The legacy of Shi’ism in India

By Syedda Shahid, N. Delhi. TIO: With Muharrum, the mourning month just around the corner which kick starts from the evening of Thursday, August 20th, #Ashura (10th day of the Muharrum) is a public holiday in India, whilst the birthday of Imam Ali (AS) is a public holiday in at least 2 states, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. During the ’92 Shia Uprising in Iraq, the media had been tightly controlled by Saddam Hussein yet the channel Doordarshan was the only channel covering the events at that time.Charminar, Hyderabad
Charminar, Hyderabad
Here is a random list of 10 historically important monuments that contribute to the rich diversity of this land that’ve been built by the past rulers in India to commemorate Muharrum. Similarly, there are thousands of dated Imambargahs spread across every nook and corner of India.
1) Charminar is a monument and mosque in Hyderabad, built-in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, a Shia dynasty that ruled the Golconda region of South India for 171 years.
Hoogly Imambara
               Hooghly Imambara
2) The Hooghly Imambargah was completed in 1861 and is located in West Bengal. The clock was manufactured Messrs E.J. Dent & Co., the same company that manufactured the clock in Big Ben in London.
Imambara, Murshidabad
      Imambara, Murshidabad
3) The Nawabs of Murshidabad and Bengal built what is considered to be the largest Imambargah in India, the Nizamat Imambargah in 1847.
4) The Nawabs of Awadh ruled over Lucknow from 1722 to 1859 and left behind beautiful architecture. Here are the Jama Masjid, Asafi Masjid also known as the ‘Bara Imambargah’, and the Hussaini Masjid also known as ‘Chhota Imambargah’
Mahmud Gawan Madarsa
                Mahmud Gawan Madarsa
5) The Bahmanids of Deccan converted to the Shi’ism school of thought and their legacy is seen in the ruins of the ‘Mahmud Gawan Madrassah’ built in the 1460s. The Adil Shahi kingdom would breakaway, and the shrine of Muhammad Adil Shah built-in 1656 exists today.
Rampur Raza Library
Rampur Raza Library
6) The Rampur Raza Library in Rampur was established in 1774 by Nawab Faizullah Khan is a repository of Indo-Islamic cultural heritage and a treasure-house of knowledge. It contains a very rare and valuable collection of manuscripts, historical documents, specimens of Islamic calligraphy, miniature paintings, astronomical instruments, and rare illustrated works in Arabic and Persian.
Shanajaf Imambara, Lucknow
 Shah Najaf Imambara, Lucknow
One of the priceless books in the library is the unique copies of the Holy Qur’an written on parchments that have been attributed to the penmanship of  Imam Ali (AS) in (d 661) of the 7th century AD.
7) Imambargah Gulzarbagh Waqf Estate in Patna was built by Imambandi Begum in 1890 widow of Nawab Ahmad Ali
8) Shah Najaf Imambarah in Lucknow was built by Nawab Ghazi-ud Din Haider (1814-1827) at a place called Paltan Ghat on the banks of the river Gomti, this Imambara also serves as a mausoleum to the Nawab’s own mortal remains.
Shah e Mardan, Delhi
Shah e Mardan, Delhi
9) 700 hundred-year-old Imambargah Shah-e-Mardan located in the Jor Bagh, South Delhi, since the Mughal era the village here was known as Aliganj and was called Aliganj till recently until two decades ago by the then Govt changed it to B.K.Dutt colony.
It was developed and secured by Qudsiya Begum Zamani, the mother of Mughal emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur and the grandmother of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Imambara Wazeer un Nisa, Amroha
Imambara Wazeer un Nisa, Amroha
10) Imambara Wazeer Un Nisa in Amroha UP was built by Musammaat Waziran in memory of her daughter, it was established before 1802 (1226 Hijri).
Here is a link to a very interesting and informative documentary produced and directed by the very talented @AmirTaki for @AhlulbaytTV Documentaries known as :
In India many Hindus too commemorate Muharram. Contribution of Maratha rulers such as Holkers of Indore, Gaekwad of Baroda, Scindias of Gwalior Shahu Ji of Kolhapur, the Rani of Jhansi, and Tanjavur Nayaks of Vijayanagar in the 16th and 17th century to the observance of Muharram and participation in its rituals with the splendor of royalty in their dominions have been a prominent part of history, the Hindus in Tamil Nadu observe ‘Allah Festival’ on Eve of Muharram and till date, the Sindhia family organizes Tazia, each year the procession is taken out from their palace at Gwalior on 10th day of Muharram.
Gwalior Palace, Zari
Gwalior Palace, Zari
Gwalior Palace has been commemorating Muharram for centuries. It was established by Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia and is famously known as “Maharaja Scindia Ji ka Tazia”
Sarkarwara Zari, Vadodara
Sarkarwara Zari, Vadodara 

In Vadodara, for more than 200 years Taziya had been installed at Sarkarwada’s official residence of the Gaekwad royal family and was called Sarkari Tazia under the patronage of the royal family. Tazia of Yakutpura is one of the initial installations that began in the erstwhile state of Baroda

Tazia = representation of the tomb of Imam Hussain (a.s)
There is also a group called Hussaini Brahmins who claim their ancestors participated in the battle of Karbala.
Compiled and Curated by Shams Ahmad
 Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi


Syedda Shahid

The writer is passionate about writing, a graduate of National Institute of Fashion Technology, currently into garment exports, based in New Delhi. In this short piece, she has tried to bring awareness to people who may not be familiar with the sequence of historical events of the past in the Muslim world

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