Dy­nasty of Another Kind

The priv­i­leged sta­tus en­joyed by the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid stems from re­li­gious rather than po­lit­i­cal power.

Southasia - - REGION INDIA - By Taha Ke­har

More of­ten than not, a dy­nasty’s po­si­tion is based on po­lit­i­cal clout. How­ever, the Bukhari fam­ily which rules Delhi’s Jama Masjid is an ex­cep­tion to the rule. The priv­i­leged sta­tus en­joyed by the Shahi Imam largely orig­i­nates from re­li­gious rather than po­lit­i­cal power.

The re­li­gious dy­nasty has its root in the Mughal era. Ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal ev­i­dence, Mughal em­peror Shah Ja­han ap­pointed Syed Ab­dul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari to the po­si­tion of Ima­mat-e-Uzma and con­ferred on him the ti­tle of Shahi Imam.

Since then, the Jama Masjid has been ruled by his de­scen­dants. In­ter­est­ingly, the ar­range­ment bears

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