Early Jain-Built Mosques in Gujarat

Can you imagine people from one faith tradition building a place of worship for people of another faith tradition? It may sound rarely possible today. But, two far-sighted Jains built one of the earliest mosques in Gujarat. Between 1178 and 1242, Vastupal and Sheth Jagdusha built mosques in Cambay and Bhadreshwar, in Kutch, to attract Arab and Turkish traders, who would bring in foreign exchange. While Vastupal was the commissioner of Cambay port, Jagdusha was a merchant of Bhadreshwar port in Kutch. Jains have been an important business community from the earliest time till today. History of International Trade And Customs Duties in Gujarat, a book by historian, Makrand Mehta, says Vastupal encouraged Muslims to settle down in Cambay and Anhilwad Patan, the capital of the Solanki-Vaghela rulers of Gujarat. Accounts of Arab travellers who visited Gujarat between the 9th and 12th centuries, amply testify to the settlements of Muslims in Cambay and other cities of Gujarat. “But the Muslims settlements could hardly have developed without the support of the Solanki rulers. In fact, they attracted the Arabs and Persians to Cambay and, Vastupal did it by constructing mosques for them,” says Mehta.

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