Brick by brick: The contrasting campaigns for Ayodhya shrines
A brick purified by holy water from the “jham jham” well at Mecca will be brought to Ayodhya in a cavalcade after Ramzan in April
Lucknow: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad had started its Ram Janmabhoomi campaign with a ‘Ram shila pujan’ in the 1980s. Some had the words ‘Shri Ram’ inscribed on them. About 3.5 lakh ‘shilas’ were brought to Ayodhya in 1989 from all over the country for the ‘Shilanayas’ (laying the foundation stone) of the Ram temple. Some of those bricks are still preserved.
Now, a brick purified by holy water from the “jham jham” well at Mecca will be brought to Ayodhya in a cavalcade after Ramzan in April. The holy brick, too, has the Islamic ‘ayat’ (holy verse) from Quran inscribed on it and will be used in the foundation of Muhammad Bin Abdullah Masjid , in the presence of clerics of all sects -- Deobandi, Tablighi, Sunni and Sufi. The cavalcade will stop every 300 km for people to pay their respects.
Mumbai-based Hazi Arafat Shaikh, now the chairperson of the Mosque Development Council, said the mosque will be country’s first centre of “dua (blessing) and dawa (medicine)”, sending a message of “mohabbat” (love) and communal amity.
Shaikh returned from Haj last week with the brick and now plans to take it to Ajmer Sharif, a revered Sufi shrine in Rajasthan.
“I carried the brick to Mecca and Medina, purified it by jham jham (holy water) and now will take it to Ajmer Sharif before carrying it to Ayodhya,” said Shaikh.
Interestingly, they also plan the country’s biggest 21-ft long Quran in the chisti (saffron) colour, associated with the Sufi order.
Shaikh is a former president of the Maharashtra State Minority Commission and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2018. He was earlier with the Shiv Sena.
UP Sunni Board President Zafar Farooqui appointed him chairman of the development committee three months ago to oversee the construction of the mosque by the All-India Rabta-e-Masjid.
He insisted that he had no discussion about it with any BJP leader, including the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh or Maharashtra. He also denied any plan to invite the BJP leadership at the foundation stone-laying ceremony.
According to Shaikh, the foundation of the mosque will be laid before clerics of all sects from all over India and abroad. Shaikh said: “We only want government to put clearances on a fast-track mode, nothing else.” The Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation had quoted ₹323 crore as the project cost in its submissions to the Ayodhya Development Authority.
Initially, support came in from both Muslims and Hindus as Athar Hussain, the convenor of the foundation, said: “We were overwhelmed by the response and the financial support that we received from all over India. 50% cent of the callers are Hindus.”
But a fund crunch is looming now and that’s a challenge before Shaikh.
All set to launch a website this month at a Mumbai conference, Shaikh said he hopes there will be no shortage of funds as the Muslim community will be able mobilise them. He said the new website will have a QR code – any Indian anywhere in the world will be able to donate for projects ranging from a hospital to an old age home besides the mosque.
What’s likely to help mobilise people is their faith and the 22-odd ‘qawaalis’ and ‘kalmas’ on the proposed mosque, which are ready to be played during the campaign. Some of them have been written and sung by famous Bollywood singer Danish Sabri and lyricist Salman Bhosdi.
As per the verdict of the Supreme Court in November 2019, the state government had allotted 5 acres of land to the UP Central Sunni Waqf Board at Dhannipur village, 20 km away from Ayodhya in February 2020. It was handed over to the trust in August 2020, three days before the ground-breaking ceremony of Ram Temple by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The board had constituted the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation for developing the land.
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