Rouhani prays for Shia-Sunni unity at Makkah Masjid

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Hyderabad, Feb 16 (IANS) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Friday visited the historic Makkah Masjid here and offered prayers for Shia-Sunni unity and peace across the Muslim world.

On the second day of his three-day visit to India, Rouhani joined commoners in offering prayers at the 17th century mosque whose foundation was laid in late 1616 by Qutub Shahi ruler Sultan Mohammad and was completed during Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s reign in 1694.

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 in the Muslim-majority old city.

Qureshi, during his sermon, prayed for the safety of Muslims across the world, especially in Palestine, Syria and Yemen.

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Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi and legislators of his party were also present.

Rouhani’s visit to the Sunni mosque is significant. Analysts say it is aimed at conveying the message of Shia-Sunni unity.

Earlier, the Iranian delegation visited the historic Qutub Shahi tombs here. They went around the complex, housing mausoleums of rulers of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty (1518-1687) who had Iranian lineage.

The Telangana officials briefed Rouhani about the necropolis, which has 72 mausoleums, many of them built in Persian architectural style.

He was also told about the restoration project taken up by Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

Addressing Muslim leaders and scholars on Thursday night following his arrival, Rouhani had underlined the need for Shia-Sunni unity.

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Tight security arrangements were made for Rouhani’s visit. Barricades were erected at the place where the Iranian delegation and VIPs offered prayers to separate them from thousands of other worshippers.

Hyderabad has historic cultural links with Iran. The city, founded by Quli Qutub Shah, was designed on the lines of Iranian city Isfahan.

Mir Momin Astrabadi, who migrated from Iran, prepared the design of Charminar and Hyderabad.

–IANS

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