The Impressive Mosque of Shahi Eidgah
An Eidgah is a large open-air mosque built on the outskirts of a city for the purpose of performing Eid salah – prayers of supplication to Allah. Shahi Eidgah, which is situated in the city of Sylhet in north-eastern Bangladesh, is one of the largest and oldest Eidgahs in Bangladesh. More than 100,000 worshippers can perform salah simultaneously in this Eidgah. The turreted walls surrounding Shahi Eidgah give it the appearance of a grand fort from the outside. It is, however, meant for the congregating of worshippers during the two Muslim Eid festivals.
Shahi Eidgah is one of the popular tourist attractions of the area, alongside important historical places such as the Stone Monument of Jaintapur, Gaiyabi Mosque, Mound of Gharduara, Nawabi Mosque, Mughal Mosque at Akhalia and the ancient Pargana of Kanihati. Sylhet is also renowned for its many tea gardens, as well as for its pineapple and orange orchards.
The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb commissioned the building of the Shahi Eidgah in the 17th century. Emperor Aurangzeb was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from the year 1658 until his death in 1707. He preferred to be known by his self-chosen Imperial title of Alamgir I, meaning “conqueror of the Universe”. He was responsible for bringing a larger area under Mughal rule than had ever before been achieved and is generally looked upon as being the last great Mughal ruler. The foundation of his reign was his insistence on strict adherence to Islam and Islamic law – Sharia. Unlike some of his predecessors, Emperor Aurangzeb did not use the royal treasury for extravagant building projects, undertaking only the building of a modest mausoleum for his first wife in Aurangabad, the Badshahi Masjid in Lahore, a small marble mosque added to the Red Fort complex in Delhi and the Shahi Eidgah in Sylhet.
To this day the majority of the inhabitants of Sylhet district follow Islam as a religion and ideology. In fact, it is estimated that more that 90% are Islamic, with Hinduism being the second largest religion in the district. With this in mind, it is easy to understand why Shahi Eidgah is an important feature in the lives of the Bangladeshi people living in Sylhet.