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Islam a ‘terrorist unit,’ says Waseem Rizvi as he embraces Hinduism; critics call it ‘opportunism’

Rizvi had been ‘excommunicated’ from Islam for not accepting a fatwa

Waseem-Rizvi-new-ani Waseem Rizvi | ANI

Former Uttar Pradesh Shia waqf board chairman Waseem Rizvi denounced Islam as a “terrorist unit” while professing allegiance to Sanatan dharma. On Monday,  Rizvi declared that he accepted Hinduism.

“There is no question of my having given up Islam as I had already been banished from it,” he said.

Rizvi’s conversion has been facilitated by Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, the head priest of Ghaziabad’s Dasna Devi Temple in Ghaziabad. The temple made it to the news earlier this year when a 14-year-old Muslim boy was beaten up for entering the premises to drink water from a tap.

Saraswati said, “His (Rizvi) entry into Hinduism is very welcome. He has returned to his origins”.

Rizvi’s new name will be Jeetendra Narayan Singh Tyagi. It is a name of uncertain caste origins.

“Muslims have been misled into believing that Hinduism is a discriminatory religion on the basis of caste,” said Saraswati.

The name, Saraswati said, was significant because he himself was a Tyagi. “My father had two sons. One son was given to religion. Now he will again have two sons,” he said.

Rizvi’s political rise from a municipal corporator to chairmanship of the Shia waqf board, in a relatively short timespan is attributed to the proximity he cultivated with political powers of the day. He was once very close to Azam Khan, a founding member of the Samajwadi Party who has various charges, including that of recruitment to the state’s water works body against him.

Rizvi said his change of religion could not be termed a “conversion” as he was simply embracing the “oldest religion of the world.”

In 2018, Rizvi had been ‘excommunicated’ from Islam for not accepting a fatwa issued by a Shia cleric. He had then said no one could oust him from Islam, no matter how senior the cleric was.

His critics said his conversion was a matter of political opportunism as he wanted to escape the fallout of a numerous cases lodged against him for corruption during his tenure as the waqf board chairperson.

Chakrpani Maharaj, the chairperson of the Hindu Mahasabha said, “The entire community of saints is very happy at this development. No one should dare issue a fatwa against him. The state government should provide him adequate security”.

Athar Husain, spokesperson of the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation said, “The manner in which Rizvi is condemning Islam is alarming”.

“Instead of counting the virtues of his adopted religion, he seems to only be interested in criticising his previous religion,” said Husain.

Raihan Akhter, assistant professor in the department of Sunni Theology, said Islam had no space for those who did not believe in the holy Quran and prophet Mohammed. “Islam does not concern itself with what the beliefs of such people are or the path they have chosen," he said.

Criticism of Islam is not new to Rizvi. He had earlier this year, filed a PIL asking for removal of 26 verses from the Quran which he said promoted violence.

Madhav Sharma, priest of a temple in Lucknow said Hinduism did not require any conversion ceremony. “It is a way of life. It is a set of beliefs that one adheres to,” said Sharma.

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