By Dr Satish Misra
The mosque that is going to be built in Ayodhya pursuant to the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi case while being of the same size as Babri Masjid will also have a community kitchen a museum, a hospital and a library.
The five-acre complex in Ayodhya’s Dhannipur village will strive to follow the Ganga-Jamuni cultural ethos of Faizabad that is the essence of the famous Avadh culture which also goes by the name of ‘Lucknavi Tahjeeb’ while planning for the mosque.
“The complex of the mosque, which will be built in Dhannipur, will also have facilities like a hospital, a museum at the Indo-Islamic Research Centre. The mosque will be on 15,000 square feet, while the rest of the land will have these facilities,” Athar Hussain, the secretary and spokesperson of Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation), told media on Saturday. He said that the retired JNU Professor and a noted name in the world of food culture and cuisines Pushpesh Pant has agreed to be the consultant curator of the museum which will have Arabic-Persian manuscripts reflecting the rich traditions and legacy of Avadh rule along with the history of the region where Hindus and Muslim shared joys and sorrows building up a mixed culture that learnt from each other.
Talking to this writer, Professor Pant said that while the museum would focus on the history of region from Uttarkkhand to Varanasi that was region where Ganga-Jamuni mixed culture evolved. There will be designs and architectural plans of famous mosque that are spread in the region in different cities along with history of food. There would be a facility for imparting skills in calligraphy and his evolution of Urdu language and its rich poetic legacy knows as ‘Sher-o-Shairi’.
Community kitchen will be an attraction as it will showcase a rich range of foods and dishes that are eaten in Avadh that has been enriched by Shia traditions fused with rich local traditions. This means both non-veg as well as vegetarian dishes, Pant said.
The community kitchen will be planned in a way so that cuisines and foods cooked and consumed in the region by common people and affluent alike could be had by those who come to offer prayers or visit the complex. Since there is going to be hospital and a library, food would be available to then at a price that they can afford, Pant said adding that pricing is a challenge but we have solutions.
Out of box thinking and creatively crafting the path gives solutions to complex problems and we are going to make it possible, he stressed. We are also thinking of having a model kitchen where cooking lessons could be imparted to those who wish to learn Avadh and cuisines of this geographical expanse that covers regions of today’s Uttarakhand to Beneras. Field of music both vocal and instrumental is yet another area that may be explored, he pointed out.
The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board has formed the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), a trust, for the construction of the mosque on the five-acre plot.
Earlier, Hussain said Professor S M Akhtar of Jamia Millia Islamia will be the consultant architect of the project. Akhtar, the Head of the Department of Architecture at Jamia Millia Islamia, told media that the entire complex will “bring together the ethos of India and the spirit of Islam”.
The Uttar Pradesh government allotted the five-acre plot in Ayodhya’s Dhannipur village for the construction of the mosque on the directive of the Supreme Court.
After a protracted legal tussle, the Supreme Court had on November 9 last year ruled in favour of the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot an alternative five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a new mosque at a “prominent” place in the holy town in Uttar Pradesh.
The mosque in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992 by ”kar sevaks” who claimed that an ancient Ram temple stood at the same site.
It is sincerely hoped that the upcoming mosque at Ayodhya will be the beginning of a healthy competition between those who want to promote Hinduatva at all cost and those who still want to proceed on a path of shared culture and values developed over last few hundred years.
(Dr Misra is an author, researcher and senior journalist)