by M. Huzaifa Taquee
In the heart of Surat‟s bustling Zampa Bazaar, lie the Qubba Najmiyya and Qubba Izziya housing seven illustrious Du‟at Mutlaqeen and other luminaries of Dawat. These two grand buildings are not only pleasing to the marveling eye but also a source of sanctuary and solace for zuwwaar kiraam (respected visitors) especially during these tumultuous times. Focusing on Qubba Izziya, this article will describe a few of its prominent architectural features and offer a brief historical sketch of some of the Du‟at Mutlaqeen it derives its value from.
Qubba Najmiyya was built by al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA, the 43rd al-Dai al- Mutlaq, and named in honor of his elder brother and predecessor al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Yusuf Najmuddin RA, the 42nd al-Dai al-Mutlaq. Also entombed within are al-Maula al-Ajal Syedi Luqmanji b. Habibullah QR and Syedna Saifuddin‟s brother and mansoos (successor-designate), al-Maula al-Ajal Syedi Abdulqadir Hakimuddin QR who unfortunately passed away during Syedna Saifuddin‟s tenure.
Years later, al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mohammed Izzuddin RA, the 44th al-Dai al-Mutlaq, ordered the purchase of the land directly adjacent to Qubba Najmiyya. The significance of this purchase was unknown until after he was laid to rest there and his elder brother and successor, al-Dai al- Ajal Syedna Tayyib Zainuddin, the 45th al-Dai al-Mutlaq, built a Qubba there and named it Qubba Izziyya in honour of his predecessor. He himself would later be laid to rest next to Syedna Izzuddin as well as three subsequent Du‟at Mutlaqeen: the 46th Dai, al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mohammed Badruddin RA, the 49th Dai, al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA, and the 50th Dai, al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Abdullah Badruddin RA. For a time, construction of the Qubba Mubaraka reached a standstill. Once work resumed in the month of Rajab al-Asab 1247 AH/ December 1831 CE, the outer structure, including the dome, was swiftly completed by 16th Sha‟baan al-Karim/ 19th January (1832). In similar fashion to the construction of Qubba Najmiyya, the dome of this Qubba Mubaraka was put up in a single day with the participation of the notables of Surat and the students of al-Dars al-Saifee.
Similar to many Qubab Sharifa erected in India, Qubba Izziyya embodies a confluence of various architectural styles. Along with Fatimi architectural elements such as the multifoil arches plastered generously along the exterior and interior walls, the gold inscription of Surah al- Rahman in the thuluth script, and the iconic Mishkat al-Anwar, certain Indo-Islamic architectural elements are prominent. The finial pointed and lotus-leaf based dome, the „Chhajja‟ or overhanging eave over the four entry doorways, the „Chatri‟ (umbrella) that canopies the Du‟at Mutlaqeen‟s hallowed graves (which also feature Chhajja‟s), and „Jalis‟ or openwork screens bordering the base of these Chatris are all design features utilised by Du‟at Mutlaqeen SA in Hindustan.
Of these aforementioned features, of particular beauty is the vegetal lattice pattern spiraling around the inner dome. In his recent Risala Ramadaniya (the annual treatise authored by the al- Dai al-Mutlaq usually commenced during the month of Ramadan) “Jameat Thamarat al-Ulum” (pg. 1120-24), al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS includes an interesting anecdote from al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Abdulqadir Najmuddin‟s RA meeting with the British Orientalist Traveller, Henry George Briggs in Surat in 1263 AH/1847 CE.
Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS narrates that when Syedna Najmuddin RA met Briggs, they had a conversation regarding the state of affairs in Britain at the time. He later explained the curriculum and pedagogy of al-Dars al-Saifee and showcased some of its students. Towards the end of his visit, he viewed al-Masjid al-Moazzam and the two Mausoleums. Here, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS highlights Briggs‟s astonishment as he marveled at the beauty of the inner dome. He had never witnessed such intricate designs during any of his previous travels. He was also deeply struck by the Mihrab (prayer niche) of al-Masjid al-Moazzam. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS states that Briggs was so inspired by what he witnessed that he was unconsciously reciting the Kalimat al-Shahadah as his mind pondered the beauty of Islamic art and architecture.
he above anecdote captures the experience of every visitor that enters the Qubba Mubaraka; they cannot help but be immediately moved by the magnificent amalgamation of architectural and artistic elements it exhibits. These feelings are compounded when they ponder over the historic lives of the revered luminaries resting before them as they perform ziyarat; this is indeed, an essential component of attaining spiritual fulfilment through ziyarat.
Let us consider two Du‟at Mutlaqeen here. Both noble brothers, Syedna Mohammed Izzuddin RA and Syedna Tayyib Zainuddin RA draw their lineage to two honourable personalities, Syedi Fakhruddin al-Shaheed QR and Syedi Abdulqadir Hakimuddin QR, the great sage of Burhanpur. After his brother‟s untimely demise, Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA selected Syedi Sheikh Jivanji Saheb‟s QR sons, Syedna Zainuddin and Syedna Izzuddin, took them under his care and prepared them for the august office of al-Dai al-Mutlaq. Both brothers were designated to succeed Syedna Saifuddin, although the younger of the two, Syedna Izzuddin ascended to the throne of Dawat first, with Syedna Zainuddin destined to succeed him. Syedna Izzuddin was personally taught the intricacies of the affairs of Dawat and its administration by his illustrious predecessor.
On numerous occasions, Syedna Saifuddin would test him with various assignments until he was confident that Syedna Izzuddin was ready to uphold the onerous responsibilities of Dawat. On one occasion, Syedna Saifuddin commanded him to travel immediately to Mumbai without informing anyone, not even the members of his own household. Syedna Izzuddin followed his predecessor‟s directives to the letter and subsequently returned to Surat as instructed. This brief account of Syedna Izzudin‟s acceptance of his Dai‟s commands and willingness to overcome any test he faced with conviction and without demur holds didactic significance. It illustrates that attaining Allah Subhanahu‟s favour is not always easy, but that the inspiration to do so can be gleaned from studying the history of Du‟at Mutlaqeen SA. May we always be struck by the beauty of this Qubba Mubaraka and more so inspired by the luminaries it houses.
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M. Huzaifa Shk Burhanuddin bhai Taquee graduated from Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah with an al- Faqih al-Jayyid degree in 1438/2017. He then graduated from Columbia University with an MA Islamic Studies in 1441/2021. He is currently a lecturer at Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah in Nairobi, Kenya.