Masjid Goharshad and its Sahn
- :Haji Davood Haji Naseer
This Masjid and its Sahn, adjacent to the Haram-Mubarak of Imam Raza (A.S.) was built by a lady named Goharshaad about 700 years ago. As she did not have any children, she had kept a Mannat of building a Sahn here. By the Sadaqaa of the Imam she got a son but he was blind. So being disappointed, she did another Mannat whereby the grace of Allah his eyes became all right and he could see.
Mostly Namaz and majalis are being recited in this Masjid and its Sahn. Passing through this Sahn we came to the Haram-Mubarak of the Hazrat. The first big portal for entrance is made of silver. There are 10 such silver portals around the Haram. After the entrance there is a big hall (Aivaan). Ziyarat is recited here. Around the Zari Mubarak (Wherein lies the MARQAD OF HAZRAT) there are 10 such grand halls. After reciting Ziyarat we can go to another hall. Its door is made of silver but the portion upto four feet on two sides of the door and about 10 feet above is gold plated. There is precious gold and diamond work around the Zari Mubarak. On 2 sides above the Qabr-e-Mubarak there are 2 jewel studded-golden crowns. Afterwards we enter the hall where there is Zari Mubarak at the two ends of which there are two big portals of gold. There is a two and a half feet bowl full of diamonds and other jewels. There is also a glass encasement on the wall towards the Imams head which contains jewellery estimated worth over 10 lack rupees. The scene of the Zari Mubarak is very solemn. It was heart rendering. There are a lot of engravings on the walls and ceilings of the halls. Glass work worth lacks of rupees covers them. There is gold work on the walls around the silver door of the old Sahn. It is about 30 feet wide and approximately 45 feet high. This has been done by Irans famous emperor Nadeershah. Moreover, a stream is flowing in the midst of this Sahn and there are five hauzes (tanks) too. All this is provided by Shah Abbas. There is, in the middle of the Sahn, a sabeel made of stone having a golden Gumbaz (dome) thereon built by an anonymous doner (Ummeedvaar). Like the old Sahn, there is a gold plated wall around the silver door of the new Sahn also. It is built by Irans Shahenshah Fatehalishah. Above the mausoleum is a very large Golden Dome. Its circumference is about 50 feet and its height, from the over head terrace, is about 75 feet. It is visible from a distance of several miles. This dome has been made with additions and alterations by emperor Shah Abbas. This Shahenshah was very fond of Ziyarat, having come to Mashhad thrice. On the last occasion, that is Hijri 1010, when Isfahaan was the capital of Iran, he had, for the sake of reverence, walked all the twelve hundred miles from there and back. This was due to respect for the Imam. During this journey he was building caravans and solid roads on every halt. Moreover, he had stayed in the Haram Mubarak as a khaadim (servant) for some time. There is a hall (aywaan) around the Mausoleum of the Imam. It is said that in about 1000 Hijri Irans King Shah Abbas gifted his sword to a blind fakir (beggar) named Alavardikhan. The Fakir did not know that the donor was the king, moved his hand over the sword and having appreciated the precious engraving said You seem to have stolen this sword with other valuables from the Kings treasury and now you are handing it over to me to implicate me in the theft, so I will not accept it. Observing the cleverness of the blind fakir, the King asked him as to how long he has been begging at the Grave. He replied that it was since the last 20 years. The King said How is it that even though you are begging near this grave for 20 years your eyesight has not been restored? Now I am going inside the tomb and returning after reciting Ziyarat. If your eyes do not become all right by that time, this sword will divide you into two parts, which will be hung on both sides of the door. The fakir became frightened and began to cry at the Zarih and prayed. With the barkat of Hazrat and the power of Almighty Allah, he got his sight back (Salawaat). When the King came out he saw that the fakirs eyes could see, so he became very glad and offered him a big prize. Thereafter the said Alavardikhan became a big businessman, amassed a lot of wealth and built a big hall near the Haram Mubarak. He also kept some place for his own burial, so after his demise he has been buried there. There are over 1500 khuddam (servants) for the entire Haram. They, by turn, sweep the Sahn, clean it, recite the Holy Quran and perform various other duties.
Every new Zawwar is being hosted for one meal on behalf of Hazrat, i.e. one time food is being given free to them. The annual income of the Hazrat Haram Mubarak, accruing from properties etc. was about one and a half lack Tomans which is equivalent to about four and a half lack rupees. It is spent for employees and other works of the mausoleum as well as for religious education and a hospital. There is a committee for its management. The chief authority is every Shah ascending the throne of Iran. The employees get annually about 10,000 Tomans (Rs. 35,000). Moreover, the Shah sends his representative from Tehran for management work. The mausoleum Mubarak opens one hour before the Azaan for Namaz-e-Fajr. It closes at 10 Oclock in the night. It remains open throughout the night on Thursdays and other important days. 3-4 Jamaat Namaz are held in the morning. Various maulvis discuss different religious problems (masaail) over there. After midday upto Asr time, intermittent Jamaat Namaz are held by different Pesh-Imams so that all people may be able to join in at the time of their convenience. Before Maghrib, Majalis and Masaails are being preached from different Mimbers (Pulpits). As people become free from their occupations at this hour, there is a huge mass gathering and the place is full. Immediately after Azaan-e-Maghrib, 8-10 Jamaat Namaz are held within the mausoleum and Masjid-e-Goharshaad. Women also pray with veils in the last line (Saff). They also sit in large numbers to hear Majalis and Masaail. Electric lights are on in the Haram at night. Its generator has been gifted by the mother of Agakhan. On every Thursday, the army men residing in the nearby camp come from their barracks with full military grandeur at 3:00 P.M., from various routes to perform Ziyarat. They line up in the Sahn and offer salute. One of the khuddam climbs up a mimbar (pulpit) and recites the Ziyarat for the army men. Thereafter, the men bow towards the Qabr-e-Mubarak and depart. The Chehloom day of Imam Husain (A.S.) is observed very solemnly and serenely here. Even more solemnly is the observance of Imam Raza (A.S.)s day of death (Wafaat). It is on the 29th of Safar. Thousands of people gather in the vast old Sahn on that night. All doors are closed at 9 P.M. sharp to avoid crowding and chaos. After about 30 minutes the Mulla recites again from the high Minaret. Inspite of its height the silence below makes the voice of the Mulla audible. Then all around the Sahn, the Khuddam stand in Saffs (lines). Other Khuddam stand at a distance of about 50 feet facing the former ones. This makes a 50 feet wide path around the Sahn. About 150 Khuddam stand in the middle. There are in all 1500 Khuddam. Instantly getting a signal, they light a wax candle which is with them. It looks like hundreds of bulbs lit on simultaneously like an electric switch. Immediately thereafter those 150 khuddam who were in the middle, with lighted candles in hand, simultaneously recite Nauhaas in Farsi and Turkish language and move around between aforesaid two lines facing each other. They make three rounds. This scene is indeed worth seeing. We seldom in life get a chance to see such an incident. Then, after Majalis thousands of men and women disperse for their homes with a deep impression on their minds and hearts. A similar gathering is held on the date of Imam Raza (A.S.) date of birth which is celebrated by the people of Khuraasan on the 13th of Zilkad. Another observance is held on the night of Ashura (10th Moharram). Therefore I strongly recommend that the Zawwars should try their best to make benefit of any of the said days.
An Iranian poet has rightly said about the Goharshaad Masjid:
BEHISHTE ROOE ZAMEEN MASJIDE GOHARSHAAD AST
BAY HAR KUJAA KI NAZAR MEE KUNAM DARI BAAZ AST
Meaning: The heaven on the surface of the earth is Masjid-e-Goharshaad because wherever I see the doors of Allahs mercy are wide open.
Adapted from the book: "Pilgrimage to Mashhad" by: "Haji Davood Haji Naseer"
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