Sunday, November 1, 2009

More about Кол Шәриф (Kol Shärif )

Tatar Muslims at Prayer

The Кол Шәриф (Kol Shärif ) mosque located in Kazan Kremlin is the largest mosque in Russia and, reputedly, in Europe.

Originally, the mosque was built in Kazan Kremlin in the 16th century. It was named after Кол Шәриф (Kol Shärif ) who served there. Кол Шәриф (Kol Shärif )died with his numerous students while defending Kazan from Russian forces in 1552. It is believed that the building featured minarets, both in the form of cupolas and tents. Its design was traditional for Volga Bulgaria, although elements of early Renaissance and Ottoman architecture could have been used as well. In 1552, during the storm of Kazan it was destroyed by Ivan The Terrible.

Tatar scholars speculate as to whether some elements of Кол Шәриф (Kol Shärif ) mosque can be seen in Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow (8 minarets, a central cupola, not typical for Russian architecture). Since 1996 the mosque has been rebuilt in Kazan Kremlin, although its look is decisively modern. Its inauguration on July 24, 2005 marked the beginning of celebrations dedicated to the Millennium of Kazan.

Several countries contributed to the fund that was set up to build Кол Шәриф (Kol Shärif ) mosque. Namely, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. Кол Шәриф (Kol Shärif ) is considered to be one of the most important symbols of Tatar aspiration to independence and liberty. Nowadays the mosque predominantly serves as Museum of Islam. At the same time during the major Muslim celebrations thousands of people gather there to pray.

The Кол Шәриф (Kol Shärif ) complex was envisioned to be an important cornerstone of Kazan architectural landscape. Besides the main mosque building it includes the library, publishing house and Imam's office.

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