Muslim religious figures are converging on plans to step up Islamic preaching or “dawah” to fend off attempts by Hindu outfits seeking Muslim converts, several clerics have said.
Delivering a fired-up speech during Friday prayers, the shahi imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Ahmed Bukhari, declared the launching of a formal proselytising mission from the mosque, its first, called Ghar Ghar Islam, or Islam in every home.
The conversion of Muslims at an event organised by Hindu groups in Agra, reportedly against their will, threatens to become a sectarian flashpoint after Muslim leaders said they would “lawfully” act to “protect the faith”.
“Muslims have sacrificed their lives for the unity of this country. Now be prepared to sacrifice your lives to save secularism,” Bukhari told a crowd of nearly 10,000 worshippers at the historic mosque.
He said Muslim youth were seldom involved in programmes to bolster Islam through formal propagation of the faith, though it is allowed under the Constitution and is obligatory in Islam. “Therefore, we will launch a plan to take Islam to every home through a mission called Ghar Ghar Islam.”
“We have not forgotten Gujarat,” he said, reminding the government about the 2002 riots.
The Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist organisation with pockets of influence across north India, has sent a fact-finding team to Agra. “The team isn’t being allowed in by the authorities. Our stand is the government must act and as a community, we will step up tablighi (preaching) efforts,” Mohammed Ahmed, the Jamaat’s political secretary said.
Against this backdrop, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad announced a conclave by the Gomti in Lucknow on January 18 to push its agenda of “reconversion” — masked as homecoming ceremony of Muslims and Christians who were apparently Hindus in the past but switched to other faiths out of compulsion or on their own volition.
“We will celebrate 50 years of the VHP and if anyone reads between the lines, it’s their fault,” VHP secretary Purshottam Narain Singh said. “We aren’t forcing anybody. If anyone comes home on his own what can we do?”
(With inputs from Anupam Srivastava in Lucknow)