In a rare gesture, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is a senior Shia cleric too, visited the historic Mecca Masjid, a Sunni mosque, to offer Friday prayers and called for unity among Muslims across the world.
Addressing the congregation after the prayers, he said unity among Shias, Sunnis and other Islamic denominations was only solution to the problems faced by the Muslim world.
Hassan 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.
"If Islam is presented before the world in true sense, then the whole world will love this religion," 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.
His visit to the mosque and call for unity is significant as Tehran is locked in a bitter proxy conflict with Saudi Arabia and its allies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
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.
He quoted the 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.
Stating that India and Iran share many commonalities, he called for further strengthening bilateral ties.
He said Iran with its rich resources of oil and gas was ready to help India to meet its requirements.
He announced that Iran was ready to allow India access to the Chabahar Port to facilitate transit to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe.
President Rouhani said Iran and India can cooperate in areas like industry, agriculture and advanced technology and take steps to contribute to the interests of both the countries and the region.
Earlier, the Iranian delegation led by the President visited Qutub Shahi tombs in Hyderabad. They went around the Qutub Shahi tombs complex, housing mausoleums of rulers of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty (1518-1687) who had Iranian lineage.
The Iran President had addressed Muslim leaders and religious scholars after landing in Hyderabad on Thursday on a three-day visit to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He addressed a meeting of Iranians settled in Hyderabad on Friday evening before leaving for New Delhi.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor ESL Narasimhan, Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali and senior officials saw him off at Begumpet Airport in the city.
In Delhi, Hassan Rouhani will hold bilateral talks with PM Modi on Saturday. He will also call on President Ram Nath Kovind.
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