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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jama Masjid - Delhi


Our visit to the Jama Masjid was one of the most memorable experiences on this trip. 
Let me give you a tour. 
But first a little historical background on the Jama Masjid.

According to Wikipedia:
"The Masjid-i Jahān-Numā , the 'World-reflecting Mosque, commonly known as the Jama Masjid  is the principal mosque of Old Delhi in India
Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, in the year 1650 CE and completed in the year 1656 AD, it is the largest and best-known mosque in India. It lies at the origin of a very busy central street of Old Delhi, the Chawri Bazar Road.
The later name, Jama Masjid, is a reference to the weekly Friday noon congregation prayers of Muslims, Jummah, which are usually done at a mosque, the "congregational mosque" or "jāmi' masjid". The courtyard of the mosque can hold up to twenty-five thousand worshippers. The mosque also houses several relics in a closet in the north gate, including an antique copy of the Qur'an written on deer skin."

We drove down this narrow market street and were dropped off in front as our driver went to go park the van with the rest of the tourist's vans. 
It was about 11:45 am.
We were given 15 minutes to go visit the masjid. 
We took an hour.
There was no tour guide to explain the history and beauty of this mosque since this was an actual house of worship.
One has to simply walk through the front gates to experience the enormity yet simplicity of this historic mosque
This is the view of the streets from the front steps of the masjid.

Looking up the front steps of the masjid.

Everyone has to remove their shoes before entering the masjid.
There is a special shoe service available for a nominal charge.
We walked through the arched gate which opened up into a large courtyard.
The main prayer hall is to the right.
In front of the prayer hall is a small arched podium of sorts where the Imam stands daily to call the congregation to prayer.
There is a large, shallow pool of water in the center of the courtyard that is used by the male members to cleanse themselves before praying. More on this ritual in a bit.
There are a few more large, arched gates that lead in different directions.
There is a separate area for the women to recite their prayers. 

All women have to cover themselves up with this makeshift cotton robe unless they're wearing a "Burkha" or a loose fitting, long dress or skirt.
My sis in law was wearing jeans and was asked to "cover up".
This was no different than women being asked to cover their bare shoulders at Vatican City, Rome.
 Karim and Zayn pose for me.
Notice they're not wearing any shoes.
The floor made of stone was cold.

Another view of the Masjid.


A view of the dome flocked with pigeons.





What a sight!
Worshipers wait for the Friday noon prayers to begin shortly;
 Tourists take pictures while they still can since no cameras will be allowed once prayers begin;
Children playing with their friends;
Flocks of birds circling overhead.
The energy here is pure and peaceful.
Although it was close to noon, it was cool and pleasant.



One of the side gates of the Masjid.


Groups of children hang around the masjid everyday.
These are either street kids or children whose parents are offering prayers.


I find it so interesting that children are always so happy to pose for a picture they'll never see.
A young girl playing hopscotch while she waits for her mother to complete her prayers.

This is the main prayer hall and the white arched entrance in the front is where the Imam stands to call the congregation to prayer.
This call to prayer is called "Adhaan"

Architecture details I find oh so beautiful!

More Islamic architecture details with the arches, the columns and the domes.

Notice the loud speakers attached to the top of this dome. This magnifies the adhaan to all the neighboring areas.

A worshipper performs  "Vazu" where he follows a ritual of washing his arms, his feet, between fingers and toes. behind his ears and nose and his mouth.
The idea is that one has been taking care of his worldly responsibilities during the day and is physically dirty. Performing "Vazu" cleanses the worshiper and puts him in a state to receive the grace of Allah.

Notice the little ridge that runs between the outer edge and the pool of water.
This is so that the dirty water does not contaminate the pool of clean water and instead is taken away to the sewer.








The Imam stood as he waited for everyone to gather for the afternoon prayers.
He then walked inside and recited the Azaan over the microphone for all to hear.
As a Muslim, the sound of the Adhaan is always the most beautiful, soul stirring sound in the entire universe.
 I covered my head with my shawl, closed my eyes and stood still with my feel planted firmly on the ground, as I experienced the Shahada being recited as part of the Adhaan.
I was moved to tears and was left speechless for some time after it was over.

Here is a link to a video recording of the Adhaan being recited at the Jama Masjid.
I did not record this.
I would humbly suggest you listen to this with the volume turned up and your eyes closed.
Either click on the link below or copy and paste it in your search engine.

http:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIUlE_Xa-n0


My son Aly just sat down and absorbed the beauty and grace of the Adhaan.

After the Adhaan, the men walked in the main prayer hall to recite their individual Namaaz (prayers).
I was told that I could not enter since it was for men only.



Arabic inscriptions of Quranic Ayats (verses from the Quran). (I think since I don't read Arabic).

People performing their prayers on mats that have been laid out.







Beautiful Islamic motif in Arabic with Quranic Ayats (I think).

Walking through the high arched doors.



More Islamic motifs etched into the recesses of the wall.

Stunning!!!


This door is HUGE!!! Notice the smaller door within the door which is used when the larger doors are closed.

The side entrance of the Masjid leading to yet another busy neighboring street.

Street vendors sell everything from shoes, clothes, prayer mats, beads etc

Vendors selling food on the side of the streets.

Walking back in through the side gate which faces the main prayer hall.

My brother Karim and sis in law, Zeenat pose on the steps as we leave.

Another street kid ran next to our van in the middle of the very busy street, arm stretched out hoping for some alms.
He followed us for half a block while we hurried to find change in our purses.
Sadly, this is too common of a sight in India no matter where you go.


As we drove through the busy streets in front of Jama Masjid, we saw more street side vendors selling clothes etc.



Next stop, Humayun's Tomb, Delhi.

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,
Anita

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