Mohan Bhagwat is Rastrapita: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who has been meeting Muslim leaders on an unprecedented scale, visited a mosque in Delhi and held a meeting with its chief cleric.
Mohan Bhagwat met the chief cleric of the All India Imam Sangathan, Umar Ahmed Ilyasi, at a mosque in the heart of Delhi, not far from top government and political offices. Mr Ilyasi termed Mr Bhagwat as the “Father of the Nation”, news agency PTI reported. The top cleric said, “Our DNA is the same, only our way of worshiping God is different.”
It was described as a “closed-door meeting” that lasted over an hour.
The cleric’s son Suhaib Ilyasi said, “It sends a very good message to the country. We discussed like a family. It was wonderful that they came to our invitation.”
Later the RSS chief visited a madrasa and interacted with the students.
According to the organisation, the RSS chief recently met Muslim intellectuals and tried to “strengthen communal harmony”. The gesture assumes significance after Karnataka suspended the hijab controversy and BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s comments on the Prophet, triggering violence and protests. The group questioned the need to “look for a Shivling under every mosque” following Mr Bhagwat’s statement against the backdrop of a petition requesting Hindu prayers at a temple within the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi.
The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the ideological mentor of the BJP. RSS spokesperson Sunil Ambekar said, “The RSS sarsanghchalak meets people from all walks of life. This is part of the continuous normal ‘samvad’ (discussion) process.”
On August 22, Mr Bhagwat met five Muslim intellectuals and shared his concerns about the “current climate of dissent” in the country, it is learned. Both sides agreed to reduce divisive rhetoric and discussed what each objected to.
Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi, who was in the 75-minute meeting, said Mr Bhagwat said he was also concerned about the situation in the country. He was quoted as saying by the RSS chief, “I am not happy with the atmosphere of disharmony. This is completely wrong. The country can move forward only with cooperation and solidarity.”
He said Mr Bhagwat discussed issues of concern with him like cow slaughter, which troubles Hindus, he said.
“That’s why we said it is practically banned across the country. Muslims are following the law and if someone violates it, it is a big mistake and there should be punishment for it,” Qureshi said.
The second was the use of the word “kafir” or non-believers, which “gave an evil spirit to the Hindus”, Mr Bhagwat reportedly said.
“We said originally in Arabic, this word means unbeliever. Some people who believe in Islam are called ‘Momin’. Unbelievers are called ‘Kafir’. It was a neutral word and now it is It has become abusive. We have no problem in stopping it,” Mr. Qureshi said.
Muslim leaders said that “some right-wing people call Muslims jihadists and Pakistanis”.
“They doubt the loyalty of Muslims and want them to prove their patriotism at every turn. Muslims are Indians too,” said Mr. Bhagwat, he agreed. In response, he quoted the RSS chief as saying, “Our DNA is the same. Most of the Muslims here are converts.”
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