Friday, September 28, 2012

Ancient Mosque Unearthed in Bangladesh

The site of ancient mosque at Ramzanpur, Rangpur
                                           ancient artifacts collected at new mosque floor
                                                    template with Ouranic inscriptions
                                           amateur British archaeologist Tim Steel
Al-Jazeera's Nicolas Haque
                                                    Museum at Tajhat Palace, Rangpur

In a remote village in northern Bangladesh, Ramzanpur in Rangpur district an amateur British archaeologist Tim Steel has discovered the remains of a mosque believed to be built in the 7th century.  The findings could prove the site to be the earliest mosque built in South Asia touching the time of the holy prophet of Islam.

Villagers initially stumbled on the site where they found monumental treasures of ancient artifacts of Islamic history, including stones with Quranic scripture, buried underground believed to be remains of a mosque. The new mosque built near the site holds monumental number of such artifacts.

Since discovery many valuable artifacts were looted by the miscreants to make quick money and believed to be sold in the international markets. The remaining artifacts however have been taken into safe keeping in the local Museum at Tajhat, Rangpur.

It is generally believed that Islam was spread in this region by the saints and preachers who followed the Muslim conquerors in the 12th century. It is intriguing that the discovery of this mosque would affirm speculation of the presence of Muslims arrival in Bengal in the 7th century, and that the Arab traders used Bangladesh water route for trade to China. It may be noted the earlier City states of North Bengal and Paharpur flourished at that time.

Indeed, it is true that Muslim traders were key in the early spread of Islam in Bengal. This mosque is a good historical find with archeological evidence of Islam. More information from the Cultural Ministry of Bangladesh would be appreciated.

* (Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reports from Rangpur in northern Bangladesh- 17 Aug 2012)

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