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Bibi Heybat

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Bibi Heybat Mosque near Baku.

Bībī Heybat Mosque (Azerbaijani: Bibiheybət məscidi) is a shrine which is located six kilometers southwest of Baku in Azerbaijan. Fatima al-Sughra, the daughter of Imam al-Kazim (a) is buried in this mosque. This place is also called Pir Bibi-Heybat, and local people call it the Fatima al-Zahra (a) Mosque. The mausoleum was built in the time of Safavid dynasty, but it was destroyed when Stalin conquered the region; the burial place was completely demolished. However, after dissolution of the Soviet Union and independence of Azerbaijan, the president of the country ordered to rebuild the shrine.

The Shrine

Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi believed Fatima al-Sughra, the daughter of Imam al-Kazim (a) is buried in Bibi-Heybat mosque. Some stated that when Imam al-Rida (a) was martyred in Tus, his relatives scattered and fled to different regions. Also Fatima, known as Bibi-Heybat, separated from her sister, Fatima al-Ma'suma (a) and moved to Rasht, in north of Iran, and then to Baku; she settled in a Shi'ite village called Shaykh where she passed away. However, such historical reports are in contrary to historical events, as Fatima al-Ma'suma (a) had passed away before the martyrdom of Imam al-Rida (a). Two of Bibi-Heybat's nieces and a nephew of her are also buried next to her in that mosque as well. Bakıxanov has stated that she was called Halima Khatun.

Geographical Location

The shrine of Bibi-Heybat is located in Shikhov region in the west of the bay of Baku, on the way of Baku and Absheron Peninsula to Salian and Talysh which is on hills toward the Caspian Sea. The mosque is located six kilometers of south west of Baku. As religious places are called Pir in Caucasus, local people call this mosque Pir as well: Pir Bibi-Heybat. Local people also call this shrine the mosque of Fatima al-Zahra.

History

First Building

The shrine of Bibi-Heybat was built in 7th/13th century by the order of Mahmud Ghazan on behalf of Shirvanshah Farrukhzad b. Akhistan II. Bakıxanov has reported that it was repaired by Shirvanshah. Later, it was rebuilt especially by the order of Shah Abbas I, the Safavid king. It was decorated with different kinds of Islamic arts. In addition to religious and spiritual importance, it was also considered as one of the monuments of Baku due to its architectural features.

This Imamzada has always been respected and valued by people and rulers in different historical eras. Safavid shahs also paid huge attention to it; they allocated lands and gardens to this mosque. Shah Tahmasp I, ordered to protect the rights of this mosque and other waqf villages (donated properties) including Ziq. The shrine was also respected by Caucasus people in the time of Tsars. Famous people including Fath'ail Khan insisted to bury him next to the shrine.

Khurshidbanu Natavan, a local poet has frequently visited the shrine of Bibi-Heybat. She has also prepared the situation for pilgrims by building a cobblestone road between Baku to Shikhlar village. This road was later widened by a generous man called Haj Zayn al-'Abidin Taqiov. As Husayni Farahani, who visited the shrine in Naseri era stated: "local people believe in Bibi-Heybat, they always visited the shrine and they asked her to fulfill their requests". Also Farhad Mirza, the trustee of Qajar talked about the people's respect and belief in the Imamzada.

Bibi Heybat Mosque before demolition.

Before Demolition

In 1900, one of the rich people of Baku, named as Dadashov built a magnificent mosque in Baku next to the old building of the shrine of Bibi-Heybat. Two mosques and a minaret and a library were located in this land until 1937. The Shrine of Bibi-Heybat was located in one of the entrances of this building.

Demolition of Bibi Heybat Mosque by the order of Stalin.

Demolition

The Shrine of Bibi-Heybat was the first religious building which was demolished by the order of Stalin in Baku. The influence of the shrine on local Muslims brought fear to communists. After the demolition of the shrine, people protected the location of the burial place, they have put signs and drawings of it on the ground and on the walls of the gate of the city.

Reconstruction

After the independence of Azerbaijan in 1994, Heydar Aliyev, the then president of the country, ordered to repair the shrine of Bibi-Heybat at the same place it was demolished. The building was complete and the inauguration was held by the president in 1997. The pictures and paintings of the destroyed shrine is drawn on the entrance of this building. Two huge stones are located in the dome with their heads toward each other, which are revered and honored by people.

People's Belief

Because Muslims in Soviet Union were separated from other Muslims, they did not have access to Islamic teachings, therefore shrines have played an important role in expansion and protection of Islam among people. When the shrine was destroyed, people visited a mountain which was assumed to be the worshiping place of Bibi-Heybat. People believed those soldiers who destroyed the shrine were killed in different accidents. They also wrote stories about punishment of those who played a role in destruction of the Bibi-Heybat shrine.

References