Historic Sona Bibi mosque faces extinction

The historic 520-year old Sona Bibi Mosque, an archaeological relic from the Bengal Sultanate rule, is on the verge of destruction due to the negligence of authorities concerned. According to that manuscript, Sona Bibi Masjid was built on December 30 in 1498.  

The mosque is situated at Kusumba village at Manda upazila in Naogaon, around 500 yards north-western of the Kusumba Mosque, another historic mosque at the same village on the west bank of Atrai River.

From the remains of the ruined buildings and the abundance of scattered bricks outside the mosque, it can be deduced that Kusumba was once the royal administrative seat of the Sultans.

The 16-foot wide and 36-foot long mosque was constructed with 6 feet thick walls. Legend has it that Begum Kusum, wife of 15th century Sultan of Bengal Alauddin Hossain Shah, resided next to Sona Bibi Masjid. 

The construction of Kusumba Sona Masjid Hafezia Madrasa right on top of this historic building in 2004 had destroyed most of the structure. 

However, during a recent visit this correspondent saw that although a stone-made threshold of the main entrance of the mosque is still in place, the eastern part has totally collapsed, turning into a mess of bricks and concrete. Three pillars and some other parts of the mosque, however, have remained, weathering the passage of time. 

Eminent archaeologist Shamsuddin Ahmed deciphered and edited all available epigraphic records of the Muslim rulers of Bengal. In his book ‘The Inscriptions of Bengal’, published by Varendra Research Museum in Rajshahi in 1960, he mentions that the then-caretaker of Rajshahi Upazila Parishad Surendra Mohan Chowdhury had discovered a manuscript from Sona Bibi.  According to that manuscript, Sona Bibi Masjid was built on December 30, 1498.   Shamsuddin opines that Sona Bibi Masjid was possibly built by the Ramandals, who were the administrative officials appointed in Kusumba. 

Another author Ashraful Islam Palash also tried to put together the history behind Sona Bibi Masjid by collecting various information on the subject. He said there were no accurate manuscripts proving the identity of Kusum Bibi and Sona Bibi. 

However, folklore suggests that Kusum Bibi and Sona Bibi existed. Many think Kusumba village was named after Kusum Bibi, after she came to Manda upazila on exile, carrying a huge quantity of valuables. Manda Upazila Nirbahi Officer Mushfiqur Rahman said: "According to different books and after some study, I have come to know that Sultan Alauddin Shah had a daughter called Shona. After she died, Alauddin was heartbroken, and built Sona Bibi Masjid in the memory of his daughter." 

Mushifqur has already contacted the Archaeology Department, and has asked them to take steps to preserve the historic site.