10th September 2014
Whenever I have any free time in Delhi I love to connect with Asif Khan Dehelvi and go exploring in Delhi.
10th was no different. Having finished some work in the afternoon I joined Asif in CP and we started exploring options. Red Fort would be closing in a little while, Begumpur was too far, so we decided to go to Firoz Shah Kotla.
My first visit to this hauntingly beautiful place had also been with Asif and I was looking forward to another equally wonderful visit.
Ferozabad as it was known was Delhi’s fifth city built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq on the banks of the Yamuna River in in the village of Gawin in 1354. Today popularly known as Firoz Shah Kotla, it is eclipsed by the stadium of the same name, near it.
Though today it is in ruins it must hsve been a majestic fort in its time. Its stones were stripped for the building of the 6th city of Shahjahanabad.
The grand entrance leading to the diwan e aam , going on to diwan e khaas and then the palaces today bear mute testimony to their former grandeur.
It was used by the Mughals as a prototype for their forts.
It was to this city that Firoz Shah Tughlaq brought Ashoka’s pillar from Tobra, near present Ambala, which he had seen on one of his travels.
The journey of that pillar to Ferozabad is another story for another day.
However, this city’s claim to fame is neither its past majesty nor the beautiful pillar but the resident spirits or Djinns who grant wishes and who have many devotees in and around the area as well as further away.
It doesnot matter what time of the day you go there you will see incense sticks and diyas/ lamps and candles burning in various nooks and corners of the place as well as in the underground areas.
It has a grand functioning mosque which was built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq’s Prime Minister, Khan e Jahan. It is one of 7 mosques that he built in Delhi. There used to be a madarsa attached to it , with underground rooms for students and teachers to stay in, which is today believed to be populated by the Djinns and is always lit with lamps and incense sticks.
It is Built on a high plinth and steep steps lead up to it. There is a huge courtyard surrounded by walls and as in the case of Begumpur Mosque also built by Khan e Jahan
, once upon a time the side aisles must have been covered by small domes. Today they are no longer extant but we can conjecture.
There are Imams appointed by Delhi Waqf Board to lead prayers here and they can usually be found in one of the niches in the wall.
As per Islam Djinns are created from smokeless fire and were created before man. In fact when Iblees the chief Djinn was asked to prostrate to Adam he refused on the grounds that he , originating from fire, was superior to Adam who was made from clay. This led to his fall from grace and becoming the accursed Satan.
Jinn is a plural noun in Arabic literally meaning “hidden from sight”, and it derives from Arabic root j-n-n (pronounced: jann/ junn جَنّ / جُنّ) meaning “to hide” or “be hidden”.
As in human race, there are good and bad Djinns. The word genie who fulfills ones wishes comes from the Arabic djinn and in folk lore have great powers to grant wishes.
The village my ancestors come from was established by Jalaluddin Khilji and has a mosque dating to back then. I have grown up hearing stories of Djinn Mamus from my grandmother and other relatives. We have a Djinn waali masjid there and of course many tales.
Therefore I have a very open mind towards the spirits and do my utmost to respect the traditions of the place.
When I was asked by a lady in white, sitting in one of the rooms to take my slippers off and enter, I did.
She seemed a kindly soul and was deeply immersed in prayers herself and promised to pray for me too.
When prayers are fulfilled people bring offerings of food, sweets and flowers and Thursday is the day to be there.