In his 28 February speech on the occasion of the visit of King of Jordan to India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had traced the history of Muslims and Islam in India. Through a PowerPoint presentation, King of Jordan Abdullah II was informed at the event about how Islam flourished in India through various phases in history. PM Modi’s acknowledgement of the Muslim past received appreciation from community observers and one among such was Maulana Asghar Imam Mahadi Salafi, general secretary, Jamiat Ahle Hadeeth Hind. In a conversation with The Sunday Guardian, Maulana Asghar spoke on if the Muslims in India are shedding their consistent perception and putting their trust in “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” slogan cheered by Prime Minister Modi. Maulana Asghar leads Jamiat, which claims to be a representative of 25-30 millions Salafis who live in India. Excerpts:
Q: The popular perception towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that the Muslim community has not yet warmed up to him. Do you feel that this temperament has changed?
A: Islam teaches us to be polite to people even if they don’t treat us with respect. And no matter how much a person hates us, we are not supposed to hate them back. So irrespective of whether a person, be it a common man or a Prime Minister, said hurtful things to us, based on those words we are not supposed to hurt them back. This is what Islam guides us to do. Whatever he may have said earlier, when he became the Prime Minister, we are supposed to accept him; this has been our tone since 2014. I am sure that what he thinks today must be in the interest of us all.
Q: This is an ideal situation to let go of past grudges and accept the mandate of the country. In the real world, the known faces of the community have voiced their displeasure.
A: In the real world, too, now people have been saying that PM Modi’s attitude does not reflect his past temperament anymore. Whenever the people in his party has made divisive statements, especially against Muslims, though he addressed these things too late, he did distance himself, saying that such communal sentiments are not endorsed by him or his government. PM Modi has said that he will not tolerate such things. We are putting our trust in him that he will not let such incidents aggravate.
Q: Recently you shared the stage with the PM on the visit of King of Jordon to India where PM Modi spoke about the Islamic history of India. Your comments.
A: We met PM Modi and gave our greetings to him then. That day, it was not an event to sit and talk; so we could not interact with him. Yes, his speech addressed the history of Muslims in India and we appreciate it. We are happy to know that PM Modi knows all this truth about our country’s history. BJP is a big party and India is a vast country. Not everybody goes through the effort of understanding the whole history and ends up making uninformed statements. People in the same party can be unequally informed too.
Q: So is the community letting go of their prejudices against PM Modi?
A: What he did was a really good gesture and he should continue to do it. If he was not doing it before, then I cannot say about it. It is the responsibility of the leader to look at everyone equally. I am sure he must have been reading about India’s history since before he became the Prime Minister.
Q: The allegation against Muslim clergy is that they only protest the deaths of Muslim victims of alleged communal hatred, though people of different religious identities have been victimised because of their faith. What do you have to say to that?
A: We have expressed our anger towards all incidents of communal violence irrespective of the victim’s faith. Dividing people along religious lines is not at all welcome. Nobody should die because of his/her religious identity.