CAIRO – Plans to build India’s largest mosque on an alleged lock of hair of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) are dividing the Muslim community in the south Asian country.
“This is a cheating program [of] money collection only, from the well wishers of Islam and Muslim believers,” Bahauddeen Muhammed Nadwi, general secretary of Muslim group E.K. Sunni, told Wall Street Journal on Thursday, November 15.
A Muslim group has set plans to build a mega mosque in India that has a capacity of 5,000 worshippers.
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Champions of the mosque say the Muslim worship place will be build on a lock of the Prophet’s hair.
But opponents say the alleged lock of hair is fake and only meant to cheat people for money.
The mosque was first proposed in 2011 by Kanthapuram A. P. Aboobacker Musliyar, who heads a faction of Sunnis in western Kerala.
Nadwi believes that the controversy about the Prophet’s hair is bad for Islam’s reputation in Kerala.
“The other religions are laughing at us that we are trifling over a fake piece of hair.”
Muslims account for 160 million of India's 1.1 billion people, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
Indian Muslims have long suffered decades of social and economic neglect and oppression.
They are under-represented in public sector jobs, register lower educational levels and hit by higher unemployment rates.
But proponents of the mosque dismiss the accusations of cheating people for money.
“All these allegations are baseless,” said Hussain Saquafi, secretary of Markaz, a non-governmental institution, which is behind the mosque plans.
He said his group has received millions in donation for building the mosque.
“They are in the millions of people and they are coming to our conference at Markaz and whenever A.P. Aboobacker (Mr. Aboobacker Musliyar) asks them to extend their hand they are ready to do so for school building and mosque building.”
The mosque, Masjid Sha’ar-e-Mubarak, is designed to house the alleged hair of the Prophet and accommodate 5,000 more worshippers than Delhi’s Jama Masjid.
The estimated cost of building the mosque is initially put at 400 million rupees ($7. 5 million).
Abdul Rahman, the chief executive of Knowledge City project, where the mosque is planned, also defended the mosque plans.
“These things [donations to the mosque] are run by a registered society [Markaz] so all activities are accountable to the government,” he had told India Real Time.
“We are submitting accounts every year.”He argued that the mosque was delayed because of the vast scale of the project, which also includes medical and engineering colleges.
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