Syed Abdullah Bukhari, who is probably the only political Imam of India, passed away in Delhi on Wednesday.
A close aide of Imam Bukhari, Dr Zafarul Islam Khan recollects the role played by him for Muslims.
"He was the probably the only man spoke for the Muslim community. In his, death the community has lost a very powerful spokesperson. He rose during the time of Indira Gandhi and since then he has been a very vocal person. I can remember those days when he was on the cover of every magazine and what is more important is that he had heads turning whenever he spoke. What benefited the community the most is that he not only spoke his mind, but also managed to get a lot of attention from political circles which is an indication that his words were taken seriously.
Being the Imam of the country's most important mosque for over three decades helped the cause too. He used the Jumma Masjid in Old Delhi as a platform so that his voice was heard loud and clear. He played a leading role in the life of the Muslims of India during the fourth quarter of the 20th century and boldly helped mould Muslim policies and air Muslim grievances during that period.
He will always be remembered as a great son of the Indian Muslim community, the second largest Muslim concentration in the world. Imam Bukhari, with his brave and candid stands, became the spokesman of the Muslim community during a crucial time when the community faced communal onslaught and numerous challenges. He was respected both at home and abroad for his outspoken views.
A no-nonsense personality, he always had something very important to say whether it was the Babri Masjid demolition or any other riots that hit the country. Every person has his own drawbacks and one of the things that people expected him to do was to set up institutions for the upliftment of the Muslim community like how Sultan Owaisi had done in the Hyderabad region. However, barring this smaller aspects, for the Muslim community, he was larger than life. Even today several Muslim say that he is the biggest leader that they have had till date and in his death they will mourn the loss of a prominent leader.
He has had his share of ups and downs. There were several instances when people did not agree with what he said. These differences were only political in nature, but whoever stood against him cannot deny the fact that this man believed in truth and his sincerity was his biggest asset."
As told to Vicky Nanjappa