Abdullah Bukhari, born in Rajasthan and educated in Delhi, was the 12th Shahi Imam.
The image he earned in later years as an aggressive Muslim leader often clouded the difficult role he played before and during August 1947 when he persuaded scores of Indian Muslims not to migrate to Pakistan.
During those troubled days, thousands of Delhi's Muslims, forced out of their homes by mobs, took shelter in the premises of the red-stone mosque under his care. Bukhari provided them food, clothes and medicines.
In the decades that followed, using his clout as the cleric of the country's best known mosque, Bukhari took keen interest in the social and economic issues linked to Muslims.
He took to the streets following communal violence in Delhi's Kishanganj area in 1974, leading to his jailing for 18 days in early 1975. The event triggered widespread protests.
He rose to national prominence in March 1977 when he joined national politicians in mobilising people to vote out the Congress government of Indira Gandhi, accusing it of displacing the poor from their homes and forcing their menfolk to undergo vasectomy.
Since then politicians used to make a beeline for him to seek his support in elections, giving him a larger than life image.
The senior Bukhari also played an active role in support of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya but his appeal started to wane after mobs destroyed the mosque in 1992, creating the worst Hindu-Muslim fissures since 1947.
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