Zinatun Nissa Begum and Shivaji Maharaj – And story of two mosques.
Zinatun Nisa Begum, daughter of Aurangzeb was born on 5th October 1643 in Aurangabad. She died on May 7th, year of 1710. She was a pious women, pursued spiritual pursuits. She was a talented calligrapher and copied Quran like her father.
Charity is one of the five basic tenets of Islam and it was generously practiced by Nobel women of Mughal dynasty. This is the reason why pious daughter of Aurangzeb Alamgir, Zinatun Nissa Begum decided to commission a small mosque in Delhi, almost a replica of famous Jama Masjid. The mosque is called Zinatun Nissa Masjid, however public called it ‘Ghata Masjid’. She was buried in the enclosure of her mosque, the grave still exists. I visited the mosque few times almost 10 years ago during my stay in Delhi.
During the Rebellion of 1857 the mosque was desecrated, it was used as a bakery by the British. Her grave was destroyed and leveled to the ground. It is written on her gravestone as if she predicted the fate of her grave.
“For a friend in my grave, God’s forgiveness is alone sufficient;
The canopy of my grave, is the shadow of the cloud of God’s mercy,
In the hope of a righteous end. Fatima Zinat ul Nisa Begum, daughter of Badshah Mohiuddin Muhammed Alamgeer Ghazi. May God illuminate his works: 1122 Hijri.”
Zinatun Nisa was a charitable generous woman. She had special relationship with Shivaji and his family. When Shivaji Maharaj first visited Agra to meet the Emperor; Zinat Unnisa was one amongst those who had treated Shivaji Maharaj with due respect. When Sambhaji Maharaj (son of Shivaji) was arrested it was Zinatun Nisa’s influence protected him from torture and interrogation.
She used her saving to help both Hindu and Muslim families, most famous Hindu family she helped was Maharratta Shambaji’s widow Ysubai and her son Shahu, grandson of Shivaji. She treated Yesubai, widow of Sambhaji like her own. Both mother and son were in her personal care and safety. On festive seasons she will make sure Shahu gets enough sweets and gifts.
In return; later when Shahu returned to Maharashtra he commissioned a Mosque in memory of Zinatun Nisa Begum- ‘Begum Masjid’ of Satara (Maharashtra). Unfortunately no one mentions these facts, specially in this toxic environment in the country where we need these facts to resurface to counter false narratives which created hatred and phobia against a particular community on the basis of political historical mistakes of the past.