Narendra Modi says ‘Islam is great’. Will Muslims rally behind him?

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Islam is great. Well, who do you think made this statement? It is none other than Narendra Modi. Most of the Muslims in India feel that Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, is an enemy of Islam and Muslims. Perhaps that is the reason why Muslims vote against BJP en masse. They strongly feel that Modi is responsible for Gujarat riots, in which a majority of the victims were Muslims.

And the so-called secular parties, especially the Congress and the Communists, use this Modi’s anti-Muslim image as a stick to beat him frequently. The agenda-driven media exploits Modi’s anti-Muslim image to give even small insignificant events a communal tinge and blow them out of proportion with an intention to reinforce the image. The media and the left liberals have been making ceaseless efforts to stigmatize Modi and project India as an intolerant nation. All this ‘Muslims hate Modi’ campaign is in spite of the fact that Modi has never been on record speaking a single sentence against Muslims or Islam.

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However, the speech Prime Minister Modi delivered at the World Sufi Conference surprised many, especially Muslims. He, in fact, spoke like a ‘Maulana’ and showered a profusion of praise on Allah and his Prophet, Islam, Sufism, and Muslims. In an essence, his message was ‘Islam is great and it stands for peace’. The audience frequently broke into rapturous applause appreciating Modi’s words. Modi, to reach out to Muslim leaders from different countries, spoke in English.

Here are some of the top quotes from Modi’s speech, which sounded like music to the ears of Sufi theologians present at the venue.

At a time when the dark shadow of violence is becoming longer, you are the ‘Noor’  or the light of hope. When young laughter is silenced by guns on the streets, you are the voice that heals.
When we recall the ninety-nine names of Allah, none of them stand for violence. He is both Rahman and Rahim.
You represent the rich diversity of the Islamic civilization that stands on the solid bedrock of a great religion.
In the words of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, of all the worships, the worship that pleases the Almighty God the most is the grant of relief to the humble and the oppressed.
The ideals of Islam have always rejected the forces of terrorism and extremism.

The moot point is did Modi speak all these words from the bottom of his heart? I am skeptical. One of the reasons behind his conciliatory speech, which showered an abundance of praise on Islam and Muslims, especially Sufism, is he aims to disarm all his critics, who are hell bent on raising the bogey of intolerance for an eternity with an intention to discredit him and his government.

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The World Sufi Forum, organized by the All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), seeks to find a constructive way to spread the Islamic message of peace and tolerance as a counterpoint to the ever-rising global Islamic extremism. Their goal sounds great and if the goal really materializes the future generations will be the biggest beneficiaries. However, the ordinary people, who are well aware of the bloody history of Islamism and the ceaseless terror attacks carried out by the Islamists, are skeptical about the success of such initiatives. The world community, which is very much concerned about the mushrooming of Islamic extremist organizations whose motive is to turn the entire world into a ‘Darul Islam’ and impose the draconian ‘Sharia’, takes all these Sufi initiatives and Modi’s speeches with a pinch of salt.

But Modi’s conciliatory speeches may have a positive impact on the Muslim community. Because the community has always been appreciative of praise and symbolism. Maybe that is the reason behind Hindu politicians showing overenthusiasm for wearing skull caps and throwing lavish ‘Iftar’ feasts to win over the Muslim vote bank. So, at last, Modi appears to have learnt how to deal with the Muslim electorate. The only thing that is left for Modi is sporting a skull cap and claiming himself to be the messiah of Muslims in India. Looking at the direction in which Modi is moving, the day is not far way when we will be able to see Modi sporting a skull cap.

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I'm a news junkie and a compulsive blogger. I learn as if I was destined to live forever. My ideas always keep evolving. I got published in The Hindu, The New Indian Express and Telangana Today.
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