Two days after he asked Muslims in India to stop consuming beef and stay away from the slaughter of "bovine animals" to ensure communal harmony in the country, Syed Zainul Abedin, the spiritual head of the Ajmer sufi shrine, was on Wednesday "sacked" by his brother and declared a “non-Muslim”.
Terming the deewan’s support to the ban on slaughter of "bovines" and selling beef in the country as "blasphemous", Syed Alaudin Alimi claimed he had the support of the family in sacking Abedin and anointing himself as the new "deewan", spiritual chief, of the Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti mausoleum in Ajmer -- one of the most famous Muslim shrines visited by millions of devotees from across the sub-continent every year.
"I am the new deewan. I have the support of the entire (Chishti) clan," Alimi told IANS, alleging that Abedin was an "apostate because he had spoken in violation of the Islamic law".
The post is hereditary and belongs to heirs of the 12th-13th century sufi priest. Deewan has no control over the management of the shrine but gets a monthly remuneration from the management committee, which is appointed by the government.
"I am not interested in salary. He (Abedin) can have the money. Buy I won't allow him to enter the shrine now. Whatever he has said is blasphemous. I have spoken to muftis (Islamic scholars who interpret sharia) and we will be issuing a fatwa (decree) against him. He is no longer a Muslim."
Abedin has been the deewan of the shrine since after the Supreme Court 1987 order, ruling him as the most direct and eldest descendant of the sufi priest.
He stirred a controversy after his message during the 805th annual function at the shrine that was also attended by religious heads of various shrines from different parts of the country.
Abedin also announced that he and his family members "will never eat beef now".
"The government should widely impose ban on slaughtering of all bovine animals and sale of beef. This is one of the prominent reasons for communal hatred in India. Muslims should become an example by taking a resolution to not consume beef in the interest of communal harmony in the country," he said.