Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Juma Mosque - Shamakhi, Azerbaijan

Shamakhi, Azerbaijan is 66 miles from the capitol city of Baku. We stopped at the Juma Mosque, also known as the Friday Mosque, there on our way to the Caucasus Mountains. I am assuming the terms Juma and Friday both relate to the concept of Jama Masjid, which refers to the main mosque of a town, the place where Friday prayers, the primary day of worship in Islam, take place. 
Located along the main road in Shamakhi.
A head on view.
A closer side view. Note the white "headstone" to the left. 
Inscriptions on the "headstone" were in several languages. The English inscription gives a brief history. 
Juma Mosque was the second mosque in the Caucasus (the region, including the mountain range, stretching southeast from Sochi, Russia to Baku). It has had a tortured history. It was originally built in 743 to 744 (really early considering Mohammed died in 632) after the Ummayads conquered the area. The mosque was destroyed by Georgians in the first half of the 12th century and was rebuilt near the end of the 12th century. At that time the glory of Shamakhi was said to overshadow the glory of Bukhara (in Uzbekistan). Remodeling of the mosque was noted in the mid-17th century. In 1859 an earthquake caused great damage and reconstruction was begun in 1860. An even stronger earthquake in 1902 destroyed the mosque. In 1918, while still under reconstruction, it was destroyed and then burned by Armenians.  I don't find any history of the mosque until 2009 when restoration of the mosque was initiated by President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. It appears that while Shamakhi was part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, from 1920 to 1991, religion was suppressed and the mosque lay in ruins. 
This area in front, a mixture of ruins and landscape, was between the road and the mosque. Although I find nothing on it, I assume this is a nod to the period when the mosque was in ruins, a little preservation of the past. 
The restoration was completed in 2013 and the inside is simple and gorgeous. The mosque has a three-hall structure, each a quadratic section connected by open and large apertures. Each is said to have a separate mihrab, although I only noticed a mihrab in the center hall. 
The main, central hall, is in the foreground with the highly decorated mihrab to the left. People are praying right in front and the minbar is to its right. Another hall is visible through the arches in the background. 
One of the side halls. A little more simple. Beautiful earth colored stone. 
The mihrab is huge, one of the largest I can recall.
A closer view of the beautiful color and decoration on the mihrab.
The mosque is particularly distinctive for its lighting and ceiling decorations. 
I love everything about this light fixture and dome. 
Beautiful calligraphy on a border around the upper wall. 
Muqarna are geometric subdivisions of squinches or cupolas, into a sort of cellular structure. Here they decorate the top of a wall.  
A beautiful carpet segmented into individual prayer spaces. 
A hallway ceiling and light fixture.
A new aspect of Islam we learned in Azerbaijan was that of the turbah. A turbah is a small clay disk used during daily prayers to symbolize earth. Its use is compulsory in most Shia schools of Islam and Azerbaijan has quite a few Shia adherents. While prostrating during prayer, the forehead is placed on the turbah, which is placed on the carpet. Many turbah are made from clay from Karbala, particularly important to the Shia, where Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, was martyred.  Sunni Muslims reject use of the turbah, claiming they are an innovation, something not used by Muhammad or his companions. 
A stand holding turbah
Individual turbah. Note, many are cracked, chipped and broken. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, knowing the history really makes me appreciate this mosque even more. I'm impressed by how many times they have rebuilt it. It was one of the more "elegant" mosques we have seen.