Lucknow: An annual 'majlis' first held in 1970 by a Hindu professor to strengthen relations between Shia Islam and Hinduism will be organised here to mark its 50th anniversary on Tuesday. The day-long event, popularly known as 'Guptaji ki Majlis', is held every year at the Shia PG College here.
A 'majlis' is a social, cultural or religious gathering usually associated with the followers of Islam. In this particular case the 'majlis' was started by P S Gupta, a Hindu, who was a professor at the college.
The event is held on the last day of the mourning period of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. This year the last day of the mourning period is November 5, said Yasoob Abbas, spokesperson of the All India Shia Personal Law Board.
Speaking to PTI, 80-year-old Gupta said, "Hazrat Imam Hussain had the desire to go to Hindustan and was fascinated by the humanity of the people from here. He got martyred along with his family members in Karbala. This reposed my deep faith in Hussain.
"It is with this thought that I got the motivation to start the 'majlis' in the memory of Imam Hussain," Gupta said.
"Almost 1,400 years ago, when the Army of Yazid had stopped Hazrat Imam Hussain in Karbala, he had expressed the desire to go to Hindustan saying that Muslims may not reside there, but humans do reside there. Even today, wherever humanity is found, Imam Hussain is remembered," he said.
"There are many similarities between Hindus and Shia Muslims. There has been no fight between them. One of the reasons behind organizing the 'majlis' is to enable people to know that Shias and Hindus are brothers," Gupta added.
In the initial years, founder of the All India Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Mirza Mohammad Athar used to address the 'majlis'. Now his son Maulana Yasoob Abbas, also the spokesperson of the All India Shia Personal Law Board, carries forward the legacy.
Yasoob Abbas said Gupta started the 'majlis' when he was teaching at the Shia PG College and continued the tradition even after his retirement.
Talking about Gupta's dedication to holding the annual event, Yasoob Abbas said, "There have been occasions when the last night of Muharram (mourning period) has coincided with Deepawali. On those occasions, Gupta first discharged his duty of organising the 'majlis' and later celebrated the festival of lights.
"It is his deep affection towards Imam Hussain that he organizes the 'majlis' even today. The 'majlis', since its inception, focussed on Hindu-Muslim unity," Abbas told PTI. He said Islam has come to the world to create love. "Power is spread by sword, but Islam is spread by character," he said.