Ajmer shrine custodians protest administrator's remark on Bollywood stars

Ajmer, July 23 A day after the dewan (administrator) of the world-famous Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti shrine termed prayers there by Bollywood actors and directors for the success of their movies and serials against Islamic) laws and Sufism, his state

Monday, July 23, 2012 | 10:48:36 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Ajmer, July 23 (IANS) A day after the dewan (administrator) of the world-famous Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti shrine termed prayers there by Bollywood actors and directors for the success of their movies and serials against Islamic) laws and Sufism, his statement drew strong protest from the shrine's khadims (custodians).

The shrine's dewan, Syed Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, who is also the sajjada nashin (current head) of the Chishti order and claims to be a descendant of the saint, had said in a statement Sunday that prayers by actors, directors, producers and musicians at this 12th century shrine for success of their films and TV serials are "intolerable".

"Singing, dancing, pictures, videos and obscenity are prohibited in Islam. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti has also advised people to stay busy in the prayers for Allah. However, this ideology is not being followed at present in the shrine and prayers are being sought for success of movies and TV soap operas," he said in his statement.

"It is a matter of worry that Islamic scholars and experts of Shariat laws are silent over the issue. The Islamic leaders should express their opinions regarding this freely so that this unholy practice at the shrine could be stopped."

The dewan said that use of a holy place of such religious belief in promoting and advertising commercial activities is wrong.

"The movie producers and directors should refrain from such acts that hurt religious sentiments," he said.

He said that the shooting of movies is prohibited at the shrine for the very reason that it might hurt holiness of this place.

"It has been seen often that movie stars and professionals try to draw the shrine into controversy by their acts. Singer and music director Himesh Reshammiya entering the shrine wearing a burka (veil) despite being a man and actress Katrina Kaif offering prayers wearing 'indecent' cloths are just some of the examples," the dewan said.

Some directors and actors are offering prayers only to promote their movies as they are covered by media when they come here, he added.

However, the statement has led to a roaring controversy with the khadims, who also claim to be descendants of the saint, saying that the dewan has no right to issue such a statement.

"People come from all over the world with prayers to this shrine. Only khadims have the authority to carry out prayers on behalf of these people. The dewan has no right to issue such a statement," said a khadim.

"He should concentrate on welfare works for the devotees and the shrine rather then issuing such statement," the khadim added.

The marble-domed tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, located 145 km from Jaipur, in the middle of Ajmer's walled city area, attracts a huge mass of people from all over the world who come here with an ardent wish and a prayer on their lips.

Top cine stars, producers, directors and music directors including Shah Rukh Khan, Katarina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, A. R. Rahman and Ekta Kapoor visit the shrine frequently to offer prayers and seek success of their movies and TV serials.

The tomb is located at the centre of a courtyard and is surrounded by a marble platform. It is believed that the remains of the Sufi saint, also known as Khwaja Garib Nawaz, lie buried at the shrine.

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