Feud breaks out over control of Ajmer Sharif shrine
The younger brother of the chief of Ajmer Sharif Dargah, one of the most sacred Sufi shrines, has "sacked" him and proclaimed himself the "Sajjadanashin", in a bitter fallout of a dispute over the former's remarks against triple talaq.
Deewan Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, the chief of the Mausoleum of sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti and his descendant, hit back at his younger brother Allauddin Alimi, calling him an "Islamic extremist" and rejected his claim to the title of the Deewan of the shrine. Khan asserted he would continue to head the shrine till his death.
The CEO of the government-appointed Dargah Committee, M A Khan, said Khan continues to be the Sajjadanashin as per the provisions of the Durgah Khawaja Saheb Act, 1955.
"This is a dispute between two brothers and the Sajjadanashin cannot be sacked or removed by such a move," the CEO said.
Alimi, who declared Khan a "non-Muslim" for his views on triple talaq, was irked over his elder brother's statement during Urs on Monday that the practice of triple talaq was irrelevant in the present time and against the sentiments expressed in the holy Quran.
When Khan was performing some rituals in the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah last evening, Alimi occupied the 'Gaddi' of Deewan at Khanqah in the dargah premises and declared himself as the new Deewan or Sajjadanashin.
Khanqah is the holy place where the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti used to sit and preach.
It is now the place where the Sajjadanashin, a descendant of the saint, sits during religious ceremonies.
"After I read my brother's statement in newspapers on Tuesday, I discussed with some Muftis who verbally told me that he has now become a non-Muslim due to his statement against the Quran.
"Thus, he has no right and authority to remain the Sajjadanashin. I then called an urgent meeting of the family and went to the Khanqah and declared myself the new Sajjadanashin on the seat of the Deewan," Alimi said.
Khan termed his younger brother's action "illegal".
"He is neither empowered nor eligible for this. His action is totally illegal and illegitimate and I'm seeking legal opinion for taking action against him," Khand said. He alleged his brother was playing into the hands of Islamic extremists and targeting him.
"I have always been the target of Islamic extremists for my statements which I make in the interest of the nation. Such forces try to tarnish my image through false propaganda.
"My brother is playing into the hands of such forces and it proves that he himself is now an extremist," he told reporters in Ajmer.
Asserting that he would continue to be the Deewan of the mausoleum "till my last breath", Khan declared his elder son Nasiruddin Chishti will succeed him as per law. "There is no dispute about the procedure of appointment of the Deewan," he said.
Chairman of the Dargah Committee Sheikh Alim said as per the legal provisions governing the shrine, when the post falls vacant, the Dargah Committee notifies the vacancy with the approval of the Governor and the new Sajjadanashin is appointed with his permission.
Muzaffar Bharti, the head of the hereditary staff who conduct the religious ceremonies of the Sajjadanashin, said Alimi's claim does not hold water and that he has no moral authority to take over the post. Wahid Chisti, Secretary of Anjuman Committee (body of Khadims or clerics) also supported Khan.
On the eve of culmination of the Urs on Monday, Khan had released a statement saying Sharia or Quran do not permit the practice of seeking divorce by saying talaq three times in one sitting. He contended there should a time of 3 months to complete this procedure, according to the precepts of Quran.