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Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Bukhari attacked; 19-yr-old chosen as next Shahi Imam

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New Delhi (Oct 26, 2014): A man allegedly threw a bottle of kerosene on Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari, who was leading the evening prayers at the mosque in New Delhi on Sunday. The Mr. Syed Ahmed Bukhari was not injured in the incident.

The man, identified as Kamaluddin, 32, a resident of 24-Parganas district of West Bengal, was immediately nabbed by the Shahi Imam’s personal security officers and later handed over to local police. “The incident took place when the Imam was leading the maghrib namaz (evening prayer). A man suddenly threw a plastic bottle which had kerosene at him from behind. The attacker was caught by Imam’s PSOs. He has been taken to the nearby police station,” said Amanullah, Mr. Syed Ahmed Bukhari’s official spokesperson.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Central) Alok Kumar said that the man has been taken into custody and is being questioned.

Earlier in the day, Shaban Bukhari, the 19-year-old son of the Shahi Imam, has been chosen to succeed him as the 14th Shahi Imam of the country’s largest mosque.

Mr. Shaban Bukhari was picked for the influential post due to his “strong inclination” toward humanities besides his religious capabilities, said Mr. Syed Ahmed Bukhari who has been holding the prestigious post since 2000.

The teenager, who is pursuing Bachelors in Social Work at a private university, will be anointed as the ‘Nayab Shahi Imam’ (vice-imam) at a ceremony on November 22, 2014 which will be attended by around 1,000 religious leaders from across the world.

He will be groomed under his father, who will remain the Shahi Imam for his life. Mr. Shaban Bukhari will then take over the mantle from his father.

From nearly 400 years, the Imamat of the Jama Masjid has been continuing in the same family from generation to generation.

Jama Masjid’s history dates back to 1656, when Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari was conferred the title of Shahi Imam by then Mughal emperor Shahjahan. He was sent to Delhi by the Shah of Bukhara, then Emperor of Uzbekistan, following a request from Shahjahan.

“The first namaz took place in 1656 and it was then Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari was conferred the title of Shahi Imam. From that day, in accordance to Shahjahan’s wish, the Imamat of the Jama Masjid has been continuing in the family from generation to generation,” Mr. Syed Ahmed Bukhari said.

Explaining the process of choosing his heir, he said that it has to be seen which son is capable of becoming imam and whether he has religious inclination or not.

“He (Mr. Shaban Bukhari) is capable and has religious inclination, in addition to that he is doing his graduation in Amity University. He has had strong leaning toward humanities, he wanted to serve humanity and social work has been his main subject. He is also doing his graduation social work.

“So keeping in mind his capabilities and his inclination the decision was taken to appoint him as the Nayab Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid and he will be the next, that is, the 14th Shahi Imam,” he said.

Talking about the grooming process, Mr. Syed Ahmed Bukhari said, “I was appointed as the Nayab Shahi Imam in 1973 by my grandfather and I was appointed as the Shahi Imam in 2000. Similarly I will groom my son.”