on Thursday met the head of All India Imam Organisation at a mosque in New Delhi.
Bhagwat has in the last few days met Muslim leaders and intellectuals in Sangh’s unprecedented outreach to the minority community in an effort to promote religious harmony.
Bhagwat visits mosque in Delhi
On Thursday, Bhagwat and senior Sangh functionaries met Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, the chief of All India Imam Organisation, at a mosque in Kasturba Gandhi Marg.
The closed-door meeting lasted for more than an hour.
Bhagwat was accompanied by joint general secretary Krishna Gopal, Ram Lal and Indresh Kumar. While Lal was earlier organisational secretary of the BJP, Kumar is patron of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch.
Sharing details of the meeting, Suhaib Ilyasi, brother of Ahmed Ilyasi, said, “It was great that Bhagwatji came on our invitation on the death anniversary of our father. It also sends out a good message to the country.”
The All India Imam Organisation is the representative voice of the community of Indian Imams and claims to be the largest imam organisation in the world.
It was formed to undertake at all levels the socio-economic issues which directly influence the earnings of Imams, their status in society and the expectations that the community and state have from them.
‘DNA of Hindus, Muslims same’
During the meeting, Bhagwat had raised the issue of usage of the word “kafir” for Hindus which, he said, does not send out a good message. The Muslim intellectuals, on the other hand, objected to some right-wing activists calling the Muslims “jihadi” and “Pakistanis”.
The Muslim intellectuals also told Bhagwat that the real intent behind the usage of ‘kafir’ was something different, but in some quarters now, it is being used as an “abuse”.
The RSS chief acknowledged the apprehensions of the intellectuals and underlined that the ‘DNA of all Hindus and Muslims are same’.
Responding to Bhagwat’s meeting with Muslim leaders, RSS Prachar Pramukh Sunil Ambekar said, “Sarsanghachalak meets people from all walks of life. It is a part of the continuous general ‘Samvad’ process.”
Meeting with Muslim intellectuals
Earlier, Bhagwat had met several Muslim intellectuals, such as Delhi’s former Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi, former chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University Lieutenant General Zameer Uddin Shah and former MP Shahid Siddiqui and businessman Saeed Shervani.
As per sources close to RSS, issues like the Hijab controversy, Gyanvapi and maintenance of peace and harmony among religions were discussed in the meeting.
In the meeting it was decided to build a platform for strengthening communal harmony in the country.
Bhagwat and the group of intellectuals agreed that without strengthening communal harmony and reconciliation among communities, the country cannot progress, sources present in the meeting said.
Owaisi scoffs at meeting
Meanwhile, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi slammed the “Muslim elites” who met with the RSS chief, saying that have nothing to do with the “ground reality”.
“This elite layer, which thinks it is very knowledgeable and has no touch with the ground reality, they are living comfortably and they go and meet the RSS chief. It is their democratic right, I do not question that, but they too don’t have a right to question us,” the AIMIM MP was quoted as saying.
Questioning the “so-called elites” for meeting RSS, Owaisi said that the entire world knows Sangh’s ideology.
Owaisi is a vocal critic of RSS and has often spoken out against the organisation’s ideology.