Tipu Sultan mosque trustee board will not hurry to find Barkati’s replacement

Arif Ahmed, chairman of Prince Gulam Mohammed Wakq Estate that is the custodian of the Tipu Sultan mosque does not want to rush into a selection that will later cause them embarrassment as the Noor-ur Rehman Barkati did.

kolkata Updated: May 26, 2017 13:31 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Noor-ur Rehman Barkati,Imam,Fatwa
Noor-ur Rehman Barkati was the imam of Tipu Sultan mosque for 28 years and turned a law unto himself.(Subhankar Chakraborty/HT PHOTO)

Chastened by the bitter experience with former imam Syed Noor- ur Rehman Barkati, the trustees of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan mosque trustees have become extremely cautious in selecting a new imam. Arif Ahmed, chairman of Prince Gulam Mohammed Waqf Estate, the custodian body of Tipua Sultan Masjid told HT that they are not in a hurry to appoint an imam.

A muezzin is administering namaz temporarily in the mosque that was built in 1842 in the heart of downtown Kolkata.

Read: Kolkata imam Barkati who warned of jihad against India sacked by mosque board

Barkati was sacked on May 17 for his anti-national remarks and his continuous refusal to remove the red beacon from his car.

“We will issue a formal advertisement in newspapers for the appointment for an appointment. A search committee headed by the caretaker of the religious affairs of the mosque, will examine the applications as well as recommendations from different bodies such as association of imams and mosque committees. After vetting all the applications, the search committee will make its final recommendation to the board of trustees of the estate, who finally give the appointment,” Ahmed said.

Arif Ahmed, the chairman of Prince Gulam Mohammed Wakq Estate that is the custodian of the Tipu Sultan mosque, is a chartered accountant and a cyber crime expert. (HT Photo)

The position carries a monthly salary of Rs 10,000 apart from cost of running the imam’s office and statutory provident fund, seniority allowance and medical allowances.

“The new candidate needs to be a hafiz. In other words, he has to memorize the sermons of Quran. He should also be a keerat, which means someone who has a melodious an attractive style of administering namaz. Unless there is melody in presentation, it is difficult to attract the attention of not only those who are offering prayers but also that of the passers by irrespective of their religion,” added Ahmed.

Read: Police complaint against Kolkata’s ‘fatwa imam’ Barkati for not giving up red beacon

The trustees will give preference to someone with genial temperament. “Barkati sahab was extremely hot headed and, therefore, his temperament caused embarrassment for the mosque committee several times,” he said.

The new imam should also have not have any political bias like Barkati, who frequently campaigned for Trinamool Congress.

Echoing Ahmed, Maulana Sharafat Abrar Qasmi Dinajpuri, the convener of Tahaffuz-E-Masjid Committee, an association of 494 mosque committees in Bengal, said that an imam needs to be a totally apolitical person. “People with diverse political views come to offer prayers at mosques. So an imam publicly canvassing for a particular political party is an insult for the namazis,” Maulana Dinajpuri told HT.

The trustees will also not allow the new imam to use the mosque premises for personal businesses, a charge that Barkati has frequently faced.

“The final condition is that the new imam should be fluent in at least three languages Urdu, Hindi and Bengali. Considering the location of the Tipu Sultan mosque, people with diverse linguistic background comes to the mosque everyday, and hence it is preferable that the imam has knowledge of at least these three languages,” Ahmed remarked.

Prince Gulam Mohammed Waqf Estate was founded in 1872, Besides being custodian of the Tipu Sultan mosque, the estate authorities are engaged in different social activities like arranging for education of students coming of financially weaker backgrounds, among others.

First Published: May 26, 2017 13:31 IST