Mausoleum of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, Samarkand

The Mausoleum of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi in Samarkand lies just one kilometer southeast of the famous Registan Square and is dedicated to the philosopher whose teachings have impacted Islamic understanding in Central Asia.

Abu Mansur Muhammad al-Khanafiy al-Maturidi al-Samarkandi was a theologian and scientist born in 870 AD in the city of Maturid near Samarkand. After receiving his primary education at a rural school, he continued his studies in madrassas. Maturidi is best known as the founder of the Sunni Maturidiyyah school of theosophy (kalam) and Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh).

Imam al-Maturidi would teach his many followers and students, who traveled to see him from all over the country, in the garden of his own home. He yielded great influence in the scientific world of the Muslim East, which led to the adoption of the name “Maturidiyyah" for his school of theology. One of the key principles of his teaching was the interpretation of Islam based on reason versus blindly following the religious canons and authorities.

After his death, the imam was buried in Chokardiz Cemetery in Samarkand. A mausoleum was built over his grave, which was highly esteemed by city residents. If legend is correct, more than 3,000 scholars and theologians are buried in the same cemetery. Unfortunately, the grave and tombstone of Imam Maturidi were destroyed in 1940.

To honor this distinguished philosopher and his contribution to the study and interpretation of Islam, Uzbekistan held a special celebration in 2000 on the 1130th anniversary of his birth. The commemoration included an international conference focused on his life and teachings, the publication of several of his works, and the opening of a memorial complex built at the site of his destroyed grave.

At the center of the memorial ensemble is the Mausoleum of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, Samarkand’s oft-overlooked attraction which measures 12x12 meters wide and 17.5 meters high. It has two domes, the outer one ribbed and decorated with glazed blue majolica. The base is defined by two dozen arches and the window by traditional latticework, while mosaics, majolica and plaster ganch carvings are used in both the interior and exterior. The sayings of Imam al-Maturidi, carved across the tomb’s white marble façade, echo across the complex as a reminder of the teachings which carried this man to fame.