A South African Jamaat of four brothers left from Nizamudin, India to the USSR. The journey also took us to parts of Central Asia. This is a report of that part of our inspirational journey. Although the political situation in the USSR, including Central Asia, has changed since our visit, the spiritual needs of the people have not.
After traveling through parts of the USSR, we went to Samarkand. It is a historical city which has been greatly influenced by Islam. It is the resting place of Kutham ibne Abbas (R.A.), the cousin of the Prophet (SAW) and brother of Abdullah Ibn Abbas (RA) who collected Ahadith from various Companions (RA). The family of the famous King Taimur (Tamerlane) is buried around Shah-e-Zindah (RA). Here also is the resting place of Abul Laith Samarkandi (RA) whose story appears in the Fazail Al Ahmal. The famous Registan Square complex is in the heart of the city. A Darul Uloom, the jaame masjid and a university was once housed in this complex. But today it is only a tourist attraction. Eid-ul-Adha Salat was performed here this year after many years. Masjid Namaaz, 25 km away from Samarkand is the resting place of Hazrat Imam Bukhari (RA). Muslims from all over USSR come here. The Imam of the masjid opened the room where Hazrat Imam Bukhari used to perform Itikaaf. The Imam served us tea under 4 large and high trees that were grown about 500 years ago.
From Samarkand we went to Bukhara. We stayed in the Masjid Madressa complex of Imam Bukhari (R.A.). Salat in one section of the masjid had started only 2 months before. About 225 students from all over USSR are staying and studying here. It is said during the glorious days of Islam, nearly 10,000 people from all over the world used to listen to the discourses of Hazrat Imam Bukhari (R.A.) in this Masjid. This is the city from where emanated the most authentic Kitab (book), Sahih Bukhari. But alas, we cried when we saw tourists walking with their shoes inside the masjid and taking photos.
The Imam of the masjid still remembers the first jamaat from India. He asked one of the brothers to perform the Jumha Khutba. He gave us a guide who took us to the tomb of Hazrat Bahauddin Nakhshbandi (R.A.), founder of the Nakhshbandi Sillsila. 30 km from here is the resting place of the famous mathematician, philosopher, doctor and astrologist, Ibn Sina, who is known to the Western world as Avicenna.
In Samarkand and Bukhara the work of inviting was established in a few Masjids. Imams and local brothers told us that jamaats from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, U.K., and Arab countries have been coming since many years and have found their effect to be tremendous.
When we returned to Tashkent, Sharif Bhai suggested very strongly we go to Mongolia. Unlike Russia, in Mongolia not the slightest trace of Islam was left. All Masjids and madressas were destroyed. Islam was totally wiped out. Only a few old people remember the broken words of Kalima Tayyiba. There are about 180,000 Muslims out of a total population of 2.2 million. They are mainly in a province on the Chinese border. Ulan Bator is the capital. 10,000 Muslims are known to live here. We went for local invitation efforts for two days but did not meet any Muslims. We then went to Bayan-Ulgi where there are about 80,000 Muslims. There are no Masjids or madressas; people know nothing about deen (religion). The only thing they know is that the South African Jamat was Muslim. Nobody knows when Ramadan starts or ends. No Islamic calendar. We went to a few houses and demonstrated how to pray Salat, perform wudu and Azaan. They have igloo type houses with wooden floors and coal stoves. They are very warm inside. About 50 people can perform salat in them when empty. We also visited some of the 15 Muslim villages around here. A jamaat from UK worked here. We taught many children Surah Fatiha, Surah Ikhlas, Attahiyaat, etc. The only thing we could do was to make the people repeat Kalima Tayyiba. We cried when we left Mongolia, knowing the condition of our Muslim brothers and sisters. We hope another jamaat could go there as soon as possible.
The last town we went to was Ashkaba in the republic of Turkmenistan. We had a seven hour delay because we missed a flight when their taxi took them to the wrong airport. However, this gave us an opportunity to meet Muslims from many parts of the world at airport and to pray Zuhr and Asr with them. We arrived at Ashkbad at 11.pm. We had no addresses of Muslims or Masjid, but Urazmurad, a brother we met on the flight took us in. He awoke his entire family at midnight, cooked food and slept with us in one room. The next day the Sheikh and other people of his town were invited for lunch. About 40 years ago an earthquake destroyed this town. Three new Masjids are being built. Many old people have Sunna beards. Ladies wear veils to observe the Muslim custom of modesty and Muslim schools have started. This concluded our visit to Central Asia. From here, we returned to Tashkent in the USSR to complete our work.
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