Monthly Archives: May 2016

Savarkar justified the idea of rape as a political tool

Reading Savarkar: How a Hindutva icon justified the idea of rape as a political tool

The controversial figure castigated Maratha ruler Shivaji for sending back the daughter-in-law of the Muslim governor of Kalyan, whom he defeated.

Decades before the sexual assault of women during the 2002 Gujarat and 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, Hindutva propounder Veer Savarkar justified rape as a legitimate political tool. This he did by reconfiguring the idea of “Hindu virtue” in his book Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, which he wrote in Marathi a few years before his death in 1966.

Six Glorious Epochs provides an account of Hindu resistance to invasions of India from the earliest times. It is based on historical records (many of them dubious), exaggerated accounts of foreign travellers, and the writings of colonial historians. Savarkar’s own febrile and frightening imagination reworks these diverse sources into a tome remarkable for its anger and hatred.

Savarkar’s account of Hindu resistance is also a history of virtues. He identified the virtues that proved detrimental to India and led to its conquest. He expounded his philosophy of morality in Chapter VIII,Perverted Conception of Virtues, in which he rejected the idea of absolute or unqualified virtue.

“In fact virtues and vices are only relative terms,” he said.

Virtues or vice?

Savarkar added that the test of determining what is virtue or vice is to examine whether it serves the interests of society, specifically Hindu society. This is because circumstances change, societies are always in a flux. What was deemed virtuous in the past could become a vice in the present if it is detrimental to mankind, he said.

For instance, said Savarkar, the caste system with its elaborate rules of purity and pollution helped stabilise Hindu society. But some of these rules became dysfunctional, degenerating into “seven fetters” of Hindu society.

These shackles, according to Savarkar, were untouchability, bans on drinking water from members of other castes, inter-caste dining, inter-caste marriage, sea-voyage, the ban on taking back into the Hindu fold those who were forcibly converted to Islam or Christianity, and ostracism of those who defied these prohibitions.

These “seven fetters” proved advantageous to the Muslim conquerors, wrote Savarkar, because they exploited caste rules to increase their population.

The conquerors forcibly converted Hindus who had been defeated, provided them with food and water, abducted women who were either kept as concubines or wives, certain that the ban on taking them back into the Hindu fold left them with no option but to live as Muslim, the Hindutva propounder wrote. This meant the “transformation of a man into a demon, the metamorphosis of a God into a Satan”.

Rape as a political tool

It is in this paradigm of ethics that Savarkar mooted the idea of rape as a political tool. He articulated it as a wish, through a question: What if Hindu kings, who occasionally defeated their Muslim counterparts, had also raped their women?

He expressed this wish after declaring, “It was a religious duty of every Muslim to kidnap and force into their religion, non-Muslim women.” He added that this fanaticism was not “Muslim madness”, for it had a distinct design – to increase the “Muslim population with special regard to unavoidable laws of nature.” It is the same law, which the animal world instinctively obeys.

Sarvarkar wrote:

“If in the cattle-herds the number of oxen grows in excess of the cows, the herds do not grow numerically in a rapid number. But on the other hand, the number of animals in the herds, with the excess of cows over the oxen, grows in mathematical progression.”

He cites examples from the human world too. For instance, he wrote, the African “wild tribes” kill only their male enemies, but not their women, who are distributed among the victors. This is because these tribes consider it their duty to increase their numbers through the progeny of abducted women. Similarly, he wrote that a Naga tribe in India kills women of rival tribes whom they can’t capture because they believe, rightly so, that paucity of women would enhance the possibility of their enemies dwindling in number.

Savarkar said that the Muslim conquerors of Africa too followed this tradition. Immediately thereafter, he spoke of the well-wishers of Ravana who advised him to return to Rama his wife, Sita, whom he had abducted. They said it was highly irreligious to have kidnapped Sita. Savarkar quotes Ravana saying, “What? To abduct and rape the womenfolk of the enemy, do you call it irreligious? It is Parodharmah, the greatest duty!”

It is with the “shameless religious fanaticism” of Ravana that the Muslims, from the Sultan to the soldier, abducted Hindu women, even the married ladies of Hindu royal families and notables, wrote Savarkar, adding that this was to increase the population of Muslims, to demographically conquer India, so to speak.

Savarkar is venomously critical of Muslim women who, “whether Begum or beggar”, never protested against the “atrocities committed by their male compatriots; on the contrary they encouraged them to do so and honoured them for it”.

Savarkar, even by his own standards, takes a huge leap by claiming that Muslim women living even in Hindu kingdoms enticed Hindu girls, “locked them up in their own houses, and conveyed them to Muslims centres in Masjids and Mosques”.

Muslim women were emboldened to perpetrate such atrocities because they did not fear retribution from Hindu men who, argued Savarkar, “had a perverted idea of women-chivalry”. Even when they vanquished their Muslim rivals, they punished the men among them, not their women, he said.

“Only Muslim men alone, if at all, suffered the consequential indignities but the Muslim women – never!” wrote Savarkar.

When Shivaji was wrong

This regret prompts him not to spare those who commend Shivaji for sending back the daughter-in-law of the Muslim governor of Kalyan, whom he defeated, as well as Peshwa Chimaji Appa (1707-1740), who did the same with the Portuguese wife of the governor of Bassein.

Savarkar wrote:

“But is it not strange that, when they did so, neither Shivaji Maharaj nor Chimaji Appa should ever remember, the atrocities and the rapes and the molestation, perpetrated by Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, Allauddin Khalji and others, on thousands of Hindu ladies and girls…”

Savarkar’s febrile imagination now flies on the wings of rhetoric. He writes:

“The souls of those millions of aggrieved women might have perhaps said ‘Do not forget, O Your Majesty Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and O! Your Excellency Chimaji Appa, the unutterable atrocities and oppression and outrage committed on us by the sultans and Muslim noblemen and thousands of others, big and small.

“Let these sultans and their peers take a pledge that in the event of a Hindu victory our molestation and detestable lot shall be avenged on the Muslim women. Once they are haunted with this dreadful apprehension that the Muslim women too, stand in the same predicament in case the Hindus win, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women [emphasis added].”

Their chivalry was perverted, said Savarkar, because it proved highly detrimental to Hindu society. This chivalry was “suicidal” because it “saved the Muslim women (simply because they were women) from the heavy punishment of committing indescribable serious crimes against Hindu women”, Savarkar laments.

Even worse, he said, was the foolish notion among the Hindus that to have “any sort of relations with a Muslim woman meant their own conversion to Islam”. This belief became an impediment to Hindu men inflicting punishment on the “Muslim feminine class [fair (?) sex]” for their atrocities [words in parenthesis Savarkar’s].

Savarkar’s readers cannot but see that he has overturned the code of ethics and freed the Hindus from the shackles that prevent them from descending into barbarism. But Savarkar doesn’t seem convinced of his persuasive powers.

So under a subsection titled, But If, he seeks to hammer in his point. He asks readers:

“Suppose if from the earliest Muslim invasions of India, the Hindus also, whenever they were victors on the battlefields, had decided to pay the Muslim fair sex in the same coin or punished them in some other ways, i.e., by conversion even with force, and then absorbed them in their fold, then? Then with this horrible apprehension at their heart they would have desisted from their evil designs against any Hindu lady.” 

He adds:

“If they had taken such a fright in the first two or three centuries, millions and millions of luckless Hindu ladies would have been saved all their indignities, loss of their own religion, rapes, ravages and other unimaginable persecutions.”

Thus, the use of rape as a political tool stands justified.

But why should Savarkar’s idea of rape as a political tool apply today, given that Six Glorious Epochs deal with India’s past?

This is because Savarkar very explicitly stated that a change of religion implies a change of nationality. It was Savarkar, not Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who first categorised Hindus and Muslims as two nations. From the Hindutva perspective, the two nations – Hindu and Muslim – have been locked in a continuous conflict for supremacy since the 11th century.

In the Savarkarite worldview, only those ethical codes should be adhered to which enable the Hindus to establish their supremacy over the Muslims. Thus, he reasoned, it is justified to rape Muslim women in riots because it is revenge for the barbarity of Muslims in the medieval times, whether proven or otherwise. After all, today’s riots are a manifestation of the historical conflict.

This is why BJP leaders clamour to celebrate the heroes of what they call Hindu resistance. The most recent example of this trend is Union Minister VK Singh, who wants Delhi’s Akbar Road to be renamed after Maharana Pratap. It is from Savarkar they have got their cue.

Later in Six Glorious Epochs, Savarkar adopted a distinct Nietzschean tone to cry out: “O thou Hindu society! Of all the sins and weaknesses, which have brought about thy fall, the greatest and most potent are thy virtues themselves.”

These virtues were cast aside in Gujarat in 2002 and Muzaffarnagar in 2013. That is something to remember as some people come out to pay homage to Savarkar who was born on this day 133 years ago.

This is the second article in a two-part series on VD Savarkar. The first part can her read here.

Read Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History here.

Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist in Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, has as its backdrop the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It is available in bookstores.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.

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Was Veer Savarkar really all that brave?

History revisited: Was Veer Savarkar really all that brave?

Savarkar was chargesheeted in the assassination of Gandhi but exonerated, largely because no corroborative evidence of his involvement was furnished.

On May 28, India will commemorate the 133rd birth anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who was born on this day in 1883. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders will recall his valour, because of which he has been given the honorific, Veer.

But, really how veer, or brave, was Veer Savarkar?

Savarkar died in 1966. During his 83 years, he was involved in the political murder of three British officials. From the nationalist perspective, these murders have been cited as examples of Savarkar’s revolutionary zeal to violently uproot British rule, unmindful of the consequences.

Savarkar was also chargesheeted in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was subsequently exonerated, largely because no corroborative evidence of his involvement was furnished. It has helped perpetuate the myth of Savarkar the brave.

But this myth has been shattered because of the new evidence gathered over the years. He manipulated his followers to assassinate British officials, yet took care to conceal his links to the crimes he conceived. He did not hesitate to betray his acolytes, as he did Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Gandhi.

His famed fortitude was rarely on display during his years of imprisonment in the Andamans. He tendered craven apologies to the British, willing to bargain for his own freedom, not the country’s.

Political Murder No. 1

On July 1, 1909, Madanlal Dhingra shot dead Sir William Curzon Wyllie, political aide-de-camp at the India Office, London. Earlier, Dhingra had planned to assassinate former Viceroy Lord Curzon and former governor of Bengal, Bramfield Fuller, at a function they were to attend. But Dhingra was woefully late for the meeting, by which time Curzon and Fuller had left the venue.

Dhingra was arrested, tried and hanged for killing Wyllie. The British suspected Savarkar’s involvement, but had no concrete evidence against him. The evidence surfaced months after Savarkar died in 1966, courtesy Savarkar’s biographer.

Following Savarkar’s death, Dhananjay Keer reissued his 1950 publication,Savarkar and His Times, as Veer Savarkar. Keer wrote that the new edition contained a “plethora of new material”, which was made available to him by Savarkar himself.

In the 1966 edition, Keer said that Savarkar gave Dhingra a nickel-plated revolver on the morning of Wyllie’s assassination and told him, “Don’t show me your face if you fail this time.” Keer also confided in Robert Payne, author of Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi, that Savarkar had trained Dhingra for months, and often mocked him for having missed the opportunity to assassinate Lord Curzon and Fuller.

These new details in Keer’s 1966 edition prompted the lawyer and historian AG Noorani to note wryly in his seminal work, Savarkar and Hindutva: The Godse Connection:

“One wonders whether Savarkar also stipulated that they [the new contentions] should be published only after his death. The interval of sixteen years between the two editions is inexplicable on any other assumption.”

Political Murder No. 2

Before leaving for England to study law, Savarkar had been a member of a secret society, Mitra Mela, which was subsequently renamed Abhinav Bharat. Its goal was to overthrow the British through violent methods.

Savarkar’s older brother, Ganesh, alias Babarao, was an Abhinav Bharat member too. The police nabbed Ganesh Savarkar and stumbled upon a stockpile of bombs. Ganesh Savarkar was sentenced to transportation for life on June 8, 1909.

His comrades decided to retaliate. On December 29, 1909, Anant Kanhere shot dead AMT Jackson, district magistrate of Nasik, as he was watching a Marathi play, Sharada, in a theatre. Jackson had committed Ganesh Savarkar to trial, but was not the judge who had banished him to the Andamans.

From Kanhere’s accomplices, whom the police arrested, were discovered Savarkar’s letters. The Browning pistol used in the assassination was linked to Savarkar, who was accused of sending 20 such weapons to India from England. A telegraphic warrant of arrest was sent to London, and Savarkar surrendered to the police on March 13, 1910. He was brought to India.

For his role in the assassination of Jackson and for waging war against the King, Savarkar was sentenced to transportation – for two terms of 50 years each – to the Andamans. He arrived in Port Blair on July 4, 1911.

Savarkar’s apologies

The condition in the Cellular Jail in Andaman Islands was undoubtedly horrific. For instance, Savarkar was yoked to the oil mill. Quite understandably, his revolutionary fervour fizzled out. It must, however, be pointed out that he wasn’t the only person singled out for barbaric punishment.

In 1911 itself, Savarkar petitioned the authorities for clemency. The text of the 1911 petition hasn’t been found. But Savarkar referred to it in his petition to the British on November 14, 1913, seeking mercy and requesting a transfer to a jail in India. He wrote:

“The Mighty alone can afford to be merciful and therefore where else can the prodigal son return but to the parental doors of the Government?” 

In return, Savarkar offered to serve the “government in any capacity” as it thought fit. He declared he no longer believed in violence, justifying his conversion to constitutionalism because of the reforms the British government had introduced.

Savarkar said his conversion to the constitutional line would bring back “all those misled young men in India and abroad who were once looking up to me as their guide [emphasis added]”. In one stroke, the Indian revolutionary movement was disowned.

The British government was not convinced, but his cringing petition did help alleviate his plight. He was made a foreman. Noorani points out, “Few revolutionaries would have accepted this ‘honour’ from their captives who were also rulers of their captive land.”

Savarkar’s trait of encouraging others to take the precipitous course without joining them was evident in the Andamans as well. Historian RC Majumdar quotes Trailokya Nath Chakravarti, an inmate of the Cellular Jail, saying that Savarkar encouraged him and others to go on hunger strike but neither he nor his brother joined it. Even inmates older than Savarkar participated in the strike.

Savarkar justified his decision saying he would have been put back in solitary confinement and denied the right to send an annual letter to India. Savarkar does seem a leader who endorsed revolutionary action as long as he wasn’t required to pay the price.

Return to the mainland

In May 1921, Savarkar was transferred from the Andamans to the Indian mainland. Three years later, the government put forth conditions to Savarkar for his release from the Yerwada Jail in Pune.

These conditions were: Savarkar was to reside in Ratnagiri district; he could not go beyond the district’s limits without the government’s approval; he was not to engage in political activities publicly or privately; these restrictions were for five years, subject to renewal at the expiry of this period.

Savarkar accepted these terms, shattering the myth spun around his much-serenaded bravery. But there was also a humiliating coda to these conditions, not known until Frontline magazine published, in 1995, an additional undertaking Savarkar agreed to give the government.

Savarkar declared he had a fair trial and just punishment. He also wrote: “I heartily abhor methods of violence resorted to in days gone by, and I feel myself duty bound to uphold Law and the constitution…”

For sure, Savarkar was no Nelson Mandela.

In 1925, there was a Hindu-Muslim riot over Rangeela Rasool, a scurrilous booklet on Prophet Mohammad. The communal conflagration soon spread to parts of Punjab. Savarkar wrote an inflammatory article in the English newspaper, Mahratta, in March 1925.

The government communicated to Savarkar that any such writing in the future could lead to a reconsideration of his release. The warning had Savarkar foreswear that he would have no truck with the idea of Swaraj.

Political Murder No. 3

During the period of conditional freedom, Savarkar is said to have inspired yet another assassination attempt. On July 22, 1931, VB Gogate fired two shots at acting Governor of Bombay Sir Ernest Hotson during his visit to Ferguson College, Pune. But Hotson survived miraculously.

Nobody suspected Savarkar’s role. However, Keer in the 1966 edition ofVeer Savarkar disclosed that Gogate had been a staunch Savarkarite and had met him days before the assassination. Was Keer suggesting that Savarkar had inspired the failed assassination attempt on Hotson?

Savarkar’s role in Gandhi’s assassination

When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948, Savarkar was taken into police custody on February 5. Seventeen days later, he wrote a letter to Bombay’s Commissioner of Police:

“I shall refrain from taking part in any communal or political activity for any period the government may require in case I am released on that condition.”

It was this gratuitous offer, which had the government suspect him of having a central role in the assassination of Gandhi. But his role could not be proved in court. It subsequently came to light because of the depositions his aides made, years later, after Savarkar’s death.

There were two attempts made on Gandhi in January 1948. The first was made on January 20 – it was a botched up affair for which a Punjabi refugee, Madanlal Pahwa, was arrested. The second attempt was successful – Nathuram Godse shot Gandhi dead on January 30, 1948.

There were eight accused in the Gandhi assassination case – Nathuram Godse and Gopal Godse, his brother, Narayan D Apte, Vishnu Karkare, Madanlal Pahwa, Shankar Kistayya, VD Savarkar, and Dattaraya Parchure. The ninth member of the group – Digambar R Badge – turned approver. It was his testimony to the court that linked Savarkar to Gandhi’s assassination.

Badge gave a detailed account of the two visits he, Godse and Apte made to Bombay’s Savarkar Sadan, on the second floor of which their mentor resided. The first visit was made on January 14, which was the day on which Badge had handed over to Godse and Apte two gun-cotton slabs, five hand-grenades and detonators.

Badge, however, did not enter the Sadan. Apte later confided in Badge that he and Godse had met Savarkar, who told them that Gandhi and Nehru should be “finished” and had “entrusted that work to them.”

On the second meeting of January 17, Badge entered the Sadan. Godse and Apte went to the second floor. After 10 minutes or so, they came down the flight of stairs, followed by Savarkar. Badge testified that he heard Savarkar tell Godse and Apte, in Marathi, “Be successful and return.” However, Badge did not see Savarkar.

The trial court judge, Justice Atma Charan thought Badge was a “truthful witness”, but exonerated Savarkar only because there was no corroborative evidence in support of the approver’s deposition.

This was also because Godse and others did their best to ensure their mentor wasn’t implicated in the assassination case. For instance, Godse made out that his relationship with Savarkar wasn’t beyond what a leader has with followers.

Godse said that he and others decided in 1947 to “bid goodbye to Veer Savarkar’s lead and cease to consult him in our future policy and programme… I re-assert that it is not true that Veer Savarkar had any knowledge of my activities which ultimately led me to fire shots at Gandhiji.”

The prosecution had harped on Godse and Apte’s devotion to Savarkar. Savarkar, as was his habit, disowned them:

“Many criminals cherish high respect to the Gurus and guides of their religious sects… But could ever the complicity of the Guru or guide in the crimes of those of his followers be inferred and held proved only on the ground of the professions of loyalty and respect to their Gurus of those criminals?”

Savarkar’s deposition deeply hurt Godse, a fact testified to by lawyer PL Inamdar, who had defended Gopal Godse. In his account of the trial, Inamdar wrote:

“How Nathuram yearned for a touch of Tatyarao’s [Savarkar’s] hand, a word of sympathy, or at least a look of compassion in the secluded confines of the cells. Nathuram referred to his hurt feelings in this regard even during my last meeting with him…”

The new evidence

On the release of Gopal Godse from prison in October 1964, a felicitation ceremony was organised for him on November 11, 1964. On that occasion former editor GV Ketkar claimed that Nathuram would often discuss with him the advantages of killing Gandhi.

It created a furore in Parliament, prompting the setting up of a commission of inquiry under Justice JL Kapur in March 1965. The commission was to ascertain whether there had existed prior information to assassinate Gandhi and whether or not it was communicated to the government.

Months later, in February 1966, Savarkar voluntarily courted death, by stopping all consumption of food and water. He said it was better for a person to die willingly at the end of his life mission. But did Savarkar take this decision because he wanted to evade the prospect of the commission inflicting ignominy on him late in life?

That question cannot be answered. But it did perhaps free Savarkar’s bodyguard, Appa Ramachandra Kasar, and his secretary, Vishnu Damle, to depose before the commission. They testified to the close relationship Savarkar had with Godse and Apte, even travelling together for Hindu Mahasabha meetings. They also said, quite damningly, that Vishnu Karkare had brought a Punjabi refugee boy (Pahwa) in the first week of January to Savarkar for an interview that lasted 30-45 minutes.

In 1967, Gopal Godse published Gandhi Hatya, Ani Mee (Gandhi’s murder and I), in which he said Nathuram Godse came to know Savarkar way back in 1929 in Ratnagiri and had daily personal contact with Savarkar.

The new depositions prompted Justice Kapur to summarise: “All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.”

Is it possible that despite their deep relationship with Savarkar, Godse and Apte might not have confided in their mentor their plan to kill Gandhi? Perhaps the answer to it lies in History & the Making of a Modern Hindu Self, published in 2011.

Its author, Aparna Devare, cites personal communication she had with her great-uncle, Dr Achyut Phadke, whom Narayan Apte had taught physics in high school. Phadke told Devare that Apte would openly talk of his and Godse’s plan to assassinate Gandhi. It does seem incredible that Apte wouldn’t confide in Savarkar about what he openly spoke to schoolchildren.

BJP’s love for Savarkar

Savarkar is the progenitor of the political philosophy of Hindutva, which the Sangh Parivar adheres to. It is this that has made them perpetuate the myth of Savarkar’s bravery, and ignore his betrayal of his diehard followers and his entreaties to the British government.

But what really symbolises a breakdown in consensus over the ethical norms in the country is that we dedicate public buildings to the Father of the Nation as we do to Savarkar, who mentored the killers of Gandhi if not directly guided them.

Worryingly, the cult of Savarkar persists. Lt Col Shrikant Purohit formed Abhinav Bharat, which has been accused of bombing Malegaon, the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and the Samjhauta Express. The underground outfit to which Savarkar belonged was also called Abhinav Bharat. It does suggest a more than 100 years of continuity of a violent ideology.

This is the first article in a two-part series on VD Savarkar. You can read the second part here.

Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist in Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, has as its backdrop the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It is available in bookstores.

Now a chewing gum that treats Islamophobia

Now a chewing gum that treats Islamophobia
A satirical video that challenges discrimination against Muslims
 
 

 

In an attempt to challenge rising Islamophobia in the United States, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has released a mock commercial. The one-minute satirical video, released on Facebook, raises awareness about the kind of discrimination  Muslims in the US face in their everyday lives – including being labelled a terrorist.  The commercial is for “Islamophobin” a chewing gum that promises to cure people of bigotry and intolerance “within five minutes”. There’s no better way to “spread love” than using humour. 

Watch the video: 

 

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F232828710187333%2Fvideos%2Fvb.232828710187333%2F808122139324651%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560

16 Oldest Masjids in The World

16 Oldest Masjids in The World

Minaret and courtyard of Ummayad Masjid, Damascus (Syria)

Ever wondered about the oldest masjids in the world? If the answer is affirmative, you have come to the right place.

In this post, we have enlisted some of the world’s oldest masjids, in order of their respective age (the oldest one comes first, followed by the next oldest masjid, and so on). 

16 Oldest Masjids in The World

1. Masjid al-Haram, Mecca (Saudi Arabia)

Masjid Al-Haram, Mecca (Saudi Arabia)
Masjid al-Haram, Mecca (Saudi Arabia)
Image: Maria Alexandra

Masjid al-Haram is the oldest and largest masjid in the world surrounding the Holy Ka’abah. Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) and his son Prophet Isma’il (PBUH) raised the foundation of the Ka’abah, as mentioned in the Quran.

2. Masjid al-Aqsa, Jerusalem (Palestine)

Masjid Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem (Palestine)
Masjid al-Aqsa, Jerusalem (Palestine)
Image: Godot13

Masjid al-Aqsa or Bait al-Muqaddas, the first Qiblah of Muslims, was constructed forty years after the construction of Masjid al-Haram.

3. Masjid al-Quba, Medina (Saudi Arabia)

Masjid Al-Quba, Medina (Saudi Arabia)
Masjid al-Quba, Medina (Saudi Arabia)
Image: Abdelrhman Habashy

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) laid the foundation of Masjid al-Quba when he first reached Medina, in the year 622 CE.

4. Masjid an-Nabwi, Medina (Saudi Arabia)

Masjid an-Nabwi, Medina (Saudi Arabia)
Masjid an-Nabwi, Medina (Saudi Arabia)
Image: SeekQuran

Masjid an-Nabwi was built by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in Medina in the year 622 CE, few months after Masjid al-Quba.

5. Masjid al-Qiblatain, Medina (Saudi Arabia)

Masjid al-Qiblatain, Medina (Saudi Arabia)
Masjid al-Qiblatain, Medina (Saudi Arabia)
Image: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Masjid al-Qiblatain (Masjid of the two Qiblahs) was built in the year 623 CE. This is where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received the Revelation to change the direction of prayer (Qiblah) from Jerusalem to Mecca.

6. Huaisheng Masjid, Guangzhou (China)

Huaisheng Masjid, Guangzhou (china)
Huaisheng Masjid, Guangzhou (china)
Image: EastAsia

Huaisheng Masjid was built around 627 CE by Hz Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqas (RA), an uncle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was part of the first Muslim envoy to China sent in the 620s.

7. Jawatha Masjid, al-Ahasa (Saudi Arabia)

Jawatha Masjid, Al-Ahasa (Saudi Arabia)
Jawatha Masjid, al-Ahasa (Saudi Arabia)
Image: Almrsal

Jawatha Masjid in al-Kilabiyah village of al-Ahasa was built in the year 628 CE by the tribe of Abd al-Qais. It has since been renovated many times.

8. Cheraman Juma Masjid, Kerala (India)

Cheraman Juma Masjid, Kerala (India)
Cheraman Juma Masjid, Kerala (India)
Image: നിരക്ഷരൻ

Cheraman Juma Masjid, built in 629 CE, was the first masjid in India. It was built by Hz Malik Dinar (RA) in memory of the noble Chera King Cheraman Perumal.

9. Palaiya Juma Palli Masjid, Kilakarai (India)

Palaiya Jumma Palli Masjid, Kilakarai (India)
Palaiya Juma Palli Masjid, Kilakarai (India)
Image: Kilakarai

Palaiya Juma Palli Masjid is located in Kilakarai, a town in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It was constructed by Yemeni merchants as per the orders of Bazan ibn Sasan, the Governor of Yemen, in 630 CE.

10. The Masjid of Uqba, Kairouan (Tunisia)

Uqba Masjid, Kairouan (Tunisia)
Uqba Masjid, Kairouan (Tunisia)
Image: MAREK SZAREJKO

The Great Masjid of Kairouan, or the Uqba Masjid, was established by the great General Hz Uqba ibn Nafi (RA) in the year 670 CE.

RELATED  13 Masjids That Are Surrounded By Water

11. Umayyad Masjid, Damascus (Syria)

Minaret and courtyard of Umayad Masjid, Damascus (Syria)
Umayyad Masjid, Damascus (Syria)
Image: american_rugbier

Caliph al-Walid I commissioned the construction of Umayyad Masjid in the year 706 CE, and it was completed in 715 CE, shortly after the death of Caliph al-Walid I.

12. The Great Masjid of Aleppo, Aleppo (Syria)

Great Masjid of Aleppo, Aleppo (Syria)
Great Masjid of Aleppo, Aleppo (Syria)
Image: yeowatzup

The Great Masjid of Aleppo was built by Caliph Suleyman ibn Abd al-Malik in 717 CE, following the successful construction of Umayyad Masjid, Damascus. Sadly, the minaret of this beautiful masjid has been destroyed recently during the Syrian Civil War, and as of now, the masjid is no longer in use.

13. al-Zaytuna Masjid, Tunis (Tunisia)

Minaret of Al-Zaytuna Masjid, Tunis (Tunisia)
al-Zaytuna Masjid, Tunis (Tunisia)
Image: Citizen59

al-Zaytuna Masjid was built in the year 732 CE by the liberator of Tunis, Hassan ibn Nu’man (RA).

14. The Great Masjid of Xian, Xian (China)

Xian Masjid, Xian (China)
The Masjid of Xian, Xian (China)
Image: Dennis

The Great Masjid of Xian was built in the year 742 CE, during the rule of Tang dynasty. It served as the religious center of Arab merchants and traders based in China.

15. Koutoubia Masjid, Marrakech (Morocco)

Koutoubia Masjid, Marrakech (Morocco)
Koutoubia Masjid, Marrakech (Morocco)
Image: Stuart Pinfold

Construction of Koutoubia Masjid began somewhere around 1150 CE. It was completed during the reign of Sultan Yacoub el-Mansour (1184-99).

16. Djenne Masjid, Djenne (Mali)

Djenne Masjid, Djenne (Mali)
Djenne Masjid, Djenne (Mali)
Image: mauro gambini

Djenne Masjid, the largest mud-structure building in the world, was initially built in 13th century. It is said that Sultan Koi Kunboro, a popular ruler, embraced Islam and transformed his own palace into a masjid.

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