On January 22, the inauguration of the long-anticipated Ram Mandir in Ayodhya garnered widespread attention, marking a significant historical moment in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the consecration ceremony in the presence of around 7,000 distinguished guests, including Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and business tycoon Mukesh Ambani.
The event symbolized the culmination of a movement that began in the 1980s, with the construction of the temple serving as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) longstanding objective. Apart from celebrating the completion of the temple, the occasion also marked the easing of longstanding tensions between the Muslim and Hindu communities in the nation.
In a gesture of unity, the temple regulatory committee extended an invitation to Dr. Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam of the All-India Imam Organization (AIIO). Despite receiving acclaim for his inclusive approach and prayers for communal harmony, Imam Ilyasi faced criticism and a fatwa from certain quarters for attending the consecration ceremony.
Responding to the backlash, Imam Ilyasi expressed his intention to issue a counter-fatwa, challenging the one imposed on him.
He emphasized that as he resides in a non-Muslim country, such religious rulings do not apply to him, and he vowed to contest it.
“I am not living in a Muslim country…This does not apply to me… I’ll challenge it.”
#WATCH | "This is the face of new India. Our biggest religion is humanity. For us, the nation is first," says Dr. Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam, All India Imam Organization at Ayodhya Ram Temple 'Pran Pratishtha' ceremony. pic.twitter.com/IRYRW5YgAu
— ANI (@ANI) January 22, 2024
The Chief Imam disclosed facing protests following his participation in the Pran Pratishtha ceremony. Taking proactive measures, he informed Home Minister Amit Shah and the Delhi police commissioner, and called for a meeting of all Imams to address the situation.
“I have informed the Home Minister Amit Shah, Delhi police commissioner about it and have called a meeting of all Imams.”
#WATCH | Delhi | Fatwa issued against Chief Imam of All India Imam Organization, Dr Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi after he attended the Pranpratishtha ceremony of Ram Lalla at Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
He says, "As a chief Imam, I received the invitation from Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth… pic.twitter.com/iVe2bA3s1X
— ANI (@ANI) January 29, 2024
After attending the Ayodhya consecration event, Imam Ilyasi reiterated his commitment to promoting values of love and unity. He applauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for espousing a “message of unity” and emphasized the inclusive ideals of the country, stating,
“This is the face of new India. Our biggest religion is humanity. For us, the nation is first.”