Sufi Shrine in Mumbai at Center of Religious Dispute

A Sufi shrine located in Mumbai has sparked controversy after a prominent political figure expressed a desire to reclaim it solely for Hindus. The Haji Malang dargah, situated on a hill in Maharashtra, has long been revered by people of all faiths.

However, recent remarks by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde have reignited tensions surrounding the shrine’s ownership.

The shrine, known for its arduous ascent of around 1,500 rock-cut steps, holds the tomb of a Sufi saint believed to have arrived in India over 700 years ago.

Despite its significance as a symbol of unity and tolerance, it has become embroiled in a historical and religious debate.

Shinde’s assertion that the structure is a Hindu temple rather than a dargah has deepened the divide between Hindu and Muslim communities. This claim aligns with past efforts to “reclaim” the shrine for Hindus, leading to occasional clashes between worshippers of different faiths.

Observers suggest that Shinde’s stance is more about political strategy than genuine religious sentiment. With elections approaching in Maharashtra, securing support from the Hindu majority has become paramount for Shinde, who recently switched parties to align with the BJP.

While some Hindu devotees support Shinde’s assertions, others express discomfort with the ongoing dispute. Many emphasize the historical coexistence of Hindus and Muslims at the shrine, lamenting the politicization of religious sites for electoral gain.

Amidst the controversy, local businesses and residents on the hill suffer from neglect, lacking basic amenities like water and healthcare.

Despite these challenges, they remain united in their plea for peace and harmony, underscoring the need to prioritize the well-being of the community over political agendas.

This report provides insights into a complex socio-religious issue, highlighting the intersection of faith, politics, and communal harmony in contemporary India.

[Source: BBC]

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