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 Updated: February 28, 2016

Thousands attend funeral of Mirza Athar in Lucknow

By: Nizam Hussain


LUCKNOW, India: Amid thousands of followers and mourners from all communities of Lucknow, well known Shia cleric Khateeb-e-Akbar Maulana Mirza Mohammad Athar who breathed his last in Delhi on Friday, was buried in his hometown Lucknow on Saturday. Founder president of All India Shia Personal Law Board, 78-year-old Maulana Athar had been unwell for the past several months.

On Saturday morning the body of Maulana Athar was flown in from Delhi after which it was taken to Karbala Dayanat-ud-Daulah in Saadatganj in Old City at 10 am. At the Karbala, 'Namaz-e-Janaza' (funeral prayer) was led by Maulana Hameed-ul-Hasan.

Thousands joined in the procession with various clerics and Anjumans of the city joining in till Karbala Imdad Husain for the final burial.His oratory skills and sermons in Muharram were known for their quintessential Urdu metaphors and frequent use of poetry by Urdu stalwarts Mirza Dabeer and Mir Anees-a style which was hailed.

After expressing grief over his demise on Friday, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav also paid a visit to the Karbala Imdad Husain in Rajajipuram, where the Mirza Athar was buried, late Saturday afternoon. Governor Ram Naik also paid his tribute and extended his concolence to the family.

"His oratory had finesse of words yet simplicity of speech," said Maulana Kalbe Jawad.

In 2011, the Limca Book of Records signed him as orator of the longest continuous series of sermons in Ashra-e-Muharram (1st 10 days of Muharram). In 2008, he had completed 50 years of his continuous Ashra sermons at Mumbai's Mughal Masjid.

‘Athar sahab’, as he was popular in the Shia community, was president of the All India Shia Personal Law Board and one of the most influential moderate voices within the community.

For over five decades, his baritone booming from the pulpit of the Mughal Masjid (Iranian Mosque) had become legendary. Followers dressed in black, crossing state borders, come to hear his hour-long oratory on Islam, a tragic account of events of Karbala, his metaphors connecting battle scenes to current day events. Though the Masjid was at Imambada street, giant television screens across Dongri and Kesar Baug carried his sermons, and his voice often boomed above the noise of traffic on the JJ Flyover.

Mirza Athar's oratory earned him admirers around the world where his sermons were broadcast via the internet, was known to select contemporary topics. His sermon on ‘Islam and Terrorism’ in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks in America was one of his most popular ashras.   


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