Why is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar negotiating with a cleric who has supported ISIS in the past?

Yesterday the AIMPLB cleric Salman Nadwi met Sri Sri Ravishankar and agreed that a Ram Temple must be built and a mosque should also be constructed in a ‘Muslim Abadi’. He also asked for a university for education of Muslims. Nadwi said that the there were provisions for moving the location of a mosque in Islamic law.

The video of his statement is below. He seems to have taken a conciliatory stance, but the devil is usually in the detail. We are not aware of the details of the scheme, not the final shape of this settlement. If the proposed university teaches extremist ideologies supported by Salman Nadwi, it will hurt Indian society in the long run.

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It has also been found from past media reports that Salman Nadwi supported ISIS and its leader Bagdhadi in 2014. He was slammed by other Muslim organisations of India after which he offered a clarification. Thus, it appears that Sri Sri Ravishankar is dealing with a person with a dubious history.

Salman Nadwi’s letter asked Saudis to form an army of 5 Lakh Indian Muslims

On 19 Jul 2014 , a portal named New Age Islam reported on the cleric as below (emphasis added) :

New Age Islam is presenting below the full text of a charter of demands presented some time ago to the Saudi government by Maulana Salman Hussaini Nadvi, the first Indian Muslim to embrace the self-styled Khilafat of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It gives us an idea of how this member of al-Baghdadi Khilafat, also apparently still a holder of Indian nationality, looks at terrorism, sectarian war, the role of the Saudi government and Muslim Umma in general.

Let me just give you a rough and very brief idea of Nadvi’s worldview here. In this charter of demands, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Hasani Nadvi, he is asking Saudi Arabia to organise a Khilafat for the Muslim Umma, the global Muslim community, which would have a world Islamic Army in which he would contribute five lakh Muslim youth from India. He says there is no need for recruiting youth from among the messed up youth of the Gulf when you can find them right here. This army would stand behind Muslims wherever they are in trouble. He wishes that terrorists should not be called terrorists and thus antagonised. They are sincere Muslim youth fighting for a noble cause. There should be a confederation of Jihadi organisations active across the Islamic world midwifed by Ulema who should help them hold a dialogue among themselves so they come together and iron out their differences and emerge as one powerful global force.

Another report from Al – Arabiya has also confirmed the reports of his extremist views in 2017.

Indian Muslims sharply criticized the letter after which the cleric offered a ‘clarification’

After severe criticism from Indian Muslims and some clerics, Salman Nadwi was forced to offer a clarification. Maulana Daryabadi, a cleric of All India Ulema Council (an umbrella organisation of clerics) made the following comments about Nadwi’s letter to Saudi Arabia’s government on July 26, 2014.

If this is true, it’s unfortunate. Indian Muslims share the pain of their brothers elsewhere but it’s futile to see the crisis in Iraq and Syria from the Shia-Sunni prism. Some forces are bent on dividing the Muslims. Such letters will only widen the gulf between the two sects.

In response to the criticism within his community, Salman Nadwi offered a ‘clarification’ where he said that Bagdhadi had received his support in order to establish ‘peace’ and end Shia -Sunni differences. His clarification was published by the website Milli Gazette in March 2015. The clarification says (emphasis added) :

All Muslims are informed that the popular armed campaign that is going on against the cruel and tyrant rulers of Syria and Iraq and on the basis of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s movement Daaish’s success after liberating many areas of Syria, Iraq’s Mosul and other cities from the occupation of a cruel and oppressive criminal like Noori Maliki, I had made a demand to Al-Baghdadi in an open letter to fulfil his responsibility to establish an atmosphere of peace and justice, to declare amnesty in the conquered areas and bring an end to the Shia-Sunni differences. I had written this letter on 7 July against which some people started a campaign in order to preach and spread communalism. The [Lucknow] newspaper Aag in its headline on the first page had spewed venom of communalism, after which I had made statements in newspapers saying that it is the worst form of journalistic dishonesty to distort and misinterpret the call for peace, justice, Shia-Sunni brotherhood and hatching a conspiracy to harm peace.

This is a dubious clarification as the entire world knows that ISIS was never a ‘peace’ loving organisation. So the question remains as to why Sri Sri Ravishankar, a respected figure is negotiating with a Muslim cleric with extremist views? Is he ignorant about Salman Nadwi’s past? The Ram temple is a sacred venture that doesn’t need the stamp of approval from such figures. It is better to negotiate with someone who is more respectable or allow the Supreme court to deal with the matter.

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