Ayodhya mosque to be ‘better than the Taj Mahal’

Panel aims at building one of India’s biggest mosques, which will host the world’s biggest Quran; construction expected to begin this year

January 13, 2024 11:38 pm | Updated 11:38 pm IST - New Delhi

Design of the proposed Ayodhya Masjid. Photo: Special Arrangement

Design of the proposed Ayodhya Masjid. Photo: Special Arrangement


The Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), the trust overseeing the construction of the mosque in Ayodhya, has decided to try a different approach to funding the project that has not taken off yet due to paucity of money and administrative delays. They will relaunch the effort, this time with the vigour and pomp of the Ram temple. Taking the lead is the new chief of the mosque’s development committee, appointed in November 2023, Haji Arfat Shaikh, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader from Maharashtra. 

Earlier, the plan, by Prof. S.M. Akhtar, the founder dean of the faculty of architecture at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, had included a hospital, community kitchen, library, and a research centre, across 4,500 square metres. Now, the aim is to build one of the biggest mosques of India, “better than the Taj Mahal”, along with “the world’s biggest Quran that will measure about 21 feet”, says Mr. Shaikh.

“The earlier design looked like an eggshell, and not at all like a mosque,” he said, of the zero-carbon-footprint design, adding that the new design, prepared by a Pune-based architect, Imran Shaikh, will be ready by the end of February. While the hospital and community kitchen will be retained, other features had been introduced. 

The first brick to be laid before the construction of the proposed Ayodhya Masjid begins. Photo: Special Arrangement

The first brick to be laid before the construction of the proposed Ayodhya Masjid begins. Photo: Special Arrangement

It will also be the first mosque in India to have five minars. A water-and-light show is also being planned. The Uttar Pradesh government organises one at the Sarayu river ghat in Ayodhya, where the Ramayana plays out every evening. “We will have water playing in sync with the azan (prayers) inside the mosque. The lights of the mosque will come on at sunset and go off at sunrise automatically. We will also have a giant fish aquarium, bigger than that of Dubai, for the youth,” said Mr. Shaikh.

The mosque had been allotted the five-acre plot 25 km away from the heart of Ayodhya, in Dhannipur, in February 2020. The Supreme Court, in November 2019, had given way to the construction of the temple in Ayodhya, at the site where Hindu fundamentalists had brought down the 16th century Babri Masjid in December 1992.

Mr. Shaikh sees construction of the expanded vision begin in the second half of 2024, after Ramzan. “A brick with verses of the Quran inscribed over it will travel to Madina in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and to prominent dargahs across India,” he said, adding that it will finally be laid at the site. 

Bird’s-eye-view of the proposed Ayodhya Masjid. Photo: Special Arrangement

Bird’s-eye-view of the proposed Ayodhya Masjid. Photo: Special Arrangement

Special songs are being recorded ahead of the mosque construction. Mr. Shaikh said Vijay Vikram Singh, the voice-over artist made popular by the TV series Bigg Boss, will be engaged to make small videos related to the mosque, for quick circulation. Simultaneously, the Ram temple construction committee is planning to make a similar film, with a voice-over by Amitabh Bachchan.

Mr. Shaikh was appointed in this role by Zufar Ahmad Faruqi, the president of the IICF, the trust formed by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, to build the mosque in Ayodhya. He was also made a trustee in the IIFC and one of its advisors last year. Mr. Shaikh, who is the former Chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for Minorities, also objected to the name of the mosque, Masjid-e-Ayodhya, and has changed it to Muhammad Bin Abdullah Masjid, named after The Prophet.

Also read | Muslims have lost faith in Sunni Waqf Board over construction of mosque in Ayodhya: Muslim Jamaat president

He clarified that the IIFC will not go door-to-door for donations, but will launch a website in late February or early March, with QR codes for easy donation. This is unlike the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s 45-day-long nationwide Ram Temple Nidhi Samarpan campaign in 2021, to fundraise for the Ram temple. The organisation had collected about ₹2,100 crore from going door-to-door. 

“Ayodhya is the biggest subject in India and the construction of both the temple and the mosque will end tensions among communities. We will ensure that Ayodhya becomes the finest example of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (refinement),” said Mr. Shaikh, adding that he will advertise the Ayodhya mosque project to the extent that everyone who comes to see the Ram temple will also visit the mosque. 

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