The glory of Islamia college mosque Peshawar
A glorious white mosque standing in the heart of historic Islamia College Peshawar surrounded by lush green lawns reminds us of its more than a hundred years old architectural magnificence and spiritual greatness.
The idea of Islamia College mosque
The idea of the Islamia college mosque can be traced back to various important events that took place in the history of the subcontinent.
When the British East India Company overcame the people’s revolt against them in 1857, the Muslim leaders thought of safeguarding and reforming their education and culture. The Islamic scholars who actively took part in the jihad against the British thought of the Christian missionaries as a threat to Islamic education and culture. Therefore, Darul-Uloom Deoband was established at Deoband town in Saharanpur district. Currently in Uttar Pradesh, India in 1866 by Muslim scholars, including Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi.
The same 1857 war of independence was also a turning point in Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s life. He visited Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He thought proficiency in English and competence in Western sciences as essential skills for upholding Muslims’ political influence. Therefore, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan laid the foundation of Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875. Which developed into Aligarh university later on.
Foundation of this college in Peshawar
The Pashtuns of the then northwest Frontier Province (N.W.F.P) being not friendly towards modern education were lagging behind due to their attitude. Therefore, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan and George Roos-Keppel envisioned Islamia College Peshawar. It served as a blend of Aligarh and Deoband School of thought which they founded in 1913.
They named it ‘Darul Uloom-i- Islamia’ (Centre for Islamic education) to make it acceptable to those opposing modern education. And the idea of the glorious mosque in the middle of college before its formal opening was to attract more Muslim Pashtun students of then N.W.F.P. to get enrolled.
The foundation of the Islamia college mosque
Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan also thought of the foundation of the mosque and college at the hands of an influential religious leader. So that to convince the general masses of its religious importance.
Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum wanted Maulana Fazal Wahid commonly known as Haji Sahib of Taurangzai to lay the foundation stone of Islamia college Peshawar. Haji Sahib of Turangzai was a prominent religious leader and freedom fighter in the Frontier.
Haji Sahib of Turangzai opposed the British rule and he was at large at the time. He was residing out-side British-controlled territory in tribal areas. S.A. Qayyum khan asked the British to let Haji Sahib Turangzai lay the foundation of the college. He convinced them of his return to the tribal areas after the ceremony.
The British permitted and Haji Sahib laid the foundation stone of the splendid mosque. It happened on March 21, 1912, in a ceremony attended by nearly 30,000 people mainly from tribal areas. In this way, this beautiful mosque changed the mindset of the people about the historic Islamia College Peshawar. This opened a new era of education for the Pashtuns of this area.
The construction of the Mosque and its preservation
People from all walks of life donated for the construction of the mosque. Tribal chiefs, local businessmen, religious leaders, and common people whole-heartedly gave money for this noble cause.
The mosque is also a reminder of Muslim architecture as it’s a mixture of Mughal and British construction design. This lovely mosque has become the second tourist attraction in Peshawar after Masjid Mahabat Khan which was built during Moghul rule.
The mosque is playing a key role in the spiritual upbringing of the college students admitted in various fields of their studies. It has a capacity of 3,000 people to offer their prayers. But this historic mosque needs to be preserved for our coming generation. The painting on its outer and inside walls, its original fresco work, and calligraphy need special attention by the authorities concerned.
(Written by Ijaz Ali, a freelance journalist from Pakistan. He holds a Master Degree in European Studies from Germany and can be reached at [email protected])