On the banks of a small tributary of the Zerafshan, the Siyab, is a sacred place upon which blessings have descended. According to legend, the remains of Daniel, a biblical prophet from the Old Testament, are buried here in this mausoleum. The other version says that Doniyar (Doniel) lies here – the companion of the Arab preacher Qutham ibn Abbas, but all opinions agree that Doniyar is a saint revered by people of all three world religions.
It is believed that the spirit of the saint buried here protects the city of Samarkand and brings prosperity and well-being. The faithful come here to pray in the mausoleum and ask for help. Pilgrims pay special tribute to the spring at the foot of the mausoleum.
So who is buried in the mausoleum of Samarkand? According to one version, the remains of Saint Daniel were brought to Samarkand by Amir Temur. According to the legend, the Great Temur undertook a campaign into Asia Minor and conquered almost all the cities. However, when he approached a small town in Iran – Suza – with his huge army, he could not take it because the town offered unprecedented resistance and did not surrender to the invincible army. Amir Temur asked the locals and his spiritual teacher why he could not take the town and received the answer that the town was guarded by the spirit of Daniel, the Jewish prophet from the Old Testament. He announced the end of the siege and asked the inhabitants of the city to lead him to the tomb of the saint. He spent some time with the relics, persuaded those in charge to bury them and the next morning sent a caravan with the saint’s remains to Samarkand.
According to another legend, when the caravan reached Samarkand, the camels suddenly stopped at a place that resembled Suza and did not move. No matter how hard the mahouts tried, the camels would not budge. It was then decided to bury his mortal remains and build a mausoleum in his place.
Another version says that the Prophet Tabba’s remains are in the mausoleum. This version is mentioned in “Small Qandiya” which refers to the words of Sheikh Hodja Abdu-Darun of Samarkand: “… the Prophet of Allah crossed the river Jeyhun (Amu Darya) and reached Samarkand. He was a skilled soothsayer. The people of the city showed their respect to him. He settled here and died in Samarkand. In Arabic he was called Tabba nabi (Prophet Tabba). The Prophet said, “I, Muhammad son of Abdullah, have found the perfection of knowledge of the hidden world in his tomb.” And anyone who wants to hear the revelation must serve in the Prophet’s Mazar every Friday after Friday prayers…”
Another legend states that the remains of Daniel, a companion of Qutham ibn Abbas, rest in the mausoleum. This version is reported by the Arab historian Abu-Tokhir Hodja in his work Samaria (late 19th century). He writes that many people confuse Daniel with the Arab righteous Hodja Daniel, who came to Samarkand with Qutham ibn Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, to spread Islam. According to this version, Hodja Danyol was particularly respected by the inhabitants of Samarkand.