short history of jama masjid delhi and its imams

The internationally acclaimed, magnificent, Jama Masjid Delhi originally named Masjid Jahan Numa, was built by Shahjahan (Mercy be upon him), the Fifth Mughal Emperor of India. Shahjahan himself laid its foundation stone on the strong basements of a hillock on Friday the 6th of October 1650 AD corresponding to 10th of Shawwal 1060 AH.

Top experts in the field of construction, best chiselers, sculptors, engineers, best calligraphers and eminent artisans of the world assisted by six thousand labourers took part in the construction of the magnificent Jama Masjid. They dedicatedly worked for six continuous years. The Jama Masjid got ready in the year 1656 AD (1066 AH).

In those days when the daily wages of a mason and a labourer were 2 paisa and 1 paisa respectively, its cost of construction was one million rupees. Many nobles and nawabs of that era gifted stones and other construction material to the emperor for the mosque’s construction, which therefore are not included in its cost.

While the Jama Masjid was under construction emperor Shahjahan received complaint of its slow progress. The emperor therefore summoned Saadullah Khan, his minister in charge of the constructions, and sought explanation. Saadullah Khan informed that the recital of a Holy Quran preceded the installation of every stone to consecrate it. This pleased the emperor so much that he ordered the construction to continue that way.

During construction, special care was taken to maintain the level of the pulpit of the mosque above that of the royal throne (chaired by the emperor) in the Red Fort. The simplicity in the structure was the chief aim in the construction of the mosque. In fact, its beauty lies in its simplicity. The simplicity, which thousands of colourful and gorgeous significance cannot withstand.

Coronation of the Mughal Emperors:

Right from the beginning, the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid enjoyed the honour to perform the coronation ceremony of the Mughal Emperors. All Mughal Emperors had the coronation ceremony performed by the then Shahi Imam. The coronation of Emperor Aurangzeb took place from the hands of Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari, the first Shahi Imam. This tradition remained until the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar whose coronation ceremony was performed by the then and the eighth, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Mir Ahmed Ali Shah Bukhari on Sunday, 30th September, 1837 AD corresponding to the 9th of Jamadi-us-Thani 1253 AH.

History of the Imams of Jama Masjid
And
The Conferment of the title Shahi Imam by the Emperor

The history of Jama Masjid and that of its Imams is one and interlinked inextricably. The first Imam of Jama Masjid was Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari. Emperor Shahjahan wished that for such a matchless Jama Masjid there should equally be an unparallel personality as its Imam. Therefore, the discerning eyes of the Emperor fell on Bukhara (Uzbekistan). Bukhara was the centre of great learning and arts of that time. Experts from all fields got concentrated there. Therefore, Emperor Shahjahan wrote to the Shah of Bukhara to send for the exalted post of the Imamat of Jama Masjid a man noble by birth, descendant of the Holy Prophet from both of his parents, with high learning and high qualities, i.e., inwardly and outwardly an outstanding figure of the time. Therefore, as wished by the Emperor, the Shah of Bukhara decided to send Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari, to Shahjahanabad (Delhi).Thus, with the help of the king of Bukhara, Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari and his family were shifted to Delhi with great respect.

Ceremonial welcome was accorded on his arrival to Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari. The Jama Masjid was then ready. On Monday, July 24, 1656 AD (1st Shawwal, 1066 AH), Emperor Shahjahan with all his ministers, retinue, courtiers, and the inhabitants of Delhi congregated at the Jama Masjid to offer prayers. Lead by Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari the first prayer, of Id-ul-Fitr, was offered at the Jama Masjid. Thereafter the Emperor bestowed  Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari with the robe and the accolades, then announced his appointment to the high office of Imamat-e-Uzma, and conferred upon him the title of Shahi Imam. From that day, the Imamat of the Jama Masjid has been continuing in the family from generation to generation. The son of an Imam succeeds him.

Bequeathment
And
The Investiture of the Imams of Jama Masjid

The Ninth Shahi Imam of the family, Syed Mohammed Shah Bukhari, mercy be upon him (MBUH), bequeathed the exalted office of the Imamat to his son, Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari (MBUH), on Sunday, 16th of October 1892 AD, and he duly assumed the high office of the Imamat. Syed Mohammed Shah Bukhari passed away on Friday, the 11th August 1899 AD at the age of 73. He was laid to rest in the Mehndian graveyard at the dargah of Hazrat Shah Waliullah Muhaddis Dehlavi (MBUH).

 

After Friday prayers, on 20th February 1942 AD, in the presence of theologians, eminent persons of the city, members of the management committee and musalleen (devotees coming for prayers), the Tenth Shahi Imam Shamsul Ulama Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari announced his son Maulana Syed Hameed Bukhari as his successor Shahi Imam and himself continued as the honorary Imam. He passed away on Tuesday, 9th September 1947 AD. He was laid to rest at the graveyard of Jama Masjid

 

The Eleventh Shahi Imam Maulana Syed Hameed Bukhari appointed his son Maulana Syed Abdulla Bukhari to the office of the Shahi Imam on Sunday, 8th July 1973 AD. Maulana Syed Hameed Bukhari passed away on Friday, February 6, 1976 AD. He was also laid to rest at the graveyard of Jama Masjid.

 

Syed Abdulla Bukhari relinquished himself from the post of Imamat on Saturday, 14th October 2000 AD.

Investiture Ceremony (Dastarbandi) of the Thirteenth Shahi Imam

On Saturday, 14th October 2000 AD (15th Rajab 1421 AH), a dignified investiture ceremony of Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari was held. His emissary Sheikh Mohammed Abdul-Rehman Murshid represented Imam-e-Haram, Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Fazilah Al-Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Subayyal at the ceremony. Besides, thousands of Muslims, musallin, eminent theologians, a host of important national and international personalities, Muslim leaders, foreign ambassadors, and ministers witnessed the appointment of Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari as his successor Shahi Imam by Maulana Syed Abdulla Bukhari.

Family Tree:

1)  Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari Shahi Imam

2)  Syed Abdul Shakoor Shah Bukhari Shahi Imam

3)  Syed Abdul Raheem Shah Bukhari Shahi Imam

4)  Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari Thani Shahi Imam

5)  Syed Abdul Rehman Shah Bukhari Shahi Imam

6)  Syed Abdul Kareem Shah Bukhari Shahi Imam

7)  Syed Mir Jeewan Shah Bukhari Shahi Imam

8)  Syed Mir Ahmed Ali Shah Bukhari Shahi Imam

9)  Syed Mohammed Shah Bukhari Shahi Imam

10)  Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari Shahi Imam

11)  Maulana Syed Hameed Bukhari Shahi Imam

12)  Maulana Syed Abdullah Bukhari Shahi Imam

13) Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari Shahi Imam