What Hindus worship as Om, Muslims worship as Allah: Jamiat chief

Some other religious leaders walked off stage after the Jamiat president seemed to equate the gods of diferent religions, in a controversial speech that may have been heard by 2 lakh people

February 13, 2023 04:06 am | Updated 10:21 am IST - NEW DELHI

Maulana Syed Arshad Madani, the president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (Arshad faction) speaks at the 34th General Session of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, at Ramlila Ground, in New Delhi, on Feb. 12, 2023.

Maulana Syed Arshad Madani, the president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (Arshad faction) speaks at the 34th General Session of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, at Ramlila Ground, in New Delhi, on Feb. 12, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind’s president Arshad Madani stirred up a controversy on Sunday, with a speech which seemed to equate Om, Allah and God, prompting some religious leaders to walk off the stage on the final day of the organisation’s three-day conclave.

“What Hindus worship as Om, Muslims worship as Allah,” Mr. Madani said. “Whom we call Adam, Hindus call Manu. Adam’s progeny is called aadmi (mankind). Manu’s progeny is manushya (mankind). When there was no Ram, Brahma, Shiva, whom did Manu worship? Few people tell us, they used to worship Om who had no image. I say, we call Om as Allah, those who speak Persian say Khuda, the English-speaking call God,” he added.

Following his remarks, Jain religious leader Acharya Lokesh Muni left the stage, stating, “We only agree with living in harmony, but all the story regarding Om, Allah, and Manu is all rubbish.”

‘Faith can not be forced’

Mr. Madani’s presidential address had an audience of over two lakh people. “For 1,400 years Hindus and Muslims have lived here together as brothers. We have no differences. We have never forced anybody to convert to Islam. We believe religion is a personal matter and acceptance comes from the heart. Nobody can be forced to accept a faith,” said the Jamiat president. “Since Independence we had not heard of Ghar Wapasi [literally ‘homecoming’, referring to reconversion to Hinduism] till the time the BJP assumed power,” Mr. Madani added.

Later, the Muslim body issued a statement, expressing disappointment with the judiciary and raising concerns about increasing communalism in the country. “Jamiat considers religious hatred and sectarianism as the biggest threat to the integrity to the country. It does not match our long-standing heritage and ethos. Unfortunately, Muslims are the direct target of the internal and external enemies of the country. The so-called organisations which propagate extremist tendencies n the name of jihad are not entitled to our cooperation. Sacrifice, loyalty and patriotism to the nation are our national and religious duties,” said the Jamiat statement.

“The first duty of every ruler is to provide equal and fair treatment to all. The Supreme Court and other courts of the country are the guardians of democracy, but for some time, there is a general impression that the courts are working under the pressure of the State. The situation is not acceptable. If the judiciary is not free, then the country is not free. We appeal to all Muslims of India to enforce in practice the code prescribed by the Shariah. They should focus on ridding the Muslim society of evils like divorce, non-maintenance to the wife and injustice to women in general,” it added.

VHP slams remark

Hitting out at Mr. Madani, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) said his remarks on “Om, Allah and God” have exposed his real mindset. “Was it a ‘Sadbhavna Sammelan’ or a gathering of Jamiat’s poisonous group?” VHP national spokesperson Vinod Bansal said in a video statement on Sunday.

The way Mr. Madani tried to assert “his supremacy and that of Islam” with his comment in the “presence of Hindu dharma gurus at the event exposed his real mindset and character”, Mr. Bansal charged. “You talk about religion and indulge in sinful acts. Shame on you... The mindset of this Jamiat’s gathering will now have to be driven away from this country.”

In a tweet in Hindi, Mr. Bansal also alleged that an attempt was made to attack the Jain monk at the “Jamiat’s forum” and demanded that Delhi Police take action in the matter.

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