Friday, March 02, 2007

President APJ Abdul Kalam was a practising Muslim, photos of his offering Namaz at Fatehpuri Mosque

Welcoming the President: Kalam seen wearing the skullcap
President APJ Abdul Kalam offered the 'Jume ki Namaaz' [special Friday prayer] at Fatehpuri Masjid in Delhi.

It was rarest of rare visit of the President to any mosque in several years.

Until now we had brief reports about Kalam Sahab's prayers.

News agencies reported annually that he prayed at the mosque within the Rashtrapati Bhawan on the occasion of Id Ul Fitr and Iduz Zuha.

Though not many are aware about the mosque that exists on the premises of the President's House.
But today he surprised everybody with the visit to the historic Fatehpuri Masjid.

The president interacted with the Namazis and also met Mufti Moazzam. Of course, there was extra security. Tens of thousands of Namazis in the mosque shook hands with arguably India's most popular president. 

In pictures here one can see the enthusiasm with which he was greeted. The visit could be symbolic. The end of his term is nearing and president is not keen on a second term. 

Avul Pakir Jainulabideen [Zainulabideen] Abdul Kalam has brought not only dignity but respect for the President's House and the highest office of the country.

He is the sort of persons who in his role as President, inspires millions of children and urges them to dream and it is this role which I salute.

His religious side has not been known to us much and there were, from some narrow-minded sections [including Muslims], questions raised on his beliefs, about being a practising Muslim [and also a rumour which I often heard in South Indian cities among Muslim that I don't want to mention].

The President's visit and prayer at the mosque not only demonstrate the unique secular nature of our country. In his personal life, he is a Muslim.He has been to religious places of other religions also.

Today he prayed at a mosque, rubbing shoulders with the common Muslim. Let me repeat the oft-quoted couplet:

ek hii saf meN khaRe ho gaye Mahmood-o-Ayaaz/ na koii bandaa rahaa, na koii bandaa nawaaz

In the past, the country has seen two Muslim presidents, first the dignified Zakir Husain and later Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad during Indira Gandhi's regime as PM. 

They came from North and were representatives of Muslim culture of Northern India. Kalam comes from Southern part of the country.

He has never been overtly Muslim during the tenure. And also, the Sadar [Rashtrapati] never seemed to have made a deliberate attempt to appear un-religious either. He has all along kept that delicate balance with perfection. Will we ever have such a President again?

PS: My friend, Pandit Ji, who saw photos of Kalam, asked me why he didn't go to Jama Masjid. And I also thought about it. Is it because there the Shahi Imam could have turned it into his show rather than just a normal visit to mosque? The Fatehpuri mosque houses a seminary also. Kalam is known to be influenced by Sufi thought.