Qutb Mosque Architecture

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INTRODUCTION The Qutb Complex has an array of structures known not only for a building style presenting a blend of Indian and Turko-Persian art traditions but also for embodying the cultural ambience of the prevailing time period. Amongst the Qutb monuments, the Masjid-i jami or Quwwat al- Islam Mosque (Delhi’s first congregational mosque which was a masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art and one of the oldest mosques in India), the Qutb Minar(built in the early part of the thirteenth century), and the Alai Darwaza are particularly significant in the context of the socio-political history of the Sultanate period. CONSTRUCTION The Qutb Mosque underwent constructions on three different stages. According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),…show more content…
The deployment of Hindu and Jain temple material within the “Muslim” mosque was the focal point in the writings of the scholars such as Saiyid Ahmad Khan. The temple columns, the Hindu and Jain iconic motifs used appear to be the spoils of war and provide evidence of pillage and victory. The same was also highlighted in the reports of the Archaeological Survey of India written in the 1860s, and some years later in the Epigraphica Indo-Moslemica, a journal devoted to the study of Persian and Arabic inscriptions. Saiyid Ahmad Khan, Cunningham and Page’s analysis suggested that by the usage of plundered and defaced material, the then military commander Qutbuddin Aibek made a statement of conquest and hegemony over an infidel population in north India. In their opinion, the presence of the temple material was an evidence of a swift transposition of “Muslim Rule” in India; it did not just proclaim Qutbuddin’s conquest of Delhi in 1192 but also served as a statement of Islam’s victory over idolaters. As a proof of this assertion Saiyid Ahmad Khan, Horowitz, Page, and other scholars have recorded in their scholarly publications that this congregational mosque was known in the past as Quwwat al-Islam, or the “Might of…show more content…
Though they did not disagree with the “secular” interpretations of the mosque, but emphasized more on the theme of Muslim conquest and victory symbolized by the Qutb monuments. Their analysis showed that Muslim patrons never compromised with the indigenous practices and Hindu craftsmen in their service had to conform to a “Muslim aesthetic”. According to Welch, the Qutb Minar performed the “symbolic function of marking the Dar-al-Islam (the land of Islam)” that was newly conquered from the infidels. This towering structure, carried Qur’anic statements of conquest and warning to the heathen population. It is significant to note that the Qur’anic and hadis inscriptions within the mosque stressed upon the importance of worship, of adherence to the principles of Islam, and of recognition of the obligations performed by the believers. Welch went a step further and argued that the congregational mosque also related to the political context in which it was created. The monument was an uncompromising Muslim celebration of conquest, and the building material, architectural forms and epigraphic texts of the congregational mosque asserted the unity and cultural uniqueness of the “Muslims”. It distanced the Hindu subjects while creating familiar, reassuring landmarks of Islam’s superiority for Muslim resident in a foreign

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