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Thursday, 31 January 2013

MINORHAJJ/ PILGRIMAGE JOURNEY in Uzbekistan

Picture taken at Khiva

 Minor Hajj is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith though sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs. Many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their “calling” or spiritual awakening, or of their connection (visual or verbal) with the divine, or to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live or be “housed,” or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. Such sites may be commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim.

The Holy Land acts as a focal point for the pilgrimages of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These pilgrims visit the Holy Land to touch and see physical manifestations of their faith, confirm their beliefs in the holy context with collective excitation and connect personally to the Land. The pilgrimage is conducted during Zul-Hijjah, the last month of the Muslim’s lunar calendar.
The Ark at Bukhara
In the country, there are many historical monuments relating to the origin, pervasion and spread of Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and of course Islam, in the 8th century making Uzbekistan as a sacred country practicing minor pilgrimage.
Invasions in TASHKENT and natural calamities, including the devastating earthquake in 1966 has swept most of the medieval buildings of the ancient past. However, there are still many masterpieces of the Islamic culture such as the Madrassah of Kulkeldash constructed by the most power full vizier Kulkeldash which is one of the leading Muslim theological education establishments in the whole Central Asia. Another example is the Sheikhantaur Mausoleum, named after Sheikh Hovandi Takhur who is very much respected by the Muslims in the 15th century or better known as ”wise of the wisest”. The Barak-Khan Madrassah housed Uzbekistan’s Office of Spiritual Administration of Muslims since the 16th century till today. The Hazarati Imam Complex comprises of a few structures. One of the structures is the Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum which was constructed in honour of Imam Mohammed Abu-bakra Ali ibn Ismail Al Kaffal Al Shashi who was born in the Shash region (Tashkent today) and was given the title “Great Imam”. The Barak- Khan Madrassah housed the most valuable “Ottoman Koran” the primary source of the holy manuscripts of Islam. The Zangi-ota Mausoleum is where Saint “Dark Father”, the most honourable shepherd gazer in the 15th century was buried. In 2007, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) have named Tashkent as the Capital of Islamic Culture.
Ismail Samani Mausoleum
SAMARKAND which was founded more than 2750 years ago is home to fascinating historical monuments. The focus of its beauty is the Registan better known as “Sandy Place”. It is the most magnificent landmark in Samarkand. It consists of three madrassahs. Besides that, the Bibi Khanum Mosqueand Gur Emir Mausoleum feature beautiful architecture such as their interior and exterior inscription decor. The Shah-i-Zinda Ensemble is the most important pilgrimage site for both locals and tourists. The same goes to the Imam al-Bukhari Mausoleum which can accommodate more than 1500 worshippers at one time and a visit to this shrine is considered by the Muslims to be equal to a minor Hajj.
Madrassah of Kukeldash
As SAMARKAND was the centre of commerce, BUKHARA on the other hand became the empires’ religious heart. “While elsewhere light radiates from heaven onto land, in holy Bukhara it radiates upward to illuminate heaven onto land”. Its cultural and architectural legacy was recognized by UNESCO and the city is inscribed in the World Heritage Listing. The center of history in Bukhara best seen on foot is the The Ark once a fortified residence of a Bukhara ruler known as “The Shadow of Allah”. The Ismail Samani Mausoleum, a 1000 year-old edifice is a real masterpiece by its founder, Ismail Samani, and it has been preserved since the Mongol invasion by Genghis Khan. The Modari-Khan Madrassah and the Abdullah-Khan Madrassahare important religious schools back in the 16th century. The Kalyan Minaret (Short Minaret) was once the tallest minaret in Central Asia and the Lyabi Hauz Archi tec tural Complexwhich houses a few madrassahs are where pilgrims find peace and quiet is what one needs so much to get closer to God.
Kalta Minor Minaret
Minor Hajj is important to Muslims as it is obligatory to perform it once in a lifetime, viewed as a particularly meritorious activity. Pilgrimage serves as a penance - the ultimate forgiveness for sins, devotion and intense spirituality. A Minor Hajj to sacred land in Uzbekistan begins from TASHKENT-SAMARKAND-BUKHARA and will take at least 4 to 5 days. During the pilgrimage tour here, you will surely reaffirm your beliefs!

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