The Frontispiece of the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Mashhad, Iran

A BRIEF NOTE

By Jehangir A. Merchant

The Ismaili place of worship is seen as that House in which the Light is found, where Allah’s praise is sung in the mornings and in the evenings, and where mu’mins (believers) offer their prayers and fulfill their religious duties.

The frontispiece of the Jamatkhana in Mashhad, Iran. Photo: Ilm magazine, July 1978.

 

Mashhad Jamatkhana. Photo: PJiwa Collection

The beautiful niche-like frontispiece of the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Mashhad, Iran, inspires reverential wonder as it silently reveals the metaphysical and mystical dimensions hidden in Arabic inscriptions.

Reading from the bottom right-hand side upwards and then moving left to follow downwards to the bottom left-hand side are the Ayats 35-37 of Sura Nur (Chapter of Light) from the Holy Qur’an. The translation is:

“In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth; His Light is as a Niche in which is a Lamp, and the Lamp is in a Glass, the Glass is though it were a glittering Star, it is lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive neither of East nor of the West, the Oil of which would well-nigh give Light though no fire touched it, Light upon Light, – Allah guides to His Light whom He pleases; and Allah strikes out parables for men; and Allah has knowledge of all things.

“(This Light is found) in houses which Allah has permitted to be exalted and that His Name shall be remembered therein. In them His praise is sung in the mornings and in the evenings, (again and again) by men whom neither trade nor profit can divert from remembrance of Allah, from offering prayers or from paying their dues (Zakat); who only fear a day when hearts and eyes will be overturned.”

In the centre of the frontispiece are inscribed the words Allah, Muhammad, ‘Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussein.

In the semi-domed section of the façade is Ayat 103 of Sura Al-i ‘Imran:

“And hold fast all of you together to the Rope of Allah and be not divided.”

Thus the principles of the Shia Ismaili belief are enshrined in this beautiful calligraphy on the exterior of the Mashhad Jamatkhana.

The Ismaili place of worship is seen as that House in which the Light is found, where Allah’s praise is sung in the mornings and in the evenings, and where mu’mins (believers) offer their prayers and fulfill their religious duties.

Publication date: November 26, 2010

________________

Article adapted from Ilm, July 1978.

Related article: My Climb to ‘Sacred’ Alamut, Where Every Stone Tells a Story by Ali Rajput

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31 thoughts on “The Frontispiece of the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Mashhad, Iran

  1. It’s very nice to know that we have a nice Jamatkhana and Ismailis in Iran.

    Thank you & Ya Ali Madad to all readers

  2. It is a pleasure to see such a wonderful Jamatkhana in Iran, especially in calligraphy. What is the size of the Jamat in Iran, I wonder.

  3. Thank you very much for the explanation and photo of the Jamat Khana above. I thank Allah that I am an Ismaili and my Mawla is Hazar Imam. Munira

  4. The Frontispiece of the Mashhad Jamatkhana is very interesting. I look forward to reading more about the Jamatkhanas and the Jamat in Iran.

  5. Lovely, and I too would love to have the answers to some of the questions above – when was it built, how many Ismailis are there in Mashhad, are they now freer than under Khomeini to practice the religion.

    I should like to make a comment to where it says:

    The principles of the Shia Ismaili belief are enshrined in this beautiful calligraphy on the exterior of the Mashhad Jamatkhana.
    The calligraphy shows we are of Islam; the names of the Five Holy Ones shows we are of Shias. We go further than that, don’t we?

  6. It would be interesting to find out about the freedom of practice of the faith in Iran. Also, I wonder how many Ismailis live Iran today, and when this beautiful Jamatkhana was built.

    A feedabck would be appreciated.

  7. Feeling happy that through this type of Jamatkhanas we are not only sustaining our Muslim tradition and culture but also the Islamic Architecture and Design of Fine Arts too. Let’s keep up the tradition, living forever.

  8. Ya Ali Madad:

    I am very glad to see the photo of the Jamatkhana in Mashhad, Iran. The above Jamatkhana looks very beautiful and came as a very lovely surprise.

    I would like to get its full address as well as addresses of other Jamatkhanas in Iran, as I plan to visit the country next year. I met many Iranian Ismailis during the Golden Jubilee visit of Mawlana Hazar Imam to Dubai.

    Thank you.

  9. I am really happy to see that masterpiece again. It put me in my mind the days of my childhood and where I was born and raised as well as went to pray. I can never forget those days.

  10. This tilework and calligraphy which include the Qur’anic verses is gorgeous. Although short, articles such as this quieten our minds and make us reflect. This was a lovely surprise! Thank you.

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