A wonder constructed in one night
A sharp minded lawyer of the Muslim community advised them that the only solution to save the land was to build a mosque there overnight. That night was the only night before the visit of the British Judge
Masjid to bana di shab bhar mai, Imaan ki hararat walon ne
Mann apna purana papi hai, barson mai namazi ban na saka”
(Though the mosque was built overnight by those who claim to be the best of believers
Serial sinners that we are, even in years we could not imbibe the spirit of Namaz) — Iqbal
The wonder of this mosque is that it was built in one night, over a dispute between Hindus and Muslims regarding a plot of land during the British colonial period. The small mosque is located near Shah Alam Chowk inside the walled city of Lahore. The Shah Alam Chowk is located near the Shah Almi Market which stands in the place of the Shah Alam Gate, named after Emperor Shah Alam (who died in Lahore in 1712), the third son of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Before his death, the gate was called the “Bherwala Gate”. This gate is situated between the Mochi and Lohari Gates. The Shah Alami gate, like many other gates of the walled city, no longer exists. The entire area was burnt down during a fire at the time of partition (1947) and the subsequent riots. The area was rebuilt and modernised after the fire but the gate was never rebuilt. The transformation of the area resulted in modifications of the structures and today it has an urban fabric contradictory to the remaining Walled City. Despite rebuilding, the arrangement of the streets did not change and we still see the narrow twisting streets there which link Shah Alami to other parts of the Walled City. The market has enriched generations of merchants, the Sikhs and Hindus before Partition, and the Pathans, Afghans and current residents, all of whom came to the market later. The original Shah Alami was a centre of wholesale commerce, providing an outlet for the countryside of the Punjab. Today, Shah Alami has become the largest wholesale market of Pakistan and provides all imaginable items.
Coming back to this mosque, it was constructed in 1917. Shah Almi Chowk was a huge place and in the center of Chowk was some unoccupied space about three marlas. It happened so that a trespasser offered a prayer there which made the Hindus fuming as it was a bigger community at that time. At the same place Hindus demanded to make a temple and Muslims wanted to build a Mosque. This issue got aggravated. The case was submitted to the Court of a British Judge, who said to visit the place on the next day and then would make the decision. At that time the place was disputed and nothing could be built there.
If you are passing by the Shah Almi Chowk, this strange structure will immediately catch your attention. It was after the construction of this mosque that Iqbal penned his timeless couplet
At the same time, by law the religious places were not to be harmed and destroyed. A sharp minded lawyer of the Muslim community advised them that the only solution to save the land was to build a mosque there overnight. That night was the only night before the visit of the British Judge. The Muslim community agreed to the proposal and started planning to build a Mosque under the leadership of Gama Pehalwan (a local wrestler). The zealous Muslims started working to achieve their goal. The Muslim community began to contribute from their personal businesses and brought in their available resources. At last, before the morning the Muslims managed to build the Mosque. The next morning when the judge saw a Mosque standing there, he gave the decision in favour of the Muslims, as by law they could not damage the religious place.
If you are passing by the Shah Almi Chowk, this strange structure will immediately catch your attention. It was after the construction of this mosque that Iqbal penned his timeless couplet. It is a small structure and much changed now. The original fabric has been replaced with new construction material now. Around the mosque today we see many vendors and a lot of encroachments.
If we talk about Shah Almi, the place is the most congested inside the walled city. The real estate is exorbitantly expensive there. Even a small shop, measuring just 200 square feet, is worth millions of rupees. This is the affect of commercialisation in that area. There are more than one thousand shops in Shah Alam. You will now see towering plazas falling over you in the narrow streets and mind blowing connectivity of the basements. These are the wholesale shops of perfumes, electronics, cosmetics, household items, crockery, house décor, toys, bags, decorative lights, artificial decorative flowers and all one can think of.
It will take a lot of stress and hassle to reach Shah Almi, but this is a must visit site. It is no doubt a wonder constructed overnight.