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Tashkent Juma Mosque

Juma Mosque, Tashkent

Juma Mosque is a mosque in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Also known as the Dzhuma Mosque, it was built in 1451 by Sheikh Uboydullo Khoja Akhror (1404-1490).

After the Arab conquest in the VIII century, the ancient, Zoroastrian Tashkent (it was then called Chach) lay in ruins. The city did not actually exist. Aliens-Arabs even could not pronounce his name correctly. There was no "Сh" in their language, and they distorted the name of the fertile valley of Chirchik into the word "al-Shash".

In 819, the young emir Yahya ibn Asad, who had just received from the Arab governor of the eastern part of the caliphate, a letter of commendation for the management of all the lands of the present Tashkent region, stopped his horse at the hill, which is now quite clearly visible between the three city squares - Chorsu, Khodra and Eski Juva. "Here we will build our capital," Yahya said to his retinue moving respectfully behind him, "let Madina ash-Shash, the northern outpost of Maverannahr, stand on this hill!" There were Turkic guardsmen in his retinue, and they unanimously picked up the commander’s words: "Yes, yes, the city of Shasha will rise here!" In the Turkic language, "Madina al-Shash" sounds like "Tashkent". And at the highest point of the selected hill, Yahya ibn Asad ordered the laying of the foundation of the first cathedral Friday mosque in Tashkent.

Many centuries have passed since then. Many times the city was destroyed and reborn again. But invariably the architectural dominant of Shashkent (Tashkent was already said from the 11th century) was the cube of the cathedral juma mosque. That building, the appearance of which was preserved by ancient drawings and photographs, dates back to the 15th century. Photographers liked to climb a fifteen-meter-high cube of the main building of the mosque at the time of the birth of photography in order to capture with their then completely imperfect equipment a bird's-eye panorama of old Tashkent.

Tashkent, as you know, stands near the mountains in the earthquake zone. Therefore, many medieval monumental buildings here often suffered from the blows of the underground elements, sometimes they were even completely destroyed. The Friday mosque did not escape frequent restorations. For example, in the 18th century, during the heyday of the independent Tashkent state under the leadership of the Sheikhantaur hakim Yunus Khoja, the main cube was thoroughly renovated and the vaulted galleries with cells around the long courtyard were completely rebuilt.

Serious damage to the main mosque was caused by a powerful earthquake of 1868, when most Tashkent monuments of medieval architecture were significantly damaged. The cathedral mosque went out of action for almost two decades. Only in 1888 it was finally restored with funds provided by the Russian emperor Alexander III, so they began to call it the Tsar’s Mosque. And although the appearance of the building during the reconstruction had to be slightly changed, it, as before, made a very impressive impression. Suffice it to say that this is the third largest Friday mosque in Uzbekistan. It is surpassed only by two buildings of this kind - Bibi-Khanum in Samarkand and Kalyan in Bukhara.

The modern main juma mosque in Tashkent is completely rebuilt, and now not one, but three large domes crown the historic old city hill.

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Opposite the old central entrance to the mosque, which was previously located on the north side, stood a modest one-story madrassah erected in 1451. Now it does not exist, since in 1954 the city authorities decided to disassemble it into bricks necessary for the restoration of neighboring buildings. This madrasah, like the cathedral mosque in the very center of ancient Tashkent, was built by Ubaidullah Khoja Akhror (1404-1490), one of the most famous public figures of the Temurids era, as a gift to his native city.

He was born in the ancient village of Bogustan, which, before the construction of the Charvak reservoir, still stood near Brichmulla in the Chimgan Mountains. Ubaidullah, on the mother’s side, was a relative of the revered Tashkent sheikh Hovendi at-Tahur (Sheikhantaura) and, therefore, was one of the descendants of the prophet Muhammad.

From an early age, the boy was developed beyond his years, willingly took part in the dhikers (prayers) of wandering dervishes. Having studied a little in different madrassas of Tashkent and Samarkand, Ubaidulla with a staff in his hand went on a long-term walking journey through the vast Temurid empire. The young man from Tashkent during this "walk into people" turned into a respected and revered spiritual leader of believers, became the head of the Sufi brotherhood. In the Gissar Mountains, he received initiation (Irshad) from the elder Yakub Charkhi himself, a disciple and follower of the famous Bukhara philosopher Bagauddin Naqshbandi.

When in 1432 Ubaidulla Khoja Akhror returned to Tashkent, he was already a sheikh of the Sufi order of the Naqshbandi, the most popular in the Temurid state. This order exists to this day and has hundreds of followers in many countries of the world. Among the "founding fathers" of the order, the most revered name is Khoja Akhror - the "pole of the circle of mentors in the faith." Sheikh during his lifetime enjoyed great authority in the state. He raised the Temurid princes - Mirzo, was in friendly correspondence with the most famous people of the era - the poets Navoi and Jami.

Ubaidullah Khoja Akhror developed and substantiated the doctrine of the need for the participation of Sufis in public life, which was of great importance for Central Asia.

When the ruler of Maverannahr, the great-grandson of Amir Temur, Mirza Abu Said invited the sheikh from Tashkent to Samarkand, Khoja Akhror, leaving, ordered to build a large Friday mosque and madrassah in the ancient Tashkent Gulbazar mahalla. Legends claim that the money for the construction of Ubaidulla was obtained from the sale of strings-scraps, which by themselves are obtained at the edges of the bundles of fabric, cut into standard pieces.

This is so or not, but on the old foundation left from the first Tashkent mosque from the time of Yahya ibn Assad, a characteristic cube with a dome and an arched ceiling open to the east side grew in the middle of the 15th century. Previously, when there were no tall buildings around, the cube of the Khuma mosque of Khoja Akhror Vali was visible from all sides, especially well from the ancient Chorsu market in Tashkent, which has been buzzing in the same place for more than a thousand years.

The architectural ensemble surrounding the Juma Mosque of Khoja Akhror Vali is nowadays almost completely destroyed, except for the heavily restored building of the Kukeldash madrasah and the dome of the Gulbazar mosque. Now you can imagine the initial appearance of this remarkable corner of old Tashkent only from rare ancient photographs.

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