Ayodhya Mosque Committee Chairman Haji Arfat Shaikh Says Bogus Bank Accounts Collecting Donations For Construction; 2 Complaints Filed

Ayodhya Mosque Committee Chairman Haji Arfat Shaikh Says Bogus Bank Accounts Collecting Donations For Construction; 2 Complaints Filed

Haji Arfat Shaikh has been traveling across the country, meeting members of the Muslim community and leaders, convincing them that the grand mosque at Ayodhya should end the protracted dispute at Ayodhya.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Tuesday, February 20, 2024, 06:48 PM IST
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Haji Arfat Shaikh | FPJ

Mumbai, February 20: In the last six months since a new committee took over the responsibility of building the new mosque at Ayodhya on land given to Muslims as compensation for the Babri Masjid, there have been hectic efforts to complete the delayed project. A Pune-based architect, Imran Shaikh, has created designs for a pentagon-shaped mosque with an array of five minarets, five gates, gardens, and multiple prayer halls that can accommodate 9000 people at a time.

Haji Arfat Shaikh, the Mumbai-based chairman of the Masjid Muhammed bin Abdullah Development Committee, has been traveling across the country, meeting members of the Muslim community and leaders, convincing them that the grand mosque at Ayodhya should end the protracted dispute at Ayodhya. "How long will we fight? This dispute was our internal problem and we should settle it like a family would, without involving or attracting outsiders. The Supreme Court has given us the land for a mosque. We should respect the order and end the dispute," said Shaikh in an interview to this newspaper.

Except from the interview:

We have to end the dispute: Arfat

Prophet Mohammed in the first Hadith said that you should love your country as much as you love your religion. You should listen to the Prophet. This generation is better educated and will understand that we are not followers of Babur (the founder of the Mughal empire) who came to this country with weapons. We are followers of Garib Nawaz (the saint at Ajmer Dargah) who came to this country with love.

The new committee formed to build the mosque:

Zufar Ahmed Faruqi, the chairman of the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board, which was given the land for the mosque by the Supreme Court, gave me the responsibility of the project.

How the design of the new mosque was conceptualised:

We chose architect Imran Shaikh, who has experience building religious shrines, to design the mosque complex. We told him that the design should be unique. He came up with a design for a pentagon-shaped mosque. Because of its shape, the mosque will have five minarets. The design of the mosque is ready. We are now designing ancillary buildings like the hospital and colleges.

On the significance of the number five:

The five pillars represent the five pillars of Islam - Shahada (declaration of faith), Salah (prayer), Sawn (fasting), Zakat (charity), and Haj (pilgrimage). The number also represents panjtans or the five members of the prophet's household. The mosque will also have five babs or gates.

About the mosque complex:

We have been given five acres for the mosque but we are planning to purchase ten acres more. There will be a cancer hospital, colleges to teach law, engineering, architecture, an international school, and other educational institutions. We are building the largest old-age home in the world where we can care for 5000 people from different communities. Dr Habib Khorakiwala, the founder of Wokhardt, will be in charge of the hospital project.

Preparations for the mosque's construction:

We made the first brick in Mumbai and took it to Mecca and Medina for consecration. After Ramzan Eid (in March) It will travel to Ajmer and will be taken to Sufi shrines like Haji Ali and Mahim dargah, before being taken to Ayodhya. We are getting the property documents ready and once the papers are in place the project will take five years.

About funds for the construction of the mosque:

There are no firm estimates on the cost, but it will be built using donations accepted through a special online portal that is under construction. We will not go into the streets with receipt books to solicit donations.

On allegations that unauthorised groups are collecting donations:

We are not accepting donations till the creation of the online portal with a QR code. We have filed complaints at Kurla and Vinobha Bhave Nagar police stations in Mumbai about the existence of bogus bank accounts for collecting donations. There are also complaints in Delhi, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh.

Donation of bricks:

Each donated brick will carry a microchip with the names of the donors. Even if the brick is destroyed during repairs we will recover the chip and insert it in a new brick. In this way, the memory of the donor will be preserved forever.

Some community leaders do not want to end the dispute. They want to keep the dispute alive for political reasons.

Threats and accusations:

I was accused of taking the side of Hindus. How can the building of a mosque be construed as siding with the other community? Recently, I received threats to my life and I have informed the police commissioner and the home minister.

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