Modi govt. renews its efforts to reach out to the Muslim community

He is now banking on entrenched Sufi orders for meaningful dialogue with the largest minority

He is now banking on entrenched Sufi orders for meaningful dialogue with the largest minority

The Modi government has opened a new channel of communication with the Muslim community. Moving away from the culture era of Imam Bukhari and various Muslim Jamaats, the government is now banking on entrenched Sufi orders for meaningful dialogue with the larger minority.

The move follows widespread criticism of the government for not including a single Muslim member in the Cabinet after Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s Rajya Sabha tenure ended earlier this month.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval attended a multi-religious meeting organized by the All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council (AISSC) in New Delhi, during which he warned that “some people are trying to create animosity in name of religion which negatively affects the whole country and also has ramifications internationally,” and urged religious leaders to speak out against bigotry.

“We need to work together and make every religious body feel part of India,” he said. Among the participants were Syed Salman Nadvi, a prominent Islamic scholar, Umar Ahmed Ilyasi, head of the All India Imams Organization, and Kalbe Jawad, a Shia cleric who recently met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adiyanath in his residence in Lucknow. He had previously praised the chief minister’s fight against corruption in the state.

There were no representatives from Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, Jamaat-e-Islami, Tablighi Jamaat and All India Majlis-e-Mushawarrat at the meeting.

The absence of any representative of these outfits surprised many. Especially since these organizations had been trusted by the Modi government before the Supreme Court’s verdict on Babri Masjid in November 2019.

In recent times, top Jamiat leaders had held talks with RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat, in addition to having informal meetings with Mr. Doval and others. The non-invitation to the Tablighi Jamaat came as no surprise as the body is largely reclusive and apolitical.

However, its senior leadership was on the government’s good books until the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, when the Tablighi Jamaat was initially held responsible for the outbreak of the disease.

Mr. Doval’s presence at the meeting got the desired response, with the conference passing a resolution to ban the People’s Front of India for pursuing a “divisive agenda”.

“The need of the hour is to ban radical organizations, if there is evidence against them,” said Syed Naseeruddin Chishti, president of AISSC. The meeting also passed a resolution against the targeting of any gods, goddesses or prophets by anyone and called for such individuals to be treated in accordance with the law of the land.

Mr. Doval’s presence at the Sufi meeting signals the government’s intention to resume dialogue with the Sufi authorities, ignoring the traditional leadership of the various Jamaats.

It aims to take forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative when he first addressed a global Sufi gathering in New Delhi in 2016, where he said: “It is this spirit of Sufism, the love for their country and pride in their nation that defines Muslims in India. They are shaped by the values ​​of India’s Islamic heritage. He upholds the highest ideals of Islam and has always rejected the forces of terrorism and extremism.

Sufi encounter

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