When the need is to do away with the very concept of Shahi Imam, Bukhari is inviting guests from India and abroad to attend the ‘Dastaarbandi’ or the anointment of his son as Naib Imam
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ithout holding any brief for Prime Minister Narendra Modi one can say that the action of Delhi’s Shahi Imam Maulana Syed Ahmad Bukhari is not only absurd and illogical but totally against the basic tenets of Islam. The question is not just why he is inviting Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and not his Indian counterpart.
This is one issue. The other is no less important. May one ask one simple question: Is there any scope in Islam to throw lavish parties and spend millions of rupees in the name of ‘Dastaarbandi’ or anointment of one’s son?
‘Dastaarbandi’ has nothing to do with Islam as such. There was no such practice during the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is just a ritual, which came into practice a couple of centuries after him, even as institutions like madrassa (seminary or school) and Jamia (university) were developing. That was the time when individual ‘ustaad’ (teacher) would teach the ‘shagird’ (pupils)––just like guru and chela in India.
It used to be a simple ceremony organized by madrassas or any such institution after the students graduated as Aalim (Graduate), Fazil (Post-Graduate) or Hafiz (one who memorizes the whole of Quran). Indeed, the West has borrowed the concept of convocation from ‘Dastaarbandi’. Instead of gown, students passing out from madrassa are honored with Dastaar, which means turban or ‘pagdi’. The girls are offered ‘Reda’, that is ‘chaddar’––just as we offer shawls these days.
But many madrassas have given up this practice as they think that there is no such need for it and that it has nothing to do with Islam as such. There is thus no scope whatsoever for indulgence. But Bukhari is doing just that.
Using ‘Dastaarbandi’ for personal glory and fame is downright condemnable and against the teachings of Quran, which demands simplicity, frugality and condemns extravagance. Islam always espoused the cause of the poor and downtrodden. So the whole show organized by Bukhari is against the spirit of his faith.
Besides, the Prophet stood against tyranny and the concept of dynastic rule. How can an Imam of Masjid be Shahi (royal) when the Prophet would himself ask his Companion Belal, an Ethiopian black, to call Azan.
A person can only become an Imam if he fulfills certain obligations and possesses certain qualifications. There is absolutely no place for hereditary system in this institution. The system of appointing Imam in Jama Masjid of Delhi is just an aberration, which was introduced by Mughal emperors like Shah Jehan.
When the need is to do away with the very concept of Shahi Imam––a totally contradictory expression––Ahmad Bukhari is inviting guests from India and abroad to attend ‘Dastaarbandi’ and the anointment of his son as Naib Imam (Deputy Imam).
Bukhari is well aware that Nawaz Sharif cannot come to India to attend such private function. Yet he has done this deliberately to hog the media attention. If for argument’s sake one accepts that Modi has done nothing to win the heart of Muslims; may one ask what Nawaz is doing in his own country. Why has the Pakistani prime minister suddenly become so dear to Bukhari, when the latter has never invited him in any other family function––at least there is no public knowledge about it. Is not Bukhari aware of the protocol?
If Modi is worth not attending, where is the point of inviting his ministerial colleagues Rajnath Singh and Harsh Vardhan and BJP’s Muslim face, Shahnawaz Husain, not to speak of politicians of other parties?
Not long ago the same Ahmad Bukhari used to champion the cause of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, notwithstanding the fact that Lal Krishna Advani, the architect of the Ram Janambhoomi movement, which led to the demolition of Babri Masjid, was his deputy.
Soroor Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Patna, India. He writes on political, social, national and international issues. This first appeared in twocircles.net