Indian Shias for Sikh shrine in Basra
As part of a goodwill gesture, the Shia community in India is keen to construct a Sikh shrine at Basra in Iraq.Updated: Apr 12, 2006 17:01 IST
Fired by their zeal to repay a debt to the Sikhs, India's Shia community has embarked upon a mission to construct a Sikh shrine at Basra in Iraq in the honour of Sikhism founder and first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak.
Maulana Kalbe Jawad, India's spiritual head of the Shia community, has decided to lead a delegation of prominent Shia leaders to Iraq to persuade Ayatollah Ali Shistani, the supreme authority of the Shia community the world over, to allow construction of the Sikh shrine at Basra near Baghdad.
Zaheer Zaidi, president of the capital-based Husan Ara Trust, said the Shias had never forgotten the great service done by the Sikhs in handing over the shrine of the Eighth Imam at Samana, near Patiala, to them.
"Through this gracious act, the Punjab government has set an example of communal amity and now it is our turn to repay them by pooling our efforts for constructing a Sikh shrine in Iraq," he said.
As per historical accounts, the Shia community has been blessed with 12 Imams, all of whom trace their ancestry to the Holy Prophet's family.
The 8th Imam came to India where he died later. A shrine was built in his memory at Samara, but it fell into disuse after the Shias migrated to Pakistan in the wake of partition.
When the Punjab government was apprised by a scholar of the callous neglect of the shrine, it renovated the entire structure at a cost of Rs 32 lakh, and later handed it over the shrine to the Shia community.
"The shrine has now emerged as a pilgrimage centre for the Shia community all over the world. During last few days, over two lakh people visited there to pay their obeisance to the 8th Imam," Zaidi said.
He also informed that on April 23, the Shias would observe Urs at the shrine. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi is expected to participate in the event.
Maulana Zawad, who was recently in the capital, held talks with Zaidi and the US-based Islamic propagator Tehzeeb Zaidi, in this connection.
It was later decided to construct a Gurdwara in Iraq.
A delegation of Shia leaders would visit Najaf in Iraq soon to hold talks with the Ayatollah Shsitani to seek his permission for constructing the Sikh shrine, Zaidi said.
Maulana Zawad, also the Chancellor of the Lucknow-based Madrastul Waezeen and Imam-e-Juma there, had written a letter to Zaidi, saying efforts for constructing a Sikh Gurdwara in Iraq should be launched without any delay.
"Our Sikh brothers near the tomb of Bahlol Dara at Baghdad will consider the proposal positively. This will also be a part of the birthday celebrations of Prophet Mohammad," he wrote in his letter.