Account of the Construction of the Jama Masjid ofGhazna.

When the Sultán returned from Hind in vic­tory and light, with abundant wealth and no scanty amount of gems, and so many slaves that the drinking-places and streets of Ghazna were too narrow for them, and the eatables and victuals of the country sufficed not for them, and from the most distant parts tribes of merchants betook themselves to Ghazna, bringing so many slaves from Khurásán, and Mawarannahr, and Irák, that their number exceeded the free, and a white freeman was lost among them, the Sultán began to feel an earnest desire to expend the plunder of those princes upon some liberal work of piety and lasting benefit; and, before he marched forth on his expedition, he ordered that they should make a choice of a site for the Jama Masjid of Ghazna, since they had con­structed the old mosque in bygone times and for a smaller number of people, at a time when Ghazna was but a narrow territory, and was infe­rior amongst civilized lands and renowned cities. And when the Sultán returned the enlarged site for the mosque had been fixed, and the foundation and corners completed, and the walls of the building were rightly arranged. Then he com­manded that they should disburse abundant sums, for the purpose of completing this fabric, which was directed by faithful architects and ingenious overseers, and, from the confidential counsel of the Court, full power of forced requisition and of hastening the building were entrusted to them, so that from morning to evening superintendents were raising the building, and enquiring respecting verifying the work and repairing any injuries. And when the halo of the sun touched the pin­nacle of the horizon they produced scales, and their stipulated wages appeared, so that all went home with a good bargain of copious wages and complete reward, one with ready money from the Sultán’s Treasury, and another with promissory notes from the treasury of Heaven. And they brought trees from Hind and Sind, and used these trees in the said works, for strongly constructing all belonging thereto, in the most complete and just proportion, and in solidity like the earth’s centre, preparing and sealing the quantity necessary for every day. And they brought from distant places mighty stones (marble) square and hexagonal, all shining (and polished); and in front of the body of the elevation they drew out the domed porticoes so perfectly spherical that the measured arch of the sky was but a myth in comparison, and the beauty of the throne (i. e., the golden throne of Persia) and of Karnák lost their renown; and they worked it exquisitely, with various hues and colours, like the plains of the garden of spring full of enamelled (flowers) so that the eye became dim and the intellect confused in contemplating it; and they executed such gilding with paper and metal that the work of the artificers of all time was nothing in reference to the delicate execution of these mosaic artists. They spared not the purest gold in their painting and gilding, nay they employed lumps of gold; and they crushed the body-like idols and corporeal images, and fastened them into the doors and walls. The Sultán commanded a closet to be constructed, for his own use; he com­manded, also, the fabric to be square, with expanding porches and with interlacing curvatures,* and the walls of the gates lofty and projecting. They collected white marble, to cover the pave­ment, and on the sides of every court they delineated golden paintings, shaded with lapis lazuli. So great was the splendour, gilding, decoration, and colouring of this mosque that everyone who saw it took the finger of wonder into his mouth, and said, “Oh thou who hast beheld the mosque of Damascus, and art maddened thereby, and dost profess that no building like that is possible, and that no one can imagine any other specimen like that fabric, come and witness the mosque of Ghazna, that thou mayest see the vanity of thy boast and direct thy speech into the words of praise, and know that of the confluence of all plans this is the most beautiful, and of the conception of all examples this is the most elegant.” In front there was an immense nave, for great festivals and congregations, in which six thousand servants of God might fulfil their duties, and be engaged in worship without inconvenience to one another; and he built near the precincts a college, and supplied it with valuable books and rare volumes of theology, and to those pure walls of writers and masters of profitable instruction professors, imáms, divines, and students directed their course, occu­pying themselves in obtaining and chanting knowledge; and from the endowments of the college they received daily a maintenance, and all necessaries, and a salary, yearly or monthly, was duly paid to them. They contrived a passage from the royal palace to the closet in the mosque, that he might be covered from the gaze of eyes and meeting the view of the people, and that the Sultán, at needful times, might, with full quiet and repose, proceed by that passage to accomplish his devotions; and every one of the nobles and great men had his private closet, so that it would be impossible to arrive at an idea of its beauty and perfect construction except by the evidence of the eye. And, during the empire of the Sultán, the extent of Ghazna exceeded all cities in spacious buildings and solid edifices; and amongst other fabrics there were a thousand walled inclosures, for the purpose of keeping the trained elephants, in each of which there was a spacious lodging and wide precinct for the elephant-grooms, the sup­pliers of food, and the managers of maintenance. It was God who was the promoter and designer of this prosperity of the land and increase of His servants, in His bountiful providence and decree. He is supreme Ordainer of all things.