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All-inclusive RSS is for Muslims too

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The Bhagwat-Ilyasi meeting busts a perennial propaganda that the RSS is opposed to minorities and it discriminates against Muslims on the ground of their religion.

The meeting the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's Sarsanghchalak (chief) Mohan Bhagwat had with Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi in Delhi last week offers yet another message that India's all social segments, including the Muslim community, are close to the Sangh's heart.

Knowledgeable sources say the Bhagwat-Ilyasi meeting busts a perennial propaganda that the RSS is opposed to minorities and it discriminates against Muslims on the ground of their religion. The facts are absolutely different. The Sangh, by its very nature, is all-inclusive. It has had a continuous dialogue (samvad) with people from various sections of our society so as to work for them all and foster peace and development across the country.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat with Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi

It was as part of this tradition that Bhagwat and his close aides Krishna Gopal, Ram Lal and Indresh Kumar visited the headquarters of the All India Imams Organisation (AIIO) and met its head Ilyasi on September 22. Earlier, last month, Bhagwat met a delegation of Muslim intellectuals, including former Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi at the RSS headquarters in New Delhi.

The RSS believes in the philosophy of Hinduism. Its ideology prescribes the goal of all-inclusive happiness (sarve bhawantu sukinah..). It advocates the freedom of every individual to practise the path of their own choice in their pursuit of truth or god. It would be preposterous even to conceive such a broad RSS ideology as hostile to Muslims who practise a faith different from the majority Sanatan community's in the country.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat meets chief imam, discusses ways to promote harmonyRSS chief Mohan Bhagwat meets chief imam, discusses ways to promote harmony

Pertinently, RSS founder K B Hedgewar was not all opposed to Muslims. He was influenced by Sant Ramdas, Sant Tukaram, Maharana Pratap, Shivaji and Lokmanya Tilak. None of them was ever against Muslims. Maharana and Shivaji had Muslims as their top military commanders. Tilak's friendship with the then nationalist Muslim M A Jinnah is well known.

Hedgewar was close to several Muslim leaders in his life. He was imprisoned in August 1921 for his participation in the Congress's Non Cooperation Movement. On his release from the British prison in July 1922, top Congress leaders, including Dr S A Ansari (along with Motilal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, C Rajagopalachari ), organized a function in his honour in Nagpur.

The Sangh has always propounded that India (Bharat) belongs to all, who are born here and continue to live here, irrespective of the religions and schools of thought they may belong to. It has been sensitive to the common ancestral roots of Hindus and the majorities within the minorities.

The successive RSS leaderships have guided the organization along these lines. Hedgewar's successor M S Golwalkar called upon swaymsevaks to work for all sections of Indian society. In the late 1970s, third RSS Sarsanghchalak (chief) Madhukar D Deoras opened the organisation's daily programmes to Muslim participation.

RSS chief Bhagwat is 'Rashtra-pita' & 'Rashtra-Rishi': Muslim clericRSS chief Bhagwat is 'Rashtra-pita' & 'Rashtra-Rishi': Muslim cleric

Fourth RSS chief Rajendra Singh Tomar, popularly called Rajju Bhaiya, believed, "All people are basically nice. One should deal with every person by believing in his goodness. Anger, jealousy, etc. are the offshoots of his past experiences, which affect his behavior. Primarily every person is nice and everyone is reliable."

In 2002, fifth RSS chief K S Sudarshan established the Muslim Rashtriya Manch aimed at improving Hindu-Muslim relations. In a three-day conclave 'Bhavishya Ka Bharat - An RSS Perspective,' held at Vigyan Bhavan in September 2018, current Sarsanghchalak Bhagwat said, "The Sangh works towards universal brotherhood and the cardinal principle of this brotherhood is unity in diversity... Hindu Rashtra doesn't mean there's no place for Muslims. The day it is said so, it won't be Hindutva any more. Hindutva talks about Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" (the whole world is our special relative).

(Jagdish N. Singh is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, New York)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of OneIndia and OneIndia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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