Sunday, October 26, 2014


19-year-old Shaban Bukhari to succeed Ahmed Bukhari as imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid

By Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | October 25, 2014

The Imam of India’s biggest mosque, Delhi’s Jama Masjid, has decided who his successor will be: a 19-year-old student who is pursuing his Bachelors in Social Work. Shaban Bukhari is also the younger son of Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari.

Shaban will be formally anointed as the Naib Imam, or the vice Imam, of Jama Masjid by his father during a ceremony in Delhi on November 22, when he will be just one step away from a position that is a powerful symbol of Muslim interests.

At the moment though, Shaban appears to be an unlikely candidate for the job. Continually prompted by his father to give the right answer, the shy student of Amity University told The Indian Express, “I am far from politics; I am still a student. I don’t like the communal politics that happens today. Any caste or religion-based tension is an attempt at distancing communities — it is bad politics and very bad for the progress of the country. Politics has to be issue based.”

In Islam, the Imam has the limited function of leading the prayers, and the priestly class has almost no other role. But in the 1970s, during and after the Emergency, the position of Imam of Jama Masjid acquired political significance, with various parties trying to enlist his support.

The current Imam has carved out a political space for himself, and has also been in the news for his tussles with the Waqf board which oversees the affairs of all the other mosques except Jama Masjid.

This year, the Imam’s endorsement of the Congress party for the Lok Sabha elections, after Sonia Gandhi met him, had hit the headlines. Earlier, there were attempts by the BJP during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s prime ministership to woo him, as also the Samajwadi Party — that political clout appears to have diminished now because of his shifting loyalties.

Shaban will have “to be trained”, said Syed Ahmed Bukhari, who will retain his title as long as he lives before making way for the 14th generation of “Shahi” Imams – the title Shahi, conferred by Shahjahan the Mughal emperor, holds no relevance today.

“He (Shaban) will take another 10 years till he is trained to be the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid. He has already started spending time with me. He will travel around the world with me and learn from me – just the way I learned from my father,” he said.

The announcement, however, has also raised some eyebrows.

Family sources said the 12th Imam, Syed Abdullah Bukhari, while announcing the next in line had also declared that his son Syed Ahmed Bukhari would be succeeded by his eldest son, continuing a tradition that has been in place since the time of Shahjahan, who built the Jama Masjid and conferred the title of “Shahi Imam” on Syed Ghafoor Shah Bukhari in 1656.

“The previous Imam had said that the present Imam would be succeeded by his eldest son from his first marriage whose name is Arif Bukhari. But he has been disowned by Imam Bukhari,” said a source within the family.

Imam Bukhari said that Shaban’s elder brother, Arhan, refused to take up the title when offered. “Shaban has more of a religious bent,” he said.

Shaban said he has also been “unofficially” helping his father. “I want to serve the people in whatever way possible. I am also studying Imamat to be be the Imam. My training with my father started about one year back and I have unofficially been assisting him since then,” said Shaban, who studied at St. Xavier’s School in Nainital and is now into the second year of his undergraduate programme.

The Bukhari household, meanwhile, is gearing up for November’s ceremony that will be held at Jama Masjid for which about 1,000 Muslim religious leaders from across the world will be invited. With the reading of the Quran, Syed Ahmed Bukhari will declare Shaban Bukhari his successor, after which a pagadi ceremony would be held, when each guest will lend a hand in tying a long cloth around the new Imam’s head.

“I am going to do it differently from what my father did,” said Syed Ahmed Bukhari. “My father had invited all the top political leaders for my investiture ceremony. But I am inviting only Muslim religious leaders.”

During the week thereafter, the Bukhari family will host at least three dinners: for the religious leaders; for about 3,000 “namazis” in Delhi; and the biggest, on November 29, for top diplomats and politicians from within India and abroad.

Once officially appointed, Shaban will need to religiously perform the namaz five times every day, and also conduct the Friday prayers. When asked if he would mix politics with religion in his discourse, the father cut in: “It is my duty as a religious leader stop people from doing anything wrong. Reading the Friday prayers does not mean imparting a bookish sermon. It means making the namazis aware of good and bad, and to show them the right path. This is how it should be.”
(Courtesy: The Indian Express) 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


The world around us is changing. It is moving very fast. No one has the time for others. Everyone is busy in a quest to make a name for himself or herself and  become successful in life by earning money. Time is essential and many of us spend most of our time in this quest setting aside the most important thing in our life– i.e. health. Health is more than wealth. Hence we should not underestimate the importance of health. To achieve perfect health, we should be careful in our intake of food and if necessary take heath supplements like Chyavanprash which according to many reports is a time-tested and long time proven health formulation liked by all – young and old.

Good health is one thing most of us either ignore or give less importance to it. As long as we are fit and healthy we are able to do all our daily chores but when something untoward happens we are shocked and start taking care of it – we take steps to get better.

Would it not be good if we give attention to our health right from the beginning?  We would more likely be saved from health related issues if we start eating a balanced diet on time without skipping meals, eating what is good and refraining from eating fatty foods which are high in bad cholesterol, and if diabetic avoiding sugar and also giving importance to doctor prescribed exercises and  morning and evening walks and also keeping ourselves and our surroundings clean.

Healthy habits have to be inculcated to our children from the beginning.

Our children are our life and they are the ones who make us smile after we come home after a tired day at work. And imagine if they are down with fever, how would you feel? You too would feel sick and worried. Your home too would lose its energy, hectic activities and sheen.
We have to take steps to keep all members of our family from the kids to the elderly healthy and happy. Diseases spread during winter and rainy season. Children catch germs easily during this time and hence it is essential that we take steps to protect them from getting infected from bacteria and viral infections. Dabur Chyavanprash is considered to be one of the best health tonic for us. Quite a large number of people use it.   

Image source: here

The manufacturers of Dabur Chyavanprash say:

“Chyavanprash contains various Ayurvedic ingredients that help in boosting immunity, protect against infections, and provides nutrition and energy. As a formulation it is documented for improvement in memory, intelligence and growth promotion, so it is very popular as a health tonic for kids. It may be consumed by children from 3 years of age onwards.”

It is a jam-like cooked mixture of various herbs and spices prepared as per Ayurvedic methods for preventing diseases. It is widely sold and consumed in our country and also elsewhere as a dietary supplement. It can be taken in all seasons.

Sunday, October 19, 2014



When Ziauddin said he was lucky to be known by his daughter, he sent a message out to our son-obsessed subcontinent. Javed Anand salutes the man in a tribute inspired by 'I Am Malala'

The family is too poor to afford a hospital so she is born at home in Mingora, the biggest town in Pakistan's breathtakingly beautiful Swat Valley. Her mother, Tor Pekai, is anxious about how her husband, Ziauddin Yousafzai, might respond to the arrival of a girl in their cultural milieu where the birth of a son is celebrated while that of a daughter treated as tragedy.

But the moment Ziauddin looks into his daughter's eyes it is love at first sight. "I know there is something different about this child," he exults, and insists that his friends throw dry fruits, sweets and coins in her cradle. That's how Pashtuns normally greet the arrival of a baby boy.

Is it something that he sees in the newborn's eyes or the projection of his dreams that prompts Ziauddin to name her Malala, invoking the memory of the Pashtun's own Joan of Arc, Malalai of Maiwand. The world would know her as Malala. But for her 'Abba' she will always be 'Jaane-man' (soulmate, sweetheart, heart throb) or simply 'Jaani'. To her mother, Tor Pekai, she will be 'Pisho' (cat).

Two years later, the mother is overjoyed when her darling ('laadla') boy is born. Money is in short supply but she is keen on a new cradle for her son. No way, says Ziauddin: "Malala swung in that cradle (a second-hand one borrowed from neighbours); so can he."

As a child, Malala plays cricket with her younger brother and other boys in the neighbourhood. But she knows that soon the boys will be free to roam around town while she will be constrained like other Pashtun women. That's not how she'd like to live her life. Thankfully there's Abba: "Malala will be free as a bird."

Before his marriage and Malala, Ziauddin had begged and borrowed to start an English-medium school of his own because he believed that lack of education was the root cause of all Pakistan's problems. What's more he also believed that schools are meant to encourage not blind obedience but independent thought, open-mindedness and creativity.

As she grows up, Malala begins to blossom along with other girls and boys in Abba's dream 'Khushal School' in Mingora. But suddenly the Taliban spill over into the Swat Valley from neighbouring Afghanistan with their version of Islam that is hostile to music, cinema, arts, sports, culture; above all to women and women's education, not even in madrasas. For the Talibani mullahs, Khushal School is "a centre of vulgarity and obscenity and they take girls for picnics to different resorts".

Ziauddin of course has a different take on this: "You (girls) have a right to enjoy greenery and waterfalls and landscape just as boys do".

Before long, Swat's Muslims are either swayed by Talebani Islam or so terrified with the bombings of schools and the beheadings as to turn into mute witnesses. Ziauddin is among those who would not be cowed down.

When in 2008, Swat's elders launch a 'Qaumi Jirga' to challenge the Taliban, the not-so-elderly Ziauddin is elected its spokesperson. Not only does he speak out, he even encourages his 11-year-old daughter to do the same. "There's a fear in my heart," she says in a documentary on her by the New York Times and proceeds to assert, "They cannot stop me. I'll get my education if it's at home, school or somewhere else".

Neither the killing of jirga members one by one, nor the death threats deter Ziauddin. What does frighten him, however, is when in 2012 the Pakistani Taliban declare their intent to kill Malala. Until then it was generally believed that "even the Taliban do not target young girls". But now?

"Maybe we should stop our campaigning, Jaani, and go into hibernation for a while," he tells Malala. Only to hear this from his teenaged comrade-in-arms: "You were the one who said if we believe in something greater than our lives, then our voices will only multiply even if we are dead." Months later, while returning home in the school bus, she is shot in the head. Fortunately, she survives the close brush with death.

In 2012, shortly before they learnt of the threat to her life, Ziauddin and Malala were at the sea shore in Karachi watching the waves roll by. "You are a million miles away, Jaani. What are you dreaming about?" the father asked. "Just about crossing oceans, Abba", she replied.

Now that she is a Nobel laureate, a household word across the globe, perhaps there are no oceans left for Malala to cross. The only difficult journey is the one that would take her where she and her family long to return: the as yet Taliban-infested Swat Valley.

But let the closing words be from her Abba. In France to collect an award for his Jaani, this is what he had said: "In my part of the world most people are known by their sons. I am one of the few lucky fathers known by his daughter".

In her book I am Malala, she talks of how odd her Abba must feel in the altered reality: "I used to be known as his daughter; now he's known as my father." Perhaps there's a message here for all fathers in our son-obsessed subcontinent.

Were you to rejoice when your daughter is born, like Ziauddin you too may one day experience the sheer joy of being known as your daughter's father.

The writer is a Mumbai-based civil rights activist