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A Space for Spiritual Contemplation – Matuail Darbar Sharif, Jatrabari

Located in the capital’s Matuail, Jatrabari Thana, the Mazar/Mausoleum set within the Matuail Darbar Sharif is a space for spiritual contemplation of Alhajj Hazrat Moulana Kutubuddinn Ahmad Khan Shah Matuaili (Rh) who was a celebrated Mufassir (interpreter/cleric of Holy Quran) and renowned Sufi saint of Naqshebandia Mozaddedia Sufi order. The Mazar designed by Mohammad Ismaiel Parvez, Principal Architect of Ecowave Consultant Studio, excels in its use of form, materiality, and natural light to evoke a sense of calm and spiritual contemplation. The overall space evokes a pristine, pure aura.

Narrating the design concept, Mohammad Ismaiel Parvez shares “rather than adhering to conventional design, we aimed the architectural expression to be a blend of Islamic and contemporary architecture and this aspect makes it unique”. Prior to the beginning of the planning and design phases, the design team researched the client’s needs as well as the concept of Mazar. The meaning of Kutubuddinn is the pillar of religion, stick of guidance/religion, leader of religion, spiritual leader etc. From this concept the mausoleum is built focusing on pillars and avoiding extra wall to resemble the meaning stated here. The prime material used in the construction is concrete. For the Mazar, the design team wanted to ensure a minimal contemporary design that represented a calm and spiritual space for prayer, escaping extravagance.

Symbolizing purity and peace, the entire Mazar is white, which effectively distinguishes the building from its surroundings. The white makes the surroundings more pristine while further enhancing the clarity and brightness of the natural ambiance.

The dome is a special aspect of the Mazar. From architect Ismaiel Parvez, detailing the dome was a challenging task. A unique fiber material had been used to build the skeleton of the dome first and then proceeded towards finishing eventually. According to him, as fiber was used for the dome construction, the height was reduced to some extent and the shape of the dome turned out precisely as intended. Sharing the challenges during the construction phase, the architect further adds, “the structure of the Mazar was not designed following a traditional approach, therefore the people who were engaged in construction had to go through practical experiments.” Moreover, the epidemic COVID-19 imposed limitations on the project’s timeline, which caused the construction process to take longer than expected”. The overall design of the project was carried out with the support of the team Architect Zakiuddin Ahnaf Khan and Engineer Shek Eslamul Haq.

The site of the Matuail dorbar sharif was received by Alhajj Abul Kashem Ziauddin Ahmad Khan Naqshebandi Mozaddedi, Gadinesheen Pir of Matuail Darbar-E-Mozaddedia, Jatrabari. Architect says, “the Mazar is a platform that we attempted to design through a merge of architecture and Sufism. Ensuring peaceful ambiance for the visitors, we considered creating the essence of spiritualism in the architectural expression.” Entering the Mazar, one may feel a transition within himself, swaying away from the external chaos to internal calm. High pillars signify high status of Shah Matuaili (Rh) and creates shades allowing visitors to perform ziyarat under it.

Inside the monument, daylight shines directly into the tomb, evoking a spiritual awakening. Natural light serves as a tool to heighten a sense of spirituality, and to mark the visitors’ journey peacefully through the design. Here, the scale also contributes to creating a sense of sacredness. The perceptible scale and proportion of the overall structure are rather monumental, simplifying the traditional typology of the Islamic form. Moreover, using glass as one of the materials is another approach to reflect the attributes of modern design.

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Samira Ahsan

An architect, designer, and writer with an aim to contribute to the design community. Architecture is a dynamic field that evolves as times do. She aspires to travel, learn, evolve with time and thereby bring something to light through journaling her journeys.

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