The Blue Mosque is a mosque located in the heart of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.
The Seljuq dynasty sultan Ahmed Sanjar built the first known shrine at this location. It was destroyed or hidden under earthen embankment during the invasion of Genghis Khan around 1220. In the 15th century here by Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqarah was built the present Blue Mosque. It is by far the most important landmark in Mazar-i-Sharif and it is considered that the name of city (Noble Shrine, Grave of Sharif) originates from this shrine.
A site plan of the location made in the 1910s shows that there had earlier been a smaller walled precinct in the mosque, which was razed to create parklands later, although the portals to this precinct still remain as gateways for the shrine.
Tombs of varying dimensions were added for a number of Afghan political and religious leaders over the years, which has led to the development of its current irregular dimensions. These include the square domed tomb of Amir Dost Muhammad, Wazir Akbar Khan and a similar structure for Amir Sher Ali and his family.
According to a local legend here has been buried Ali who reportedly was brought here by a white camel in order to save his remains from the desecration by his enemies. Most Muslims though consider that Ali is buried in Imam Ali Mosque, Najaf in Iraq.
Mazar-i-Sharif or Mazar-e-Sharif is the fourth-largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 375,000 as of 2006. It is the capital of Balkh province and is linked by highways with Kunduz in the east, Kabul in the southeast, Herat in the west and Uzbekistan in the north. Mazar-e Sharif, along with Herat, Jalalabad in the east and Kandahar in the south, makes Afghanistan an important strategic location in Asia. The city also serves as one of the many tourist attractions because of its famous shrines as well as the Muslim and Hellenistic archeological sites. In 2006, the discovery of new Hellenistic remains was announced.
The region around Mazar-e-Sharif has been historically part of Greater Khorasan and was controlled by the Tahirids followed by the Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Ilkhanates, Timurids, and Khanate of Bukhara until the mid-18th century when it became part of the Durrani Empire after a friendship treaty was signed between emirs Murad Beg and Ahmad Shah Durrani. The Mazari Sharif Airport in the city has been heavily used during the 1980s Soviet war and the latest 2001-present war.
The name “Mazar-e Sharif” means “Noble Shrine”, a reference to the large, blue-tiled sanctuary and mosque in the center of the city known as the Shrine of Hazrat Ali or the Blue Mosque. Some Muslims believe that the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, is at this mosque in Mazari Sharif, after Ali’s remains were transferred to Mazar-i-Sharif as per request of Ja’far as-Sadiq. However, most Muslims believe that the grave of Ali is at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.