In a rare gesture, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is a senior Shia cleric too, on Friday visited the historic Makkah Masjid, a Sunni mosque, to offer prayers and called for unity among Muslims across the world.
Addressing the congregation after Friday prayers, he said unity among Shias, Sunnis and other Islamic denominations was the only solution to the problems faced by the Muslim world.
In his 30-minute public speech in Persian, said to be the first by a any country’s leader in this mosque, Rouhani urged Muslims to treat all human beings with love and affection in the true spirit of Islam.
On the second day of his three-day visit to India, he joined common worshippers in offering prayers at the 17th century mosque, noting that Friday prayers symbolise the unity among Muslims as they come together to pray.
Accompanied by ministers and senior officials, Rouhani offered ‘namaz’ in the first row. Before that he sat through the sermons delivered in Arabic by Moulana Rizwan Qureshi, Imam of the mosque.
Reciting verses from Quran, the Iranian President said the Prophet Mohammad was mercy for all the worlds and he was sent as the model for mankind to follow.
“If Islam is presented before the world in true sense, then the whole world will love this religion,” he said.
Rouhani said if Muslims were facing problems in different parts of the world today, it was because they had distanced themselves from real teachings of Islam.
“If there is violence and conflicts in some Islamic countries, it is because we have not guided the younger generation towards Islam and its true meaning,” he said.
He underlined the need for tolerance and for recognising all Islamic denominations and respecting them. “They all can be compared to streams which come from a single spring and all these streams eventually into one ocean,” he said.
Alleging that enemies of Islam were creating rift among Muslims, he said the message of Iran was peace and unity.
He quoted Quran to say that even if one innocent person is killed it is like killing the entire humanity and if life of one innocent is saved, it is like saving the entire humanity.
Rouhani said Iran was pleased to see security and tranquillity in India. “The people of this land hold different views and notions but spirituality is of significance for all denominations and sects,” he said.
The Iranian leader said the massacres in schools and university campuses in the US show that materialistic civilization is no guarantee for human welfare and development.
He condemned the travel ban imposed by the US on some Islamic countries by branding Muslims as terrorists. He said Islam is based on kindness and affection.
Rouhani said those humiliating Muslims should know that through the course of history Muslims enjoyed grandeur and enriched civilization and culture. “Future belongs to Muslims and the divine teachings will enlighten the path ahead of us,” he said.
He quoted Quran to say that the light of Allah can never be extinguished. “Despite all hostilities towards Islam the future belongs to Islam and future belongs to Asia,” he added.
Earlier, the Iranian delegation visited the historic Golconda Fort and Qutub Shahi tombs here. They went around the Qutub Shahi tombs complex, housing mausoleums of rulers of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty (1518-1687) who had Iranian lineage.