Tanzania’s Kizimkazi Mosque, a reminder of Iranian culture in East Africa
The Kizimkazi Mosque is situated on the southern tip of the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania and is one of the oldest Islamic buildings on the East African coast.
it was built in 1107 AD by settlers from the city of Shiraz, located in southern Iran. The 900-year-old mosque is still used for prayers, and it is visited every year by many tourists.
According to historians, immigrants from the Shiraz region in southwestern Iran directly settled various mainland ports and islands in East Africa, beginning in the tenth century.
The Shirazi are notable for helping spread Islam on the Swahili Coast.
Among the relics and monuments on the East African coast that prove that Iranians once lived there, Kizimkazi Mosque is the second oldest mosque in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
According to an inscription installed at the mosque’s mihrab, the Kizimkazi Mosque was built over 940 years ago.
The mihrab is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that points out the qibla, the direction of the Kaba in Mecca, the direction that Muslims should face when praying.
While the inscription and some coral-carved decorations date from the time of construction, the majority of the present structure was rebuilt in the 18th century.
A similar design for the mosque’s mihrab can also be found in mosques in Tanzania and Kenya, built by Shirazi, Baluchi, Shushtari, Kazerouni, and Omani people.
The British archaeologist David Whitehouse (1941-2013), who studied in Iran and Africa, believed that the inscription in Kizimkazi Mosque is similar to the one in Siraf Port in southern Iran.
Mazunduchi Village residents, which is located near the mosque, introduce themselves as Shirazi and celebrate Noruz, the Iranian New Year.
Shiraz and the southwestern coastal region of Iran are linked to the Shirazi people that inhabit the Swahili coasts of Eastern Africa.
Shirazis established Persian city-states on the eastern coast of Africa and its islands between the 13th and 15th centuries.