Saturday, March 5, 2011


Ruin of the Oldest Mosque, 701CE
Islam almost certainly arrived in Bangladesh with early converts to Islam who were Arab traders, possibly even during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet.

Kusumba Mosque, Naogaon
It certainly arrived in China during that early period, and took strong root. In that period, the northern areas of Bangladesh were not only flourishing city states, such as Bhitagarh, Mahasthangarh, and Paharpur, but had probably also developed the silk trade that still flourishes in the area today.

Badshahi Mosque, Panchagarh
Badshahi Mosque, Panchagarh
Three of the main southern trade routes to China, then the most important trade centre in the known world, called the Silk Road, passed through Bangladesh via Sikkim and Nathula Pass.
60 Dome Mosque, Bagerhat

The sea route, which could only operate in suitable monsoon periods, is widely recognised as using Kerala as a stop off point. The route ended in the north east corner of the Bay of Bengal, where communities such as Teknaf, Ramu and Cox Bazar, still flourish in river mouths, as well as further down the Myanmar coast.
Glass Mosque, Saiyadpur, Estd:1863 AD
The land route, that skirted the Himalayas, made for the Brahmaputra River, either to follow its course through its gorges into the lands of China close to Tibet, the river’s source, or to take the river down into the delta it shares with Ganges River, and follow the maritime route across the Bay.
Glass Mosque, Saiyadpur, Estd:1863 AD

Close to the nexus of the upper Brahmaputra River, and where the wide river heads South East, and where routes out of North Bengal cross the Teesta River, lies Lalmonirhat. Just outside this small town have been found ruins that can be identified by a terracotta tile inscribed with a sutra and date of 69 years after the death of the Prophet, as the oldest Mosque in Bangladesh, and one of the earliest in the region.

Close by, immaculate mosques of the early Mughal period bear testimony to  later, arrival of Muslims  from Afghanistan, and its neighbouring areas to occupy territories and establish Muslim rule in the whole of the Indian subcontinent.

Shah Shuja, Mosque, Comilla, Estd: 1658 AD
By the time of those invasions in the 11th and 12th Centuries, Sufi missionaries had already arrived, in Chittagong, in the 10th Century.

From the missionaries and soldiers who settled in Sylhet, Bagerhat, and Rajshahi/ Gaur, through the administrations of both east of the Jamuna/Brahmaputra, and west, grew the predominantly Muslim society of today, with the world’s 4th biggest Muslim population, and which, annually holds the three day Tongi Ijtima near the capital city of Dhaka. This is now the world’s second largest gathering of Muslims after the Holy Hajj at Mecca and thousands of people from all over the world including Saudi Arabia attend the Ijtima.
To visit these traces of the footsteps of Islam across one of its greatest homelands is to experience, to view, to feel oneness with fellow pilgrims from earliest days.

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