By Mohammed Mirza
Though Muslims in Hyderabad are a minority today, the rich Muslim heritage of Hyderabad is inextricable from the city as it leaps forward becoming a metropolis at a breathtaking pace.
The erstwhile Muslim rulers of the city have bequeathed the city with numerous vestiges that stand today as glorious examples of architecture, culture and spirituality. Scores of these structures stand in decrepit conditions and unfortunately many of them are mosques.
What’s even worse is that the authorities have sealed the entrances of several of these mosques to stop worshipers from praying in them, which was the very purpose they were built for. Here are four of them.
Shaikpet Qutb Shahi Mosque
Shaikpet today is one of the most prime locations of the city. This mosque lies in the heart of the city and stands in a dilapidated condition with huge cracks in its walls and algae lining atop its badly damaged minarets. The last time I visited it i saw a tree springing out of its wall that faced the Qibla. Many Muslim families live close by this mosque, some even cross it on their way to reach other mosques to pray on a daily basis. The construction style of this mosque indicates that it perhaps was a precursor to the Toli Mosque at Karwan. This suggests is was built over 400 years ago.
Coordinates: 17.403435, 78.399890
Great Mosque at Qutb Shahi Tombs
Thanks to a massive restoration project that is currently underway, the mosque has regained its lost glory albeit is devoid of worshipers. This mosque that stands next to the tomb of one of the most celebrated women in Deccan history, Hayat Bakshi Begum, is one of the largest of all historic mosques in Telangana yet stands deserted as prayers are not allowed inside it.
Coordinates: 17.396998, 78.396679
Mulla Khayali Mosque
I remember venturing out to the Naya Qila area without knowing what to expect. This fascinating mosque stands high atop a plinth. The mosque was built by celebrated calligraphist and poet Mulla Khayali in 1569 AD during the rule of Ibrahim Qutb Shah. The mosque originally has several acres of land under its records but now a substantial part of its land had been encroached by an elite golf course.
Coordinates: 17.392805, 78.410540
Mustafa Khan Mosque
Another mosque of the Naya Qilla area, this mosque too has its surrounding encroached by the rolling greens of the golf course. The mosque was built in the memory of Mustafa Khan who is famous for having designed some of Hyderabad’s most iconic structures including the Naya Qila area of the Golconda Fort and the Toli Mosque.
Coordinates: 17.389838, 78.413969
The ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) under whose precincts most of the abandoned mosques lie has repeatedly turned down the pleas of Muslims of the city to be allowed to pray at these mosques stating that “the mosques were not functional at the time of handover to the ASI.”
But this statement of theirs clearly doesn’t hold water as there have been numerous instances where even the apex court has allowed worshipers to pray in places that weren’t being used as a place of worship at the time of handover to the ASI.
What to do?
Reach out to the councilors and legislators under whom these mosques fall . Reach out to the Waqf board. Contact the Muslims under whose vicinity these mosques stand. Reach out to others and spread awareness. This is the least we can do because mosques are meant to be places of worship, not mere landmarks.