Muslim Ayodhya: city of mosques, mazars and graves

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,, series: Ayodhya 2009

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I am on way to Ayodhya – popularized as a city of temples. Oblivious of what I will see on the way and in Ayodhya will question this qualifier of the city, I am sitting in the autorickshaw running on the six-kilometre Faizabad-Ayodhya stretch, thinking of the city and Hindu mythological stories attached to it. No mosque was even in my imagination. So naturally I was surprised when I came across a small, old but colored mosque, indicating it is alive. To be sure of what I saw was a mosque I turned my head back and continued to see it till it became distant. This was just the beginning.

The six-kilometre stretch is dotted with about 12 mosques, besides several dozen others in the villages and mohallas lying on either side of the single road connecting the twin cities of Faizabad and Ayodhya. Most of these mosques are small and old.

Tehri Bazar Mosque

There are about 103 mosques in the city of Ayodhya of 1.5 lakh population with Muslims constituting 6%. Of these, 35 mosques are alive where 5-time prayer is offered; at 10-15 mosques, Juma Prayer is also offered. The rest are deserted for lack of presence of Muslims in the locality, says Abdul Lateef, an Ayodhya resident, and a voluntary guide for me.

This is Tehri Bazar Mosque, the nearest live mosque from the Babri Masjid-Ramjanambhoomi disputed site, in Tehri Qaziana mohalla. Besides five-time prayer Juma is also offered here. Some of its minarets were also demolished on 6th December 1992 by the Hindutva extremists.

Grave of Hazrat Shis pbuh

You can find some old, deserted mosques adjoining the boundary wall of the acquired 67 acre land of Babri Masjid site.

And this is Hazrat Shis Jinnati Masjid in the 40 acre Muslim graveyard, hardly 1 kilometre from Hanuman Garhi. Juma is also offered here.

In the 40-acre graveyard, said to be the largest in India, there are hundreds of graves, old and new. What makes it famous is the presence of about 12 ft long grave popularly known as that of Prophet Shis (PBUH). This grave is in a walled complex which has about half a dozen other graves also – some of them with grave stones on which are encrypted names and some details about the dead.

A mazar

Muhammad Kaleem and Kamal Ahmad take care of the grave of Hazrat Shis and other graves in the campus. Locals say people come from far and wide to see the grave of Hazrat Shis.

Besides, you can find several graves, mazars and mosques across Ayodhya. Many of the mosques are roofless, and so called as Qanati Masjid. Many of them are more than 200 years old.

Md Kaleem and Kamal Ahmad take care of the graveyard

Despite so many mosques standing intact, pain of the demolition of Babri Masjid still can be felt when you come to talk to local Muslims. Nemat Ali, a rickshawpuller of Makkhapur village, has not forgot the painful day. Nor has the Imam of the mosque in Ranopali village, two kilometers from Hanuman Garhi.

In the dim candle light the Imam with six people behind him is offering Isha prayer in the mosque of dark Ranopali village of 18 Muslim homes. At the end, he raises hands and prays: O, God, protect us and our mosques from enemies. O, God, pave ways for reconstruction of Babri Masjid at its site. Amen!


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