Syed Abdullah Bukhari
Maulana Syed Abdullah Bukhari was the 12th Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid. Born in Rajasthan and educated in Delhi, he belonged to the Bukhari family that had been in charge of the mosque from the 17th century onwards. Succeeding his father in 1973, the booming Abdullah Bukhari became one of the most visible characters within India’s Muslim community. As the imam of India’s most famous mosque and a fierce defender of the Muslim cause, including from his pulpit, his influence on the Muslim community was, in critical times, relatively strong. As a member of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) he was dangerously active in the “Babri Masjid/Ramjanmabhoomi controversy.” His inflammatory and irresponsible speeches further antagonized the Hindu and Muslim communities and overshadowed pacification efforts of other, more moderate, Muslim leaders. His fatwa to boycott the 1993 Indian Republic Day in response to the “Babri Masjid/Ramjanmabhoomi tumult” proved to be a catastrophe for Hindu–Muslim harmony. In 2000, he was succeeded by his son, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, also known for his firebrand speeches.