SUCCESSION WAR SCARS JAMA MASJID 

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By FROM RASHEED KIDWAI
  • Published 6.10.00
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New Delhi, Oct. 6 :    New Delhi, Oct. 6:  Sensing a war of succession in the capital's principal mosque, the ailing shahi imam of Jama Masjid has named his eldest son Ahmad his successor. But the crisis is far from over. Syed Abdullah Bukhari's third son Yahya wants the job of naib (deputy) imam apart from a 50 per cent share in the earnings from the mosque and the family business that ranges from real estate to rice exports. But Ahmad is unwilling to concede the slot to his brother as his two wives are pushing their sons for the post. Acting swiftly, Yahya has moved into Jama Masjid and taken up residence in the backyard of the mosque, called Jannat Nishan, to exert "moral pressure" on his father. The elder Bukhari, torn between love for his son and sensitive public opinion, is making feeble attempts to keep the naib imam issue in abeyance. The imam says there is no urgency to appoint Ahmad's deputy now. But Yahya and Ahmad are in no mood to wait. Ahmad's eldest son has already prepared himself for the job, having become a hafiz and alim (high degree in theology). Since Yahya has no such credentials, the nephew is confident of edging out his uncle. The succession issue is casting a shadow over the grand celebrations planned for October 14 when the imam will hand over his crown to Ahmad. A delicious dinner of kebabs, curries, kormas, biryanis and sweets will be laid out for one and all. There will be a separate enclosure where ambassadors from about 40 nations, Sonia Gandhi, Deve Gowda, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Yadav, Mayavati, Jayalalitha, the grand imam of Mecca, religious leaders and sajjadanashins from various dargahs, madarsas and mosques will rub shoulder. "It will be grand event. There will be all night chiragan (fireworks)," a member of the Jama Masjid Mushawarat Committee said. But some residents of the walled city are far from impressed. Many consider Ahmad too unpredictable and hot-headed while they view Yahya with suspicion. "Ahmad recently committed a faux pas when he backed Kashmiri separatists. Yahya had once sided with Bal Thackeray. Can they provide leadership to the Muslims?" a shopkeeper asked.