Historical Herat Mosque Built over Ancient Zoroastrian Temples Being Renovated

• Category: Afghanistan
HERAT (Pajhwok Afghan News) – A historical mosque in western Herat province – the fourth biggest mosque of the world – will be renovated with donations from Afghan traders, an official said on Friday.
Photo of the main arch of the Grand Mosque of Herat

Herat Grand Mosque
It reproduces the same stylistic model of the Sassanid Kasra Iwan in Ctesiphon.
(Photo: Sven Dirks)
After the Anglo-Afghan wars much of the mosque was left destroyed. A program launched in 1945 rebuilt walls and rooms, expanded the north-eastern section of the mosque from a length of approximately 101 meters to 121 meters and replaced expensive material from all over the medieval Empires with cheap material.

The Grand Mosque of Herat (مسجد جامع هرات), the city’s first congregational mosque, was built on the site of two Zorastrian Fire temples that were destroyed by Muslims. The mosque was begun by Ghurid ruler Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad b. Sam (غیاث‌الدین محمد ابن سام غوری, 1162-1202) in 1200 (597 AH), and continued after his death by his brother and successor Shihab al-Din (شهاب الدین). The Ghurids or Ghorids were a native Iranian dynasty freshly converted to Islam from Zoroastrianism which established rule over parts of modern day Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan from 1148 to 1215. The dynasty succeeded the Ghaznavid Empire. Their empire was centralized in Ghor Province, in the heartland of what is now Afghanistan. It encompassed Khorasan in the West and reached in the East to northern India, as far as Delhi. Their first capital was Fīrūzkūh (فیروزکوه) in Ghor, which was later replaced by Herat while Ghazni (غزنه) and Lahore were used as additional capitals, especially during winters. The Ghurids were succeeded in Persia by the Khwārazm-Shāh (خوارزمشاهیان) dynasty and in northern India by the Mamluk dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate.

“The Herat mosque is a historical place whose preservation is a collective responsibility of all residents; now businessmen intend to renovate it,” said the deputy chief of the renovation committee, Wali Shah Bahra, a former information director. The Herat Industrialists Union deputy head, Farid Ahmed Maulvizada, said around three hundred industrialists were willing to fund the renovation work.

A number of traders have promised funds for the renovation of the main mosque in the provincial capital, deputy chief of the Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Toryalai Ghausi, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

 “I’m proud that my donation has been accepted,” remarked businesswoman Najiba Sadat, who said another 50 of her colleagues were ready to help with reconstructing the mosque.