Masjid Jami

Sometime during my tour in Afghanistan, I got outside the wire.  I tend to do this from time to time.  Get out and wander around with a friend or two.

This particular time, I was doing some business with the ANP Province Headquarters.  While there, I crept out with a few guys and one ANP Colonel and strolled over to the Masjid Jami in Herat.  COL Khoda Dad spoke with the head Mullah there and asked him to give me a tour of the Mosque.  After intros were made, I was escorted about and taken to almost every part of the Mosque.  One of the more interesting parts of the tour were when they showed me the room where all of the repairs are made for tiles and such.  They do all repairs by hand.  Exactly the same process as hundreds of years ago when the Mosque was first created.  They even hand paint the ceramics onto the tiles.

I took these pictures as I walked around in awe of the agelessness of the place.

I’m very lucky to have been able to have had this and other experiences in Afghanistan.  I’d venture to say that not everyone has such incredible and unique adventures over there.

Khoda Hafiz!

Minarets of Herat

The Minarets of Herat

The Minarets of Herat

I can’t get out to these parts of town.

So…I gave my camera to my boys Shoaib and Wahid.  They cruised down to the Minarets and took these photos for me and did a pretty good job of it.

Great photos.  I cropped and shaped some of them up a bit.  The photos give an excellent idea of the experience of visiting these ancient edifices. I would love to be able to get out there someday and see the Minarets myself.  Touch them.  Feel their spirit or their vibe so to speak.

Perhaps I’ll get the chance someday.

These links give a bit of background information about the Minarets.

Wikipedia

Times Online

Letters from Herat

Function of a Minaret

As well as providing a visual cue to a Muslim community, the call to prayer is traditionally given from the top of the minaret. In some of the oldest mosques, such as the Great Mosque of Damascus, minarets originally served as watchtowers illuminated by torches (hence the derivation of the word from the Arabic nur, meaning “light”). In more recent times, the main function of the minaret was to provide a vantage point from which the muezzin can call out the adhan, calling the faithful to prayer. In most modern Mosques, the adhan is called not in the minaret, but in the musallah, or prayer hall, via a microphone and speaker system.

In a practical sense, these are also used for natural air conditioning. As the sun heats the dome, air is drawn in through open windows and up and out of the shaft, thereby causing a natural ventilation.

Minarets have been described as the “gate from heaven and earth”, and as the Arabic language letter alif (which is a straight vertical line).

The world’s tallest minaret (at 210 meters) is located at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. The world’s tallest brick minaret is Qutub Minar located in Delhi, India. There are two 230 meter tall minarets under construction in Tehran, Iran.