Before heading to the outskirts of Samarkand Saudat decided to show us an Orthodox church and tell us a bit about the religious tolerance Uzebekistan has preserved throughout the years. It was quite an interesting one, though we just visited it briefly.
A few metres away from it there was a fairly huge Christian church reinforcing what we had been told in regards to religion but our morning schedule was too tight and we still had to drive 30 kilometres away from Samarkand, so we didn't even stop.
Our next visit was the Iman al-Bukhari complex, which we accessed through an entrance portal with carved gates and which comprised a mausoleum, a mosque, a khanaka, a gallery, a library, an educational centre for hadith and a museum.
Al-Bukhari (810-870)is said to have been an outstanding Sunni Islmic scholar,who made a series of travels within various provinces of the Caliphate in order to improve his knowledge of hadith. His aim was to collect authentic oral traditions related to the prophet Mohammed's statements and deeds (hadithes), having verified 600,000 which were in circulation at that time, plus another 200,000 he learned from both his teachers and informers, ultimately being recognised as a guidance on fiqh. For the majority of Sunnis, his major hadith anthology has become the second book after the koran and most of the books he wrote are still used in madrasahs and Islamic universities for studying the sacred life of the prophet.
We had barely taken our first steps and already the whole ensemble looked sumptuous. The gallery covering an area of 786 square metres for 1500 believes to pray at simultaneously looked absolutely stunning, particularly the ceilings which were finely painted. Rows of meticulously designed blues and greens filled my eyes in such a way that I didn't seem to be able to stop looking at them and actually photographing them.
We then visited the small Museum, which housed some rare samples of manuscripts and books on Islamic Theology, as well as a huge number of gifts of several statesmen from different countries. Among them a piece of "kisva", a coverlet from the Kaaba in Mecca.
As we walked out the blues and greens took over me again and as we approached the Mausoleum I still had a chance to photographs some of its ceiling parts.
(To be continued)