Photo & text by Kashif-ul-Huda, TwoCircles.net
The building of the India Islamic Cultural Center (IICC) takes your breath away. The beautiful dome, intricate calligraphy and delicate design in beautiful Persian tiles make you spellbound. The administration of IICC can be forgiven for taking 22 years to complete its construction.
Between Indira Gandhi laying the foundation stone of the Centre on August 24, 1984 and her daughter-in-law inaugurating it on June 12, 2006, it took many people and much money to see to its completion. It is a beautiful example of MuslimÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and the Indian government coming together to give shape to an institution.
With the objective to Ã¢â‚¬Å“promote understanding among the people of different religion and help the promotion of the cause of national integration,Ã¢â‚¬Â IICC has quickly become an important institution.
Last year, it saw a bitter fight between businessman Sirajuddin Qureshi and present Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid for the post of the president. Though Mr. Qureshi was able to win the election easily, the quarrel symbolizes the prestige of the institution.
Though it has become a hub of Muslim related activities like seminars, conferences, and meetings, the space allocated for namaz (prayers) seems to be an after-thought. You have to go down a flight of stairs to get to the place. Though there is a proper wuzu-khana the musalla (prayer place) is neatly tucked away from important parts of the building. It is out in the open with only a few rows with overhead covering. During winter the musalla moves in-doors in the basement. I did not see any place for women to offer prayers. There is no mihrab, dome or beautiful columns as is found in other masaajid of India. In short, the building does a wonderful job of hiding an important pillar of Islam.
Namaz at IICC [IICC photo]
So, a premier institution of Indian Muslims that have the backing of some of the biggest names of the community comes up short in the Ã¢â‚¬Å“IslamicÃ¢â‚¬Â part of its name, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hope it holds up to the Ã¢â‚¬Å“IndianÃ¢â‚¬Â tag.
IICC in daylight [Photo by s.prigge]