Explainers

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s first-ever visit to mosque: What happened, why it is significant?

Mohan Bhagwat’s visit to the Kasturba Gandhi Marg mosque at the heart of the Delhi – his second meeting with Muslim intellectuals over the past month – comes amid an unprecedented outreach to the minority community by the RSS chief and in the backdrop of the Gyanvapi mosque row

FP Explainers September 22, 2022 18:31:51 IST

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat made his first-ever visit to a mosque. News18

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s outreach to the Muslim community continues with his first ever visit to a mosque on Thursday.

Bhagwat, accompanied by senior Sangh functionaries Krishna Gopal, Ram Lal and Indresh Kumar, visited a mosque in Delhi’s Kasturba Gandhi Marg Wednesday to meet Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, chief imam of the All India Imam Organisation (AIIO).

The closed door meeting, held at the Kasturba Gandhi Marg mosque, lasted for more than an hour.

Let’s take a look at what transpired during the meet and its significance:

What transpired during and after the meet?

Unfortunately, the details of what transpired haven’t been made public yet.

“RSS Sarsanghachalak meets people from all walks of life. It is part of the continuous general ‘Samvad’ process,” RSS Prachar Pramukh Sunil Ambekar told PTI.

However, after the visit, an ebullient Ilyasi said the RSS chief visited at his request and called him the father of the nation.

“We discussed several issues for strengthening the country,” Ilyasi told PTI.

“Our DNA is the same, it is just that our religion and methods of worshipping god are different. We all believe that the nation comes first,” he added, as per The Times of India.

The newspaper quoted Ilyasi’s brother Suhaib as saying, “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 RSS chief also visited a madrasa and interacted with students, as per NDTV.

Bhagwat was previously invited to a Lucknow mosque in 2016 but the visit didn’t pan out, as per The Print.

However, a senior RSS functionary told the outlet KS Sudarshan, the RSS chief between 2000 and 2009, did visit a mosque.

The functionary added that Sudarshan reportedly wished to offer namaz at a Bhopal mosque on the occasion of Eid, but was stopped by those in his retinue in 2012, just a month before his death.

Significance of the meet

Bhagwat’s visit to the mosque at the heart of the Delhi – his second visit with Muslim intellectuals over the past month – comes amid an unprecedented outreach to the minority community by the RSS chief.

The RSS is the ideological fountainhead of the BJP.

As per its website, the All India Imam Organisation says it was established as a representative voice of the community in 1976 and is the largest network of its kind in the world.

The website describes its founder lyasi as a noted scholar of Islam and its jurisprudence .

Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, chief imam of the All India Imam Organisation described Mohan Bhagwat as father of the nation. News18

He is widely revered in all the religious, spiritual and social circles around the world and spends most of his time in India, the website states.

Bhagwat’s visit to the mosque at the heart of the Delhi – his second visit with Muslim intellectuals over the past month – comes amid an unprecedented outreach to the minority community by the RSS chief.

The meeting comes amid the Gyanvapi mosque row, the  hijab row in Karnataka and suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s comments on the Prophet, which triggered violence and protests as well as in the aftermath of Bhagwat’s June speech in which he told his cadre not to ‘look for Shivling’ under every mosque.

Bhagwat’s August meet

In August, Bhagwat met a five-member Muslim delegation including Quraishi, former Lt. Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, former Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University Lt. Gen. (Retd) Zameeruddin Shah, former MP Shahid Siddiqui and industrialist and philanthropist Saeed Sherwani.

The meet, which lasted more than an hour, saw the atmosphere in the country and measures to strengthen communal harmony being discussed in detail.

Bhagwat during the meet said he was not happy with the atmosphere of disharmony in the country.

As per FPJ, ex-Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi quoted Bhagwat as saying, “I’m not happy with the atmosphere of disharmony. It is completely wrong. the country can move ahead only with cooperation and cohesion.”

“It was a great initiative. We discussed that both sides have to address their respective communities and request them to respect each other. Bhagwat ji raised issues of Hindus being called Kafir, which Hindus generally see as an abuse. Muslims call a non-believer kafir. But we told him that it is grossly wrong and should be stopped,” Quraishi told The Print.

Quraishi added that Bhagwat raised the issue of cow slaughter.

“We agreed on that and said that the law should take its own course in these cases,” Quraishi said as per the report.

Former CEC SY Quraishi was part of the August meet. Firstpost

According to Quraishi, he and Siddiqui spoke about Muslims being “vilified” and referred to as “Pakistani”, “jihadist” and “terrorists”.

The delegation also spoke about the need to tamp down on fringe elements who “attack Muslims and lynch them”, as per the report.

“They are suspicious of Muslims’ loyalty and want them to prove their patriotism at every turn. The Muslims are also Indians,” Bhagwat was quoted as saying by NDTV.

“Both sides appreciated the need for communal harmony and to remove differences and misunderstandings among communities. A plan was chalked out to pursue this initiative,” sources said.

Quraishi, who was among the Muslim intellectuals who met Bhagwat, told IANS that he had sought an appointment with the Sangh chief regarding the communal atmosphere in the country.

Quraishi added that both the sides (the delegation and the RSS chief) were unanimous that without strengthening the harmony between the communities, the country can neither be strong nor it can make progress. He said that in the meeting it was also agreed that all the parties should work to convince and motivate their people to strengthen the communal harmony in the country.

In September 2019, Bhagwat had met Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind head Maulana Syed Arshad Madani at the RSS office  and discussed a host of issues including strengthening unity between Hindus and Muslims and incidents of mob lynching.

The meeting was coordinated by Ram Lal, Sangh’s senior functionary and former organisational secretary of the BJP.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: September 22, 2022 18:31:51 IST

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