Umer Ahmed Ilyasi,
the chief cleric of All-India Imam Organization, was in the news recently after
he called Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat ‘Rashtra Pita’
and ‘Rashtra Rishi’
, meaning father of the nation and saint of the nation.
India, at large, reserves the expression ‘Rashtra Pita’ for Mohandas Karamchand
Gandhi or Mahatma Gandhi.

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Ilyasi’s comment
came after he met Mohan Bhagwat in a closed-door meeting. The All-India Imam Organization
had invited Bhagwat after the RSS chief’s comment that people should not look
for Shivlings in every mosque, a comment that he made during the Gyanvapi Mosque

Who is Umer
Ahmed Ilyasi?

Umer Ahmed Ilyasi
is the chief imam of the All-India Imam Organization (AIIO). The body says that
it represents nearly half a million Imams from across India and is the
religious and spiritual guide to 210 million Indian Muslims. Led by Ilyasi,
AIIO claims to be the largest imam organization in the world. 

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Ilyasi, who has a
doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree from Desh Bhagt University, speaks on various
global forums on global warming, poverty alleviation, nuclear disarmament, HIV
Aids and anti-terrorism. The AIIO chief has a deep engagement with interfaith
dialogue and conflict resolution, according to the organisation’s website.

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Ilyasi has also
received the highest civilian wards of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates
(UAE). Ahmed Ilyasi is the first Imam to have been nominated as Lieutenant
Governor to the Middle East Continent for IOED to represent IOED in the Middle
East region.  

Why did
Ilyasi meet Mohan Bhagwat?

Ahmed Ilyasi’s
meeting with the RSS chief came at a time when Bhagwat has been trying to reach
out to Indian Muslims in a bid to “strengthen communal harmony”. Following the
meeting, Ahmed Ilyasi’s son Suhaib Ilyasi said, “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.”