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Masjid Khairul Manazil
By Ahmad Rahmani

This old, and one of Delhi's finest mosques, is situated in front of the Delhi Zoo and Old Fort and on the backside of High Court on Mathura Road. This mosque and madrasa were built by Maham Begum who was the foster-mother of Akbar the Great and the real mother of Adam Khan. It was built in 1526 CE. A great and magnificent mosque, its grandeur may still be felt in the present ruins. According to Mr Baglar, an ASI official, this mosque was built without foundations, using red stone set in lime.

There is a historical incident associated with this mosque. During the reign of Akbar, an accident occurred. One day, after hunting, Akbar went to Nizamuddin Dargah. After visiting when he was passing by this mosque, an arrow hit a soldier accompanying his entourage . The wound was not serious. His bodyguards immediately caught a negro slave who was the slave of Akbar’s late father. He owned the responsibility of trying to kill the emperor.

There is a dome on the back of the mosque. On three sides there are rooms, and these were used as boarding rooms for the students who studied in the madrasa. On the north and south sides of the mosque there are two floors with ten rooms. Some still stand intact while some have collapsed.

Historians say that the old name of Masjid Khairul Manazil was 'Madrasa Khairul Manazil' and that it was famous due to the madrasa but the reality is that it was a mosque first and then a madrasa.

These days this historical mosque is said to be protected by the ASI but it lies in a dilapidated condition. There are no doors left. Bricks are falling down everywhere. The walls are falling down, the Mughal architecture, mehrab, dome, curves and Qur'an scripts are on the verge of extinction. The inside floor of the mosque is still in a fairly good condition because people offer Namaz but the outer floor is in very bad state. There is a hauz in front of the main entrance of the mosque but it is not functional. Thousands of pigeons have made the mosque their home. Some people offer food and water to these pigeons. It is perhaps because of these pigeons that the mosque seems to display signs of life, otherwise except at the times of namaz the mosque remains unattended.

There is a well in the courtyard and it is in working condition and namazis use it to perform their wudu (ablution).

The ASI tried in 1992 to ban namaz in this mosque but a committee, named Masjid Basao, representative Mr Hafiz Mohammad Irfan Dehlawi filed a petition in the Delhi high court against the ban and the high court granted permission to offer namaz but the case continues.

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