New Delhi, Aug 22: Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, has called upon Muslims to stay away from the Anna movement saying his war cry - Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai - are against Islam.
"Islam does not condone the worship of the nation or land. It does not even condone worship of the mother who nurtures a child in her womb. How can Muslims then join his stir with a war cry that is against the basic tenets of Islam. I have advised them to stay away," Bukhari told Times of India.
Bukhari, who is not perceived to be close to the Congress, may have inadvertently voiced the very concerns that Congress leaders have been expressing off the record about how Anna's stir has isolated Muslims though none of them had ventured to make a public statement on this. The call has also reignited the centuries old debate of Vande Mataram being anti-Muslim.
Even though Team Anna includes lawyers like Prashant and Shanti Bhushan who have taken up cudgels against Narendra Modi for his alleged role in the Gujarat riots, the Shahi Imam, one of the tallest Muslim religious leader, is critical of the movement because he feels that communalism and not corruption is the bane of the country. "If Anna had included communalism in his agenda, I would have been more convinced of his intentions," he said.
While questioning where Anna is getting funds to organize such a massive rally, Bukhari has accused Anna of indulging in politics at the behest of the RSS and the BJP.
In an interview to PTI, Bukhari said communalism was a bigger threat to India than corruption. He asked Anna Hazare why he and his campaign managers did not do more to involve Muslims in their anti-graft movement.
At a time when Hazare's campaign has caught the imagination of the country, Bukhari said the Gandhian needed to learn more from the Mahatma on how to spin all sections of the society together in a mass movement.
Bukhari said while he very much believed that corruption needs to be weeded out of the country, it was equally important to tackle communalism by addressing the problems of Muslims.
“He could at least have met some members or leaders of the minority community and offered to rub a balm on our wounds. He could have also made references against communalism as part of his campaign to make it look more inclusive,” Bukhari told PTI, recalling how some days earlier Hazare had praised Narendra Modi.
The Imam also pointed out that slogans of ‘Vande Mataram' and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai', that were a staple of Anna's campaign, did not make Muslims any comfortable.
“Why not raise more inclusive slogans like Hindustan Zindabad or Jai Hind,” he asked, complaining that there was no effort on part of the campaign leaders to involve the community into their fold.
“When Gandhi took up a cause, he made sure he included in it grievances of every Indian constituency, only then did his campaigns take up the shape of an unassailable national movements,” he said. PTI