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In the Name of God بسم الله

Adornment and extravagance in masjids

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Have a read of this:


The learned Shi'ite research scholars and historians in their books have narrated from Hasan b. Mathleh Jamakarani - a righteous man of upright conduct and noble character, and a lover of the family of the revelation and Prophethood (I.e. the Ahlul Bayt, the holy progeny of the Prophet ) - regarding the construction of the Holy Jamkaran Mosque in the outskirts of Qom as follows:

“I was sleeping at my home in the village of Jamkaran on Tuesday night, the 17th day of the blessed and holy month of Ramadhan of 393 A.H. (Lunar Calendar). It was after midnight that a group of people came to my home and awakened me up and said:

'O Hasan! Wake up and arise, and obey the command of your Lord and Master of the Age - Imam al-Mahdi [a] who has summoned you.' After hearing this command, I woke up immediately to get ready and said:

'Please permit me to put on my clothes', and being amazed and confused in total darkness, I picked up a shirt to put on then I heard a voice saying:

'Hasan don't put it on, because it does not belong to you.' After removing it and putting on my own shirt, I picked up a trouser, then again I heard the voice saying: 'Hasan. This is not your trouser don't put it on', and finally I was able to dress up wearing my own shirt and trouser in the darkness. Then I started looking for the key to open the door, when again I was told not to search for the key as the door had already been opened.

When finally I came out of the door I saw a group of pious personalities and offered them salutations. They reciprocated my salutations and spoke to me kindly and with appreciation. Then they directed me to a place - the present location of the Holy Jamkaran Mosque - and after looking carefully I saw a couch covered with fine carpets and pillows.

A young man of approximately thirty years with grandeur and special dignity was sitting on that couch resting his back against those pillows and besides him an old man was holding a book in his hand reading for the young man. There were more than sixty people, some of them dressed in white, while others dressed in green who had surrounded the couch, and were busy in offering prayers and praises of God Almighty.

Suddenly it occurred to me that this young man is the Lord and Master of the age, Wali al-Asr [a] (may our soul be sacrificed for him) and the old man with beautiful features sitting besides him was Prophet Khizr [a], who asked me to be seated; and then the Lord of the Age, Wali al-Asr [a] commanded me as follows:

'Oh Hasan! You must go to see Hasan bin Muslim - the farmer of this land - and tell him that for five continuous years he has been farming on this Holy Land, in spite of my warning signals during all these years. This is a blessed holy land and God-Almighty has distinguished it over other lands by bestowing it distinction and dignity; even this year he is intending to cultivate this land, while he has neither any rights over this land nor is authorized to do so.

Therefore, till now whatever financial earnings he has earned and all relevant benefits achieved because of commissioning this land must be returned by him for the building of a Holy Mosque at this sacred land.

Also, emphasize upon him that because of his transgressions for annexing this Holy Land into his own estate, God Almighty had taken away his two young sons as punishment for his offense. But it seems that even this severe punishment has not awakened him. You must warn him that if he still persists and does not change his course, he must be ready for a horrible catastrophic punishment beyond his imagination, from God Almighty.

After carefully listening to these heart-appealing words of my Master I replied:

'Oh my Master and Lord! I must have some unique convincing signs for delivering your message, because otherwise people will not believe my words, and it will be quite difficult to convince them.'


The Imam [a] replied:

'We will mark some special signs showing the boundaries of the Holy Mosque, which will prove the truthfulness of your statement. Go and convey my message to the people.'

The Imam [a] further added: 'Go and see Sayyid Abul Hasan and ask him to accompany you to visit Hasan bin Muslim, and together you both collect from him the earnings of that farm land for past couple of years; and use this money for laying the foundation of the mosque structure. For the remaining expenditure, you may collect it form the village of Rehaq in the Ardhaal region (near the city of Kashan), which belongs to me; and in this manner, complete the remaining super structure of the Holy Mosque. Also, half of the estate of the village of Rehaq has been made as an endowment for the maintenance of the Holy Mosque, and the yearly income of the said endowment should be spent for its improvement and habitation.'“


Edited by Ali~J

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People approach God in different ways. Those who believe that adornment takes away from the spirituality really should not be paying so much attention to it in the first place - since they should be focusing on their own aamal.

Personally I don't begrudge the adornment because the shrines are visited by many poor people for whom the ziarat is the only respite/holiday they get and if they can enjoy a bit of public bling in the process, I see no harm.

The people who are after asceticism in their ziarats will likely be taking their kids somewhere nice for their hols, or driving a nice car during the rest of their lives, but not everyone has that luxury.

FWIW I have recently been helping a young Greek lady with a travel business and it seems that asceticism nowadays is a 'thing' amongst some richer travellers (regardless of religion).

Returning to the main point, from what I have seen of the more recent constructions e.g. in Iran, they may look elaborate but they seem to be quite easy and I'd guess cheap to put up. What seems to be intricate tilework is just a slab stuck onto a metal frame and the bare plaster beneath has been left as is.

As for the Qajar dynasty mirrorwork, I think that's quite clever, in an interior room where there are no windows there is a problem with light; by having tiles made of mirrors you make the most of whatever light you have. It's reflective (no pun intended) of a historic Shia dynasty and I don't get the hate.

Also having different styles of decoration in different rooms makes navigation easier and also makes it easier to date the different rooms  (if you are into that sort of thing).

Edited by Haji 2003

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On 6/17/2019 at 7:03 PM, habib e najjaar said:

^ source?

Book published by The Holy Mosque of Jamkaran Publications, Qom, Iran. 1996. 

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