The dean of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Architecture Department, Professor S M Akhtar, will design the mosque and its surrounding complex that will be constructed on land allotted to the Sunni Waqf Board in Ayodhya in lieu of the demolished Babri Masjid.
The 5-acre land had been allotted to the Board in Dhannipur village to build a mosque in accordance with last year’s Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case.
“Professor Akhtar will design the mosque in Ayodhya, to be constructed by the Sunni Waqf Board on alternative land given by the (Uttar Pradesh) government on SC’s order,” Jamia PRO Ahmed Azeem said on Tuesday.
Akhtar told The Indian Express that Athar Hussain, secretary of the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), the trust formed by the Board for the construction, informed him about being selected to design the complex.
“I will design the whole complex; the masjid will be a part of it. It has not yet been decided what all will be in the complex, but hopefully there will be a hospital. The basic concept is to serve humanity and the society. For that, we can construct anything,” he said.
Akhtar said there is no deadline in mind yet. “We have just started the work. It will definitely take a long time. A lot of aspects have to be kept in mind – the bylaws, the location, and what people want,” he said. “But I am clear about the basic objective. The conception is to have a centre which can serve the society, with human values, Indian ethos and Islamic spirit.”
On sensitivities involved in designing the mosque as an alternative to Babri Masjid, Akhtar said, “I am an architect, (and) an architect’s role is for the future, not for the past. Whatever is the past…I am not concerned with that. I am concerned only with the future, and how it will serve humanity.”
Asked whether any elements of Babri Masjid would make it to the design, he said, “We will work for a contemporary design because in my view architecture is never replicated — it gets evolved according to the contemporary society. The present consideration is environment and energy, so if some element of the past is relevant to conserve the energy for today, that can be adopted. There is no harm in that.”
The trust’s secretary, Athar Hussain, said, “Akhtar is originally from Lucknow. He is also a town planner, and that will help us, as we are not constructing just a single building but several buildings connected in harmony.”
The trust, meanwhile, is creating two separate bank accounts to start collecting funds for the construction: one account for donations for the mosque, and the other for the remaining structures. —With inputs from ENS, Lucknow