Cities of Islam: Samarkand


1An Ancient City in the South of Uzbekistan

Semerkant Cami
Samarkand Mosque

Samarkand is located in the south region of Uzbekistan, 275 km from Tashkent, the capital of the country. Samarkand is an important center for the Uzbekistan economy with its automotive, weaving and fertilizing industries. An ancient city founded in 14 B.C by the Persians, the city was built on an important intersection of the Silk Road, between China and the Mediterranean Sea, and it has been a popular destination for travellers throughout history.

2The Origin of the Name Samarkand

Tilla Kari Medresesi

Samarkand means “the stone city” in Farsi, and in Ottoman Turkish the city was named after the words “temiz” and “kent”, namely, “Semizkend” which translates into clean city.

3UNESCO World Heritage List

Registan Square in which Ulugh Beg, Tilla Kari and Sher-Dor Madrasas are located

Many fascinating examples of Islamic architecture can be found in Samarkand which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The heart of the ancient Samarkand was Registan, which means the sandy place. Registan Square is the academic, religious and administrative center of the city. Every single parade, festival, and bazaar is organized at this square. During the Timur era, the square was full of shops; but his grandson Ulugh Beg tore down the stores and in their place built one of the largest madrasas of the world. There are now three madrasas in the square.

4The First Paper Grinder of The Islamic World

The first paper grinder of the Islamic world was made in Samarkand. This invention was carried by the Crusaders to Europe. After Genghis Khan’s conquest in the 13th century, Samarkand was destroyed. In 1370, the commander of the region, Timour moved the capital to Samarkand and reconstructed the city. In 1784, Samarkand became the center of the Bukhara Emirate. When the Russian invaded the region in 1868, Turkistan took over the city. After 1924, Samarkand became the capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. 

5The City of Islamic Scholars

Uluğ Bey
Ulugh Beg

Many important Islamic scholars lived in Samarkand. Imam Bukhari: considered as the most important hadeeth (sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)) expert, Imam Maturidi: the creed Imam of the followers of Sunnah, Naqshbandi Sheikh Nizameddin, and Ali Kuşçu are some of the scholars that lived in Samarkand in different eras. Also, Imam Bukhari’s and Imam Maturidi’s tombs are located in the city.

This article was originally written in Turkish. Click here to read it! : İslam Şehirleri: Semerkant

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