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Former Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Abdullah Bukhari passes away

Shahi Imam Syed Abdullah Bukhari
Shahi Imam Syed Abdullah Bukhari

Former Shahi Imam of Delhi's historic Jama Masjid Syed Abdullah Bukhari died here today after a prolonged illness.

He was 87. He is survived by four sons and two daughters. One of his sons, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, is the present Shahi Imam of the mosque.

The prominent religious leader breathed his last in a local hospital around 0930 hours today, a statement from the present Shahi Imam's secretariat said.

Syed Abdullah Bukhari had become the 12th Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid when he had taken over the reins from his father, Syed Hameed Bukhari, the 11th Shahi Imam, on July 8, 1973. He had served as the Vice Shahi Imam from 1946 onwards. He decided to abdicate in 2000 because of poor health and his son, the present Shahi Imam, had taken over from him on October 14, 2000.

The ailing Syed Abdullah Bukhari had been brought from a city hospital to attend his son's coronation ceremony. In an emotional speech on that occasion, he said he was not sure how successful he had been in maintaining the traditions of the Jama Masjid.

"But I am thankful to my God for giving ....so much courage, soundness and strength that no power on earth, no government of the day or any personal interest could ever prevent (me) from exposing the conspiracies, excesses and injustices against the Indian Muslims and other oppressed people and raising the voice of justice," he said.

He said this was the reason why the Jama Masjid had become the "shining symbol of the hopes and the conscience of the Indian Muslims."

Syed Abdullah Bukhari was born in Rajasthan's Sambhar. He did his Senior Cambridge in Delhi and had his religious education -- Dars-e-Nizami -- from Madrasa Abdur Rab in the capital.

President Pratibha Patil and Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari were amongst those who condoled the death of the former Shahi Imam.

"I am deeply grieved to learn about the sad demise of Maulana Syed Abdullah Bukhari, former Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi.

"A respected personality, Maulana Syed Abdullah Bukhari had an impressive record of religious service to the people. He would remain a lasting exemplar of selfless service and his death has caused a deep void.

"My wife joins me in sending our heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family and the wide circle of his followers and admirers and pray the Almighty to grant them the strength to withstand this loss," Mr Ansari said in a message.

The All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, an umbrella body Indian Muslim organisations, also condoled the death of the former Shahi Imam.

AIMMM President Zafarul-Islam Khan said in a statement that Syed Abdullah Bukhari, as the imam of the country's most important mosque for nearly three decades, had played a leading role in the life of the Muslims of India during the last quarter of the 20th century.

He said the former Shahi Imam had boldly helped mould Muslim policies and air Muslim grievances during that period.

"He will always be remembered as a great son of the Indian Muslim community, the second largest Muslim concentration in the world. Imam Abdullah Bukhari, with his brave and candid stands became the spokesman of the Indian Muslim community during a crucial time when the community faced communal onslaught and numerous challenges. He was respected both at home and abroad for his outspoken views," he said.

NNN

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