With senior Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister Azam Khan recently demanding that the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra be handed over to Sunni Central Waqf Board, the Shia community has now demanded that the Taj should instead be handed over to the Shia Waqf Board as Mumtaz Mahal, in whose memory it was built, was a Shia.
“The Taj Mahal should be handed over to the Shia Waqf Board as Mumtaz Mahal, whose real name was Arjumand Bano, was a Shia,” said Syed Faiyyaz Haidar, president of Lucknow based Imam-e-Raza committee.
Haidar also cites architectural evidences to cite the Taj Mahal as a “Shia building.” “The Taj Mahal is essentially a mausoleum, and on the West, there is a mosque. Near the mosque is the hauz (water tank), and traditionally, it is Shias who perform wudhu (ablution) from a hauz before offering prayers. On the eastern side, there is a hall which was used for congregation and matam (self-flagellation) in those times to observe Muharram,” he says. “Also, Mumtaz was temporarily buried in Burhanpur, where she died, before being taken in a casket to Taj Mahal; this again, is a Shia custom of mitti saunpna,” he says.
The committee has also found support from Shia clerics, including Kalbe Jawwad, who said, “It is known the world over that the Taj Mahal was made for Mumtaz Mahal, who was a Shia, so, Taj should be handed over to the Shia Waqf Board. However, it houses two graves, one of a Sunni — Mughal emperor Shah Jahan — and one of a Shia — Mumtaz — so that way, at least half of it should be handed over to the Shia Waqf Board.”
Currently, the Archaeological Survey of India manages the Taj Mahal.
On November 13 in a Waqf Convention, Azam Khan, who is also the Uttar Pradesh Muslim Waqf minister, said the Taj Mahal should be declared a property of State Waqf Board.
His demand was later backed by prominent Sunni cleric and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali. They also wrote to Akhilesh to open the Taj Mahal’s mosque for all five prayers in a day.