Mohan Bhagwat,
chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was called ‘Rashtra Pita’ by a top
Delhi-based Muslim cleric, PTI reported Thursday. Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, the chief
cleric of the All-India Imam Organization
, said, “Our DNA is same, only our
method of worshipping god is different.”

The meeting was
part of the RSS chief’s outreach with Muslim organisations and is said to have
lasted nearly an hour. “It sends out a very good message to the country. We had
discussions like a family. It was wonderful that they came on our invitation,”
said the chief cleric’s son Suhaib Ilyasi.

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The Muslim clerics’
organisation sent out an invitation to Bhagwat after the RSS chief issued a
statement questioning the need to “look for a Shivling under every mosque,”
after a petition was filed requesting Hindu prayers at a shrine within Varanasi’s
Gyanvapi Mosque Complex.

Meanwhile, Bhagwat
has been meeting Muslim intellectuals in a bid to “strengthen communal harmony,”
according to the RSS. This comes after the Hijab row in Karnataka and Nupur
Sharma’s comments on television about Prophet Mohammed, which triggered a wave
of protests leading to violence. Following the meeting, Bhagwat visited a
madrasa and spoke to students.

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On August 22,
Mohan Bhagwat met five Muslim intellectuals and spoke about the “current
atmosphere of disharmony” in the country. SY Qureshi, the former election
commissioner, who was at the meeting told PTI that Bhagwat said he war worried
about the situation in the country. “I’m not happy with the atmosphere of
disharmony. It is completely wrong. The country can move ahead only with
cooperation and cohesion,” Qureshi quoted Bhagwat as saying.

The RSS chief also
raised concerns with regard to practices such as cow slaughter, Qureshi said. “So,
we said it is banned practically across the country. The Muslims are law
abiding and if anyone violates it, it is a huge mistake and there should be
punishment,” Qureshi reported the conversation.

Apart from Qureshi,
former Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, former Aligarh University
Vice-Chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah, ex-parliamentarian Shahid Siddiqui and
business leader Saeed Shervani were part of the meeting.