Al-Qubba al-Fakhriyya–an Architectural Marvel

Mulla Abdulqadir bhai Haidermota

Qubba Fakhriyya, the qubba mubaraka (blessed mausoleum) of al-Maula al-Ajal Syedi Fakhruddin al-Shaheed QR, is a sacred centre where thousands of zaereen (pilgrims) attain peacenand prosperity in its blessed shade. Its spiritual atmosphere, as well as architectural grandeur, remains etched in the hearts of those who witness it.

The hallowed mausoleum is situated in a town in the Dungarpur district of Rajasthan, India called Galiakot. The environs of the qubba, along with the mazar sharif, were specifically named Taherabad by al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA. Construction of the current qubba commenced in the year 1371 AH/ 1952 CE and ended in the year 1374 AH/ 1955 CE. The qubba sharifa which preceded the current one was built in the era of al- Dai al-Ajal Syedna Tayyib Zainuddin RA, the 45th al-Dai al-Mutlaq, in the year 1246 AH/ 1830 CE. Describing the grandeur of this qubba, al-Maula al-Allama Syedi Abdeali Imaduddin QR states:

“Rising above the qabr mubarak of Syedi Fakhruddin al-Shaheed is a qubba of radiant purity, beautiful as scattered pearls.”

This luminous qubba is testament to Syedi Fakhruddin al-Shaheed’s QR lofty stature and endeavours for the cause of Dawat in Hindustan. He was the illustrious son of Raja Tarmal who ruled over parts of western India. Syedi Fakhruddin’s esteemed father and his revered uncle, Raja Bharmal strived for Dawat, under the guidance of Maulaya Abdullah QR and Maulaya Ahmed QR, who were sent to Hind by Maulana al-Imam al-Mustansir Billah AS. Syedi Fakhruddin QR travelled to regions in Waghar and Mewaar, as directed by Moulaya Yaqub QR, the waali of Hind, to guide its people to the religion of Islam and instruct them about its doctrines.

One who is martyred for the sake of Allah’s religion is always revered. Syedi Fakhruddin al-Shaheed QR was slain after he fought valiantly against brigands who attacked him and his followers in the month of Muharram. His martyrdom reminds us of the great sacrifice of Maulana al-Imam al-Husain AS who was slain in the same month on Aashura. To signify Syedi’s martyrdom, a unique dome shaped ornament upon a square-based column, known as a shaheedana, lies adjacent to his qabr mubarak. It is customary to place a shaheedana near the qabr of a shaheed to signify his shahadat. Syedi Fakhruddin al-Shaheed’s QR sacrifice is unforgettable and his mausoleum is a fount of radiance that reminds us of his inordinate stature.

The lustrous mausoleum is built with marble which shines like a pearl and showcases symmetry and intricacy in its various Fatimi and Indo-Islamic designs and carvings. It features a magnificent lotus-based dome with a pointed finial on its top known as a kalas. This dome bears resemblance to many Dawoodi Bohra qibaab (pl. qubba), especially the ones in Surat and Burhanpur. On each side of the exterior wall, are multi-foliated bas-relief arches with a floral medallion on top. The entrance doorways on the four sides have a flat arch on the exterior. Pass through the silver doors, below pointed arches with arabesque in its spandrels, and you witness the qabar mubarak (blessed tomb) surrounded by various design marvels.

The interior has been adorned at each level with an array of inscriptions and designs which add to its serenity and sanctity. A series of bas-relief pointed arches with a five lobed- leaf originating from its crown decorate the lower interior wall of the qubba. In the middle, a series of jaalis or carved grilles fills the qubba with light. Squinches or ornamented vaults are accommodated at two levels: at the transition from the dome to the octagonal level and from the octagonal level to the square walls. This enhances the beauty of the corners. On each side of the square wall, are three medallions inscribed in gold with various Quranic and devotional inscriptions. Three blind arabesque windows can be found on each side of the octagon. In the centre, the qabr mubarak is surrounded by a chhatri with an elegant jaali or latticed screen at its base.

It was customary in the past for dignitaries of Dawat to inscribe their names or some verses in praise of Syedi Fakhruddin al-Shaheed QR on the mausoleum walls. Al-Hadd al- Fazil Syedi Ibrahim al-Saifee QR, one such prominent luminary in the era of al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA, states that he observed inscriptions made by many Hudood Fozala and Mashaikh on the walls of the qubba. Today, gratified eyes rejoice at seeing the verses, inscribed in gold, written by Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA in praise of Syedi Fakhruddin al-Shaheed adorn the qubba walls. The eulogy’s opening verse states:

“Salam upon you, O Fakhr (pride) of guidance! Salam upon you, O ocean of generosity!”

The eulogy goes on to state:

“If you wish your desires to come true, then seek succour and fulfilment by journeying to his qubba.”

Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA has similarly graced the mausoleum with an epigraph that briefly narrates Syedi Fakhruddin al-Shaheed’s endeavours, martyrdom and the construction history of Qubba Fakhriyya.

Photo credits with gratitude: Sighat al-Mazaaraat & Mulla Mufaddal bhai Najjar (instagram: @najjar2626)

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About the author–M. Abdulqadir Shk Khuzema Bhai Haidermota graduated from Aljamea- tus-Saifiyah with an al-Faqih al-Jayyid degree in 1438/2017. He then graduated from SOAS, University of London with an MA History in 1441/2020. He is currently a lecturer at Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah in Marol (Mumbai), India.