For a person that's claimed to be a descendent of Prophet Mohammad, Syed Ahmed Bukhari is like no other Imam. He belongs to a pedigree whose history of an uninterrupted service at the largest mosque in India Delhi’s Jama Masjid dates back to 375 years.
At the recommendation of the Shah of Bukhara, as the story goes, Emperor Shah Jahan appointed Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari as the first Imam of the Jama Masjid and conferred upon him the title of ‘Shahi Imam.’ Upon death such titles would ordinarily get buried with the titleholder. But for the Bukhari family, it has been immortalized as well as institutionalized. The Imam guards it fiercely against all attempts to diminish the title's eminence, influence and the splendid perks vested in it.
The emperor is long gone, the Jama Masjid he built is no longer a personal property and the Shahi Imam he once hired has been dead for centuries. There’s no conclusive evidence either to support the assertion that the Bukharis were ordained to pass down the ‘Imami baton’ from father to his son. With thousands of mosques strewn across the world, there’s none that has the Imamat as closely held by a single family.
What’s the hurry, one may ask? Why Syed Ahmed Bukhari is in such a rush to have his son anointed? Shaban is only a student of the Humanities at a local college, not a distinguished Islamic scholar. Apart from a father’s immense love for his child and the desire to see him well-settled in the family business, the answer may lie in the unanticipated results of the recent general elections.
BJP’s unprecedented victory in the parliamentary elections has left the battered Congress and all other self-professed secularist parties and their favorite vote-bank patrons licking their wounds. They all had to realign their survival strategies in a hurry. Rushing the anointment may be one such attempt to thwart what the Imam might perceive as an evolving threat from the new government to his family fortunes. Or, is it a ploy to outwit the Waqf Board that may be scheming to wrest control of the mosque? Foreclosing on the anointment makes it that much more difficult to unravel a settled issue.
Whatever the reason, the condition of this young man, Shaban Bukhari, is pitiable. He is only 19 years in age and his anointment is akin to a sacrificial lamb being forcefully dragged to the slaughterhouse on Bakr-Id only in his case it's the father that's hell bent on depriving his son the blessings of being young and restless.
Preparations for Shaban's anointment are underway. A list of a 1,000 distinguished guests, including ‘Who’s Who’ of the Islamic world, has been invited to grace the occasion on the 22th, followed by a lavish dinner on the 29th. Notable exception is the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, who wasn't extended the invitation and for whom Syed Ahmed Bukhari had this to say, “We have invited the prime minister of Pakistan as we have had relations with him since my father’s time, unlike with Modi, whom we have not invited,” adding that, “Modi has not done anything for Indian Muslims even after coming to power. Indian Muslims have not forgiven him for the 2002 Gujarat riots.”
Clearly the Imam isn’t current with the happenings around him. It has failed to register with him that Modi doesn’t need forgiveness from the Muslims he did nothing wrong that would warrant apologizing to the Muslim community. How unfair to ask him to apologize when the premeditated annihilation of the innocent Hindus was, in fact, initiated by a band of lawless Muslim rioters? If anyone must apologize, it has to be he and his Ummah for the Islamic fundamentalist forces that are being unleashed on the innocent victims of mass executions, kidnappings, rapes, loots and forced conversions all across the world and for their innumerable acts of terror, militancy and insurgency, particularly throughout India, including the forced exodus of over a half million Kashmiri Pandits from their ancestral land.
The Imam is constrained in his comprehension of how democratic institutions function. If Modi was truly guilty of breaking any law, as the Imam is himself charged with and for which non-bailable warrants were issued in his name, the PM would be subject to criminal prosecution. Congress and by default its vote-bank, did everything to paint an image of his culpability in the Gujarat riots. And every time, he was exonerated of any wrongdoing.
Imam Bukhari’s latest shenanigans not inviting the PM and barking accusations of Modi’s unapologetic stand against the Muslim community carry a strong stench of opportunism. Banking on the unresolved apprehensions among the uninformed segment of the Muslim community and using anointment as a ruse to shoo Modi, the Imam is hoping he can win back the goodwill of the alienated Muslims that increasingly find him “mindless and cynical.” Yahya Bukhari, his brother, has even gone on record to say that the members of the Muslim community no longer admire him and take his appeals seriously.
If Narendra Modi would decline wearing skull cap while in the thick of hotly contested parliamentary elections, without caring about the potential fallout for his refusal, an austere PM has certainly no interest in attending a pompous show. Not inviting the PM, particularly when the PM of an unfriendly nation was extended an invitation, isn’t just a casual snub. It’s a serious infraction the Imam has committed against India and all Indians. For that alone, the nation must come together and condemn his impish behavior in the strongest possible terms.
In a show of solidarity, it’s fully expected that all invitees belonging to the BJP will abstain. It’s heartening to know that Sonia Gandhi has also declined the invitation. What about Rahul Gandhi, Mamta Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav or his son, Akhilesh? Where do the Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, Delhi's Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, Ex-Minister Salman Khurshid and rest of the star-studded cast of prominent leaders in the Congress party stand? Will they be equally astute as Sonia Gandhi in declining the invitation? Do they have the temerity to cite national pride and honor as the basis for their refusal to attend? Or, will they allow themselves to be drawn to an ostentatious ceremony that promises unrestrained opportunity for self-indulgence? Let’s wait and watch.
You can view more articles at the author's Blog at: http://ravimunshi.blogspot.com
Nice writeup. So far Sharif has not declined to come.Will he be such shamless? But see the temerity of this mischievous Imam of daring the nation.In the interest of the nation Govt of India has to make long drawn-out plans to cut any such potentialities in future.
Added By rakesh raina
Thanks for the article! I think they throw the Islamic tanturms to get what they want in India which particularly was a normal way of rule and life under congress govt in India. In Kashmir full wake up call woke up whole pundit community Up at the exodus year of 1990 otherwise I believe every home had Birbal philosopher on secularism and Kashmiryat when actually nothing was there at the same time it was just that fake hope which kept most of pundits alive. We should not forget that 1990!
Added By Raj Ambardar