Bukhara

Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of Uzbekistan, situated on a sacred hill, the place where sacrifices were made by fire-worshippers in springtime. It is mentioned in the "Avesta", the holy book of Zoroastrism, and was supposed to have been founded in the 13th c.B.C. during reign of Siyavushids who came to power some 980 years before Alexander the Great. The name Bukhara originates from the word "vihara" which means "monastery" in Sanskrit. The city was once a large commercial centre on the Great Silk Road.

Bukhara lies west of Samarkand and was once a centre of learning renowned throughout the Islamic world. In Bukhara there are more than 350 mosques and 100 religious colleges. Its fortunes waxed and waned through succeeding empires until it became one of the great Central Asian Khanates in the 17th century. It was here that the renowned Hadith scholar Imâm Abû `Abdullâh Muhammad ibn Ismâ`îl al-Bukhârî was born on the 13th of the Islâmic month of Shawwâl, 194 AH, in the land "beyond the canal" - present day Uzbekistan. Another famous figure connected to Bukhara is the founder of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, Khwajah Baha' al-Din. Although he was born at Kushk-i Hinduwan, a village near Bukhara, he is also believed to have lived in Bukhara.

It was during the sixth century that Bukhara was known as Numijket, but the city was subsequetnly seized from the Turks by the Arabs in 676, who proceeded to subject all Transoxiana during the next thirty years. It was governed by Arab chieftains representing the caliph until 820 when the potentate appointed the Persian Tahir as govenor of the Province. Tahir and his descendants exercised the right to appoint their own subgovenors, and this is how in 904 Ismail the Samanid became the head of a kingdom, which had Bukhara as capital and which endured to the end of the century, until the Samanids were ousted by the Ghazvanid Turks. In 1220, Bukhara was taken and sacked by the Mongols of Genghis Khan and threafter became part of the empire ruled by Timur Lenk and his descendants from 1387 to 1500. From the latter date to 1599 it was the capital of the Shaybanids. Taken by the Persians in 1740, it soon reverted to the status of an independant Turkish emirate, which it retained until the second half of the nienteenth century when the Russina protectorate was imposed on it. What survives of its city walls dates from the Turkish emirate, which it retained until the second half of the nineteenth century when the Russian protectorate was imposed on it. What survives of its city walls dates from the time of the Turkish enirate, but the successive stages of its history are marked by a wealth of monuments.


(Sources: http://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/imam_bukhari.htm; Islam & Muslim Art, Alexandre Papadopoulo, Islamic Spirituality: Manifestations)