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Ajmer Sharif Dargah dewan 'sacked' by brother, tagged 'anti-Muslim' for supporting beef ban

Syed Zainul Abedin, the spiritual head of the Ajmer Sufi Shrine, was on Wednesday "sacked" by his brother for the "blasphemous" statements on the beef ban and triple talaq and declared a "non-Muslim." Amidst the controversial feud in the Ajmer Dargah Sharif Dewan's family, Firstpost spoke to the Dewan Syed Zainul Abedin, his brother Syed Alaudin Alimi over the issue and their respective stands on the issue.

Syed Alauddin Alimi. District Bar Association (Ajmer)

Syed Alauddin Alimi. District Bar Association (Ajmer)

Alimi, a lawyer by profession, claimed he had the support of the family in sacking Abedin and anointing himself as the new "dewan" (spiritual chief) of the Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti mausoleum in Ajmer — one of the most famous Sufi shrines visited by millions of devotees from across the sub-continent.

Alimi told Firstpost," I became the dewan from Wednesday. The government does not appoint the dewan since the designation of the dewan is a spiritual one. Hence, traditionally our family has always taken a decision on these things and on Wednesday, when he made those statements against triple talaq and in support of beef ban, I approached a Muslim scholar. The mufti said that everything the dewan said is against the Sharia law and he is no more a Muslim. So we called an urgent meeting among our family members because a non-Muslim cannot retain the post of a dewan. That's when the decision was taken to remove him and a fatwa will be issued against him."

The post is hereditary and belongs to heirs of the 12th-13th century Sufi priest. The dewan has no control over the management of the shrine but gets a monthly remuneration from the management committee, which is appointed by the government.

However, Syed Zainul Abedin had a different take on the situation. The Sufi head claimed,"My brother is mentally disturbed and is going around telling people he is the dewan but it is a very big post and no individual can take a random decision on it. He has been posting random messages on social media against me making false claims."

Abedin has been the dewan of the shrine since 1987 Supreme Court order recognised — under the Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955 — him as the most direct and eldest descendant of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. One of the members of the management of Ajmer Dargah, Gaddinashin Haji SM Hameed Chishty, said that the dewan's position is limited to conducting mehfils (spiritual gatherings) on a weekly basis and the dewan has no administrative power. He added,"The brothers have been fighting over the position of dewan for years now and it is an open secret. The recent statements of the dewan have been used to Alimi's advantage who is now creating a ruckus over it." "It is a fight for money. They claim they are descendants of the Khwaja (sufi saint) but their role is limited to conduct qawalis and mehfils (spiritual sittings) at the shrine," Chishti said, agreeing that Abedin can't be removed.

Meanwhile, Abedin said, "It's a religious post. Nobody can snatch it. Nobody has enough powers to change it. Nothing has changed," threatening "legal action" against his brother. "I stand by my statements on beef," he said.

Syed Zainul Abedin sparked a controversy on Monday by asking Muslims in India to stay away from slaughter of "bovine animals" and to stop consuming beef for communal harmony in the country. He read his message during the 805th annual function at the shrine that was also attended by religious heads of various shrines from different parts of the country. Abedin also announced that he and his family members "will never eat beef now".

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date: Apr 05, 2017 19:47 PM

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