September 23, 2018

Qutb Minar is a Muslim Monument

The Qutb Minar of Delhi is a subject of controversy. Some scholars argue that it is a Hindu monument; that this monument was originally begun by the Hindu king Prithviraj Chauhan for giving his daughter a view of the river Yamuna; or, according to another account, for getting the view of the river Ganges. J. D. Beglar, assistant of Alexander Cunningham, and Syed Ahmad Khan were the notable historians to support this claim.

Details of the inscriptions on Qutb Minar



Arguments Supporting the Hindu Origin of Qutb Minar and Its Objections:

A Masjid should have two Minars:

There is only one Minar, which is contrary to the practice of the Muhammadans who always give two Minars to their Masjids - The Minars of Ghazni and Koel (Aligarh) show that it was the practice of the early Muhammadans to have only one Minar even down to the middle of the 13th Century.

Peculiar slope of the Minar:

The peculiar slope of the Qutb Minar is totally unlike that of other Muslim Minars - Slope is peculiar characteristic of the architecture of the Pathans.

Wrong position as the Mazina:

The Mazina would have been erected at one end of the Mosque, instead of being at some distance from it - The Koel Minar, which occupies exactly the same detached position with regard to the Jama Masjid of Koel as the Qutb Minar does with respect to the Jami Masjid of Delhi. Both of them are placed outside the south-east corner of their respective Masjids.

The entrance door should face the east:

It is a Hindu practice that the entrance door faces the north, whereas with the Muhammadans it faces the east - The entrance door of the Koel Minar also faces the north exactly as in the Qutb Minar. Most other mausoleums, including the Taj Mahal, have their entrance door to the south, and not to the east. Cunningham pointed out that out of 50 temples of which he has a record, no less than 38 have their entrance doors to the east, 10 to the west and only 2 to the north.

No plinth:

Muhammadans always erect their buildings upon a raised platform, as may be seen in the unfinished Minar of Ala-ud-din Khilji, and it is customary for the Hindus to commence such buildings without any platform (or plinth) -  The gigantic Buddhist temple at Bodh Gaya, the two large temples in the fort of Gwalior, the elaborately sculptured temples of Khajuraho, the great pillar at Chittorgarh and most of the temples in Kashmir all are raised on plinths. The Minars at Ghazni and the tomb of Iltutmish were not built on plinths.

Presence of Hindu motifs and Nagari inscriptions:

Old photo of Qutb Minar
Qutb Minar, a picture by Thomas Daniell, 1805
Old photo of Qutb Minar

Bells which are used in Hindu worship are sculptured on the lower part of the basement storey - Hindu motifs like the bells, chains or lotuses exist because materials from the adjacent Hindu temples were used in the construction of the Minar, and also because Hindu labourers were employed. Moreover, there are no other Pillars of Hindu origin except the Pillar of Chittorgarh, even that has no similarity with the Qutb.

Later Claims:

D. S. Triveda:

  • According to D. S. Triveda, the Qutb Minar is actually an observatory, which was built by King Samudra Gupta.
  • Since the Minar is at a much lower elevation than the mosque Quwwat-ul-Islam, the Minar must be anterior to the mosque.
  • The 27 doors and windows in the basement storey of the Minar prove that there existed once an observatory of 27 Naksatras. The 27 temples referred to in the inscription in the nearby mosque, are evidently the temples of the 27 Naksatras in number.
  • It is hard to believe how Qutub-ud-din could accomplish the erection of the Minar within a short period of four years only, especially when he was so new to the country.
  • The tower is situated at Mehrauli which is the distorted form of Mihiravali - a cluster of suns or the planets.

Professor M.S Bhatnagar:

  • According to M.S Bhatnagar, the Minar is in fact the Dhurva Stambha or the central observation tower of an ancient Hindu Astronomical Observatory.
  • The tower looks like a 24-petaled lotus flower, from the sky; which is purely a Hindu concept. The tower had seven storeys representing the week of those only five exist now. The sixth was dismantled, and the seventh had actually a statue of the four-faced Brahma holding the Vedas at the beginning of creation. Above Brahma was a white marble canopy with gold bell patterns laid in it.
  • Mehrauli is a Sanskrit word Mihira-awali. It signifies the township where the well known astronomer Mihira of Vikramaditya's court lived. They used the so-called Qutb tower as an observation post for astronomical study. Around the tower were pavilions dedicated to the 27 constellations of the Hindu Zodiac.
  • While the temples around are earlier Hindu buildings there was no sufficient space left in between for Qutub-ud-din Aibak to come and build a tower.
  • Its very ornate style proves that it is a Hindu tower. At either side of the entrance is the stone lotus flower emblem which also proves that it was a Hindu building. Use of iron strips to keep together stones in huge buildings was a Hindu device.
  • Try to go to the top and try to shout to the people below. Had they done so they would have found out for themselves that no one on the ground can hear them from that height. No muazzin would even for a day adept a job where he has to climb and un-climb five times a day a flight of 365 narrowing, curving steps in the dark confines of the tower.

Why it is called Qutb Minar?

The Minar of Delhi was originally called as the Minar of the Jami Mosque of Delhi. Who gave it the name Qutb is still unknown. Muhammad Shafi Warid, who wrote his Mirat-i Waridat in 1734, calls it Minar-i-Shamsi ie, the minar of Iltutmish. The name 'Cuttub Minar' was first used by Ensign James Blunt, an engineer, in 1799.

Qutb Minar is a Muslim Monument:

Evidence given by Ibn Battuta: Ibn Battuta, who saw the Minar in 1334, says that its pinnacle was of milky white marble and the globes which decorate it is of pure gold. he was in contact with a localite who had seen its construction, employing elephants. When Battuta saw it, it had four storeys and a marble dome.

Evidence from Inscriptions: There are many Arabic and Nagari inscriptions on the Minar; the names of Hindu masons and carpenters occur in the inscriptions in addition to Fazl, son of Abul Maali the Mutawalli (Manager) and Muhammad Amir Koh the supervisor: the maternal grandson of the son of Chahada Devapala; Nana; Salha; Lola; Lashmana; Dharmu Vanani the carpenter; Sikha, son of Hira, the mason; etc. Even the names of Muslim Sultans are written there in Nagari. Some of them are: "This is the Victory Pillar of Alavadina (Ala-ud-din Khilji)"; "This is Pillar of Fame of Malik din. May it be for good luck (The name Malik din is not known in history)"; "The Pillar of fame of the illustrious Sultan Muhammad Shah Tughlaq". We can conclude that though the Sultans ordered to build the Minar, the artisans were chiefly Hindus.

Ved Parkash further proves that the Qutb Minar was the Mazina of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque: A tablet in the Minar contains the expression "O ye come towards Namaz", which denotes the purpose for which the Minar was originally built. He also cites the descriptions of the Minar given by Amir Khusru and Muhammad Aufi:

Description by Amir Khusru in his Qiran us-Sa'dain: "The muezzin (public-crier) stretched and extended his figure..shouted the prayer-call by standing on the pillar...When the muezzin went round the top of the shaft, his stature went beyond the height of the mosque of Christ...The post where the crier's place rests, was beyond the reach of the crier's stature".

Description by Muhammad Aufi in his Jawami ul-Hikayat: "Praise be to God that through His grace Shamshuduniya wa din Abul Muzaffar as-Sultan Iltutmish...in the imperial metropolis of Delhi, constructed a mosque which is like the monastic establishment of the holy inmates of the world above and also a lofty minaret, which is higher than the vault of heaven..the whole of the courtyard and the flooring of the mosque is made of white marble and the arches also have been constructed of stone in such a manner as to baffle the imagination..and by its side, he constructed the Minar, the loftiness of which beggars description. You might say that a lofty cypress has grown in the flower garden (reminding the Quranic text). Verily all mosques are meant for God..The elegant edifice of the mosque is an abode of all the pious and devout ones and the tower constructed in it is like a cypress tree, from the top of which sweet-toned nightingales of the prayer call sing from dawn the hymns of the glory of God...the tower has a lofty stature but is devoid of hand and feet. It is of high dignity and lofty stature for it is constantly engaged in the work of providing the call of prayers of God's creatures.


As the triumphing judgment of the Sultan suggested due to his good faith in the principles of Islam that the sound of the prayer-call should reach the ears of all creatures, he fixed the size and the lofty height of the monument and consequently the wise engineers, in accordance with the royal command, constructed a Minar which was so to say, an Alif written on the tablet of the courtyard of the mosque and the arches of the mosque were given a curved shape like that of a 'Noon' and thus they are like 'Alif' and 'Noon' respectively, indicating aan (dignity). Verses: Who else possesses the beauty that belongs to you? Let the evil eye be at a distance from whatever you possess. I wounder how the great traditional saying of the Prophet emanate from the mouth that you possess, ie, how the call for the prayer, Allah-o-Akbar comes out from your tongueless mouth and how it reaches the ears of so many creatures. You might say that the Minar has got the attributes of the Mustaqiman (the righteous ones standing erect in prayer) who when they hear the recollection of their friend (God) their hearts warm up as the Quran says that whenever the names, attributes and praises of God are repeated, the heart begins to beat. The Minar may be likened to a brook or rivulet which is continuously flowing into the water of the benevolence of God's names and attributes and the Canon law of Mustafa receives the water of face-lustre therefrom. It has been constructed with the help and the patronage of and due to the exalted magnanimity of the King of the world, the Khusrau of the age, world taker and the law-giver till eternity. Five times every night and day, it plays the musical band at the palace of the Divine (Sultan). The planet of Saturn on the 7th tier of the blue sky keeps guard at its door like a slave (Hindu). The minaret like a living creature is sitting in the presence of that King because it has the honour of performing his orders. it has been rewarded with rich robes.

Reference:

The Qutb Minar from Contemporary and Near Contemporary Sources By Ved Parkash
Archaeological Survey of India Reports ... : v.1-11, 1862-1865; 1871-1878

Notes:

Ensign James Blunt's description of Qutb Minar:

Qutb Minar in 1794
Qutb Minar, a drawing, April 1794
"The base of the Qutb Minar is a polygon of twenty-seven sides, and rises upon it in a circular form...The exterior part of the Minar is fluted into twenty-seven semicircular and angular divisions, upon which is written a good deal of a very ancient Arabic character, it is supposed to contain passages from the Quran; there are four balconys in the height of the building, the first is at the height of 90 feet, the second at 140, the third at 180, and the fourth at 203 feet; to the height of 180 feet, the pillar is built of an exceeding fine red Granite, and the fluting there ends. The balconys are supported upon large stone brackets, and have had small battlements erected upon them; from the height of 203 feet, excepting a few inconsiderable ornaments, it rises with an even surface, and circular form, built of very fine white marble. An irregular spiral stair-case, leads from the bottom, to the summit of the Minar, which is crowned with a majestic Cupola of red Granite; there are many openings during the ascent, for the admission of light and air; at each balcony, an opening to allow of people walking into them; but I found the battlements in many parts entirely ruined. The entire height of the Minar is 242 feet and six inches."

Abulfeda's description: "Attached to the mosque is a tower which has no equal in the whole world. It is built of red stone with about 360 steps. It is not square but has a great number of angles, is very massive at the base, and very lofty, equaling in height the Pharos of Alexandria."

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