Located within the Qutb complex in Delhi, the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque is a monument with a complex and controversial history.
While the nearby Qutb Minar is celebrated as an architectural icon, the mosque bears the haunting legacy of destruction, trauma, and fanaticism.
Here’s a glimpse into the intricate history and naming of this mosque: 1. Foundations of the Congregational Mosque: The mosque’s history traces back to Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, who laid its foundations after defeating Prithviraj Chauhan. It was constructed on the site of the former Hindu rulers’ bastion, Rai Pithora. The mosque’s construction utilized materials from Hindu temples, including pillars with floral motifs.
2. Naming the Mosque: Interestingly, the name “Quwwat ul-Islam” doesn’t appear in any extant inscriptions or chronicles of the Sultanate. It likely emerged as a modern corruption of the older name, “Qubbat al-Islam,” which meant “Sanctuary of Islam.” This name was associated with the spiritual domain of the Sufi saint Bakhtiyar Kaki.
3. The Role of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: In 1847, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, a Muslim social reformer, published “Asar-al-Sanadid,” a work on Delhi that referred to the mosque by multiple names. “Quwwat ul-Islam” stuck as it aligned with the image of Aibak as a military commander who built the mosque from the rubble of Hindu temples.
4. Colonial Influence: The naming and framing of the mosque aligned with the colonial view of Indian history, which categorized it into distinct Hindu, Muslim, and British periods. The mosque’s association with iconoclasm and violence furthered this narrative.
5. Restoring a Multi-Layered History: While acknowledging the temple remains used in its construction, it’s crucial to recognize the multi-layered history of the Qutb complex. This includes the involvement of Hindu artisans, competing commanders, Sufi saints, and the influence of scholars like Syed Ahmed Khan.
In understanding the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, it’s essential to embrace a more comprehensive and evidence-based narrative, appreciating its rich and diverse history.
Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque: Unveiling its Complex History