Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, recently named his 19-year-old son Shaban Bukhari as his successor.
The teenager, who is pursuing Bachelors in Social Work at a private university here, will be anointed as the ‘Nayab Shahi Imam’ (Vice Imam) at a ceremony on November 22.
For the ceremony, the Shahi Imam of the country’s largest mosque has sent out invitations to several Indian and foreign political leaders, nearly 1,000 religious leaders from across the world, and others.
Also on the invitee list is Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
However, Bukhari has failed to invite his own Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to the event. Though, he has sent out invites to several ministers, including Rajnath Singh and Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Bukhari says Indian Muslims have still not been able to relate themselves with PM Modi, who has been accused of playing a role in the 2002 Gujarat riots but has been exonerated by various courts and investigating agencies.
Meanwhile, also present at the ceremony will be Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Shaban was picked for the influential post due to his “strong inclination” toward humanities besides his religious capabilities, said Bukhari who has been holding the prestigious post since 2000.
He will be groomed under his father, who will remain the “Shahi Imam” for his life. Shaban will then take over the mantle from his father.
From nearly 400 years, Imamat of the Jama Masjid has been continuing in the same family from generation to generation.
The Shahi Imam’s post is considered quite influential. Bukhari’s endorsement of Congress in the run-up to the 2014 general elections had triggered criticism against the party.
The Muslim cleric had also extended his support to SP before the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.