinel, bearing witness to the ebb and flow of history, its fate uncertain amidst the swirling currents of religious fervour and cultural heritage. As the debate rages on, one question looms large – will the echoes of prayers once again resonate within its ancient halls, or will it remain forever consigned to the annals of history, a relic of a bygone era?

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