Saturday, 3 June, 2023

Binat Bibi Mosque survives as Dhaka’s oldest Islamic structure

Binat Bibi Mosque survives as Dhaka’s oldest Islamic structure
Binat Bibi Mosque, one of the oldest surviving mosques in Dhaka, was built by Bakht Binat, the daughter of Marhamat, in 1454 during the rule of the Sultan of Bengal, Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah. The mosque is located by the Hayat Bepari’s Bridge in Narinda area of the capital. — Kamrul Islam Ratan

With around 6,000 mosques, Dhaka, a metropolis known as ‘the city of mosque’, is an ideal model of architectural ensemble, housing some ancient religious structures which testify its glorious history and represent the rich technical skill of pre-Mughal and Mughal architects. This Ramadan the Daily Sun gives you a sneak peek into the Dhaka’s past through highlighting its wonderful Islamic monuments.

The Binat Bibi Mosque’s structure offers nothing spectacular if the architectural aspect is considered but its specialty lies in its history. The five hundred and sixty seven-year-old building is the oldest surviving mosque of Dhaka, a megacity that is known as ‘the city of mosque’.
The mosque located in the north side of the Hayat Bepari Bridge on Narinda Road No. 6 in Old Dhaka dates back to as early as the pre-Mughal Sultanate period. It was built in 1457 (861 Hijri).
The history of building Binat Bibi Mosque has been engraved on a black stone on the body of the mosque in Persian language.
According to the inscription, some 150 years before the arrival of Islam Khan during the reign of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah I, a Persian merchant named Arkan Ali started living in Narinda for business purposes. He built the mosque with a capacity of 30-40 devotees.
His beloved daughter Binat Bibi died suddenly and was buried near the mosque. Since then the edifice has been known as Binat Bibir Mosque. Saddened by the sudden death of his daughter, Arkan Ali also died after six months. He was buried next to his daughter adjacent to the mosque.
Former Professor of Islamic History and Culture at Dhaka University Parween Hasan writes in her ‘Sultans and Mosques: The Early Muslim Architecture of Bangladesh’ that single hemispherical dome atop a square room, arches on south, north and eastern sides, octagonal turret, modest ornamentation, plaster coating and curved cornices are the original features of the Binat Bibi Mosque.
The four-cornered mosque, built on a site of about seven kathas, had a central dome in its original structure, but another dome was added during its renovation in 1930 (1337Hijri).
Binat Bibi mosque has seen four extensions to date. During the first extension around 90 years ago, a dome was built atop a room.
Around 20 years ago, a two-storey building was built beside the mosque. During third extension, it was turned into a four-storey building.
Finally, the four-storey building was extended to seven-storey structure and a high minaret with the ground floor abutting the original mosque.
The mosque has been operated by a committee formed by locals for the last 200 years. They built the new building with the donation of the locals to accommodate more devotees during the prayer time.  

The original mosque is now used as Maktab in two shifts, morning and afternoon, to teach students Arabic language and the basics of Islam, including prayer, free of charge.
Binat Bibi mosque is one of the last remnants of Dhaka’s beautiful past. It must be preserved in proper way.